In Jakarta it is difficult indeed to look for a sincere person. I always stay at home, therein I watch people’s character surrounding me. Such as Mr. Peter, the dustman from our neighborhood. His character is hard to understand, he never smiles and doesn’t need any attention. Like he lives in a jungle. He is totally unfriendly and he never needs any help.
One day, when he was collecting our garbage, I asked him,
“We are cooking rice and rawon (black beef soup). Would you like some, Mr. Peter?”
“No?”, he said without smiling.
I was surprise, then I asked him, “Why? Isn’t rice and rawon is delicious?”
“I am not Javanese”, he said.
“Then, where are you from, Mr. Peter?”, I asked.
“From Manado”, he answered still with a flat voice.
“If we cook bubur Manado (Manado porridge), would you like some?”
“O, then I would like some if you cook it.”
That’s it, that day ended without warm communication with Peter. Then I asked Eti to cook Manado porridge, so I could share with Peter. And we sent him the Manado porridge. And when I saw Mr. Peter, I asked him once again, “ Do you like the Manado porridge?”
“Ya, I like it, just need a little bit more spicy”, he said with a little bit warm voice.
Then I informed Eti that if she cooks Manado porridge, put some more chili to the sauce for Mr. Peter. After added some more chili, I asked him again,
“How is the Manado porridge, does it suit your taste?”
He laughed cheerfully and said, “ Ya, it suits my taste indeed! The last one, it was amazingly tasty. Reminds me of my hometown!”
That was the first time I saw Peter’s relieving laughing. Then I was more motivated to make him happy. I thought of other Manado’s cook that was easy to make. And I asked Eti again to cook fried fish with Dabu-dabu sauce.
Dabu-dabu usually eats together with grilled or fried fish. It tastes so fresh. Made from slices of cayenne and green tomato, onion and kemangi leaves, the spicy is just salt and lime, and put in just a small amount of oil.
Thus, when I asked Peter about the fish and dabu-dabu, he said he was very happy, but he didn’t want us to give him too often. And I wondered why he said that, he was happy but he didn’t want us to send him food too often, why? Then I asked him, and he answered, “If someone gives me my hometown cook, it reminds me of my hometown, and it makes me sad, since I have no money to go back to my hometown.”
Peter is actually a stranded person in this world. In Jakarta he is homeless. He sleeps at the roadside of our Community Watch Office just with a used cardboard as a mat. We just found out that he sleeps such that. And then we took initiative to buy him a rollaway bed. However, in fact he still sleeps with a used cardboard as a mat. When we asked him, he said, “It is too much for me, I cherish the rollaway bed.” And until now, he still leave the rollaway bed at Mrs. Tuti’s house, our neighbor at Mahoni.
In fact, Peter is the most diligent dustman in Jakarta, in my opinion. For he works diligently without expecting any tip. From his diligent work to collect the garbage every day, he keeps doing his work without complaining of the heat during the day and without asking for any attention.
Actually, his sincerity is a common thing for whoever considers his work as his duty. However, it becomes rare since in Jakarta to find a dustman who is so diligent cleaning people’s garbage everyday without asking for any tip, in my opinion it is odd. Therefore, though the character of the old Peter is frightening, unfriendly, but we love him.
I just want to say that in Jakarta there is a very poor person and has nothing, but seems like he doesn’t need anything in his life.
Just imagine if he goes back to meet his family in Indramayu, he is pedaling his bike along the street. Then we ask, “why don’t you use your money from Ied’s bonus (bonus given to celebrate Islamic celebration day) to go by train?”
Then he would say, “It is better to use the money for food.”
An old man like Peter, who is already 62 years old, but riding a bike to travel 16 hours to get to Indramayu for the sake of giving his Ied’s bonus money for his wife. It is very touchy.
Then I realize more that life is tough indeed and we must cleverly save money, no matter how limited is our earning. However, Peter teaches us that a tough life that he is going through with the garbage, doesn’t make him lose his sincerity. Thus, he just needs to be given a smile, so he could also smile.
It is not easy indeed to make Mr. Peter smile. I don’t want to think farther why he lives that way. However, I just found out when he told me that since his childhood he has already lived on the street. So he is used to live like Tarzan, live in the nature without any roof. I am sad to think there is someone who could stand living such that until his elderly.
As for the sincerity that I would like to lift up, it is a rare sincerity, for it comes from a very poor person. Such sincerity could be categorized as the tightest sincerity to share. But when it is given with sincere heart, then it becomes nobleness. For whoever sees such sincerity, surely he could judge how is the character of virtuousness inside Peter, the dustman without smile.
Say it as a model of sincerity from someone who is decent to receive the sincerity. The personality of Peter could be equalized with the public servant who sits on a throne abundant with money and honor, but less sincere.
No matter how is the kindness, it should be appreciated, for only rare people give their kindness and sincerity in their very shortage condition