A memoir-type story about my own experience as a freelance journalist covering the abortive communist coup attempt in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Sept 30, 1965.
Exactly one year after that, when I had completely forgotten about Ita’s clairvoyant story, on June 20, 1970 news was splashed out that Bung Karno had been admitted into the Gatot Subroto Army Hospital in Central Jakarta. It was said his condition was very critical. We newsmen were not allowed to cover this highly newsworthy development in the life of Indonesia’s founder president.
When we found out that Mrs. Ratnasari Dewi would be arriving that afternoon from Tokyo, we went to the airport to try and get some comments from her that we could quote in our stories. But, alas, the security officers prevented us from getting near where she would exit from the arrival terminal. Anyway, no sooner had she arrived than she was whisked away to the hospital. I’m not sure if Dewi took her three-year-old daughter with her to see her father, but I think she did.
While waiting for Dewi’s plane to arrive, the dozens of newspersons from the foreign and local media engaged themselves in all sorts of speculations about what would happen to Soekarno. Then, suddenly, as if awoken from a deep sleep, I remembered Ita’s clairvoyant story. I looked all over the arrival hall to see if Ita was around. She wasn’t. Neither was any of the lady reporters who were listening to the story with me in the Bogor Palace in June the year before.
Ita at the time said the police officer told her Soekarno’s catch-22 medical dilemma would come to a climax in one year. My heart beat faster and faster as I was trying to fight my strong urge to listen to the voice in my heart telling me the man who once called himself Indonesia’s “Great Leader of the Revolution” would soon be gone. I pulled myself together and started sharing what the little voice in my heart told me with fellow-newsmen from the foreign media. There were a few of them around, but I can remember telling the clairvoyant story to Mike Carlton of Radio Australia and Ed Blanche of The Associated Press (AP). They both laughed at me.
The following day it was officially announced Soekarno died in the wee hours on the morning of June 21, 1970. He had just reached his 69th birthday 15 days earlier. His body lay in state for several days in Wisma Yaso. This was to give the multitude of people who still loved the former president ample opportunity to pay their last respects to the great leader. It would also give President Suharto’s New Order government sufficient time to make a politically correct decision as to what kind of funeral to be given to the deceased and where to bury the body. Soekarno had made it known while still living that he wished to be buried under a banyan tree in Batutulis, a village near Bogor, upon his death.
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