Mr. Kusmari Rendrabwana Childhood

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I was  born  and  brought  up  into  a  devoted  catholic  family.  My father comes from a family whose members mostly turned out to become  priests  and  priestesses,  while  my  mother still has a certain aristocratic  blood  in  her  family.  My  parents  were  blessed with five children, of which I am the only male and the youngest one. I never had anyone of them to play with since I was a child because of the quite  significant  difference  in  age;  they  were  always  occupied  with their  school  tasks  whenever  I  needed  someone  to  play  with.  As  it turned  out  to  be,  I  got  used  to  spending  my  time  with the maidservant and when I was bored, I simply went out to play. For that reason I was used to make friends with people outside of my family, people in my neighborhood who were mostly Muslims. 

In  my  family,  everything  that  has  a  "Muslim  taste"  in  it  was usually considered inappropriate. So every Thursday when the time was  for  the  recitation  of  the  Qur'an  (we  only  had  TVRI,  the government's station back then) the TV set was immediately turned off,  that's  how  my  family  was  like.  When  I  got  to  school  age, naturally  my  parents  chose  a  catholic  institution,  as  with  all  my sisters. Even so, I always found it easier to be friends mostly with people who were Muslim

Adolescence
Perhaps  it  was  because  of  my  negative  childhood  image,  that when I grew up to be a teen-ager my family always thought of me as being this troublesome kid. In other words, to them I was always the one to blame for everything; anything good that I did was practically nothing to them. Hence, I always tried to look up for answers of my problems  through  sources  outside  of  my  family.  My  academic records were also nothing special except for English language. 

And so I started to contemplate with questions that I had in my high  school  year,  I  asked and kept asking, I read many books and literature, trying to explore everything about my faith then. But as it goes, the more I gained something, the more I felt that, "This isn't it, this is not what I want." What's worse is that the more I involved myself with religious activities, the more I went further from what I expected, which put me down more and more. What I always found in  there  was  nothing  but  negative  views  on  somebody else's  faith. Whenever I tried to give in another view, they put me down saying that I'm taking sides, I'm giving too much of a value judgement, so on and so forth. Eventually I became more distanced from them, but interestingly  (and  this  is  what  had  always  happened)  I  felt  myself drawn  closer  and  closer  with  my  Muslim  friends,  they  seemed  to accept me without any sort of tendency to judge. They knew I didn't share  their  faith  but  most  of  them  didn't  seem  to  mind  or  be disturbed by it whatsoever. 

Adulthood
My  adulthood  started  when  I  entered  college.  I  enrolled  in  a private  college  whose  students  were  predominantly  Muslims.  Even so, I still tried to involve myself in religious activities with students of the  same  faith.  In  that  community,  the  old  conflicting  trauma appeared afresh, even worse. Eventually I lost my interest in it. As a college student, I felt more comfortable in my soul searching process. Naturally, I had more access to many references, times and places of interest, because I never felt home with my relatives, even with my sisters.  And  so  I  went  on  with  my  life  as  usual,  until  this  deep spiritual experience happened. This is the story: 

One morning, I don't remember the date, but it was in 1993. I was  abruptly  awoke  from  sleep  and  just  quickly  sat  down.  Then unconsciously went up and washed my face, hands and feet, then got back sitting with my legs crossed. Exactly then the call to fajr prayer started  ..but  very  differently.  I  listened  to  it  with  an  indescribable feeling and emotion, it was touching me so deeply, in short. I myself never could explain what really happened that morning, but so it did. Ever since then I looked for answers and learned with a practicing Muslim friend, read books, started everything from scratch. The first obstacle for me naturally came from my family, especially my mother. I became uncertain again, this is the most difficult choice in my entire life.  And  so  months  I  spent  trying  to  think  over  my  intention  to become a Muslim. I felt that I had to make a choice. And of course I chose to become a Muslim eventually. 

In early 1994 I declared my shahadahafter finishing the maghrib(evening)  prayer  in jama'ah  (congregation).  It  was  really  emotional, friends from my faculty in college even made me work out a written statement with them as witnesses, how touchy it was. In short, I've lived  my  life  as  a  new  person  ever  since  then.  After  finishing  my school,  I  started  working.  Even  though  my  relationship  with  my family is falling apart, I try to pull everything together and be strong as to endure the hardships. 

My new life was again put to a test when I was going to marry. Because I'm considered an apostate in my family's view, I had to do everything  by  myself,  the  proposal,  etc.,  everything.  No  wedding reception or any of that sort, just the obligatory ones. And then when my  mother  died,  unfortunately  I  didn't  get  to  see  her  for  the  last time. Her wish, which of course I cannot comply to, was for me to return to my old faith.

Wassalaamu 'alaikum wrahmatullahi wabarakatuhu, 

Rendra. 


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