28 April 2016

Meeting Gus Dur’s Daughter, A Behind The Scene Story

I met Inayah Wahid in an interview for JAX.co.id. And I fell in love with her vibrant personality, her endless energy and her sincere adoration of her father. Nay, as she often called, is the youngest daughter of the late Gus Dur and I was lucky to spent an hour with her. This is out of topic for my usual parenting-traveling post but I just have to blog this because somehow, our conversation was about father-daughter relationship and responsible traveling.

(photo courtesy of JAX)

I didn’t know what to expect when an interview request came to my phone. Inayah Wahid. I remembered her slightly as the pink-haired president’s daughter who brighten up the palace with her lively mood. She was on time for a super busy person and still as cheerful as I remembered her to be. We talked right away about her current movement, Travelogi Indonesia, which is promoting responsible traveling. “When we visit a place, we must see it as a subject, not an object. So it’s like we’re visiting someone’s house.” She then recalled a story about family trip to Bali and ended it with a shocking tale.

“You know what, the driver told me that if someone is happy to get into Kuta then he/she must be a tourist. If someone is happy to leave Kuta then he/she must be a local. That’s how much tourism has changed a place.”

Apparently, it’s more than just trash and destroying nature. Traveling is in her nature, with a father like Gus Dur, you’ll see the world no matter what. Picnic is opening your eyes and your mind, she said. So go out and travel. Even if it’s for business or conference, spend and extra day to explore and experience the local life.

Then we moved on to her other passion, art. Basically anything about stage performances will cheer her up. It wasn’t an easy thing to do because sometimes she’s acting with people as equally busy as her (she has at least 3-4 foundation/movement/network in her routine care) but chemistry helps. If chemistry is there and the other people are professional as well, it isn’t hard to put a good show even with minimal practice time together. So there’s no reason to skip acting. Nay said she stressed out when she missed acting on stage.

I remembered reading her name in one of the article I was writing about a charity performance done by an orphanage foundation a while ago. I didn’t expect her into theater then. A Google search on her name the day before the interview brought another surprising fact that she was acting on a sitcom. Going mainstream? Nay said she wanted to try something new. “In theater, you stay in character for the whole show. You have to improvise and do damage control on stage if anything goes wrong. In sitcom, one scene can be repeated a dozen times which mean you’re going in and out the character with the director’s cut and action sign.” She still prefers theater.

Nay’s sincere admiration of her late father impressed me. She’s doing what she likes and despite having to share a father figure with a country, she was doing real well growing up. One parenting lesson I received from her growing-up story is how as a father, Gus Dur once apologized for not being able to put his family first. As a parent, I find it hard sometimes to say sorry to my son. Especially when it comes to working long hours and placing him second after money (or maybe third after Kpop). If someone like Gus Dur had the gut to apologize, I figured at least once I should say sorry to Andrew for not prioritizing him, especially when I’m the only parent he can meet physically. As Nay put it, “seeing my father apologized didn’t bring disappointment, it made me admire him even more and understand what happened. So I was okay not being placed first priority.”

Then there’s another lesson: “My father never told his children what to do. He set examples and we followed his path.”

Recently, Andrew told me his friends said he was lucky to have a mom like me. Why, I asked. He said the other moms confiscate tablets and gadgets on weekdays. “You doesn’t care, Mom. So I don’t feel threatened.” Well, I didn’t try to be Gus Dur but I guess hearing what Nay said about his father as a parent encouraged me to do the same. I imagined his father would be super proud when he heard how his children are following his path and are determined to continue what he was fighting for, in their own unique way. I know I would be proud when Andrew do that, voluntarily following my footsteps but still proudly showing who he is. A child, not a copy cat.

In the end of my conversation with Nay, I went home thinking about how I would write the article. But it was a Q&A and I had a lot of leftover feelings. Nay is one great storyteller. She laughed and teared a little bit during the interview but she left a deep impression on everyone. At least on me.

Otherwise I wouldn’t write a 900-word blogpost about her. In one sitting.
Thanks for bearing with me til the end. I will return to the regular post (in Bahasa Indonesia) after this. Thanks for everyone at JAX for trusting me with this task.


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