Remembered Cut Abang

Linda Christanty

Fri, 29 February 2008

Hasan Tiro will never going back to Aceh. At least, that was what his sister, Aisyah binti Muhammad Hasan, believed.

MAIMUN, former member of Aceh Free Movement troops in Pidie subdistrict, accompanied me to find Aisyah binti Muhammad Hasan’s house at Mali village. For several times, we went to the wrong address, as Maimun did not remember the route to Aisyah’s house through the ordinary road. Maimun used to take “guerrillas route”, through small roads, village, jungle and mountain, in barefoot.

Maimun is 26 years old. Polite and spoke softly. He joined GAM for seven years until Helsinki accord was sign.

Aisyah’s house is located only 10 meter from the suspension bridge. It is about 20-meter length and its high about 10-meter. There is a rocky river under the bridge.

Mali’s suspension bridge was a historical place for Maimun. In 2003, Indonesian military was surrounded him and four of his friends from both edge of the bridge. Maimun and one of his friend was save, they both jumped down to the river and run head over heels to the village. However, two of his friends remain to death.

After Indonesian government and GAM signed the peace accord, Maimun become unemployed.

“Some of my friends were impatient and said, ‘let’s take our weapon.’ To do whatever we want to fulfill basic need. They could not stand any longer. I tried to hold them and myself. Tengku Hasan (Tiro) used to fight and sacrificed to be free from Indon (Indonesia) with gracious purpose,” he said.

He also have not received reintegration fund yet. “Our commander of sagoe was corrupted it. But, its okay,” he said in whisper. Sagoe is similar to sub district level.

After for a half an hour seeking the right road, we eventually find and stand in front of Aisyah’s house. She was Hasan Tiro’s younger sister. Tiro was GAM highest leader, and lived in Sweden until today.

The gate made from steel. The house that is modern and mixed with traditional sense at particular part was looked empty. The stairs in the front verandah were besieging by a door to avoid uninvited guests, or cats and poultries come in. The verandah is quite wide and the floor made from cement. Some of flowers blossomed, in red and yellow color, in the front garden.

The side door was open, then. Two women appeared at the door, mother and daughter. Aisyah wore white veil, blue long dress that have yellow flower motif, and batik cloth. Her younger daughter, Hilmi, is still wearing teacher uniform in brown-yellow and yellow veil.

Aisyah is 80 years old now.

“Cut Abang (big brother) is older than me, about two or three years. Not more than that,” she said, in Acheh.

“Cut Abang” is her called to Hasan Tiro. That means, if Aisyah born in 1927 than Tiro’s born in 1924 or 1925.

The year of Tiro’s birth has become a debate among historians and researchers. In his book, The Price of Freedom, Tiro wrote he was born in 1930. However, in his Sweden passport was written in 1925. Meanwhile, in his first book, Demokrasi untuk Indonesia (Democracy for Indonesia), Tiro stated 1923. Some were also said that he born in 1928. Aisyah’s answers had shrunk these speculations.

Aisyah and Tiro was born from the same father, but different mother. Tengku Muhammad Hasan married two women. He had two sons from his first marriage with Tengku Pocut Fatimah. They are Tengku Zainal bin Muhammad Hasan and Tengku Hasan Muhammad Ditiro, known as Hasan Tiro. After her wife death, Muhammad Hasan married another woman and descended a daughter, named Aisyah.

“Father died after crashed by a train. I was two years old when it happened. The railway coach is being installed to the locomotive. Father walked and he didn’t see the locomotive came, and then crashed him,” Aisyah said.

However, it is not easy to talk with Aisyah. Every question should say in loud and close to her ears, so she could hear it well.

“My ears could not hear voices, but drone. A doctor in Medan told me, this disease had come up to my brain,” Aisyah explained.

In the beginning, Aisyah did not realize what her old brother fighting is fully risks.

“Finally I come to questions, why people arrested, houses burnt,” she said.

“Troops came in anger. Mi (Umi is call for mother) is reprimanded,” Hilmi interrupted.

“Cut Abang never told me his struggle. When we met, he only asked about how is our village, asked our families, have you started to farm yet. Its common story,” Aisyah said.

“Cut Abang never come home after that GAM flag raised. Never send anything. Even for small things, he never sent his younger sister anything. There was no news. No letter, even for telephone calls. However, when we were little, Cut Abang always leaved me various kinds of snack. After school, when he bought a cake, he always brings it home for me. When we were little, we play together. In school, Cut Abang is clever. He have a good character. Since he was little, he always (dressed) neatly,” Aisyah told me.

She also heard from others that Tiro already married and had a family in America.

“With an American and had one son. But I never know them,” she said, and laughed.

Suddenly, Aisyah was silence. Then she look at me and asked, “I remembered, those outsider man (Hasan Tiro) have not coming back. However, the others already going home. Why he does not coming home? Why? How is he now? Is he sick, is he well?”

There is sound of sorrow and missed as well.

“I knew Cut Abang was there (Sweden), but I don’t know what he was doing. Even if I miss him, it is useless if he is not coming back. Maybe Cut Abang was afraid to going home, because there were vengeances in the past,” she continued.

Was Tiro’s friend in Sweden ever visited her? She named Zaini Abdullah just visited her few days ago.

“He said Cut Abang was fine there. However, he was sick, and his sickness was worse than I was. I thought his ill was as common as me.” Aisyah was silence then. She just knew that Tiro suffered cerebrovascular disease from magazine that we told.

What is about Tiro’s friends in Aceh?

“Muhammad (Usman Lampoh Awe) ever came, but it was like siblit (lightning; just for a moment),” she said.

We talked in guest room, on 27 December 2007, sat in grey furniture. House pillars in guest room looks bent. I thought it because of heavy burden, and that means disaster. It turned out that all of mane’s wood is not straight, but strong and resistance from termites.

Aisyah daughter, Hilmi, also taught at Madrasah Ibtidaiyah Negeri (Islamic primary school) in Tanjung Bungong. She would have pension by the next six years. She was 55 years old.

Instead of teaching at school, she also taught Al Qur’an to children. Since she was little, Hilmi had taught reading Al Quran lessons. “Mi offspring,” she said, laughed, remember that Aisyah also taught children on reading Al Quran.

The room to study is in the front verandah. This course is free of charge. However, Department of Religion Affair just given honorarium to the teacher who taught Al Quran reading likes Hilmi.

“(For) Six months, 300 thousand rupiah,” she said, laughed.

Her husband did not coming home for 15 years, and lived in Malaysia. During 15 years, her husband never sent any news.

“He had trauma,” Hilmi said, due to conflict times in Aceh.

When I leave, Aisyah order me to eat a meal instead. She and her daughter then accompanied me toward the house yard, where the car parked.

“If you had come in Holy Day this year, you have to come in the next year Holy Day. Please, pray for Mi as my ears recovered from ills,” Aisyah told me. She keep standing on the empty land when our car leave her.

*) Linda Christanty is editor of Pantau Aceh Feature Service in Aceh.

**) Translated by Samiaji Bintang.

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by:Linda Christanty