Arifa Rizka : Sweet Riddle from Her Father

One afternoon in February, Arifa Rizka posted a picture of her father’s old photographs. After looking at his pose and fashion style, I assumed that he was a famous person back in his era.

“Was your father a model?” I asked.

“He was a model and singer. You should come over to my house. There are hundreds of old photos and files you might like,” Arifa replied.

I must admit that I felt so honored and happy to receive that opportunity, since I have a very big obsession towards old photographs. At the same time, I know that my visit to Arifa’s house would be surrounded by melancholic vibes because her father ̶ Mr. Aried Nasoba had left this world on 24th of January 2017.

I only met Mr. Arief twice; the first time was when I went to Arifa’s house, and the second one was at his funeral. I barely knew him when he was alive, but when I saw how sad the guests were during the funeral, I understood that he was a very kind-hearted man whom everyone will miss.

When visiting Arifa’s house for the third time, she invited me to come to a room near the kitchen. In that room, all of the old photographs were put together in some big-heavy plastic drawers, and I was really amazed by its amount.

Arifa and I then sat together on the floor while flipping through the pictures and reminiscing about Mr. Arief’s life.

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“My father was a pretty famous singer, model, and soap opera actor. His stage name was Aries Pratama,” Arifa started. “He often participated in many singing contest since he was in primary school, and went to a vocal school called Bina Vokalia. When he was teenager, he also joined many vocal competitions such as Bintang Radio. Unfortunately, his mother didn’t allow him to make his career in singing, and asked him to register to a law school instead.”

After finishing his law school, Mr. Arief kept pursuing his career in singing and modeling. He then stopped doing it once he got married and Arifa was born. “Since I was born, my father didn’t do too much entertainment work like he did before. He spent most of his time in doing business and becoming an entrepreneur. He started so many kinds of business, and closed them all because of boredom. For example, he was a good cook, and used to open his own restaurant. But not really long after that, he closed the business because he was bored with it.”

“When I was in primary school, he sometimes would bring me to television studio. I would wait all day for him taping a TV show called Gebyar Keroncong TVRI, and I always got mad to my father because I just got back from school and felt really tired. Moreover, I never have any interest in entertainment or being caught by camera. I never enjoy being the center of attention, and all of those TV stuffs really pissed me off,” Arifa recalled.

Mr. Arief was famous for his ability in singing high notes. His most successful single is called Aduhai, which was released in 1983. “I was in junior high when my father drove me and my sister after school time. We turned the car radio on, then I hear a familiar voice singing aduhai aduhai aduhai. When the song ended, I asked my father, ‘Dad, was it you?’ and he answered, ‘How did you find out?’ and we laughed together.”

In the last two years, Mr. Arief often had reunion and roadshow with his singer friends, “Since he met his old friends and started singing again, I could see that he became a narcissist. He made his own Facebook profile, and bought many clothes to wear when he sang on stage. He even some times wore my jackets, and tried so hard to mix and match his clothes. Many people who saw him on the street thought that he was a single man because of his young appearance,” Arifa laughed.

Some people speculated that Mr. Arief actually did reunion and roadshow with his friends because he knew that he didn’t have much time left in his life. “Some times ago when he was singing in Bandung, he failed in reaching high notes because he started to fall sick. Unfortunately, he didn’t tell anyone because he didn’t want to make people worry.”

Arifa’s father was diagnosed with bronchitis and had his medication at home. “Less than a month before he left, he prayed more often than before. He then asked me to pray even more too, and I had a very bad feeling when I heard it. I told my younger sister about my feelings, and she cried right away.” Mr. Arief also told Arifa and her mom to take care more about their family’s boarding house business, and those were the last messages he left for them.

On Friday, January 20th, Mr. Arief condition was getting worse that he asked his family to take him to the hospital. At that time, Arifa was getting ready to go to the campus, but then she decided to skip the class and accompanied his parents to the hospital. From Friday to Monday, Mr. Arief’s condition was getting a little bit better. “I always accompanied him at the hospital, even though I couldn’t always stay there for too long. I needed to go home and prepared my exhibition too. The hospital regulation also didn’t allow us to sleep there overnight, so my father was all alone when the night came.”

During his father hospitalization, things are getting more melancholic for Arifa. “Every day I walked on the same alley, at the same corner of the hospital. I don’t know why, but during that day I keep listening to Adhitia Sofyan-Forget Jakarta. When I arrived at the 5th floor where my father was treated, I always felt the pain inside my heart.”

On Monday, Arifa had an opportunity to be with her father all day long. Although things are getting better, Arifa could still feel that something was terribly wrong with that situation. “When my father was sleeping, my mind was going everywhere. When he woke up, he asked me to cut his nails, and I did it. He couldn’t stand or walk properly, yet I still believed that he would recover.”

Things are getting even worse on Tuesday. “I kept praying for the best for my father, yet I kept wanting to cry. However, I tried to hold my tears since I had to look stronger for my sister.”

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“On Tuesday night, my family prevented me from going home. My feelings got mixed because I was really busy and tired, but on the other side I couldn’t leave my father in that difficult condition. Things were getting worse that we had to call the nurse into the room. Then they came in with the equipment.”

“The clock was ticking, more people were coming, and more equipments were used. My father couldn’t say any single word, and his eyes were half-closed. It seemed like he was unconscious. I kept trying not to cry and kept supporting him to go through it all. But then the doctor came with defibrillator (or countershock) and we were asked to leave the room.”

“When we got back into the room, the doctor said this to my relative: excuse me ma’am, now it’s 22:40, and I’m sorry that Mr. Arief has just gone. Then everybody was crying, and I never thought that he would leave that fast,” said Arifa emotionally.

“One thing that I and many people miss the most about him is his silliness. He often made jokes about me and my siblings, or about his friends. He would make jokes about anything!” Arifa smiled.

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“Why did he pay for this kind of photo? It’s so silly!” Said Arifa while laughing.

Two or three days after the funeral, Arifa and her family started to rearrange her father’s important stuffs. “When taking care of my father’s documents, I couldn’t help but crying. I unexpectedly found out some of my father’s secrets by looking through his personal stuffs. It makes me feel glad that I could know my father even deeper than before. However, at the same time I feel really sad that he always keeps all those things by himself in order not to bother his family.”

“I never knew that he loved collecting articles and recipes from newspaper. I only knew that my father was really obsessed with the British royal family, and he collected everything about them,” said Arifa while showing me a drawer full of newspaper article about The Royal Family. “I think that habit also shaped my interest in tales and history about kingdoms too.”

“What I adore about my father is, he was a hoarder who knew how to manage his things very neatly. My uncle even said that he always measured the gap between the clothes when hanging them on the drier line. He always made sure that the gaps are precise and balance.” Unfortunately, his habit in keeping things so nicely also made his family face some troubles after he left. “He never told us where the important things were placed. It was really hard to find the keys of boarding rooms, and key for water pump. It was so hard that I wanted to call my father, and ask him where he put it,” Said Arifa.

The keys riddle was not the only surprise Arifa found after his father’s death. “Few days ago, the bulb at the bathroom went off. When I put off the old bulb, I found a handwriting of the bulb expiry date, written by my father. It reminded me of him, and I started to cry again.”

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Mr. Arief also left his family a pretty big amount of books. When Arifa and I were playing between the stacks those of dusty books, we accidentaly found a lovely typewriter! The ink ribbon had already dried, but it didn’t stop Arifa from smiling while pushing some of its buttons.

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“During the funeral, many relatives said that I should be responsible for many things, because now I’m replacing my father’s role. It got me mad and I felt overwhelmed. However, I finally understood that I should be the one who took those responsibilities.” At first, Arifa found it difficult to take care of the housework. She even found the atmosphere of her house becoming plain and devastating. “This house is not as alive as it was before. My father was the one who always throw silly jokes on us, and now it feels like something’s missing. One day when I was home alone, I could still imagine my father’s presence. I imagined how his feet looked like when he was sitting at the bedroom, or how his steps sound like when he came home. However, It was just all inside my head. I know that he’s gone.”

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Fortunately, things are getting better now. Arifa knows that the journey still continues, and she really wants to make her father proud. “Before my father left, I told him that I was accepted for an exhibition called Artbound. He was so happy to hear that, but he couldn’t make it for my opening.”

“My loss of him actually fueled me to prepare my artworks. After he left, I finally understand the importance of a process. Even though the result may not seem like how it was planned to be, I would be really glad, as long as I enjoy the making process of my artworks.”

Finally, I asked Arifa one big question: If you had one more opportunity to talk to your father, what would it be?

“Oh no, you make me want to cry!” Then we laughed together, while trying our best not to drop any tears of sadness.

“I would ask him: Dad, where did you keep all of our doormats?” Arifa giggled.

“I would say sorry to him; for always being cynic and ignorant to him. Sorry for doing his request halfheartedly, or even refusing to do his requests. I know that he really loved me and my siblings, and he showed it in his own way. I never really understand about it until now. We all here also love him so much, even though we never showed it to him clearly. Behind my cynicism and ignorance, I truly love him so much.”

This writing was made as a tribute to Mr. Arief Nasoba (a.k.a Aries Pratama)

(11th of December 1963 – 24th of January 2017)

Thank you so much Arifa for this opportunity you gave me. All the words you said and we wrote together in this page are more than just phrases. They’re words that come alive with every memory you keep, and every pray you say.

Just like you said, the journey still continues. So, keep walking for your journey, like nothing can stop you from going!

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