Author: Maman Suherman
Publications: April 2014
Published by POP - KPG
I think I would not ever see that crossing into big mess could turn out into a blessing. Thanks to Maman Suherman who puts it that way. I mean, blessing in this case means... it doesn't keep you in the dark, instead it reminds you to be grateful. Especially when it comes to make you understand differences and to be tolerant on that. Something that most people fail to do.
My dear friend who works in a publishing company and I met in by coincidence. She has been one of my 'clients' in the film festival I worked for (and it's been my 5th year there). There was a book launch event, by an editor-in-chief whose magazine is under the same company as the magazine I worked for previously. I was still at 'THAT MALL' at the time. She told me about this book and might be great for the next event.
And yes, Re: became one of the books that I organized the event some time ago.
I had to read the book before I could proceed for the book event. What I went through until the last pages shocked me.
Firstly, a guy that is well-known as No Tulen in a local evening TV talkshow (which is my mom's favourite) had been a journalist for so long and had gone through this dark side of the city. Something I am always interested of, but never got a chance to be in.
So this book tells about a female prostitute with lesbian specialty. Yep, for female clients. Re, the main character besides the author himself, worked for Mami Lani, a pimp, who trapped her and some other girls too. One by one, prostitutes who work for her get killed in tragic ways. According to Re, their deaths were set-up. The story continues to the author's POV, thinking and re-thinking what he learned as he dug into Re's world for his thesis.
All the way through, Maman retold what he had been through, including a sex party that only members could get in that left him with scar on his face because one incident happened. He also shared this thoughts that turned the readers to see the kind of life from many angles and dimensions, leaving the judgmental motivation far behind.
Secondly, I can say, this is more than I have expected from this book. Really.
RE: has successfully captured the bigger picture of prostitution in Jakarta. Through fast-moving storytelling way, the author, in one special book event I organized some time ago, revealed that the reality left unwritten has more stories than the whole 160 pages in total.
Dragging the main character from victim to survivor, Maman takes the readers to see the story he observed for his thesis in many different aspects. Thanks to his ranging background---graduated from Criminology with Journalism experience! This 'trick', I think, helps many to flip their old thinking patterns towards women, especially on those who work as prostitute by taking a line between theory and truth. Twisting misogyny-minded assumption is something this society needs by mixing political and social cultural motives in.
If you're a CSI, Castle, Law and Order (especially SVU) fans, you would enjoy learning a few criminology theories. And if you have interest in gender studies, you might also like it.
Personally, I kinda have a connection. I mean, in a weird way. Because the hotel Maman wrote about, it's close to my school. I have spent 9 years seeing that school almost every morning.
On the other hand, somehow, it's just interesting to see the world most people see with disgust and hate, could affect more than everyone can imagine. And how this whole thing has something dear left for the author himself. Maman dig the humanity in the world most people would only condemn, yet adore in secret by some other, seeing the other unseen half of life told in Jakarta Undercover.
It's shocking, tearful, emotional and touche. Another jaw-dropping ending closed the story that held me back from sleeping for couple of nights. Then oh, I'm a tearjerker. Wondering and thinking. The complexity gives a lot to my mind. Re: also reminds us that life is tough battle (for everyone).
So probably, good night, Re.