Sun, 06 Aug 2000

My father is a hero to me, Yenny says

Zannuba "Yeni" Arifah Chafsoh Rahman, 25, a former journalist and the second eldest daughter of President Abdurrahman Wahid, found time in her busy schedule as the presidential translator to share a light discussion with The Jakarta Post's Kornelius Purba.

It is the first interview with public figures in our new weekly column.

Question: If you had a choice, what would you be doing now?

Answer: I would like to spend a year just reading and writing. That is what I like to do.

What do you like best about yourself?

What is it? Let me think ... I am ready to take risks sometimes without caring about the consequences. I think I have always been in a way like my father, not afraid, courageous. That is what I like.

What do you dislike about yourself?

I worry too much, I worry too much about things. That stops me from moving on sometimes. I worry about my life, about many things. About things which seem to be negative, and instead of focusing on the positive side, I just worry too much about the negative side. Sometimes I worry about my father, my family, and as a result I do not do anything about it. Oh, no, no, as a result I worry instead of doing things; instead of fixing it, I spend more time worrying. I worry about my worried side.

Who do you admire?

I really admire my father, he is a hero in a sense to me. He taught us many things, and I still learn a lot from him. I learn many things, and life with him is such an ongoing process, we learn many things from him every day. He is the one I admire.

How about your mother?

My mom is very strong in her own quiet way. And she teaches us to be patient, and to believe in God. That is what my parents teach us -- to believe in God. Try your best, but ultimately you have to trust God, because God will give you the best.

What is your favorite attire?

Casual, anything that does not stop me from moving ... (which) allows me much freedom to move. My favorite colors are red and black.

What is the latest book you read?

I am still reading The Third Way by Anthony Giddens, I have not finished it yet. I am also still reading the encyclopedia of wayang (shadow puppets). I look at it from time to time. The book belongs to my dad.

What makes you angry?

Ignorance and intolerance. Ignorance in the sense that sometimes people just refuse to see the other side of a story. And they feel satisfied staying in a limited frame of mind, and not exploring many kinds of views. That is what I call ignorance. The stubbornness to stay ignorant, that is what makes me angry. It is not just ignorance itself but the stubbornness. There is no willingness to learn more about something.

What makes you sad?

Many things makes me sad, like the condition of the nation now, people's unwillingness to accept each other.

What is the most touching moment for you?

Being with kids, and I love kids so much. There is a moment of truth when you are with kids. They reflect innocence.

What characteristic do you dislike

I think I answered it before, the unwillingness to listen to each other. Pretentiousness because I cannot stand pretentious people. I find it difficult to try to be nice to people who are pretentious, (who feel) they are better than everybody else. And there are many people like that in the palace.

What is the most memorable thing about your father?

A moment or characteristic? The most memorable moments are when he teaches us about life, and sometimes he cries. When he spoke about his friends in Egypt, and the values he remembered from that time (his college years), he cried. And when talking about the people he really admires, sometimes he cries.

The funniest joke from your father?

There are so many jokes. The jokes about Nahdlatul Ulama are funny because they are spontaneous. One still makes me laugh, about an NU ulema making a speech. He said he was proud of my father because not only was he a local figure, but also an interlokal (long distance call) figure ... Instead of international, the ulema described him as an "interlocal" figure.

What would you do if left alone in a desert?

I would read and write.

How do you view people in the palace?

Sometimes they make me laugh. I have a guard who is from the military. Whenever I ask him something, he always replies: "Siap (ready)", not just yes or no. I once asked him to answer yes or no, instead of siap, and he replied: "Yes, siap".

What is your favorite movie?

It is My Best Friend's Wedding, because it does not have a happy ending. About movies, people think that there must be a happy ending, but in this film it does not happen that way. Because life must move on, that is why I like it. To laugh about it, to have a good laugh about it.

Do you worry about your weight?

That is very normal, but I am quite satisfied with the way I look, because I believe what is inside is much more important than what is on the outside. The inner beauty.

Would you like plastic surgery?

For my knees, and my thumbs, too (laughs). You ask such funny questions.

What is the price of being popular?

Am I popular? It costs me my freedom, the freedom to be myself. My privacy, I don't have privacy anymore. And people constantly judge you, from their point of view. They just ignore your point of view. I do not like that I cannot do what I used to do. I cannot take public buses, I cannot use taxis, I cannot ride a motorbike. I miss all that.

What job would you like to do?

I love writing, so being an artist I suppose, painting, writing. Something which allows me to dictate my own life. I know it would not pay much.