Mon, 04 Sep 2000

Thanks to fellow letter writers

I woke up the other day to a new world; one full of agents of change. Spiritually, I feel much richer and I like to think that I am more useful to society, while in fact I have remained a poor letter writer.

Mr. D. Chandramouli, a renown letter writer himself, has congratulated me on receiving an award from the Indonesian Museum of Records for having written letters to The Jakarta Post practically every week for almost three years.

Yes, you are correct, Mr. Chandramouli, that since I began writing in English, the late Mahatma Gandhi's spirit of tolerance, caring for the down-trodden and fighting against every form of injustice, particularly in my profession as a writer, has never left me and is growing every day. Like the great Mahatma Gandhi, I consider myself a world citizen and that every living thing is part of the universe of creation and part of myself. My philosophy is to be more creative and less aggressive, be ever forgiving; to give more and to take less. In short, to make people happy, to give them hope.

You may discover my letters also are designed to entertain, apart from informing or educating. Only my sense of humor may sometimes be hard to understand.

A newspaper, after all, is read by the whole family and that is why I refer often to historical facts, such as revolutions, scientific inventions, stars, galaxies and the world of animals. There was a time when I wanted to change my name from Gandhi to Ganda, which sounds more Indonesian or West Javanese. But Gandhiji from his Gandhi Samedi in New Delhi did not allow me to do so. Hopefully, he meant to say that I am worthy of carrying his great name, his flame being not a burden but a holy mission. (Unfortunately, I do not like goat's milk).

Of course, I would also like to thank Mr. Adrianus Hiyung Tjung for his praise and encouragement to keep on writing.

Another distinguished personality who has congratulated me on the award is New Zealand Ambassador Michael Green. While many think that letter writing is a dead art, the ambassador said: "Mr. Gandhi Sukardi has made it a living art."

"To catch the attention of busy readers and hold their interest requires real skill as a writer," he also said in a letter to me.

I could not be happier, therefore, if I could arrange a meeting someday with the readers of my letters to show my appreciation.

I shall see to it that you return home with a collection of my letters bundled into a book. Mr. Rudolf Polderman, a Dutch citizen living in Indonesia, deserves my sincere thanks for having attended the awards ceremony the other day. I was told, during my award presentation, that U.S. Ambassador Mr. Robert Gelbard also reads my letters as an indispensable part of his breakfast. My sincere thanks to you, Mr. Ambassador!

But please do not forget that thanks to the excellent editing of the Post staff, my letters have become more readable and my sense of humor more acceptable, although sometimes also more complicated to understand.