On Bravado, Bravery, and Braggadocio: My Repartee with a Minister

3 Oct

One evening on December 2008, I went to sleep without knowing if I would ever wake up again.  I was hospitalized because of several opportunistic infections, -including pneumonia, that could easily kill a person with HIV/AIDS.  In a lot of pain, I knew that I was having my close encounter with the grim reaper.  And friend, let me tell you, that wasn’t a nice feeling.  Think about it.  Lying awake with your eyes open, you’re forced to confront a certain conundrum: what is it on the other side?  Not to mention the awful knowledge that you’re going to leave your loved ones behind.  On that moment, I was petrified to learn that what I wrote in my letter to my son might actually come true.  I might have been knocking on heaven’s door, but those forlorn hours at that night were a fiery hell that made me cringe in tears.

Now as you continue to read this, please keep that picture in your mind.  A terminally-challenged HIV patient contracting himself in agony, drenched in a shiny film of sweat, tortured physically and mentally in his last night to live.  For any one that could pass it and actually gets better like me, there are hundreds that did not make it to the morning.  In fact, of all the 6 persons in the room where I was hospitalized, I am the only survivor.  I watched them die one by one.

Fast forward to now.  Within the last several days, a certain minister of our country issued some statements over Twitter about HIV/AIDS that I found insulting.  Without trying to gloss over what I’ve already said in my answers to him, let me just say that his statements are typical to what stigmatization is all about.  Also, it seemed to me that there could be no possible excuses that could explain how such statements are allowed.  Personal opinion?  Sir, you forfeit your personal opinion when you take that job.  That’s just the cost of politics.  Was merely quoting another person?  Hey, how stupid do you think I am?  Unless it was specifically stated otherwise, you just don’t get around quoting people without agreeing with their points.

I am not a mind reader.  But to me, it was clear that the minister was displaying a cocksure braggadocio.  Whoever he was trying to impress, to a common sense it will always be a lame attempt of bravado.  Which is why I’m offering him a chance to turn it into a true bravery of a man.

Mr. Sembiring, let me repeat the invitation that I extended before.  I would like to have a chance to meet you over a cup of coffee.  And that’s the keyword: a cup.  For if you dare to share my cup, our country would witness a man who dares to own up that he made a mistake, and is freed from any distorted thinking of bigoted stigmatization against people with HIV/AIDS.  And don’t you worry, Sir.  I’m a man too.  While I have my differences with you, I will be the first to shake your hand and tell my friends that you’re a good man once we’re done with that coffee.

The question you have to answer is:  Do you have to do it and accept my invitation?  Of course not.  But let it be clear that our country will take note of your response to this.  If you do it, it won’t be about me winning or you losing something.  No, the winner would be Life itself, with a capital “L”.  Plus, you get the bonus of turning a previous bravado into a true act of bravery.

As I close this piece, understand that I’m not doing this for popularity or grudge.  No, I am just trying to finish what I have started.  Being a HIV patient myself, I know that there are too many punishments we have to bear.  We don’t need another insult to our dignity.  And if I get to be the one who do this, I’ll do it over and over again:  I am fighting back.  I rest my case.


14 Responses to “On Bravado, Bravery, and Braggadocio: My Repartee with a Minister”

  1. bona sigalingging October 3, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    Yakin pak, dia tak akan mau! Hehe

    Tp kalau dia tdk mau, biarlah, bapak share a cup of coffee dgn saya saja. Bakoel koffee cikini tempat kopi favorit saya, ditempat favorit bapak juga boleh hehe

    Saya memang bukan menteri,masih muda pula dan belum kenal pribadi dgn bapak, tp sy ingin belajar ttg hidup dan kehidupan lebih banyak lagi.

    Dan yg utama, make a friend, without boundaries


    Bona Sigalingging
    Twitter: @bonasays
    Punten,pak, saya follow twitter bapak

  2. fajarjasmin October 3, 2010 at 3:50 pm #


    Yuk, walaupun jangan berharap bisa belajar apa2 dari saya… Hehehehe…

  3. dearnessa_ October 3, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

    Gee…You are a really good man for sure….. I’ve never known a person with HIV before, and it’s so relieving to know that an HIV patient can be this optimistic 🙂 I’m pretty sure that u’ve inspired lots of people, and of course lots of people out there wouldn’t mind to share a cup of coffee with you 😀

    • fajarjasmin October 5, 2010 at 7:45 am #

      I don’t know about inspiring, I’m just trying to live to the best way I know how. Thanks for sharing…

  4. Prama Shaumadhana October 3, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

    Exquisite article Sir Jasmin. I’ve never seen this side of you until the fuss about the minister who insulted particular people spreading among the internet.
    I’ve been following your twitter account since the day you came up in Metro TV’s techno-gadget-whatsoever program (which I still loathe because the host’s lack of information about techno stuff).
    Thank you for being born Sir Jasmin. You are such a gift to us. Everyone should live their life as fullest as yours.

    • fajarjasmin October 5, 2010 at 7:50 am #

      Thank you, Prama…

      Actually, everyone is a gift to himself, and to the world…

      Now I sound like those new-age thing… 😀

  5. galeshka October 3, 2010 at 7:53 pm #

    I’ve mention a similar statement the other day on my tweet, but I guess no, he won’t entertain your challenge.

    He’ll be counting on a little lip service and the tendency of the mass to forgot his blunder and switching for another issue.

    But hey, you’ve made the offer, that for me shows who’s got the better character.

    • fajarjasmin October 5, 2010 at 7:53 am #

      Yeah, I’m very well aware of that…

      This post was actually written because of that. Here, I explained what it meant if he accept, -or refuse.

  6. Dian Herdian October 5, 2010 at 6:01 am #

    Mohon ijin untuk follow ya…

    Keberanian untuk menjalani hidup, itu pelajaran yang bisa saya tangkap dari kisah Bapak.

    You’ve proven yourself much better than that coward minister. You’re great man!!

    Terima kasih telah berbagi… Gbu.

    twitter: dhyudanie

    • fajarjasmin October 5, 2010 at 7:56 am #

      Silakan, Dian.. Selamat datang.. 🙂

      Maybe “coward” is putting it too much. I would say that he’s a man who made mistakes. Many mistakes, hehehe…

  7. Julie Loemakto November 9, 2010 at 10:17 pm #

    Sesuatu yg baru memang selalu menakutkan. Terlepas dr benar atau salah, seneng atau nggak seneng, terima atau nggak terima.

    Aku follow twitter Mas Fajar mmg pas huru hara tiffy. I couldnt comment anything then, yet I felt like I need to know more from “you”. (I didnt have friend like you before).

    I understand people who against “you” and people who support you as well.

    And, ever since I followed you, finally I knew (maybe it’s a bit bias for people who very much against you) that you’re just as “healthyl” as we are. >>forgive me to somehow in this sentence I make you differ<<

    Im glad that you're a friend of mine (on twitter), and Im so glad that you survive and encourage others to survive.

    I support you all the way, and your wife too… 🙂

    • fajarjasmin March 28, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

      Astaga, Julie…

      Kok baru ngeh ya, kamu ninggalin comment di sini?

      Forgive my tardiness. Thank you for dropping by. It means a lot to me 🙂

  8. cekeysh December 2, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    surf to find you here. I read about immi in detik.com and surely wants to know who this brave man. keep going! my pray and support to you and your family.

    ps: lupakan tifatul. he is nothing.

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