May 31, 2006

Teacher lost friends to tsunami, now father to quake

By Achmad Sukarsono

TRIMULYO, Indonesia (Reuters) - Teacher Muhammad Yusan lost
many friends when an earthquake and subsequent tsunami hammered
Indonesia's Aceh province on December 26, 2004.

Now, another earthquake has killed his father and reduced
his childhood home to ruins.

"I cannot believe these disasters have happened. The quake
and tsunami in Aceh felt like the end of the world and I do not
have words to describe the situation here," Yusan told Reuters
as he sat near the spot where his 68-year-old father, Marsudi,

Shattered spectacles, black shoes blanketed with dust,
leather belts and a broken old radio were strewn around
Marsudi's metal-frame bed, which was still covered by rubble.

Yusan jumped on the first plane from the island of Sumatra
on Saturday when he received a call with the bad news from his
home village of Trimulyo on neighboring Java island.

The tremors rocked areas near Java's ancient royal city of
Yogyakarta about an hour after dawn, but it took him eight
hours to get there because he had to take three connecting
flights and a bus.

When Yusan arrived at the riverside village of Trimulyo, it
was pitch black: but he could see that the village of his
childhood was now just a pile of bricks and clay roof tiles.

"I could not say a word. I could only hug my mother and
younger siblings and cry," said Yusan, the eldest of six.

"Memories of childhood rushed out. I remembered how father
liked to pinch my ears whenever I did wrong. He was a tough
guy. He was a real scout," Yusan said, showing a photo of a
wrinkled man in the brown uniform of the Indonesian scout

Marsudi was a respected school principal who last renovated
his brick house in the 1970s. All six children grew up there.


His 42-year-old son, a Muslim, said: "What I need to do is
to appreciate whatever God gives me because He could take them
(family and friends) away just like that."

"I will share these lessons with my students," said Yusan,
who teaches at an elementary school and teaches handicraft
skills to the disabled in Aceh, where he has lived for over a

The May 27 Java quake killed more than 5,800 people in and
around Yogyakarta, while the 2004 tsunami left more than
170,000 Aceh residents killed or missing. Both tragedies
rendered hundreds of thousands homeless.

Yusan's nuclear family and house in Aceh survived the
tsunami, but he doubts his mother would want to move there.

Widow Siti Zaidiyah said the tragedy had ruined the place
she considered home for most of her life.

"I have children living in Aceh and other parts of Java but
my home is here and my heart is here," said the wiry woman, who
has been living for days in a tent made out of old banners and
slabs of the front door that could be salvaged.

Mud has flooded the tent for three rainy nights and her
sons plan to add some scrap wood as flooring to keep her dry.

Yusan plans to fly back to Aceh this week but he is
reluctant to leave his mother and the extended family, which
lost three other members, in anguish.

"I would not be able to sleep before I know my mother has a
proper place to live. Oh God, I need to help my mother," he
said, trying to hide his sobbing.