Sury Samsurya, the modern Kartini

Posted by David Khoirul

Sury SamsuryaLiving in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is never easy, especially if you're a non-native resident, because people are so reluctant and crimes occur more frequently in the city. Sury Samsurya is a female teacher at TK Permata Indonesia, a kindergarten in Tanjung Priok, northern Jakarta. She's petite and has long hair, and loves listening to rock music. In 2002, with the help of his cousin Atto who had stayed in Jakarta for quite long time, she left her home in the village of Cabenge, Makasar, South Sulawesi, for the metropolitan city.

"Just like Jakarta, Cabenge is hot at noon and cold at night, and it's far from the sea," she says. The 32-year-old Sury thought that she would not get any better life if she kept staying in her small village in the district of Soppeng, a city known as Kota Kalong.

In her early years In Jakarta, Atto gave her a space, allowing her to stay in his house and providing her with a bedroom. And when finally she got married in 2004, she stayed at her own house. Her marriage, however, didn't last long.

On May 11, 2005, Sury's first child, M. Lailul Agsya Irawan, was born.

Agsya, often called as Caca, now seven years old, lives with her in a beautiful house in Tanjung Priok, a subdistrict that hosts the western part of the city's main harbour. Sury enrolled Caca at the school where she currently teaches. "I love playing Evanescence songs aloud in the bedroom while singing them with Caca," she says.

I ask her why she loves Evanescense, and Sury says, "I listened to Evanescence in 2003 when I watched Dare Devil movie, which features 'Bring Me to Life' as a soundtrack. The music is hard yet the vocal is so soft, representing the characters of women like me. Since then I've become one of the big fans."

Evanescence is an American rock band founded in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1995 by singer Amy Lee and guitarist Ben Moody.

As a single mother, Sury works alone to make the ends meet, and she takes care of Caca herself, bringing him to school and home every morning and afternoon by public transports, which takes almost half an hour.

She's surely a strong woman. The name Sury, or Surya itself, is the Sanskrit word for the Sun, a good symbol for a tough and brilliant mom.

Her struggle to live in Jakarta, with all the hardship of the city, reminds me of Kartini, a prominent Javanese and a pioneer in the area of women's rights for Indonesians, who fought alone to reach her dreams. Kartini died in 1904, at the age 25. It is not exaggerating if I say Sury is the modern Kartini.

"Kartini is always remembered because she raised women's lives, education and equality in Indonesia, but nowadays you can find more women like her, who do more sacrifice and struggle," says Sury.

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