The Untold Journey of Sidik Kertapati: From Indonesian Revolution to Exile and Love, 1920–2007

In the year 1989, Ajip Rosidi embarked on a journey to the Netherlands, where he met Agam Wispi, a poet associated with the Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat (Lekra) who had been living in exile in Amsterdam. Despite having corresponded only through letters before, the two finally met in person at a bookstore in the Amsterdam station.

During their conversation, Ajip inquired about the address of Sidik Kertapati. Agam Wispi, as recorded in the book “Hidup Tanpa Ijazah: Yang Terekam dalam Kenangan” (2008, p. 1062–1063), mentioned that Sidik Kertapati had become a victim of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), whom he referred to as “cruel” for not showing respect to Sidik Kertapati’s significant contributions to the independence revolution.

According to Agam Wispi, as quoted by Ajip, “Sidik Kertapati had no understanding of communism. He didn’t even grasp the concept of communism.” Sidik Kertapati, born in Klungkung, Bali, on April 19, 1920, had a diverse background. After completing his education, he joined various political and revolutionary movements in Indonesia, including Gerindo (Gerakan Rakyat Indonesia) and Banteng Merah, an underground organization led by D.N. Aidit.

During the Japanese occupation of Indonesia, Sidik Kertapati joined the underground movement and became a part of Asrama Menteng 31, later known as Asrama Angkatan Baru Indonesia. He was active in advocating for the immediate proclamation of independence alongside other prominent figures like Chaerul Saleh, Adam Malik, and Lukman.

Sidik Kertapati’s life took a new turn after the proclamation of independence. He actively participated in the struggle, joining the Laskar Rakyat Jakarta Raya (LRJR) and becoming an editor for the LRJR magazine, Godam Djelata. Despite his involvement in the political scene, he faced challenges and was even mistakenly arrested by the military.

In 1947, Sidik Kertapati encountered Siti Rukiah, an activist and writer, and their relationship blossomed. They eventually got married and collaborated on various projects, including the compilation of the book “Sekitar Proklamasi 17 Agustus 1945” (Around the Proclamation of August 17, 1945). Despite being a sympathizer of the PKI, Sidik Kertapati represented Angkatan Communis Muda (Acoma) in parliament.

However, his political journey faced numerous obstacles, including arrests and internal conflicts within the government. After spending years in exile, Sidik Kertapati returned to Indonesia following the Reformasi in 1998. Yet his reunion with his wife, Rukiah, was short-lived, as she had passed away in 1996.

Sidik Kertapati’s life was a tapestry woven with political fervor, love, and resilience. His legacy lived on, reminding people of the complex and challenging times in Indonesia’s history.