Losing Mentors

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They’re like Papa to me. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

I am in grief. It took me around an entire month to discover the fact that one of my mentors I look up to passed away. Blame it on my digital news diet.

I was just googling and suddenly I stumbled upon a flyer showing condolence of Nukman Luthfie’s passing. Still in utter disbelief, I googled once again, trying to make sure it wasn’t hoax or a hideous joke that some irresponsible person was uploading on to Twitter.

I took to Instagram and found that his Instagram account was updated on the end of January 2019. This was a little bit unusual because he was always updating frequently. He was a social media maven and digital pundit of the country, so it was a bit suspicious when he stopped uploading fresh content for a too long time.

So I found condolence remarks on his passing here and there on Twitter and Instagram, two social media services he was actively engaged in.

Stroke killed him, which is quite a shock. He looked robust at 52 and didn’t show any signs of major health deterioration. Certainly, I was a little concerned to see him snacking on fried cassava and coffee as early breakfast but he just looked okay and highly functional.

He was impressively helpful. I recall the time when I asked for his willingness to get included in my referer list. I was about to submit a form as a social media speaker and because he was someone in the social media realm and he knew me well, I thought he was the best person to ask for reference. And he said yes immediately. What touched my heart even more is that he still remembered where I used to work and asked what I was up to at the time. Very cordial and sweet.

The other mentor I just also lost earlier this month is Subur Wardoyo. A lecturer teaching English at Universitas Negeri Semarang (the undergraduate program of English Literature) and Universitas Diponegoro Semarang (the graduate program of Literature). Always proud of being a graduate of New York University, Pak Subur – as far as I am concerned – was a nonpolitical personality. He didn’t seem disturbed by office politics around him. He got very unapologetically practical, focused, blunt and frank. I still remember how shrewd his tip was as we were assigned to write an essay on a particular American literary work years ago when I was still in my graduate years, which lasted 3 painful years. “You can just tactfully change and rephrase sentences you’ve made for the previous assignment if you want to. But don’t be too obvious. Be smart,” said he back then as long as my memory serves right.

He’d always been that helpful literary fairy for us. So resourceful and generous with the final scores, something that I remorsefully failed to do when I was a lecturer myself in the past. He understood that most of those American novels are unusually thick (that tomb-stone-sized Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” for example), so he provided some hacks to get the learning objectives done. Knowing that we would never manage to chew that all in a short time (well, being a literary program students here doesn’t mean you have to be a bookworm with a lightning speed of reading), he screened us the movie, he read us the key scenes and provided key pointers that led to what really matters in the literary works in question. That way, we could be prepared well to get our assignments done on time.

I cannot tell how much I miss them both. They’re such influential figures in my academic and professional pursuit altogether. (*/)

[Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.]

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