Review: Heldy - Soekarno's Final Crush (Eng)

12:19 AM

...The book is written in Indonesian, to read the review in Indonesian, click here*

Title: Heldy - Cinta Terakhir Bung Karno (Eng: Heldy - Soekarno's Final Love Story)
Author(s): Ully Hermono & Peter Kasenda
Publisher: Penerbit Buku Kompas
Year: 2011
Pages: 254
Language: Indonesian
Rate: 2.5

Most Indonesians might not even know Heldy Djafar, the first president's last wife. Coming from Tenggarong, Borneo, Indonesia, Heldy came to Jakarta along with her siblings for her study. As a little girl from a little town, the first contact she had with the President was only through her radio when there was a presidential speech broadcast. For the biggest surprise in her life, Heldy finally met President Soekarno in person when she joined the Barisan Bhineka Tunggal Ika (a front consisted of youth wearing traditional costumes, in purposed to greet state's honorary guests and the president himself).

The first meeting continued to the memorable second and third encounters, where both the 68-year-old Soekarno and 18-year-old Heldy finally got together. After battling with Heldy's doubt on Soekarno's love, who already had several wives at the time, Heldy decided to accept his proposal and married him in a year later.

Through the story told, 180 degree change seen in Heldy's life ever since the President openly showed his interest to her. From being watched by his personal guards, constant visits and lots of cash and gifts given to Heldy and her family, such as Mercedes Benz car sent to her home by just in one-day request and Hajj pilgrimage. But, the happiness didn't last long, the political situation turned Soekarno and Heldy's life upside down. During the difficult moments, the newlywed couple had to be separated as restrictions released for Soekarno by the second president of coup d'etat, his own General, Soeharto.

In this phase, Heldy's position as the young wife gave her pressures, limited time and space to be with her loving husband and rivalry against the senior wives. Although things she couldn't handle for longer had been getting to the peak, she could finally reunite with her old friends and including the secret admirer for a long time reappeared. Heldy, then, decided to marry the another man, a royal-blood of Borneo who worked as state officer and had kids. Obviously, it was a marriage that broke Soekarno's heart even more, ended his last love story.

Even though she was told to be lucky by a few certain people who 'claimed' to have sixth-sense, Heldy found a long path to gain and to regain happiness. The difficult decision she made was to leave Soekarno, then to marry a royal-blood man gave her a brief moment of happiness. Still, Heldy had to face another broken moment when Soekarno finally passed away. Years gone by, her daughter, Maya, married to the second Indonesian president's grandson, Ari Sigit, but ended up with bitter divorce and had to fight an addiction from drugs where Heldy needed to help finding her way out. While their financial was low and she had to accept the fact that she needed to sell out all Soekarno's expensive gifts for her sick husband and nothing left remain of her golden years.

It's been an interesting way to dig out the other side of Indonesia's late president, Soekarno, by having deep insight of his wives. His spirit that brought the nation into liberty, together with the charm and legacy he had are still unforgettable. The romanticism, love stories, sacrifices, journeys---Every piece of Soekarno has become memorable and precious ones to find. 

Sadly, on the other side, this biography made us, the readers, somehow, see a picture of Soekarno, where he treated his wives like dolls with all the money, housing, gifts, trips and easy career opportunities. It is hard to explain how, as the narration is centered to Heldy and no interviews taken with Soekarno's children or else. Yet, each word written in his notes to Heldy opened the deeper poetic soul of the president, the way he shared his affection, how he treated a woman. Desoekarnoisation could just be diminished by the real humanly Soekarno retold by his last beloved wife.

Heldy kept his first husband letters although she was asked to burn, along with expensive traditional Batik cloths. Those became the evidence of dream-come-true moments in her life. I could say that it might be hard for the readers to see the other side of  the story. As it was written in this review before, the story was depending on Heldy and family's statements. It is seemed that the writers were afraid or confined to write freely on Heldy and Soekarno, and kept on repeating the bragging the Indonesian culture's pride, instead of talking about facts and on-depth research for this biography.

This first biography published felt like there was a hiatus of data, an agenda might be involved. Fortunately, the book can still complete the missing link of the history which had been recreated during the New Order regime, especially on the power displacement. The life of Heldy brought us more to another side of Soekarno, which awakened us that a love story doesn't belong to one person, but both who walked together, creating the touche parts of their lives. And the rest was then only a story of a ordinary wife of an intimate extraordinary fairy tale who kept on living her destiny, bringing along the figure of Soekarno into the current reformation era where Soekarno and his battle left as only a history to remember.

You Might Also Like


  1. if he was not a respectful president, say he was religious leader *cough* he would have been deemed a low life for wooing young girl in to his bed, hah.

  2. Well, just like how Americans have forgiven Clinton for Lewinsky-gate. For the better US economy, he has brought back. And so, probably for almost the same thing, IMHO, happens to Soekarno. Probably. But take a look at this...this is not sex scandal, but this is polygamy. Clinton faced the consequences but kept doing what he should as a president. Soekarno didn't let his personal life ruining his leadership.

    Although, as for someone who is strongly against polygamy, personally I would say that polygamy shouldn't be a subject we have to welcome or accept now or in the future. But if you compare him to any religious leaders... Well, they don't stand a chance. Disgracing his own religious teachings by having lots of wives, sharing misleading opinions? Besides, what have they done for the country, anyway? IMHO.


Thanks for reading! You're most welcome to leave some of your lovable words...