Indonesia: Daughter of Bali Bombing Victim Recalls Lonely Childhood

By Zahara Tiba
150324-bali-candle-620 An Indonesian woman takes part in a candelight vigil in Jakarta for the victims of the Bali bombings, Oct. 16, 2002.

Luh Putu Noni Marheni was 10 when her father was killed in the October 2002 terrorist attack in Kuta, on the south side of the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

To support his wife and three daughters back home in Singaraja, on the island’s north side, Ketut Sumerawat worked as a driver in the touristic beach town.

Noni, the eldest child, knew her father better than her little sisters.

Now 22, Noni (pictured below) shared her story with BenarNews about how the memory of her father haunted her and how she recovered from the emotional trauma around his violent death:

If I had to describe my father, I would say he was the only one who could understand me very well. He loved the family so much. He was a funny man. He was a father and a friend to me.

He was my everything.

I was a fourth-grade student at an elementary school in Singaraja. We stayed at grandmother's house back then, while my father worked in Kuta.

That afternoon, I saw my mother weep. Then I recognized my uncle from my father’s side of the family was there. He rarely visited us there. By that time, I knew something was wrong. What I can remember is that my mother told me my father had passed away.

I did not believe it right away. It's just impossible, because we had been waiting for him for months.

He did not even come home to celebrate (the Hindu holy day) of Galungan. And it felt so strange. I had to see a shaman many times and he said my father was hidden somewhere. I was glad about that prediction.

So I kept waiting for him to come home. I still kept the hope alive, though ceremonies were held to commemorate his death.

I spent my days waiting in a nearby food stall where my father usually spent his leisure time with the neighbors. I stayed there until night fell.

Then my mother picked me up, saying "Let's get inside. It's dark already. Why are you still out here?"

I came in and still kept the hope in mind that he would be home tomorrow.

I kept doing it until I reached the third year of junior high school.

Luh Putu Noni Marheni

We moved to Sanur (in southern Bali) a year after the tragedy. I still hoped I would meet him there. I failed my studies. I had to spend another year to finish the fifth grade. Relatives and friends reminded me to study well for my future.

But their words just bounced off.

I felt like I lived in a bubble, in a prison. I knew people were out there, but I was stuck inside. I felt so lonely and everything was dark around me. I missed him so much.

Slowly, I dealt with the reality. I realized my life must go on. I finished my studies under a scholarship provided by a foundation focused on helping kids of bomb victims' families.

Now, I'm taking a break from my studies at LP3I College of Denpasar and focusing on my job as a marketing employee for a company. I have also been running an online shop with some friends.

It's interesting what the internet can do. You can do anything on the internet, including an online business. The money is not bad. I can help support my family's daily expenses and share some with my two sisters.

Finishing my studies is still my top priority. I know if I want to get a better position in a company, I must have a strong educational background.

I want to live in peace. From my experience, terrorism only caused suffering and pain. I lost the person I love the most.

We all should unite against terrorism. I hope that there are no more threats, and that no more kids have to suffer as we did.


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