I came across Desliana Maulipakshi with a colleague incidentally when she was taking a bite at Italian beef lasagna in one corner of the main press centre of the Asian Games in Jakarta. It was busy hour in the early afternoon on Thursday and there was no empty table for two of us. So we took the empty chairs in front of Desliana and her boss Anandesh Langguana for our share of food.
Seeing our Bangladeshi face she got curious. It was a surprise for us because in the Asian Games hardly any Indonesian paid a special attention to Bangladeshis, who came in large group, created a buzz in many places but won nothing.
Desliana’s curiosity, however, had little to do with sporting glory or failure. She was at the MPC not as a journalist but as an official of Indonesia’s education ministry, who had been working to promote local school and college students that were doing well in the Games.
Being an education ministry official her special area of attention is language, which in fact made Desliana curious about Bangladesh. Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, where people speak in 652 different languages, though they also have one common language called bahasa Indonesia.
Desliana said every year they celebrate the 21st February as International Mother Language Day to promote the local languages and it has made her aware of Bangladesh’s history, their fight for the mother language and their independence struggle.
This year they also released a movie in Java language called Yowis Ben which coincided with the celebration of International Mother Language Day. Among other watching the movie at its premiere was Indonesian president Joko Widodo, said Desliana.
In the Asian Games Desliana’s special focus was on the Indonesia’s nine-year old skateboarder Aliqqa Novvery, who was happened to be the youngest participant of the meet. Desliana visited Palembang, where skateboard held, on Wednesday just to keep an eye on Aliqqa, who unfortunately failed to make a podium finish but already received wide plaudits for her courage to compete in such a big competition at such a tender age.
Desliana, 33, helped us speak to Aliqqa’s father Novvery Hardi on her phone for more details about the girl who has now come as a source of inspiration for thousands of young Indonesians.
Hardi said two years ago one of Aliqqa’s cousins came to their Jakarta home with a skateboard which made his little girl interested about it. She started playing with the skateboard and soon requested her parents to have one for her. Once she got her own skateboard it became a regular companion for Aliqqa.
In two years’s time Aliqqa, who was born only on April 2, 2009, developed so much skill that she got selected in the Indonesian team for the Asian Games.
Hardi, who has another children aged 15, said he has no regret for Aliqqa not winning any medal. ‘We are really proud of her as she dared to compete at such a young age,’ said Hardi, the employee of a beverage company in Jakarta. By the time we finished our conversation with Hadri it was time for Desliana to attend a meeting in her office and she had to go. She bade us goodbye but left with a lasting impression.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Miscellany