Yamin's Year

A Journey from Betrayal to Redemption in Bintaro


Peter Pickering

3/6/20243 min read

In the bustling heart of Jakarta, amidst the hum of relentless activity, I found myself navigating the complexities of life as a family man, married with a daughter, settled in the suburb of Bintaro. I had visions of transposing my bottled water business, once flourishing in Australia, to the fertile grounds of Indonesia. The blueprint of my ambition was funded by the staggered payments from the sale of my two Australian stores to a trusted friend, Brian Barber. Yet, as the tale unfolded, trust proved to be a fragile commodity; Brian sold the business and vanished with the profits, leaving a trail of betrayal and shattered plans.

So here I was, in this foreign city, funds running low, and my inherent trust in friendships once again leading to disappointment. But as the old adage goes, "When one door closes, another opens," and such was the case when a lifeline emerged from an email sent by a business acquaintance, Michael Kar, in Perth. A proposition so timely, it seemed fate had penned it; he offered to bankroll my venture. Thus, we established two modest water factories, setting the stage for a new chapter.

Among the first to join our team was Yamin, a young man from the same humble, god-fearing village that blessed us with our two devoted housemaids. His enthusiasm, diligence and innate mechanical prowess hinted at becoming the bedrock of our burgeoning enterprise. We lifted him from the bounds of a mundane village existence, offering him not merely a job but a sanctuary within the industrial embrace of our Bintaro factory. Yamin transcended the role of an ordinary employee in my eyes; he embodied the spirit of a son, a soul to guide and a promise to cultivate.

But, as with all human sagas, the light of trust again cast a shadow of deceit. Our accountant, Miftach, approached me one day, his brow furrowed with concern. The accounts stood askew, with a glaring void where funds should have been. The trail led to two cheques, fraudulently cashed. Miftach, with the precision of a detective, traced the deceitful ink back to Yamin, who had absconded to a nearby village with an accomplice.

The betrayal stung bitterly, and soon Yamin found himself encased within the cold bars of a cell. When I faced him at the station, he was a mere shadow, consumed by guilt. Ita, my wife, aflame with righteous fury, unleashed her wrath upon him, landing several well-placed blows, much to the muted amusement of the onlooking officers.

The duty officer’s question echoed like a moral gavel: What was to be Yamin's fate? The law was clear, yet it placed the weight of judgment upon my shoulders. Eight years of his young life hung in the balance.

I sought the solace of a night's contemplation, wrestling with the gravity of Yamin's potential fate. Could a young man's life be rerouted from the precipice of incarceration? In deliberation with Ita, a bespoke path of atonement was conceived. Yamin was offered a stern yet merciful alternative: a year's toil in the water factory, devoid of wages, reprieve, or respite, to repay his debt to us, not through lost years, but through service and rehabilitation.

Faced with this crucible of redemption, Yamin's tears flowed freely, his overwhelming gratitude manifesting in a poignant act of reverence that deeply moved me. The gesture of kissing my feet was unprecedented; for Yamin, it bordered on self-abasement, and for me, it was an excess of profound embarrassment. Yet, this act underscored the depth of his remorse and the earnestness of his thankfulness. “Thankyou Mister, thank you Mister”, he repeated, uncontrollably.

I discreetly handed the duty officer a customary plain envelope, bulging somewhat, a token of appreciation for their efforts and a nod to local practices and we escorted a deeply contrite Yamin back to the factory, not as a detainee but as a young man standing at the threshold of redemption. From that moment forward, his dedication never faltered; he ascended to become my deputy, embodying the profound impact of a second chance.

Before this concluding reflection, it's essential to note that the factory persevered for several years after my family and I relocated back to Australia, prioritising our daughter Jessica's education. In my absence, the enterprise, devoid of my direct oversight, ceased to yield profits, and the notion of returning never aligned with my intentions. Consequently, I made the decision to sell the factory, ensuring all staff were given ample notice to seek alternative employment, mindful that the new proprietors might not retain them.

As for Yamin's current chapter, it remains unwritten to me. I hold onto the hope that the life I chose to nurture has continued to flourish, far beyond the walls of our factory. The ripples of that decision, I believe, have spanned further than the waters we bottled, shaping a future that once teetered on the edge of oblivion.

© Peter Pickering 2024.