First Person: Pak Seke: I have no hands but I'm a dentistAs told to David Goodwin 2009-05-08
It's really very relaxed in my dental clinic: you can have a cigarette and listen to the caged birds before I start. My patients sit in the living-room armchair while I work on them. I don't use an anaesthetic – the television is usually enough to distract them from the pain. I do fillings, extractions, braces, polishing and make sets of false teeth.
I live in North Jakarta, on the island of Java in Indonesia. I work in my front room, which doubles as the clinic. I've got the red-and-white teeth-and-gums sign stuck on my window that shows I'm an ahli gigi – a tooth expert. I'm 42 years old.
I learnt by helping another ahli gigi for a couple of years. One day I realised I could do it myself. So I bought some books, read them all and set up on my own. I've been a tooth expert for nearly 20 years. My wife, Jumani, began filling and drilling about three years ago, too, and helps me out when I need assistance.
我给另一位Ahli Gigi当了几年助手，学会这门手艺。有一天我意识到，我可以独立行医。于是，我买了一些书籍，通读之后开办了自己的诊所。我作为牙齿专家已有近20年历 史。我妻子朱曼尼(Jumani)也在大约3年前开始为病人补牙和钻牙，并在我需要协助时过来帮忙。
When I started out, people were a little afraid of me; but after a while word spread and I got a lot of patients. I have a steady stream of customers now – about seven to 10 a fortnight. Most of my patients are working-class. If they've got more money, they'll go to a dokter gigi: a dentist, or tooth doctor.
One of my fillings will set you back Rp50,000 (£3.10), and an extraction costs Rp75,000. A clean-and-polish is Rp200,000 and a personally designed brace comes in at around Rp3m (£190). If I take out an old tooth and replace it with a false one, I won't charge you for the tooth-pull.
I'm missing both hands and one leg because my mother drank a soup with monkey parts in it when she was pregnant with me. It was my father's idea – he was Chinese-Indonesian and believed in health potions. The medicine was supposed to stop my mother from being sick, but then I was born like this. Some people in Indonesia say that you'll harm your unborn baby if you hurt or kill something while you're pregnant. My mum said that I'm missing some of my limbs because the monkey had his hands and legs chopped off, too. I don't blame either of my parents, though. I'm happy that I've got work. I've also got a great family. And both of my daughters are normal.
I was born a Muslim but most Chinese-Indonesians are Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant or follow Confucianism. I don't know when my ancestors came to Jakarta – I don't know exactly where they're from in China. Chinese-Indonesians were forced to give up their family names during President Suharto's New Order, from 1965 to 1998. So now we're all called western names or Indonesian names such as Suprianto. Even the older generations were given new names halfway through their lives. That's why a lot of our genealogy died out during the New Order; it made it much harder for us to trace our family trees.
When I'm not busy with patients, I work as a taxi driver. I bought a minivan with the proceeds from my dental business, so I take young mums shopping, drop kids at school and ferry goods around. Driving without hands isn't very difficult: everybody goes slow in Jakarta, and I take my time like everyone else. I put my false leg on when I'm behind the wheel so that I can use the clutch: I use a manual for more control. I'm different from your normal taxi driver. People like me for that.
Apart from when I'm driving, I don't wear my false leg much – it grates when I walk on it. I don't need to use it in the dental clinic as I've got my technique down pat. I sandwich myself between the wall and the back of the armchair, and then I push down on to the patient's face with my forearms to keep them from shaking around. No one's complained yet.
我没有双手，并且只有一条腿，因为我母亲在怀我的时候喝了一种用猴骨肉块熬的汤。这是我父亲的主意——他是印尼华人，对保健药剂很是信赖。这种药本 来是要防止我母亲生病，但后来我生下来却是这个样子。有些印尼人说，如果你在怀孕期间伤害了什么东西或者杀生，你的胎儿就会受损。我妈妈说，我之所以肢体 残缺，是因为用来熬汤的猴子的手腿被砍掉了。但我不怪我的父母。我很高兴自己有份工作，还有一个美好的家庭，而且我两个女儿都很正常。
我出生在一个穆斯林家庭。不过，印尼华人大多是佛教徒、天主教徒、基督教徒或者信奉儒家思想。我并不知道我祖先何时来的雅加达，也不清楚他们究竟来 自中国的哪个地方。在1965年至1998年苏哈托(Suharto)总统的“新秩序”(New Order)时期，印尼华人被迫放弃了自己的姓氏。因此，现在我们的名字都是西方式的或印尼式的——例如苏普里扬托(Suprianto)。即使是老一辈 的印尼华人，也被迫在人生中途起了新的名字。这就是我们的宗谱在“新秩序”时期大量绝迹的原因；我们也因此更难查考自己的家谱。
诊所不忙的时候，我会去开出租车。我用我的牙科生意所得买了一辆小型厢式旅行车。于是，我就开车接年轻妈妈们购物，送孩子们上学，在附近送货。尽管 没有手，但驾车对我来说并不十分困难：在雅加达，每个人都开得很慢，我和其他司机一样悠哉游哉。开车的时候，我会穿戴上假肢，以便踩离合器：我的车是手动 档的，为的是进行更多的操控。我与你平常所见的出租车司机不同，因此很受人们欢迎。