My last communication with him was in April 15th. I asked him if he could write an introduction for my 'book.' He replied shortly, "Please send me your draft. I'll see what I can write." Two days later he was admitted to Medistra Hospital because his Hb dropped. He left Medistra a few days later, and he was OK. But then in April 24th I heard he fell into a comma and rushed to Pondok Indah. He stayed unconscious until his last day.
Pak Hadi has been battling against his prostate cancer for the last few years. He's been back and forth to Melbourne for his treatment. In an email he sent in December last year, he mentioned that the cancer has been expanded to his bone. A radical approach is needed to remove the cells. I sensed an admission that he's done almost everything, and whatever comes next would be beyond what human can do. But at the same time, it was a very positive and inspiring email. Yes, anybody who knows him would say that Hadi Soesastro is one of the most positive thinking person.
Everybody can tell how a great economist and researcher pak Hadi is. But to me and all CSIS current and former staffs, and I believe to many other people outside CSIS, our interaction with pak Hadi is much more than a professional one. He's been a big brother or father (grandfater for some) figure for many of us. He was a senior, a mentor. But he preferred to be considered as friend or colleague. In 2001, in a seminar at CSIS, I addressed pak Hadi as 'my boss' to Julia Suryakusuma. Pak Hadi corrected me. "Colleague," he said.
You can see him during a session break in may CSIS seminars, even the international ones, wandering around with a bell, urging people to start the session. Yes, him, the Executive Director. He is also a warm figure in the office, and outside. As an Executive Director, he regularly come upstairs to meet us, his junior staffs. Sometimes with an information about a scholarships, a seminar, or even just to say hi, chat with us, and even... gossiping. In many occasions during my study abroad, he'd invite us to visit his place. As usual, he's always been a nice and entertaining host. His oxtail soup in Canberra (around 1999-2000), or his mushroom and salad in NYC (New Year's Eve 2006) are some example.
In autumn 2005 pak Hadi and bu Janti visited Harvard. Juli and I visited them in the hotel at breakfast -- we planned to take them around Boston. Then we learned the couple's habit of 'stealing' bread rolls from the hotel. "What for?" we asked. "To feed the birds in the park," they answered. So then we went to Boston Common and feed the birds with the bread they brought from the hotel. After that we invited them to spend a night in our small apartment. Pak Hadi agreed, in one condition: it didn't create any hassles for us.
I can go over a very long list on his accomplishment, on his warmth and greatness as a person, and so on. But still that won't be enough to describe him. In short, in many ways Hadi Soesastro is a person you'd want to be like.
One last thing. In 2006 when our daughter Rara just joined our family, he presented a Teddy Bear. We named him 'Teddy Hadi' or 'Hadi Bear' (now I wonder why it was not 'Teddy Soesastro'). Someday Rara will learn that it was a precious gift from a great person.