Tulus means sincere. It is not by a random chance his parents named him as such.

tulus|tu·lus| sungguh dan bersih hati (benar-benar keluar dari hati yang suci); jujur; tidak pura-pura; tidak serong; tulus hati; tulus ikhlas.

Sincere|adjective|sin·cere| \sin-ˈsir, sən-\ | having or showing true feelings that are expressed in an honest way; genuine or real: not false, fake, or pretend.

Tulus and Titis together at last. Photo: Tim Flicker

Tulus and Titis together at last. Photo: Tim Flicker

My Failure in Befriending Tulus

This journey started when my mate Tim Flicker and I found that Tulus would be in the line-up for Soundsekerta 2015 held on Sunday, 13th of September 2015. Being the big fans of sentimental ballads that we were, it was natural that a strategy was then plotted to trap Tulus into believing that we are worthy of becoming best friends for life. The dream was to get him to do busking in front of Victoria State Library in some beautiful sunny afternoon, sing me a birthday song and hang out at our favourite bar deep in the alleyways of Hardware Lane.

The plan was solid. A few accomplices got on board including a Melbourne-based Indonesian guitarist busker Alfeus Christantyas to prep the stage for Tulus to perform. We managed to get the attention of his management team with the lure of Miko Holt, our charming Indonesian-speaking film-maker bule who agreed to offer them a hand in shooting their travel diary. It seemed that we were going to win. However, it turned out that they were intrigued only by Miko’s sincerity to help them out and were disinterested in this deceitful scheme.

The Growth of Tulus as a Swoon Master

Oh well, the vision of having Tulus as the man of honour at my wedding has perished, but we nonetheless had the best time at Soundsekerta 2015. It was my first time to see him live, and boy, he was born to perform. He sang before some 1,800 pairs of eyes, yet his stage persona made it feel like we were attending an intimate private dinner. We swooned as he gently narrates each of the songs he sang; sharing tales of how each number came from a hurtful or gleeful past.

Along with him was an efficient and heavily jazzy band of three; Fuad Rudyan on drums, Rudy Zulkarnaen on double bass and Yonathan Godjali on the piano who did the following songs from his two albums justice.

  1. Gajah
  2. Baru
  3. Kisah Sebentar
  4. Jatuh Cinta
  5. Bumerang
  6. Teman Hidup
  7. Jangan Cintai Aku Apa Adanya
  8. Seribu Tahun Lamanya
  9. Sepatu
  10. Sewindu
  11. Tanah Airku

That evening, Tulus the story teller let the audience taste the refreshing flavour he added onto the words of 90’s band Jikustik, “biarkanlah terjadi wajar apa adanya,” from their song Seribu Tahun Lamanya. The line is translated as, “let it happen naturally as it is,” and that was how his show was run. It was simple, honest and unpretentious. It was Tulus.

The tulus approach can be applied in any areas of life. It fits perfectly as the basic fuel from which a human draws energy to drive her or his endeavours. In fact, this basic principal is also suitable to be used as a reflective approach in handling one’s love life. Let things run its course organically in the way it should have been. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Indonesian Legacy of Child Naming

Contemplating this experience and Tulus’ existence as a tulus being, it is only natural to credit the Indonesian custom of naming children. We ascribe hopes in names. The meaning of one’s name signifies the spirit that the parents live by. For example, my Javanese name Titis lies the hope that this kid will make titis decisions in life. The word can figuratively mean drops of water or descendant as well as bull’s eye or right on target when shooting an arrow. Of course it is of the utmost beautiful coincidence that this bull’s eye also means boobies in English. They do look similar in retrospect.

I assume the same happened with Tulus’ parents. The naming of Muhammad Tulus Rusydi is a telling sign that his parents followed this wonderful practice. Muhammad from the name of the Islamic prophet reflects the family’s pious outward and a prayer for the son to take up the ninety-nine good characters of the prophet and ditch the bad. Tulus is a wish that the son will always apply genuine kindness into whatever he does, and Rusydi is a family name that is hoped to be honoured in the family for the next generations to come. And as I watched him perform, it blew my mind that all these hopes were manifested as his stage persona. Isn’t it magical that he became the man his parents have wished for from when he was born?

All in all, Tulus’ career as a musician has only just begun. It has been a little less than four years since he released his first album, and his journey onwards should be a remarkable spectacle. As a fan watching from afar, I wish for him to constantly remember the importance of being tulus.