Indonesian singer Bunga Citra Lestari opens up about her struggles after losing husband Ashraf Sinclair


Bunga Citra Lestari says she is in a better head space now. 'Although things are different, it is a good "different".' Photo: Handout

Indonesian singer-actress Bunga Citra Lestari, popularly known as BCL, was down in Malaysia on Nov 11 to promote her upcoming Blossom Intimate Concert, which will be held on Jan 27, 2023, at the Plenary Hall in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC).

This will be Bunga’s second solo concert since the pandemic. She previously wrapped up her concert in Singapore in August.

The 39-year-old rose to fame in 2006 after her debut album, Cinta Pertama, sold 75,000 copies in the first week in Indonesia.

Winning multiple accolades since, Bunga has solidified her position as an acclaimed artiste in her home country as well as Malaysia.

Among the awards she has received include Best Pop Female Solo Artiste at the Indonesian Music Awards, Artist of the Year at the MTV Ampuh Awards, Favourite Actress in A Leading Role at the Usmar Ismail Awards, and more.

She married Malaysian actor Ashraf Sinclair in November 2008 and welcomed a son, Noah Aidan Sinclair, two years later.

The chemistry the pair shared was so palpable that in 2012, Ashraf and Bunga won the “Favourite Couple” award at the Yahoo! OMG Awards.

But their love affair was shortlived.

Ashraf passed away from a heart attack in Jakarta in February 2020.

In an interview with Indonesian artiste Boy William in 2021, Bunga recounted her final moments with Ashraf.

“We spent time together choosing pictures for my duet with Ariel Noah, Menghapus Jejakmu. He then told me he felt tired after exercising and excused himself to go to bed,” she recalled.

After her shower, Bunga returned to the bedroom and approached Ashraf, whom she thought was asleep.

However, she immediately panicked and called for her mother when Ashraf remained unresponsive despite her multiple attempts to wake him up.

Bunga with her husband, Malaysian actor Ashraf Sinclair, and their son Noah Aidan in happier times. Photo: Bunga Citra Lestari/InstagramBunga with her husband, Malaysian actor Ashraf Sinclair, and their son Noah Aidan in happier times. Photo: Bunga Citra Lestari/Instagram

“(My son) woke up when he heard me yelling for my mother. He asked me what happened and why I was crying. I told him that we needed to go to the hospital because his dad was unconscious,” she explained.

Sadly, Ashraf was pronounced dead upon arriving at the hospital.

While Bunga has been lying low for the past couple of years, the artiste became the subject of gossip last month after a photo showing a slight bump near her midriff circulated on social media, with many speculating that she was pregnant.

The Indonesian pop star rubbished this rumour in an interview with The Star’s Malay-language portal, mStar.

“It hurts being a victim of body-shaming. Hey, I eat too, you know,” she said, adding that this was just the result of ageing and her love for food.

At an interview with Malaysian media last month, Bunga talked about the impact Ashraf had on her life, the hardships she faced following his passing, and why she finds it emotional being back in Malaysia.

What is the concept behind your Blossom Intimate Concert?

Whenever I work on something, I always make sure there’s meaning behind it.

I love sharing about my life through my songs, and it is no different with my concert.

The idea of Blossom is to share my life story. Like a storybook, Blossom will be done in chapters – starting from the early days of my career, the impact Ashraf had on my life, and ending with my journey in becoming a stronger person.

To me, “blossom” means to rise higher and become stronger. I want this concert to be remembered not as something heartbreaking, but as a tribute to my husband, Ashraf, and those who supported me during my darkest moments.

This is your first time back to Malaysia since 2020. Do you feel the pressure to hold a concert here after going through so much?

To be honest, I was very nervous before coming here. I had days of anxiety. This is because I made lots of memories here in 2007 when I first met Ashraf.

Although it feels different to be back here, Malaysia is my second home. There are lots of familiar faces here, and everyone is family to me.

I felt more tense when I did my concert in Singapore because I wasn’t too sure about the market there. But in the end, everything turned out well. I’m confident things will turn out well for me here too.

So, I wouldn’t say I feel pressured, but more emotional. In fact, this concert might just be my most emotional one yet.

Since this concert will be an emotional one for you, can you share which songs will be the most challenging for you to perform?

12 Tahun Terindah will be on the setlist. This song will be very difficult to perform as I wrote it as a tribute to my husband after he passed away. It is a track that comes directly from my heart.

I have never performed this song live in Malaysia. Even in Jakarta, I couldn’t bring myself to sing it at every event as I needed great strength to do so.

Wanita Terbahagia will also be very emotional for me. I claim myself to be the happiest woman, but then things happened. To perform a song this personal is going to be hard.

(Wanita Terbahagia is a song Bunga wrote for Ashraf in 2015, detailing how he made her the happiest woman.)

How has Ashraf impacted your life?

Ashraf has been and will always be the love of my life. He was my biggest supporter, he was always by my side through thick and thin.

During our 12 years of marriage, Ashraf gave me lots of beautiful memories. He always told me that I could write my own destiny.

The thing is, he believed in me not just because he loved me, but because he had seen how much I’d grown during our time together.

This is why whenever people judge me, I won’t take it to heart. If the one person I love believed in me that much, then I have to believe in myself.

What were the hardships you faced after the unexpected loss of Ashraf in 2020?

Life hasn’t been the same since I lost Ashraf. There’s never a day that goes by where I don’t think about him.

After he passed away, I didn’t touch my phone for four months. I cried every day because I missed him so much.

The worst part is that everything happened during the pandemic.

It was an extremely dark moment in my life because apart from dealing with the grief, I was locked down at home due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Being stuck at home every day wasn’t easy, especially since every corner reminded me of Ashraf.

For eight months, I never left my house. I never met anyone else aside from my parents, siblings and in-laws.

How did you cope during these dark times?

Moving to the acceptance phase was a mentally challenging journey.

But at one point, I felt that I shouldn’t keep dwelling on the past or condemn fate for what happened.

As I mentioned earlier, Ashraf always believed I could write my own destiny. That is how I found the strength to move on to my next chapter in life and blossom into a stronger person.

Bunga shared that her son motivated her to stay strong during her lowest moment. Photo: Bunga Citra Lestari/InstagramBunga shared that her son motivated her to stay strong during her lowest moment. Photo: Bunga Citra Lestari/Instagram

My son really kept me going too. Now that I’m a single mother, I feel more responsible for him, and I understand that I must be independent now.

Noah deserves to be happy, and I want to be stronger for him.

I can say that I’m OK right now. Although things are different, it is a good “different”.

What advice would you give for someone who’s going through a mentally challenging situation now?

Life won’t always go the way we plan. There are going to be many moments where we will hit rock bottom, and it is perfectly OK to feel sad.

Although the journey ahead may be rough, it is important we accept and face those challenges head-on.

It is going to be a different life, but it can be beautiful... it will be beautiful.


Bunga Citra Lestari’s Blossom Intimate Concert will be held on Jan 27, 2023, 8.30pm, at the Plenary Hall in KLCC. Tickets are priced at RM1,238, RM1,038, RM838, RM638, RM308 and RM268 and available from ticket2u.com.my.

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