A Few Words about Rented House, Kostan, and Its People in Jatinangor: A Memoir

A Few Words about Rented House, Kostan, and Its People in Jatinangor

Prihatur Setyo Putra
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Moving frequently from one to another kostan in Jatinangor could be tiring for some people. Imagine the quest, which could be a long one, in order to find yourself a place in this city of education, which is supposed to be your “safe place”. There is also a chance for your kostan-finding-mission to occur for a few days. The purpose is, solely, for a sake of finding yourself a place that is comfortable, affordable, but also strategic for your everyday needs. Although the idea for a perfect kostan is different for everyone, in my opinion, the most important part is: it should make your Jatinangor days become more tolerable.

In my first year of college, I and 2 of my high school best friends, who already at 5th semester at the time, planned to live together. We thought, three of us, living together in a rented house would be fun, especially for me as a newbie Jatinangorian. Then we decided to rent a 38 m² house in Komplek Janati Park. The house had two bedrooms and a bathroom, which I was trapped there once because the bathroom handle got stuck. After Agi realised that I was stuck like I was a sort of house gecko that fell into a coffee mug, like a heroic best friend indeed, he then hurried to record my sorry-ass for his Instastory. We had a good time. Living there was fun and not much different from what we expected at the beginning—except the smell of man sweat, Gudang Garam International, Indomie Goreng, and lemon flavoured Stella that flew around the living room. There were two relatively long-haired men there, so when I walked around the house I occasionally stepped on some hair. Sometimes the hair on my feet felt long and curly and sometimes it felt straight and soft, depending on whose hair I stepped on—Agi’s or mine. On a more relaxed day, my innocent skin between thigh and butt area often pressed against the crumble of Satria’s Richeese Nabati when I lounged in the living room sofa. He was not a smoker like Agi, instead he munched the snack on the daily basis. Even though he complained a lot about the aroma of clove from the burning Gudang Garam, or familiarly known as Garpit in Jatinangor, I still could not comprehend how he survived the smoke, which in his words “was straining my eyes,” for months. Little did he know that if I bought that yellow snack from the nearest store, I could taste the same exact cheese wafer crumbs that fell into the sofa in each bite still.

But in the midst of our giggles and nonsenses, I needed something more than just fun. I didn’t know exactly what I needed at that time, but I felt like I was eager to be exposed to new circumstances very soon. The very thought came from a freshman who was two years left behind his best friends. I realised that they would graduate soon and eventually they would no longer be there, as often as before, in my Jatinangor days. Moreover, we only planned to live together for a year, so I thought that I needed to find a new place to live as soon as possible and made myself comfortable there.

Later in the middle of 2017, I moved to a kostan in Caringin area to atone my curiosity. The place was called Wisma Asoka. What stood out from other kostan was neither its facilities nor location, really, since it really was Rp. 5.500.000 kostan at its best. To describe it quickly, its bathrooms were shared ones and were located outside of every room there. The reason why I chose that red themed kostan was the people who lived there. So who were these people one might ask? These people were basically a bunch of friends and acquaintances who went to the same university department as me. Wisma Asoka was inhabited by roughly 9 or 10 of us—so it was hard to ever felt lonely here. If I ever felt lonely I could easily come to Yuzar’s room. His room, with its iconic Union Jack flag taped to the wall, was not the largest. Yet I would found up to 7 Gemasian—a name for the students of English Literature in my university—quite often at night. It was hard to ever felt lonely here except when they were too slowly graduating, one by one.

If only I could temporarily take off some parts of my body and then plugged them in after a few days of momentary death, I probably would have. That’s perhaps the only way to get rid of my absurd feeling I had—the mixture of stung feeling, regret and my struggle to cope. A little fact about myself, I had two years gap before I enrolled to my university. While I legitimately wished the world to all my friends of the same age, I really did, I still could not deny that there was a suffocating sensation knowing that I was academically two years behind them.

***

During my battle in Jatinangor to pursue my education, while maintained my social dynamic, it seems like I had developed a habit of moving regularly from one living space to another. The unintentional habit was proven when I moved afresh to a new kostan, and coincidentally lived there with someone.

Life depends on balance (and God), and yet I often quivered and relied my life on coincidence. Not that much of coincidence really since algorithms, mathematical equations and other processes also helped, but my relationship with my new kostan and that person happened quite fast—like the laundry duration in my new place. I liked to think that the housekeepers could control wind and sunlight. The housekeepers, who consisted of a father, mother, and two children, were such a help. Not only laundry but they also provided kostan basic needs such as water gallons, homely meals, etc. And the most essential was their kostan regulations were not strict, except the front gate that would be closed after 11:00 p.m or on some occasion sooner than that. I’d like to thank the non-strict regulations because it played a huge part for my relationship.

I lived there since early August in a place called Pondok Hijau. The person whom I shared my room space with—since we were not exactly roommate—and I also shared a good laughter based on the subject matter of how the kostan literally lived to its name. It was THE GREENEST kostan I had ever seen. When she came to my place for the first time at the end of August, I previously assumed that she would be surprised about how green the place was. And I was damn right. It caught her off guard—the trees outside around the parking lot, the walls outside and inside the rooms were painted green, and even a plastic chair had to be a green one. I forgot on how many silly puns about Pondok Hijau was expressed that night (or perhaps that happened during the first week she visited me often, I really forgot). What I would never forget was: our shared sense of humour. It was one of the reason—beside our mutual understanding and honesty to be extra—that made us comfortable with each other.

Almost a half year since that night passed by, I was glad that we shared our enthusiasm for puns and poor sense of senses of humour.

“Pondok Hijau is when you can’t reach something,” she said playfully.

“That’s pendek hijau you fool. Pondok Hijau is when you are feeling sad, then I’ll offer you my pondok,” I added while I brushed my shoulder.

“That’s pundak, bego,” she said while giving me a warm look.

“Pondok Hijau is when-”

“Okay stop, we went too far,” she said as we run out of words.

After thousands of scrubby words in our conversation that Pondok Hijau had witnessed, we spent a lot of time in Pondok Hijau together and eventually became more than a friend.

Before I settled in Pondok Hijau, the psychological motive of moving regularly for me was clear: it was a journey of attempts to gain power over myself in Jatinangor. I learned more about what worked and what did not. What I really needed and what I could let go. It was a process of getting to know how to treat myself and others well.

Photo by: Prihatur Setyo Putra

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