The Economic: A Memoir

Saintia Zahra


That afternoon was full of sadness. Hunger and desire to not coming back were attached on us. It was 1 pm, at Lempuyangan station, Yogyakarta. Our train would be arrived in fifty minutes.

That was the second time that I had the train to be my transportation to go alone. Alone means that I was not with my parents and this second time alone means that I sat on the three-seat without someone I know. 2 pm at Yogyakarta, we put our first step at the edge of the door of the trailer, separating ourselves for searching our own seat. There I found 13C in Ekonomi 6, one meter away from the place where I stood, hampered by people and their things; boxes and bags. The effect of using economic class. Through many barriers and used my flexible body and feet, I finally managed to sit on the edge of the seat, faced the middle-old man who was playing his phone and stopped to look at me for a while, we were giving smile to each other. I relaxed myself a bit and arranged my foods under my feet. Okay, done. I just wanted to open my fried chicken box, until a family came and stopped beside us, a sign that they had the same row. They were four people, matched with the empty seats. There were many things they had brought. It took twenty minutes to arrange them into neat-packed things in the baggage.

“May I move your bag to the left side?” The father from that family asked me.

“Yes, you may, Sir.” I smiled, purely.

The kids sat next to me. They were asking their parents everything: what time it was, the route, when will they arrive. I sat beside their as I smiled pathetically. This was going to be my 12-hour-long trip.

The train was not as good as the previous train, Kahuripan. This train was named Pasundan, and we would be in this train for twelve hours until Jatinangor. The bad thing was, I could not look at the scenery because I was far from the window, and all I could see was people, feet, the air conditioner, and the door which was dancing to the left and right, following the rail’s rhyme.

“Where do you want to go?” The old man in front of me was looking at me.

“Bandung, Sir.” I answered, and then asking back, “how about you?”

“Same with you, I am going to Kiaracondong,” I nodded to give a sign that I heard and understood. “I am from Surabaya, where do you live?” He asked again.

We had a common trip conversation. He asked me what was I doing in Yogyakarta, what my job is, and where do I live. I was asking him back what he was doing in Surabaya and where he lives.

That was 3 pm, the time when my top eyelashes desired to meet my bottom eyelashes. I put my earphone, closed my eyes, and got shocked because my head was going fall.

I could not sleep, and I must not sleep.

The toilet became the option to keep me awake. I would wash my hands there, maybe it would refresh my mood and I would not be sleepy again.

I stood up, tried to balance my body. For rows to go, without holding the couch or people, I finally managed to the exit door. It helped me found my peace, there were no people, I could see the outside, and there was no smell of the toilet.

“Wait, is the toilet clean?” I asked myself in my mind.

The door was built a little bit heavy, I had to push it with a little effort. However, my effort was just an effort. The toilet was so clean! There was a small sink in the corner of the room, the mirror was so tiny, it was placed on top of the sink, and don’t forget about the closet, there was no trace, no footprints or water spreading everywhere. The smell was so good, there was room fragrance which worked. The toilet even made me forgot that it was train’s toilet! It made the hygienic word, which was not belonged to public toilet, burst out from of my mind.

Train, was a public transport which had its own image in my mind. It became the best option to go by because of the increasing of private cars and motorcycles. It had not experienced the traffic, unless the delay because we have to give the classier train a way. Economic train was better than before. It had air conditioner, arranged seat, and also the electric sockets. I could get more facilities than the bus with the same amount.

I got the beautiful thought as I stood at the middle corridor, outside the toilet, seeing the scenery through the door’s glass and remembered of someone movies’ scene, someone was singing at the door with rice fields as the background, and someone was catching the train, running until he got the door’s grip, managed to get into the train easily. Unfortunately, those things are only existed in movies. We could not do that here, especially with interlocal train.

I came back to my seat. Good aroma came from the next passengers, the kids were eating cup noodles.

Eating cup noodles reminded me of my snacks. I took my wafer from the plastic bag, opened it and said to the kids, “do you want some?” and got refuse with smile.

The kids were cute, actually. They were quiet after one hour the train departed from Yogyakarta, they ate snacks, had a small talk with the family, and played games. It was so relieving knowing that they were good daughters, knew how to ask and did not bother the other passengers.

People in our seat were not bothering each other. I remember about my friend’s story, who was asked about anything over and over meanwhile she wanted to sleep in the train. People around me was talking to each other if they need to. It was same with me and the old man when I got here earlier. They were talking about their ordinary life, their job, and did not mind telling their job’s public secret. It was fun hearing them talk about the government and the other social elements.

The conversations did not last, because we were doing our own activities; I was hearing music and playing handphone, the family were talking to each other, and the old-man in front of me was sleeping. Meanwhile, the left row was talking loudly about politic and how it goes to our nationality. They were elderlies, between 50 and 60 years old.

I thought I just wanted to sleep…

I felt the water dropped on my hand, then my face, and my head. The jammed sound was heard from the ceiling, the harsh sound came from that air conditioner which was above the old man in front of me. I just looked at it, finding what was wrong with that. Two minutes later, the strident air conditioner was releasing not only the cold water, but also ice! The more corrupted sound was heard, the more ice released. The air conditioner seemed to want to vomit. It ejected ice in every shape. Everybody panicked.

The old man was rushing to the other trailer to tell the officer that our air conditioner was broken down.

Five minutes later, the air conditioner went cool again, it made us took silence to digest all things happened five minutes ago. The officer came to us and we could sit in peace again.

The next five hours were built in silence and everyone’s sleep, unless the kids who were talking to each other, sometimes playing games, and asking their parents if they could eat the snack.

The train was left by passengers one by one as it reached every station. The elderlies who were talking about government and the other social elements had met their target station, the empty seats made the old man in front of me moved and slept there.

The last two hours were the heaviest time for me. My eyes did not want to open to see the world, but my head did not want to stand alone, it always fell everytime I lost my control.

Back to my first thought of sleeping here; I could not sleep, and I must not sleep.

Photo by: Aldio Yudha Trisandy. 2014. Uploaded at

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