The Sweet Memory of a House: A Memoir

Adinda Amara Kania

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I remember the first and also the last time I visited my grandfather’s house in Garut before it was sold. I was only seven years old when I visited it with my mother, my three older siblings, and my uncle. My father did not come along with us because he had a job that he cannot leave, so my uncle that free at the moment decided to replace him to accompany us. That time, I was on my elementary school holiday and I was very happy when my mother said that we will visit my grandfather’s house in Garut, the city that I have never been before, and I actually did not know that my grandfather owned a house there. He used to meet our family in Bandung and I usually went to Bandung for holiday back then, so when my mother said that we will go there, I felt like it will be very pleasing for me.

To be honest, I do not remember a lot of things about my grandfather, but I always try to imagine how he is from the story that my mother told me. The reason why I cannot really depict him from his house in Bandung is because he and my grandmother were always moving from one house to another. I asked my mother why they did not stay in Garut and stay in Bandung, my mother’s answer was that my grandmother still has many relatives there, unlike my grandfather, so they stay in Bandung. My grandfather passed away when I was only two years old, my mother said that I cried a lot at his funeral and said that my grandfather should not be buried because if he was buried, I could not see him again. It is so sad because until now I cannot remember that part of my life. My mother also told me that my grandfather loved my long hair, he thought that a girl that have a long hair is very beautiful and graceful. My older sister said that he used to cook and she loves his food a lot. The experience of visiting his house made me feel like that I will get to know him better. After hours of driving, finally we arrived. I remember that we arrived in the morning because we went from Tasikmalaya at dawn.

Since the first sight, I did really fall in love with my grandfather’s house in Garut. It was a pretty big wooden house that has two floors and there was a terrace with some wooden chairs and two rectangle table. After my grandfather passed away, his house was managed by a woman that which is likely his relative. We met that person and she gave us the key of the house. When we went inside the house, I recognize some things that really portrayed my grandfather. On the first floor, every furniture has a dark and calming color, the arrangement of every goods was very neat. There was a small kitchen, a living room that filled with maroon colored sofas, a long brown rectangular table, a television, and two bedrooms. On the second floor, there were two bedrooms too. The bedrooms shared a similar model, they were not too big but very comfortable, they can be used for two people, and the beds were covered with a plain white sheet. I shared a room with my mother on the second floor of the house. There was a big wooden window with a bamboo curtain in the room. When we were putting our clothes and other stuffs in the cupboard, my mother told me that my grandfather was a military police in the past and he was a highly disciplined, tidy, and love his family so much. My uncle, that came along with us, has a very similar figure with him.

After I was satisfied with exploring the house, I went outside with my older sister. There was a garden full of flowers in front of the house. I did not really know what kind of flowers they were, but all of them have a very bright color, such a contrast to the house’s inside. I remember that I plucked some flowers to give them to my mother, she loves flowers. My sister asked me not to pluck too many flowers because she was afraid that I would ruin the garden and I listened to her, only because I am afraid that my mother or uncle would be mad at me. We did not stay for a long time in the garden because there were so many insects, especially mosquitoes.

My sister went back inside the house after visiting the garden, but I did not. My uncle asked me to accompany him that afternoon to the place that later became my favorite place in the house. It was the fishing pond. The fishing pond was quite near to the garden, only a few steps away, and it was belonged to my grandfather too. My uncle was bringing the fishing tools and he taught me how to fish even if I do not really understand what he said. I helped him to set the fish bait. When we waited to get the fish, my uncle told me that the woman who look after this house said some strangers was stealing the fishes in the pond in the evening, she only could watch and yelled at them because that time she was on the second floor of the house. I was so angry when I heard that story and felt so sad because probably what we were doing that time would be useless. What if the strangers had stolen all the fish? Thankfully, I was wrong. A few minutes after the story ended, the fish bait was snatched by a fish. My uncle and I griped to the fishing tool and tried to pull the fish out of the water. We did get the fish, but it was not big. Still, I laughed in victory for the fish that we caught. That was my first fishing and my first prey. Like in the garden, I did not stay at the fishing pond more than thirty minutes because of the mosquito attack.

My family and I did not stay for a long time in Garut. We only visited it for two days and one night. I was so sad to know the reason why my family came to the house was because the house was going to be sold, they told me the truth about it when we were on the way back to Tasikmalaya. My mother said that the person who look after the house was already tired and she also got another job, so she could not take care of it as much as she did before. I cried and told them I want to visit the house again in the future. I felt so broken hearted because the house was like a memento for me to remember my grandfather yet I had only one chance to visit it. Now, it had been eleven years ago since then, but I still remember the sweet memory about my visit to my grandfather’s house.

Illustration by: Lukasz Gac