Bust Out from Bubble: A Memoir

School was a lovely place for some people as I heard they said there were many unforgettable moments at there. Sometimes we were missing those moments and threw back at some of it. At school we could find many new things such as love at first sight, new organisation, or broke ourselves from comfort zone. But, the first thing I thought was the social environment at high school. I thought high school was worse than junior high school, but after I got accepted, it was totally different from what I thought.

High school was an escape time for me to move on from my comfort zone, class was the first place that I tried to move on. I encouraged myself to be a leader’s class candidate. Back to junior high school, I did something cringe on the first day of school and I compared it to high school, it was totally different. High school was much better than junior high school. Even though I’m was not elected to be leader’s class, that was the best start for me on this process. Class was unforgettable place in high school because my school adapted randomization of student from grade tenth to eleventh and it was not applied for grade eleventh to twelfth. Because of that kind of system, we could deeply know our classmates in the class and it bonds us indirectly.

Most of times from the second and third grade, we were always chilling out at front of class or behind the class if the teacher was absent. We talked about random things, weird day dreaming, and singing together. Some of my friends always bring a guitar every day, so it could entertain us if there was a free-time in class. Ijon and Seto was always playing the guitar for us most of the times because they were master of the guitar in my class. Sometimes we slept in class if the teacher was in meeting and it would be so long time. Also, if it was happened, we might would like to go to canteen and spend most of times there. There was a fresh drink seller in our school and we called him mas Jawa, he was a kind Javanese man. He sometimes gave us a bonus if we bought many items at his shop and we could debt to him if we had no money left. My school canteen was good and clean, there were many shops that affordable for students. Mba Mumun was the best seller that sells delicious and various gorengan in my school and the risol keju was one of my favorite there. Then, AA was the best soup seller in school. Me and my classmates (the boys) used to eat lontong kari in the rainy season.

There was one day that is priceless to forgotten, a new history-teacher came to our class and it was his first-time teaching in the school. He was a fresh graduate from Universitas Negeri Jakarta, his name is Rifai; a kind teacher, yet sensitive and having bad temper sometimes. Once he had ever go out to the class because he mad to us and did not want to teach for one day on that time. Not long after that, a new student was placed in our class and his name his Toshi. This man was so calm and friendly at first but aggressive and being a jerk for the rest. He made some girls cried because of his mischief, most of girls hate him and made a gap with him. I could not never expect that he would be a jerk like that because he seems kind at the first time we met. But he was kind to us and we knew the reasons why he did all of those things.

I also never expect that class would be a beautiful place with its moments and I was experiencing unexpected events with my classmates. The one that I would also never forget was when the PKS (Patroli Keamanan Sekolah or as known as discipline team) recruitment test on the October week end. At the second-floor class we were trained like the military force. We had to eat and drink erectly, addition to that the senior who trained me put a banana above our head and if it falls once, then we had to push-up ten times and it applied multiples. The seniors were always screaming and yelling as they came into the class also did that things in front of our face. After that at the filed we had to ran as many as we could, our seniors pressing us to ran quickly. As a result, my friend named Delfi was fatigued and fallen. Right after doing all that test, we closed the recruitment with doing push-up together for twenty times as one of the committee commands us. At the field, one week later we gathered before the class started, it was the announcement time and I was not believed that I got accepted. Surprisingly, my friend Toshi also got accepted as PKS. Could you imagine that a jerk became discipline team? On Monday at the field, we were inaugurated as the new PKS after the flag ceremony. Everyone were clapping for us, I was so happy and goose bumps for that memorable moment.

Canteen, class, and every place that I used to visit and pass by was suddenly changed after I became a new PKS. I was feel like everyone is watching me and it made me anxious. My friend was encouraged to escape from that pressure and then I used to with all that stuffs. One day, that was a new students orientation day and I was the discipline time. At field I separated the student who was coming late and bring them to the sports-field. My discipline mates punished them for hoping that would made them chary. It made me flash back that I was the student who came late. I realized, this was funny because I became the punisher of the students who came late. It made me see the both sight of the discipline team who punished the student and the student itself.

All those things happened in my high school changed me to be a better person. Started from a new student who always came late on the orientation days and the become the discipline student. I was never expected that I would step up this far. For some people school was suck because it bonds with many rules and feels like prison. It might be, but not for me. School was one of best moment in my life because I was an extra-introvert person. Since elementary school until junior high school I was always afraid to talk to my classmates. I could not look at their eyes, it was like they were intimidating me. On my way from the gate until the class, I was always looking to the ground. At class in junior high school, my friend always rudely robed my money and if I was not give them the money, they would lash out to me. It was totally different from high school, I thought that high school could be worse than before, but I was not. High school was a place that I started change myself, a place that for the first time that I tried new-things that I never do before.

Photo Credit: http://sekolah.data.kemdikbud.go.id/index.php/chome/profil/CDC5EC1D-52A9-4412-9B82-52E5EB12E7AB

The Bedroom: A Memoir

The Bedroom

Trisha Adelia

180410160084

The most memorable bedroom in my life was the bedroom which I and my big sister named Soraya spent our childhood together. We were five years apart and she actually had grown as a teenage girl when I was only ten year-old. Sharing bedroom with sister sure wasn’t an easy task. We had to tolerate each of our fiendish behaviors, farts, random sleeping poses, and even looting the fan position—the little pink square fan with so many heart stickers on it. Talking of the size of the room, this bedroom didn’t even have an alley for two of us to walk freely. I could not really tell what size it was because I was bad at Math. We got double bed and a large cupboard whose mirror had been crushed because we stretched our feet and pressed them onto it. The cupboard which once had a mirror then had only the remaining glasses, the rest of it was wooden frame. As a creative children we saw that wooden frame as our drawing paper. We tried to prank each other by drawing scary figures of women such as kuntilanak and pretended that no one drew it, it must be a curse, said us.

One day, we got our own television to our bedroom. It was actually not a real television with tube. It was a plasma monitor which was commonly used along with a PC. Our father worked as an IT officer, he often brought electronic hard wares to our home. And to this small bedroom, the plasma monitor sure must have a space for it. For television was a must for us. Sometimes when we watched the Bedah Rumah show, where random poor people got their houses renovated for free, we daydreamed if we could get our bedroom to be bigger and nicer, with comfier bed and a nice pink bedcover. Oh! And also new wall painting. We wondered what if our bedroom wall had a fancy wallpaper that we saw on The Sims 2 game. I and my sister complained a lot about the paint color of our bedroom. It was dully painted pink with so many scribbles and papers remaining on it. We did destroyed our own bedroom wall when we were dumb children. Well, we still did.

Besides watching that kind of pseudo-reality-show, we also watched Moto GP. My sister was a die-hard Jorge Lorenzo fan girl. She literally had almost every photo of him in her handphone. She followed almost every Lorenzo updates. When she knew that Lorenzo loved Chupa-Chups lollipop, she bought it every time we went to the town. And then, the posters. Our bedroom wall started filled with Lorenzo posters. Mostly Lorenzo during the race with his helmet on, which meant… where was his face? But my sister could obviously swoon over the image of Lorenzo even when he wore the helmet.

“Last night I dreamed that I and Lorenzo got married.”

I didn’t know what to reply so I just let her tell me more about the details of her dream.

She sighed. “I think it is clear then, I believe it, sister. I believe that one day I will marry him.” Her eyes sparkled as if there were dozens of fireflies on her pupils.

“How could you feel so convinced? I mean, he is not a Muslim, far away from Indonesia…” ‘Duh, I was once a religious child, you know.

“No, I can feel it. I know it. I am so sure that I will be his wife. We will find a way.”

I wasn’t sure what was my sister talking about. But at that time, I knew then that was faith and hope which sparked my sister’s ambition to study hard. Maybe so that she could go abroad to see Lorenzo.

Our bedroom was also the silent witness of our dreary nights. It was the place where we seek for comfort when Mom wasn’t home after she had fought with Dad. Mom used to go to our bedroom and turned off the light and changing the position of the fan so that it did not blowing the wind too hard toward us. We could definitely did all those things all by ourselves, we just let Mom did that because we felt like we got her attention. We were those type of family that didn’t say “I love you”, shared hugs, and all those sweety things some family would do.

There was one night when Mom ran away and I and my sister was so scared. We prayed isha together and my sister asked me, “what if Mom passed away?” I cried so hard to that question. I would never imagine my life without Mom, because I could not even cook noodle properly. When I could not sleep, my sister led me to do sheep-counting. We failed miserably. I could not sleep and my mind was perpetually imagining the worst case if my Mom would not come home. So my sister tried to turn off the light and re-arrange the fan direction, just like my Mom used to do. And there we were, alone and afraid on the dark night. Our bedroom was so silent and we could not help to silently sob.

Then, one day my sister brought a glow-in-the-dark wall decorations. They came in the shape of stars and sun. I was so excited to see how it would look like to see our bedroom to have stars on it. We read the instruction carefully and gently glued the stars and sun to the wall. We were so impatient to wait ‘till night so we could see the shine. It was the first night where we looked forward to see the night. And when the night came, how happy we were to see them, shining in different colors and shape. We could not stop staring at them until we fell asleep.

Gladly, Mom came back after two days.

When my sister left for studying out of town. I was left alone and crying for weeks on my bedroom. It felt so empty and hollow without her. One night when I felt missed her so much, I stared blankly at the wall to remember those nights with her. The day before my sister departed, she asked me to hold her hand before we slept so that we could meet in our dream. I was kind of shock to see how sentimental she was. We didn’t get used to practice all those family things. But that night, I hugged her tightly, I didn’t want to let her go out of town.

Months passed by, my sister came back home after the first semester holiday. She got second rank in her high school. She was studying very hard and never did she get such rank before, that was why she was so happy to let Mom and Dad knew what she achieved. Our reunion stuff was, on that night, we turned on the television and watched Moto GP in our bedroom. The bedroom didn’t change at all since I wasn’t interested on doing decorating. And we spent the night to talk about things she did on high school, how she had a crush with a handsome senior, and she was getting reasonable to not marrying Lorenzo.

However, I was having many friends at that time. I wasn’t a kid who was always rotating around the bedroom anymore. I loved to play outside and hangout with my friends. And I left my sister alone.

“Don’t leave me, I’m lonely.” Said she.

“I will come back soon.”

I went home very late, my parents even scolded me.

When I went to the bedroom, I saw my sister was playing Barbie dolls.

“Where have you been? I’m so lonely.”

I saw something weird from her face. She looked so pale and drowsy. I put my hand to her cheek. It felt like a fresh-from-the oven brownie.

“I’m so dizzy, I think I’m sick.”

I offered her a head massage and she agreed.

“Do you want me to grate cheese for you?” Grated cheese was our favorite comfort food.

She nodded with a slight of smile.

That night, we spent another sleepless night, watching cooking show and planning our holiday randomness. But then, Dad decided to take my sister to the hospital because she was so heated. It was raining cats and dogs outside. At 12 pm, my sister was brought to the hospital. And how on Earth would I know, that was the last time I saw her on our bedroom.

Word count: 1432

Illustration by: Trisha Adelia

Probability of Homesickness: A Memoir

Ninda Aininda Putri
180410160029

Bali for me was not a strange place. It’s not that I have been there before my study tour, but my father used to work there when I was a baby. Of course, I wanted to go there growing up even when my father said that Bali was just like any other places. So when I was in the 11th grade of high school, I highly anticipated the study tour that my school held annually. I dare said that it was an enjoyable journey despite of having several regrets after, but I still associate Bali with a certain experience that according to my mother was “laughable”.

It was laughable because I never really considered myself as a picky eater. I thought that if there were egg and chicken, I would live. True that, until I got away far from home without my mother for seven days. There were always fried chicken served during the whole journey, yet I still skipped most of my meals there. Bali, said my tour guide, was a place that made people wants to come back (kembali) someday. For most part, I agreed, but I doubt if I wanted to go back there without my mother.

I enjoyed almost everything that Bali had to offer. I walked on Kuta beach at sunset, feeling the soft breeze and sand between my toes. The sands were warm, and I remembered feeling upset because my friend didn’t want to take photos there so I wandered alone. I tried parasailing at Tanjung Benoa and had to borrow money from my friend because I left my belongings on the bus. It was a sunny day and I could smell foods being cooked while I wait for my turn. They said we can see Lombok from up there, but I’m not sure if it was really Lombok that I saw. Despite all that, I still wondered why Bali made fried chicken, my favorite food of all time, felt so tasteless that I chose not to eat for most of the journey. Perhaps I got bored of it. The foods served by the tour were always varied but I only ate chicken and fried noodles, sometimes tempeh. Or perhaps, I missed my mother’s cook and couldn’t really eat because I was homesick.

But what was the definition of homesick? I didn’t even think of going home soon, or wanted to see my family. On the second day there when our bus pulled off at a Padang Restaurant for dinner, I already imagined Padang cuisine and my stomach started to rumble. It was a lovely place. They had an open space and I could see the night sky, littered with stars. They played an Indonesian drama on the television that I could barely hear because everyone was chattering with their friends. Despite the lively atmosphere, I put my plate back, disappointed at the food because there was no Padang cuisine at all and I no longer felt hungry. I texted my mother asking what did her cooked that day. Still, I didn’t feel that I missed my mother. I enjoyed my time there. I didn’t want to go home just yet.

The beginning of it all was maybe my first breakfast there on Lovina Beach, a dolphin tour site. Our school group arrived late than expected but we still got on a boat in small group of seven and went to the sea. I sat in the middle, not expecting much because the boatman said they weren’t usually come out past seven. It was seven thirty already when we arrived. The view was amazing. The sun hid behind the clouds, making the weather rather pleasant. The air was fresh if the boatman didn’t smoke and sometimes I caught a whiff of it and it made me a little upset. Salt water sprinkled on my face that if I licked my lips, it would taste salty. The boat made me feel like I could touch the sea water, but when I reached out, it was still so far and I was afraid if I leaned more to try to touch it, the boat would lose its balance.

The dolphins did appear, but they did not jump highly like we had expected. We only saw their fins and that’s it. The tour ended, we came back to the shore and were told to wait for breakfast or take a bath. It was almost 9 in the morning but the hot weather felt like in the noon. The breakfast was served on a long table and it had variety of foods. It was easy for me to choose fried chicken and stir-fried water spinach because it was what I usually ate at home. The stir-fried water spinach was tasteless, super bland and overcooked. It was nothing like my mother’s cook at home. Out of respect, I still finished the tasteless food and whispering complaints about it to my friend. She just laughed.

The second day at Bali started with watching a barong show. It was fun but I wish I got to sit at the front. My hands were sore because my friend insisted on recording everything with her DSLR camera. We took turns but still, I think I would enjoy it more without a sore hands. Then we went to the Tampaksiring Palace at noon and the weather was so hot I thought my batik uniform was wet from all the sweats running on my back. There was a long bridge over a small green hill and a set of stairs heading to a temple or something that I couldn’t remember. I tried to ask a question to the tour guide but he didn’t seem to listen to the most of us. My second lunch was there, at the Tampaksiring Palace beside the bus parking space.

I got excited for a while because they said that it was KFC. I may have got sick of chicken but the thought of crispy fried chicken excites me. Except it was not KFC but Hoka-Hoka Bento. I didn’t like fish or any seafood so I gave my food to my friend and only ate the rice because I was afraid of getting sick if I didn’t eat. I was very uncomfortable with the place as we had to sit on the side of the parking lot and the food but I saved my complaints for myself. Everyone seemed to have no problem with the lunch, laughing and chattering while eating.

The same thing happened when we had our first lunch in Bali. I got to sit on the terrace with my friends, the wind blew hard I wish it could cool my tea faster. They served the usual menu and I could eat fried chicken but I didn’t. The wooden table was sticky, probably because some of the tea spilled there. I could see Bedugul’s view clearly which was beautiful because Bedugul was located in a mountain and feeling the fresh air directly. Everyone seemed to enjoy their meals, but I just sat there sipping my tea. I felt so alone because it was only me who seemed to have problem with eating. Regardless of the place or the food, I just couldn’t eat.

I even let my crispy fried chicken almost untouched on my last night in Bali. My friend asked what was wrong with me because I said that I’m hungry multiple times from our hotel until we arrived at the McDonalds near our hotel. I was hungry, but it disappeared as soon as I saw the food in front of me. I was more interested with the two foreigners who sat one table beside us, one of them talked animatedly about love, while the one who listened calmly was strangely looked like Adam Levine, the Maroon 5 vocalist. Popular pop songs blasted from the speaker, my friends sang along to the songs they knew.

We went back to the hotel and I noticed the sky was still full of stars. Bali was so beautiful and I would love to come back there someday, preferably with my mom. I still enjoyed my time there, I still wanted to stay longer, and I still didn’t want to go home just yet. I called my mom to inform her that I head back to Bandung tomorrow morning and she asked if I really didn’t eat. My mom thought it was ridiculous for me to not eat when there were chicken or eggs, and I thought the same. She laughed and boasted her cooking skills then reminded me to not get sick. At that exact time, I thought, maybe, maybe I was homesick.

Photo credit: Ninda Aininda Putri

Unforgettable Long-distance Train: A Memoir

Gebryka Aneuk Meulia180410160013

On the vacation last year, my family and I went to one of the famous tourist cities in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. That was the second time I visited there, the last time I went there when I was an elementary student. At that time, I went to Yogya on school holiday and when I used economy railroad transportation, I remember well that there were still many peddlers freely to sell in the train, as well as buskers who were free to pass by. Of course, all of them made the atmosphere of the train boisterous. Besides that, passengers were freely stretched on the train floor, and still used the fan. Back to my trip on vacation last year, at that time I went back and used the same transportation that was the train, but this time I used the executive train or the full name of the train was the Argo Wilis train. It took more than 8 hours, it was long enough for a long-distance train. I chose to travel in the morning because in my opinion it would be moretedious to do a nighttime trip because nothing can be seen while the morning until noon I could see the view outside the window we passed.

That morning, I boarded the Argo Wilis train from Bandung station. The first time I came into the train, I felt a different sensation from the previous train I rode, it felt like entering a plane cabin. My family and I immediately looked for our seat. I sat in a row on the middle bench in carriage 5, we chose this carriage because it would be far from the noise of the locomotive noise plus the nice sitting in the middle row was free to avoid the noise of the railroad tracks that appeared on the train connection. I sat beside my mother and faced my father and brother. The first impression when I occupied the chair it felt quite soft and can be set as comfortable as possible. There was a small pillow that smells good when I smelled it.

Suddenly there was a sound of the engine notifying that the train was leaving. Followed by the announcement regarding the final destination, travel time, and rules on the train. It was the first time I heard it, because all this time I had only used local train so I have never heard an announcement like that. At seven in the morning according to what was printed on the ticket, our train with the destination of Yogyakarta Tugu station departed from Bandung station. I looked around the train. I saw this very clean and neat carriage with the dominant white color for the interior walls and blue for the seats. In addition, of course, this train has been equipped with air conditioning (AC). And there was also a TV that only shows train ads from KAI’s private channel, KATV. Therefore I just glanced at it for a moment because there was nothing much to watch. Likewise with other people who were busy with themselves.

Cold air began to pierce my skin. That day was too early to use AC. I felt so cold, then I put on my pink jacket. And because that day was still too early and I had no enough time to sleep last night, I tried to sleep again. Fortunately, because this chair is quite comfortable, I fell asleep for a moment. When I woke up I didn’t feel I had slept for about an hour and I felt I refreshed. After that I looked at the view outside the train that was running fast. We passed fields, settlements, and many roads. Then when the train crosses the bridge, the green of the hills and the depths of the ravine also spoiled the eyes. It was very exciting to see all that.

4 hours had passed, my stomach started rumbling for it to be filled. And if we talk about food on this executive train, the train officers themselves who sell their food were really different from the old times. Although the price of food wasn’t cheap and not as much as what was sold by hawkers, of course I prefer this, more comfortable without peddlers. At that time the time showed lunch time I bought 4 packages of hoka-hoka bento for me, my mother, my father, and my brother from the train officer and ate it ravenously.

Several times, the train stopped at some stations to transport passengers again, many of them took advantage of the stop time to take a break to the platform, whether to buy food, to refresh their mind, and to smoke because the train was equipped with air conditioning. Smokers were forbidden to smoke on the train during the trip, it must be very annoying for smokers so they took advantage of that time. Likewise with me who took advantage of this time when our train stopped at the Kroya station, Cilacap, for a breath of fresh air for a moment.

Then the sound of the train whistled and the sound of the notification engine from inside the train rang again indicating the train would continue the journey. I was quite entertained by the sound of the location notification engine on this train, it made me able to know which station we were at and in my opinion it was also very informative for the passengers because it helped not to go too far or stop at stations that were not their destination. Before I go back to my chair, I went to the toilet first. With a minimalist form, I thought the toilet here was pretty clean with the addition of a mirror and sink.

Boredom began to come up to me, about 5 hours had passed. The body aches and the feeling of "why haven’t we arrived yet?" always appeared in my mind. I moved from my chair and decided to go around. I looked around at the other carriage and it turned out that there were some empty benches that people used to stretch. I was tempted to stretch on one of those empty chairs but because I was afraid my mother was looking for me, I turned down my intention and returned to my seat. I also went back to doing whatever activities I could to kill my boredom.

My boredom began to peak. Finally to get rid of it, I decided to talk with my family, played games on my cellphone, listened to music, took pictures of landscapes, read up to date news via my cellphone, and also saw location instructions via google maps where I could know where we were and thought how long the distance was my train to the destination. Apparently it was quite long, which was about 4 hours away from our trip.

Finally after a long journey of approximately 8 hours, the notification machine on the train announced; "Attention please, in few minutes Argo Wilis will arrive in Tugu. To all passengers who ended their trip in Tugu please prepare your belongings. We remind you to stay in your seat until the train stops. See your services and see you on the next trip." The sentences still lingered in my head. I felt sad and happy to leave this train.

The second time I took a long-distance train and the first time I took the executive train, I thought it was quite pleasant. There was no meaningful vibration. It was just that the small sway of the train car seemed to be stirring my head silently even though in the middle of the trip I was able to feel bored but it could be cured by busy doing various things. And all that can be lost if we enjoy the journey.

There were many advantages to choose the train as long-distance transportation because the current train service has made very significant progress, which was more economical than other transportation. There were convenient facilities, no traffic jams, no more cigarette smoke billowing on the train, no more merchants on the train or on the platform, no unbuttoned stowaways, no longer an economic train like an oven running; all have air conditioning, and also ordered tickets can be done online so it was easy to get. But also there was something I didn’t like about riding trains, which was a long time to go because it had to stop for a moment at several stations. And then the food was quite expensive and less varied. But beyond all this I really enjoyed the long distance train journey that was unforgettable.

Photo by: Dhanang Sukmana Adi

Remembering Ciamis: A Memoir

Ray Sistyana Sandi180410160014

My grandpa, from my mother’s side, came from a village located in Ciamis, Jawa Barat. The village is called Pasirnagara. Grandpa and all his five siblings were born in this village. Back then when I was a kid, our family often spent school and eid holidays there. We would stay there for a week or even more. I could never hold my excitement every time I got told that we’re going there for holiday because the atmosphere and the surroundings there are different from Bandung. There I could find and do things I wouldn’t normally do in a big city like Bandung.

The village was located in Pamarican district, far from the downtown area of Ciamis. If you take a ride there on the afternoon or before 6 p.m., the ride won’t feel as spooky as if you take a ride there after 6 p.m. The district was normally quiet during the day and at night it became even more quiet. Basically, you couldn’t really hear anything apart from the crickets or a dog’s bark. Not only it was so quiet at night, it was also dark. There were not many street lights after dark so if you go there, you have to really make sure your car’s headlamps are working properly or you won’t be able to see the road in front of you. Following the road to Pasirnagara, you would rarely see any houses. Just a lot of big trees and some old uninhibited buildings. Because of how dark and quiet it got at night, sometimes I got scared. What if a ghost or even a serial killer suddenly appears and attack me and my family while we’re on our way to Pasirnagara? But fortunately, it never happened.

In Pasirnagara, there were quite a lot of houses and they’re pretty close to each other. Usually, each house had their own fish pond, or what the sundanese called “balong”. Hanging just right above the pond, usually there was a small cubicle built out of ratan and bamboo. The cubicle functioned as a toilet used by the villagers for urinations or to wash their clothes. In Bandung, you won’t see such thing. This one time, I was walking around the village with my cousins. As I walked, I looked to my left. And there it was. I saw someone was pooping in one of those pond cubicles with the door opened! I panicked and told my cousins about it but they just laughed it off.

Our family also owned our own fish ponds. I don’t remember how many. My uncle owned one of the ponds and it was a big one compared to the other ponds. On the left side of the pond, there was a bathing area. The water was so clear and cold when it touched your skin. There was a bridge to get to the hut in the middle of the pond. At first, the bridge was made from bamboo and when you stepped on it you would feel it moving a little. The bridge was then fixed and cemented so it’s much stronger and safer to stepped on. I remember this one time our big family held a pinang climbing competition beside the pond to commemorate Indonesia’s independence day. I watched from the hut while eating nasi liwet together with my grandma, aunts, and my cousins.

Besides Pasirnagara, there was another village in another district called Margaharja village. It took us approximately around 20-25 minutes by car to get to Margaharja from Pasirnagara. The village was a lot more quiet and darker than Pasirnagara and the houses were far from each other. In other word it was just… spookier. Every time we went to Margaharja, we stayed in Nek Miah’s house. Nek Miah herself is my grandpa’s older sister and now lives in Jakarta with her child. The house was kept by Bi Eti and her husband, Mang Karta. This house was not like the one in Pasirnagara. It’s an old building. Probably built in around the 80s or the 90s. There were five bedrooms in this house. Four in the living room area, and one near the backyard. The room near the backyard was actually a really nice big room with a comfortable king-sized bed but it was known to be occupied by some kind of ghost who likes to tickle whoever is sleeping in that room. It happened to my uncle. When he was sleeping he felt someone was tickling his feet. The next night he would rather sleep on the couch in the living room than going back to that haunted room.

In Bandung I would usually in until noon during holiday but in Ciamis I would get up super early. In Pasirnagara, I’d usually get up early to jog to the village border with my cousins. In Margaharja, I’d get up early to take a walk in the yard or to the rice field near the house. The morning air was so clean and refreshing and a bit chilly. Sometimes you would even see fog covering the mountain behind the rice field. Sure, at night, the village gave you that creepy and haunted vibes but in the morning, it’s the most peaceful, most relaxing place to wander.

Nek Miah’s house I think had such a unique smell which I got really familiar of because I smelled it almost every time I went there. It’s the smell of fried fish and sambal terasi made by Bi Eti. Usually, at around 10 a.m. you would start to smell it. Every time we came to visit, Bi Eti would prepare for us fried fish, sambal terasi, and soup. It’s almost always like that. As a die-hard fan of fried fish, I couldn’t ask for a better dish.

Bi Eti’s husband, Mang Karta, or Kakek Karta as I usually called him, passed away last year. He was the one who taught me how to fish. At that time, I was around 6. Kakek Karta really loved to fish and he kept a lot of fishing equipments in his house. He let me use one of his fishing rods and off we go to the pond with my grandpa coming along. It was really fun. I was taught how to attach the bait to the hook and how to take control of the rod once a fish eat my bait. Because the water in the pond was dirty, I couldn’t really see if the bait had been eaten or not. I waited, and waited, and waited until the rod started to move and felt kind of heavy. It was hard for me to pull the fish up since it was heavy and I didn’t have the strength. But, after being cheered on by my grandpa and Kakek Karta I finally managed to pull it up. I didn’t catch as many fish as my grandpa or Kakek Karta did, but I was still really happy and proud because it was my first time catching fish with my own hands.

Every time I think of Ciamis, I remember the family bond. I remember the clean relaxing fresh air. I remember the ponds. I remember a lot of my childhood memories that happened there. I remember the people. I miss the people and their warm welcome.

Now, things have changed. The village is not as lively as it used to be. I mean, even during the day it’s really quiet and you don’t see a lot of people. People are gone. They have either passed away or migrated to the city. The fish ponds are drying up. The houses are neglected and the front yards are covered with dry brownish grass. Now, we don’t go there as often as before. Even when we do, we only stay for 2 or 3 days and most of our time there is spent in the city because there isn’t much that we can do either in Pasirnagara or in Margaharja. It’s actually really sad. But this holiday, our big family is planning to go there together and I hope it’s going to be fun. I want to bring back and relive the memories I made and the good time I had there when I was a kid.

Photo by: Ray Sistyana Sandi