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The Last Paddy Field A bright Sunday morning following an all-night rain. The air felt so fresh. The sun was not too fierce. I led my bike to Graha Asri, a residential area near my campus. I stopped for a while in a roadside stall selling gudeg, a traditional Jogjakarta food. Well, my stomach needs to see food before it went for a protest. A few minutes later I sat in my favorite corner: a hut in front of Rabbaani elementary school overlooking a row of narrow paddy fields. The paddy fields were fenced by newly established housings and factories, as well as a huge land which will be transformed soon into another set of factories. Suddenly I pity realizing that this little green paradise will soon meets its end, turned into another housing and factory complex. “These paddy fields are also already owned by the developer. They are only waiting their turn to be built, “said a farmer who was sitting with me in the hut. Ah no, he is not a farmer. The man is a former farmer who was forced to sell his land in 1994. “I only have a narrow field. It’s hard to resist an offer to sell it. Moreover, the officer (the village officials) had always endorsed us to sell our paddy fields to the developer. They never encourage us to keep the land realizing that its price will be extremely high like now. We sold the land only for IDR 10,000 (slightly more than US$ 1) per square meter,” he said, recalling a decision he regret. Now, the land in his former paddy field is valued IDR 500-750 thousands (about US$ 52-77) per square meter. A figure that makes the man in front of me regrets his decision even more. The man, whose name I forgot I ask, is now contemplating his fate. “I had become an ojek (a rented motorbike driver). But the housing was still quiet and the roads were bumpy and rocky back then. We got hernia only by driving the motorbike for a week alone,” he said. Three years ago, when the Rabbaani elementary school was not widely known yet, he was accepted as a security officer there. Not the ideal job, nor a promising position with a decent income. However, he regarded it as a gift. ”Now it needs to be a high school graduate just to have the job that I had now. Realizing that I am only an elementary school graduate, I am really grateful to have this job, “he said. Gratitude and confusion mingled in his voice. Among the paddy which begins to turn yellow and white-black feathered bird that stole the grain, he sighed. “Factories are built around my house now. There (his hand pointed his former paddy fields) will be the place for another 30 new factories. I was puzzling over my own destiny. Factories were built, people come from many areas, but I can only watch it. I will hardly welcomed by those new factories given the fact of my age and education, “he said. His eyes looked back at the narrow paddy fields in front of us, the paddy fields which will be vanished at the end of this rainy season. (Achmad Supardi) Pictures taken on 29 December 2012 by Khoirul Umam (Khoirul.Umam@Mattel.com, khoirulpret@yahoo.com)

Panen Terakhir8

Seorang wanita petani memanen padi miliknya. Bisa jadi, kemarau mendatang, sawahnya mendapat giliran untuk diuruk, ditanami perumahan dan pabrik. (Pictures taken on 29 December 2012 by Khoirul Umam — Khoirul.Umam@Mattel.com, khoirulpret@yahoo.com)

Minggu pagi setelah hujan rintik semalaman. Segar. Matahari juga tidak terlalu garang. Kukayuh sepeda ke Graha Asri. Mampir beli gudeg Jogja “rasa Cikarang” agar perut berhenti protes. Beberapa menit kemudian sudah kutempati pojokan favoritku: sebuah dangau di depan SD Rabbaani yang menghadap ke beberapa petak kecil sawah. Pesawahan sempit itu dipagari perumahan dan pabrik, juga lahan luas yang sedang diurug. Ya, diurug buat apalagi kalau bukan pabrik-pabrik baru. Ada sedih menyelinap kala menyadari bahwa sekotak kecil surga hijau ini pun akan segera menemui ajalnya, berubah menjadi perumahan dan pabrik kesekian.

                “Tanah pesawahan ini juga sudah punya pengembang. Tinggal tunggu giliran saja untuk dibangun,” kata seorang petani yang duduk bersamaku di dangau itu. Ah bukan, dia bukan petani. Lelaki berputra dua itu adalah mantan petani yang terpaksa menjual 3 petak kecil sawahnya tahun 1994 lalu.

“Saya hanya punya sawah sempit, sulit untuk menolak tawaran untuk menjualnya. Apalagi petugas (pejabat desa, Pen.) selalu meng-ojok-ojoki kami agar menjual sawah kami ke pengembang. Bukannya menyadarkan kami agar mempertahankan tanah itu karena nantinya harganya akan mahal, mereka malah terus mendesak kami agar menjual tanah kami. Harganya waktu itu hanya Rp 10.000 per meter persegi,” katanya, mengingat sebuah keputusan yang sepertinya ia sesali. Kini, tanah di perumahan bekas sawahnya itu sudah dihargai Rp 500-750 ribu per meter persegi. Sebuah angka yang membuat penyesalan lelaki di depanku makin mengental saja.

Lelaki, yang terlupa kutanya namanya, kini merenungi nasibnya.  “Saya sempat jadi tukang ojek. Tapi tahun segitu, perumahan masih sepi, jalan bergelombang dan berbatu. Narik seminggu saja sudah turun berok. Perut sakit, tak enak makan,” katanya.

Tiga tahun lalu, ketika SD Rabbaani belum banyak dikenal, dia diterima menjadi satpam di situ. Bukan pekerjaan ideal, bukan pula posisi yang menjanjikan pemasukan lumayan. Namun, ini diterimanya sebagai berkah. “Sekarang, untuk jadi satpam saja harus SMA. Lha saya sendiri cuma lulusan SD. Saya diterima karena waktu itu sekolah ini masih baru, masih butuh pegawai,” katanya. Syukur dan galau bercampur dalam nada suaranya.

Di antara padi yang mulai menguning bulirnya dan burung berbulu putih-hitam yang mencuri-curi kesempatan, dia menghela napasnya. “Di sekeliling rumah saya sekarang adalah pabrik-pabrik. Di situ (tangannya menunjuk bekas pesawahan yang sekarang sedang diuruk) katanya akan dibangun 30 pabrik. Saya bingung memikirkan nasib saya sendiri. Pabrik-pabrik dibangun, orang-orang berdatangan dari banyak daerah, tapi saya hanya bisa menonton saja. Ikut kerja di sana (calon pabrik-pabrik baru,Pen.) belum tentu diterima. Saya terkendala usia dan ijazah,” ujarnya.

Matanya kembali menatap pesawahan sempit di depan kami. Pesawahan yang, bisa jadi, akan lenyap musim kemarau ini. (Achmad Supardi)

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Kawah Putih or "The White Crater" is located on Mount Patuha, at the southern tip of Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. Its pale greenish lake is awesome. You might want to visit Mount Tangkuban Parahu, some hot springs (well, we have plenty of them), tea plantation, and many others. Bandung is also a paradise for those who fancy to hunt delicious foods and gifts in affordable prices. Come visit it. Ask me for more detailed info.