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, firstname.lastname@example.org)