Have u ever imagined living in a very narrow alley in which you could not find any inches of free space for parking your motorcycle or moving your body? If you never, then my friend; yekti is living in such area.
When you open wide your hands then that is precisely the distance between one house with that across. In your left and right are houses standing next to next, no single space among the houses. Between one house with that in front is little narrow space for people walking – don’t think of riding motorbike, u MUST walk; the maximum number of people that could walk along the pavement is two.
There are about thirteen to fifteen houses on each side and at the end of the road a gardu (a very small place that can situate 5 to 8 people to sit, ) ends the small road. Yekti –my friend—told me interesting story about the gardu. She said that the gardu has always been part of all the people’s lives. It is the place where people gather around to watch world cup, or for the men in that area to gather around every nite and on independence day, this gardu will be decorated with red and white colors. Or, if one family needs to celebrate some event involving their neighbor then this Gardu becomes important assistant.
Yekti invited me to come to her house. My heart sank a little bit when I entered her “guest room”, hardly can I sit, since it was full of two things; sewing machine and display table, then the room had been full. Just it, just occupying the two things, and after that all we can do was only sitting on the low bench, not even a chair, this room cannot have it, too full already.
But yekti, she seems so happy from the first time I met her at YASANTI (Non Government Organization at which I volunteered myself in 2000something), with all the limitations she encountered in her life, living in un decent environment she finds it hard to be sad, so many things she can thank to GOD.
Then she showed me her treasures; piles of photo albums since she was little girl up till the present. Almost all the pictures were taken in the same area; yeah u rite !; surrounding the Gardu. Even, when her older brother married, the families used the gardu as a place to sit the bride and the groom.
Gardu in this environment seems to be the center of all da activities and even becomes the symbol of togetherness and solidarity. When the enormous earthquake hit Yogya in 2006, the Gardu remained strong, as if it strengthened its surrounding to be as tough as it is.