Who Do You Think You Are? (Part 2)


Previously on the first post (http://akhlispurnomo.net/2013/08/22/who-do-you-think-you-are-im-insert-any-nouns-here/), my grandmother told me some prominent, worth-telling childhood events.

As she tried to remember some prominent life events in the bitter past when Japanese troops were in town, she also mentioned about Bukhori. He was the most affluent man in the village of Karang Wetan, now known as Prambatan Kidul, at the time. Bukhori had more than he needed but seemed to be stingy enough for all the neighbors, including my grandmother. “This man was so thrifty he refused to provide the needy some alms to survive the hard times,” she said. The Japanese could have been killed her and her family. But instead of doing so, the ruthless Japanese soldiers targeted Bukhori and seized all his crops. All the rice held in three big trucks was taken just like that. No money was given as reward for the sweat of growing the paddy. Very outraging to Bukhori but what he could do about it anyway? Nothing. Nonetheless, my grandmother learned a lesson from that: never get stingy no matter what.

Another random story was told.
This time, my grandmother told me how she started working at a local cigarette factory, they called this type of work ‘mbathil’ (a Javanese local rather archaic slang still used now). Her mother, whom she called Nyai, persuaded her to work there. But it was a shame for my grandmother because she, as a young girl, didn’t have any proper ‘selendang’ (a type of shawl-like piece of garment). Upon hearing the complaint, Nyai got a brilliant idea. She cut her ‘kendhit’ (a piece of long fabrics worn and fastened around a Javanese woman’s waist, usually worn to stay slim especially after giving a labor to a new-born baby) into two, making it look like selendang.
My grandmother really didn’t want to shame herself when it came to fashion decency. She deemed wearing ‘tapeh’ (worn by a Javanese woman in the lower part of her body – from hips to toe, some Javanese also call it ‘jarik’/ ‘jarit’) made of ‘mori’ (white cheap fabric from cotton, usually used to cover a corpse when buried in accordance with Islamic fashion). The majority of women in the village during the Japanese occupation wore ‘kadhut’ or a piece of cloth that is a lot cheaper than mori, that causes itch on someone’s skin. The scarcity of proper, decent and affordable fabrics for laymen at the time was ignored by the Japanese. They didn’t think the Javanese deserved that. A lot more issues to come as the war was raging in Pacific and proper clothing was just not in their priority list.
Wearing kadhut was never fashionable (that is why now we used it as cheap sack material for rice). Its color is brown, the texture is so rough. “When they got itchy, they knew they had to lay the kadhut (worn as their tapeh) under the midday sunlight in hope that the god-damned white-colored worms and bugs inside the fibers would get out or perish instantly so they could wear it back later with better ease.” There was another type of fabric called ‘ondol’, made of kapuk, a cotton-like material, but one cannot let it wet, meaning that it is not washable. And not washing regularly leads to another source of problem, too. You can imagine the scale of germs colonies thriving in it.

The Japanese attacked the village.
That early morning, my grandmother found out some Japanese airplanes hovering above Karang Wetan, our small ‘dusun’ (=subvillage). It was still around 6 o’clock in the morning and she thanked God the government had provided all the people some spots to hide from the Japanese troops. Her mother finished cooking rice to feed the whole small family: herself, my grandmother and my grandmother’s older borther. The place to hide was actually not a bunker or basement of a huge building with lots of thick shields but merely a deep trench covered by banana leaves and maybe some other hard covering materials. It was not the right time to complain about the safety, they just got in to get safe. She was so scared to get down into the trench but she had to. Every adult male also ran away from homes. Safety went first. They didn’t want to die in vain. They were only untrained civilians with no arms or weapons in hand and the Japanese hunted agressively the males in order to kill them all. The trench in which my grandmother hid was packed with a lot of babies, young children, and some Indonesian soldiers.
Some males in the village got killed. One of them lost his life after a deadly bullet was shot towards him. The poor wretched man, who according to my grandmother earned a living as a blacksmith making ‘bendo’ (a type of big sickle-like knives to cut wild grass to feed cattle), hid but as he felt so afraid he dashed out of the bushes. In a blink of an eye, a Japanese soldier who had a riffle with him shot the scared man in fear of missing a Dutch spy or enemies.

(To be continued)

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