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On Changes


I don’t like changes. People who don’t know me would say I am naturally adaptive. I can easily socialize in any occasion, mingle with people, and make friends with anyone. People who know me a little better, on the other hand, would say it’s just a façade. Being a Gemini makes adapting somehow an unwritten rule. Gemini’s need to know how to adapt in any circumstances. However, as the sign implies, Gemini’s have two sides of personality. The other side, the inner side of my sociable self is the rigid, the introvert, the polar opposite of the other one.

I hate changes. I like to dwell in my comfort zone, linger around in something familiar. Struggled with anxiety for years makes it natural for me to seek safety, mainly in something I know. For some reasons, changes scare me. It’s childish, I know. Just like the childish fear of having a monster in the closet. But knowing that something in your life about to change to be something you don’t know, it’s terrifying for me.

But then again, don’t we all often feel this way? There’s a spoiled child inside of everyone that’s scared about something unknown. Hundreds of thousands of years before, the similar fear made our ancestors invented religion. But why? To feel safe. To pretend to know, even though you actually don’t. There’s something safe about knowing something, even if it’s just make-believe.

Growing up, I’ll be having major changes in my life. Internship, graduation, post-grad school, living temporarily in another country, living permanently in another country, and many will come up. It’s just the way things are. Laws of nature demand changes. It’s inevitable.

Which I’m scared of, as I have repeatedly pointed out.

Perhaps that is why I love ballet so much. Because when everything else moves as fast as lightning and changes in a blink of an eye, I know some things don’t. My moves will always be like that. So does my pliés, my grand jetés, my pirouettes. As if the laws of nature don’t apply to it, I keep dancing the same dances the ballet dancers danced hundreds of years ago.

When everything else marches toward inevitable changes, I could rest assure that some elemental things don’t. I could keep on walking the same steps Anna Pavlova did years ago.

Knowing that, I am no longer scared.

For I will always have my solid ground.

(Unfinished Chapter)

This an old excerpt from the first chapter of the book I never finished. Having influenced by Buddhism, this was supposed to be a nonlinear story about finding peace within ourselves and thus attaining nirvana, as opposed to Schopenhauer dismal theory about happiness. However, I was always either too busy to write or too confused to decide the rest of the story. Anyways, instead of having it on my computer as a 19,7kb of data, I decided to post it here. Enjoy. 

Anya Fischer knew this day would come. The day when your heart stops beating and blood stops rushing through your veins; when all of your bodily functions stop working. Anya knew this from the day she learned about life in the kindergarten, that someday all living things will cease to live. Like the little ferret she brought home one day and forgot to feed. At some point, we all will stop living. She just didn’t know when that day would come. She thought at least she would have some kind of premonition when something really bad was about to happen, but apparently life didn’t come with early warning alert.

            She didn’t have a nauseous feeling or accidentally break a glass earlier this day, when one of her best friends died of car accident. She even waved at him when he pulled his car and drove off to the roads of California. Anya blamed herself. Had she been more sensitive to any sort of prophetic feeling, perhaps they could avert this tragedy. Nate Langley would not be lying on this cold metal table, his eyes shut in quaint peacefulness, the rose on his cheeks was all gone, leaving him with nothing but pale complexion. His chapped lips looked numb, there were some bruises and traces of wounds on his strangely calm face.

            “I will give you guys a moment.” The forensic doctor gave her a faint condolence smile, then left the cold room in city morgue to Anya and two other grieving friends of Nate Langley; Kaleb Rowe and Julian Shaffer—all those who were listed in his emergency contact.

            Anya burst into tears the moment he got out. Kaleb wept silently while letting her cry in his broad chest. He pinched the bridge of this nose with his left hand, as if it would stop the tears from coming out. The other one, Julian, managed to find a chair and sit there while drowning in convulsive sobs. He was always the quiet one in their little group, but now he couldn’t seem to control himself. He refused to even take another glimpse at his friend’s stiff body, hopelessly convincing himself that this was only a really bad dream. He told himself he would wake sometime later and found Nate snoring in bed across his in their college dorm room, the usual sight he had grown used to for about three years of his life.

            “At least he didn’t suffer.” Kaleb whispered in Anya’s ear, much to his own comfort. His voice cracked, he hated to think of the possibility of Nate being in agony at the end of his short life. The six-foot running back was glad he didn’t have to deceive Anya and himself by saying that. The doctor told them Nate died instantly due to brain hemorrhage. He had already died when the police arrived. His airbag failed to deploy, causing his head to strike against the steering wheel at the time of the accident.

Nate was only two weeks shy of his 22nd birthday, but instead of having the time of his life, he had his time ended when his car was hit by a drunk driver in a broad daylight. This event was almost impossible to discern. How the life of a young, promising law student with so much to offer the world was ended in the blink of an eye. They were not told how the other driver continued to live, despite having few minor injuries. Had they been told, this could be even more unbearable to be discerned.

            For a moment, it was just like that. The sadness echoed in the room, manifested in tears, sobs, and shaking shoulders. Nobody spoke. Each one of them tried to absorb the dreadful reality that just struck them like a hurricane in summer. Unpredictable, unexpected reality.

            “The idea is not to live forever, but to create something that will.” Nate once said. They were eating in their favorite diner when he quoted Andy Warhol out of the blue.

            “Like what? A bleached white hair that looks like splayed broom?” Julian replied. He hadn’t had much talking this evening, but when he did, it was the bomb. “Because it doesn’t look like something that could be forgotten.”

            Anya and Kaleb laughed. They never wanted to listen to any kind of aphorism. Life wasn’t as easy as stated in those lovely, well-written words.

             Kaleb Rowe stopped weeping in silence, he gasped for air. Just like the two others in this room, suddenly he felt incomplete.

I can understand how when the edges are rough
And they cut you like the tiniest slithers of glass
And you feel too much
And you don’t know how long you’re gonna last,

But everyone you know, is tryin’ smooth it over,
Find a way to make the hurt go away,
But everyone you know, is tryin’ smooth it over,
Like you’re trying to scream underwater,
But, I won’t let you make the great escape,
I’m never gonna watch you checkin out of this place
I’m not gonna lose you
Cause the passion and the pain
Are gonna keep you alive someday
Gonna keep you alive someday

I feel like I could wave my fist in front of your face
And you wouldn’t flinch or even feel a thing
And you’ve retreated to your silent corner
Like you decided the fight was over for ya,

Everyone you know, is tryin’ smooth it over,
Find a way to make the hurt go away,
Everyone you know, is tryin’ smooth it over,
Everyone needs a floor they can fall through
I won’t let you make the great escape,
I’m never gonna watch you checkin outta this place
I’m not gonna lose you
Cause the passion and pain
Are gonna keep you alive someday
They’re gonna keep you alive someday

I’m terrified of the dark, but not if you go with me
And I don’t need a pill to make me numb
And I wrote the book on runnin’,
But that chapter of my life will soon be done

I’m the king of the great escape
You’re not gonna watch me checkin outta this place
You’re not gonna lose me
Cause the passion and pain
Are gonna keep us alive, someday
Yeah the passion and the pain
Are gonna keep us alive someday, someday

Think Happy Thoughts


“Think happy thoughts, think happy thoughts.”

She repeats the words like a memorized poetry. Yet nothing comes to her mind. The central part of her brain, where her hippocampus is located, seems to freeze. Unable to startle it, she recites the words over and over again. This time it sounds more like a mantra, a spell that should magically transform her into a joyful fella. The one she always sees in one of those commercials in tv and magazine spreads.

“Think happy thoughts.”

Her voice is demanding. She wants to be able to recall the last time she was happy. The last time she doesn’t have to put on contrived smile. This time, too, she fails miserably. She cannot remember the last time she was happy. She’s been sad for as long as she can remember, most of the times for no apparent reason at all. She cannot even remember the why’s and how’s. Her head tilts, looking at the dried wounds on her arms, stomach, and thighs—mirror images of how much pain she endures inside. They’ve been there since always. It seems perpetual. For her, life has been a long journey of slowly walking in a dark tunnel.

“Think happy thoughts…”

She is hopeless for salvation. She knows that happiness is only a metaphor, and that no one in this earthly world has ever tasted the true taste of it. But still, in this state, a metaphor or a futile illusion is better than nothing. Even manufactured happiness from those pills is alright. After all, it’s better than nothing.


She chokes. Her words have all died in the bottom of the throat, piling soundlessly beyond her grasp. Something close to a sigh escapes her lips. She’s through with all these; the never-ending battle between her sane self and self-destructive self, the constant sadness, the loathing, the fear, everything.

“Well, fuck it.”

Her voice is tinged with an entire lifetime worth of exhaustion. Salvation is not hers to keep. She’s been this way forever, and perhaps it’s just the way it is. Her hope of being cured is gone, folded gently in the back of her mind.  

Quietly and gradually, she lets herself losing the war. 

Tonight you’re mine completely
You give your love so sweetly
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes
Will you love me tomorrow?

Is this a lasting treasure
Or just a moment’s pleasure?
Can I believe the magic of your sighs?
Will you still love me tomorrow?

Tonight with words unspoken
And you say that I’m the only one, the only one, yeah
But will my heart be broken
When the night meets the morning star?

I’d like to know that your love
Is love I can be sure of
So tell me now, cause I won’t ask again
Will you still love me tomorrow?
Will you still love me tomorrow?

In the universe of your existence, I am nowhere close to your orbit. We are 25 light years away, yet I am non-gravitationally attracted to you.

September 30th Movement: Side B of History


Diorama shown at Museum Pengkhianatan PKI (Museum of the Betrayals of Indonesian Communist Party), part of New Order propaganda.

“I’m the son of a communist party (PKI) member. I’m proud of it. (Ribka) Tjiptaning may also proud to be the daughter of a communist party member, but she’s not here. She doesn’t fight with our people, for justice.”

Mustofa’s lips trembled. Perhaps from anger, perhaps from contempt or whatever feelings he had within him. Like millions other, his father, a former communist party member, was beaten down, tortured, and even axed during the mass killings and torturing following the September 30th Movement in 1965. His father survived only to die in agony of health complications in 2010, legacy of the long, continuous tortures he endured nearly five decades ago. His haunting past lived on, and now is in the shoulder of his son, who relentlessly seeks justice on the behalf of his father.

On May 30, 2013, Mustofa and 17 other victims of the anti-communist purge conducted by New Order regime, once again came before Komisi Nasional Hak Asasi Manusia (National Commission on Human Rights). Led by Bedjo Untung, Chairman of Indonesian Institute for The Study of 1965/1966 Massacre and former political prisoner himself, this time not only they demanded resolution and rehabilitation, they also presented their independent research on mass killings and torturing which happened in Pekalongan, Central Java, and Pasaman, West Sumatera. The number was astonishing. In Pekalongan, there were 1149 people who were imprisoned, 199 who were slaved in Buru Island, 280 who died in local prison, 13 who died in Buru Island, 46 who died during interrogation, and 339 who went missing and presumed dead. In Pasaman, 1227 people were either dead, imprisoned, or slaved.

Historical Fallacies

On the night of September 30, 1965, a group consisting dissident Tjakrabirawa soldiers (Presidential Guard) led by Lieutenant Colonel Untung, kidnapped and assassinated six army generals and a second-lieutenant mistaken for being General Abdul Harris Nasution, Coordinating Minister for Defense and Security and Armed Forces Chief of Staff. The following morning, they took over what is now Lapangan Merdeka and three side of the square, including RRI (Radio Republik Indonesia, Indonesian Official Radio). Using the national radio broadcast system, Lieutenant Colonel Untung proclaimed that September 30th Movement—his group of army—had forestalled ‘General Council’ from overthrowing President Sukarno on Army Day, five days from that day. Due to the absence of Ahmad Yani, one of the killed generals, Major General Suharto took over the leadership and launched a full-force counterattack on the small-scale revolt. It was over in a day. Borrowing a term coined by John Roosa, historian at University of British Columbia and author of ‘Pretext for Mass Murder’, Suharto presented himself as the savior of the nation for defeating the movement. Riding the political uncertainties, he blamed Communist Party as the mastermind behind the failed coup and used the emergency situation to gradually rule out Sukarno, and raise him up to power.

Anticommunism became the cornerstone of Suharto’s New Order regime. Although Sukarno himself repeatedly said this movement was no more than “rimpel in de geweldige oceaan” (ripple in the wide ocean), Suharto saw this movement as early warning alert to the upcoming bigger revolution. Fabricated stories of how the communist mutilated the generals’s genitals, how they tortured the generals while dancing to their anthem “Genjer-genjer”, acted as psychological shock to stimulate public’s anger. By accumulating public’s hate, the new regime determined to put the Indonesian communist into annihilation. During the 1965-1966, anticommunist purge spread all across the nation. The Communist Party was banned. Its members, cadres, associates were hunted down, jailed in remote areas, tortured, and killed in brutal way. Time magazine described the horror as the following:

Backlands army units are reported to have executed thousands of Communists after interrogation in remote jails…Armed with wide-blade knives called parangs, Moslem bands crept at night into the homes of Communists, killing entire families and burying the bodies in shallow graves…The murder campaign became so brazen in part of rural East Java that Moslem bands placed the heads of victims on poles and paraded them through villages. The killings have been on such a scale that the disposal of the corpses has created a serious sanitation problem in East Java and Northern Sumatra, where the humid air bears the reek of decayed flesh. Travelers from these areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies; river transportation has at places been seriously impeded.

In an attempt to wipe out the communist threat, the new regime held all 3 millions of Communist Party followers accountable for September 30th Movement, with no exception, because the authorities claimed the 3-million-followers failed to inform them about the coup attempt. Although those 3 million were mostly average peasants and labors who attend Communist Party’s festivities only for the free food, at that time nobody seemed to question the premise. In New Order propaganda, one man’s mistake is another man’s burden to bear. 

Mahkamah Militer Luar Biasa (Extraordinary Military Court) was held, but wasn’t intended to find out the how and why the movement was carried. Dipa Nusantara Aidit, the Communist Party leader himself, was shot down in Yogyakarta without further questioning. Other senior members were either executed or jailed without firstly tried. The prosecutors and judge worked under pretense that the Communist Party was responsible for September 30th Movement. Numerous wrongful arrests were made, due to utter lack of thorough investigation. But nobody cared, because apparently the communists were not worthy of justice.

As the result, 78.000 to one million lives died. Strangled, beheaded, or had their throats slit by military forces or Islamic militias with knives or machetes. Their deaths mark one of the darkest, but rarely-discussed eras of Indonesian history.

For decades, the 1965-1966 killings and torturing remain shrouded in mystery. Unlike the Nazi Holocaust, there is never a memorial for this nationwide massacre. It is never written in a history book. The children of younger generation are told to use the suffix “/PKI” after the word G30S (Gerakan 30 September, September 30th Movement), to indicate that the communist was and still is responsible for the killings of seven military officers. Although recent discovery strongly disputes the sole culpability of Indonesian Communist Party.

Dutch scholar W.F. Wertheim even believes that “the Untung coup was what its leader … claimed it to be — an internal army affair reflecting serious tensions between officers of the Central Java Diponegoro Division, and the Supreme Command of the Army in Djakarta….”. Harold Crouch, a political scientist also agrees with the theory and said that the movement was essentially the work of discontent military officers with some support of the Communist Party. Other theories include the involvement of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to overthrow the old government before it fell to the communist’s hand. Throughout the cold war, the United States could bear to lose Indonesia’s riches in oil, rubber, and tin to their archenemy. In the early sixties, it was no secret that the fiery and charismatic Sukarno was close with Indonesian Communist Party. Too close, that it must be frustrating to the Western countries. Numerous conspiracy theories were developed, but none was made official.

Long Enforced Silence

Under Suharto’s regime, government routinely screened literatures, films, and other media for mentions of the killings and torturing. The events of 1965-1966 were shrouded in what Geoffrey Robinson, historian at the University of California, calls “enforced silence”. Those who actually knew were made silence, and those who didn’t were kept out of the idea. In most schools, people are taught that communism is something brutal, something evil. The known event surrounding 1965-1966 era was the killings of seven army officers. The killings and torturing of millions Indonesian was omitted, like a taboo no one should talk about.

In 2008, following pressure from victims, their relatives, historians, and other groups, the National Commission on Human Rights created an investigative team on the 1965 coup. Headed by Nur Kholis, vice chairman of the commission, the team carried out a formal inquiry to determine whether there was human right violations following the September 30th Movement, or not. For more than three years of investigation, the team was finally able to gather eyewitness testimonies from 349 victims. But as quoted by the Jakarta Globe, the head of the team, Nur Kholis, said that their progress is relatively slow due to lack of logistics and continued opposition from the military and Muslim groups. In recent meeting, Nur Kholis added that even if they were not fully supported by the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat (Parliament) or associated ministries, they will continue to strive for their remedy and rehabilitation.

“We will continue to handle each and every case.” he said, assuring the delegations of Indonesian Institute for The Study of 1965/1966 Massacre on May 30, 2013. The delegations consisted of 17 victims of the 1965-1966 anticommunist purge and one victim’s relative. Very few of them nodded. Others chose to remain silent, quietly absorbing another promise. 

“For how much longer? I’m afraid if we are kept waiting for another five or ten years, we would have been extinct. Look at us! We’re old, we could have died any day. ”

A voice emerged. It belonged to Mukhori, another man who endured torture and imprisoned for false accusation in 1965. He came all the way from Yogya, and by the look on his wrinkled face, he didn’t came to hear another promise. He wanted real rehabilitation, along with real welfare security for every surviving former political prisoner who were tortured, stripped from their material possession, and discriminated for decades. He wanted the government to apologize to all of his fellow victims who were butchered for their political views, and others who knew nothing but killed in wrongful accusations.

After all, it has nearly been 48 years. Even after Suharto’s regime collapsed in 1998, the following government seemed still show unwillingness to face this nation’s dark past. No historical correction is ever made, to correct the fallacies and fabricated history. No official acknowledgement and apologize were ever made. And up until now, the Indonesian government still prefers the term “G30S/PKI” over “G30S”.

It is yet to be proven, but perhaps, the 32-years of Suharto’s regime have made the enforced silence come to a point where it is almost voluntary.

Image source:

Ribka Tjiptaning Proletariyati, author of autobiographpical book “Aku Bangga Jadi Anak PKI” (I’m Proud to be the Daughter of Indonesian Communist Party Member)

December 17, 1965

Sydney Morning Herald’s “Indonesia Unwilling to Tackle Legacy of Massacres” article. June 13, 2009.

David Ransom’s article “Ford Country: Building an Elite for Indonesia”

New York Times article “Veil of Silence Lifted in Indonesia”. January 18, 2012

Mereka yang Luput dari Buku Sejarah


Kamis, 26 Mei 1946.

Sedari pagi matahari begitu terik. Di Cisauk, Tangerang, ribuan orang telah siap dengan golok yang terhunus, berbilah-bilah bambu yang diruncingkan, dan semangat menggebu untuk mengusir penjajah dari tanah mereka. Mereka tidak berseragam selayaknya tentara, karena memang mereka hanya rakyat biasa yang berasal dari daerah Madja, Tejo, Rangkas Bitung, dan sekitarnya. Petani, buruh, berbagai profesi melebur menjadi satu laskar di bawah kepemimpinan Kyai Haji Ibrahim. Ya, Kyai. Bukan Mayor, bukan Jenderal. Hanya Kyai, yang memakai sorban dan bukan topi baja. Yang bersenjatakan keberanian dan bukan bedil.

“Allahu Akbar!”


Golok terayun dan sebagai gantinya peluru ditembakkan. Dentang senjata tajam dan suara tembakan bercampur dengan rintihan dan teriakan, seperti paduan suara kematian. Setelah 12 jam, paduan suara itu baru berhenti. Perang telah usai, setidaknya di daerah tersebut. Penjajah kocar-kacir digempur laskar rakyat.

150 pejuang gugur, termasuk pemimpin mereka, Kyai Haji Ibrahim.



Ilham memarkir motornya di depan kantor administrasi Taman Makam Pahlawan Seribu. Dia meninggalkan pekerjaan sambilannya sebagai tukang pangkas rumput untuk menemui saya. Sisa tanah merah dan rumput masih menempel di sepatu botnya yang berwarna hijau, menandakan dia benar-benar bergegas kemari begitu menerima telepon dari saya.

“Sudah biasa, teh,” katanya. “Kapan saja ada pengunjung ya harus saya temani.”

Pria dua puluhan itu sudah mengabdi menjadi pengurus makam selama kurang lebih tiga tahun. Bersama dua rekannya, Didin dan Sadikin, merekalah yang sehari-hari bertanggung jawab membuat tempat peristirahatan terakhir para pejuang ini nyaman dan indah dipandang.

Taman Makam Pahlawan (TMP) Seribu terletak di pinggir Jalan Raya Serpong, kesunyiannya tampak kontras dengan kondisi jalan raya yang padat dan berisik. Tidak ada tugu peringatan yang megah, satu-satunya penanda hanyalah plakat beton seperti yang biasa didirikan di depan kantor kecamatan. Tulisan “Taman Makam Pahlawan Seribu Serpong, Kab. DT II Tangerang” dari alumunium perak berkilau jika tertimpa cahaya matahari. Sederetan pagar rendah berwarna putih kusam berdiri tegak mengelilingi seluruh kawasan seluas kurang lebih 900 km2 terebut.

Areal TMP hanya berupa lapangan parkir, taman, area pekuburan, serta pos penjagaan dan kantor administrasi yang kini dapat dikatakan beralih fungsi menjadi tempat istirahat ketiga penjaga makam. Satu-satunya keterangan mengenai tempat ini hanyalah kalimat yang tertera pada dinding batu, “Disinilah peristirahatan kami terakhir setelah menunaikan dharma bhakti pada tanggal 26 Mei 1946”, kemudian diikuti dengan nama 150 pejuang yang tewas dalam Pertempuran Seribu nyaris 67 tahun lalu. Nama ke-151 hingga 237 dikosongkan, karena merupakan pahlawan tak dikenal yang langsung dimakamkan disana, di bawah nisan-nisan tak bernama.

Area pekuburan juga sangat sederhana. Nisan yang terpancang hanya berupa bilah-bilah kayu yang dicat merah-putih beberapa tahun sekali, untuk menyaput tangan-tangan iseng yang membubuhi keterangan ngawur di nisan. Hanya sedikit yang diberi nama dengan menggunakan spidol hitam. Sisanya anonim, termasuk Kyai Haji Ibrahim. Tidak ada yang tahu jasadnya disemayamkan di petak yang mana. Tak ada topi baja, hiasan kuburan-kuburan tersebut hanya berupa dedaunan kering yang jatuh di beberapa tempat. Jauh dari kesan gagah. Ironisnya kuburan yang lebih baik justru bukan milik pejuang Pertempuran Seribu, namun milik Kapten Solichin yang wafat di tahun 1989, serta kedua orangtua salah satu petinggi Kota Tangerang Selatan, H. E Mugni Sastradipura yang wafat di tahun 2000, serta Hj. Ratnaningsih Mugni yang wafat di tahun 2003. Ketiganya diberi nisan batu, lengkap dengan tanggal kelahiran, kematian, dan ayat Al-Quran.

“Ada yang bilang nama ‘Seribu’ itu plesetan dari kata ‘Serbu’, ada yang bilang juga karena waktu itu yang berperang jumlahnya ribuan. Tidak ada yang tahu pasti,” terang Ilham sambil membersihkan sepatu bot-nya dari tanah merah yang mengganjal. “Tapi yang jelas bukan karena ada seribu makam. Disini hanya ada total 240 makam.”

Dirinya hanya tahu sedikit mengenai pertempuran yang menjadi cikal bakal TMP ini. Minimnya catatan sejarah serta tidak adanya pusat informasi membuat Ilham seringkali harus bertugas sebagai tour guide, menjelaskan sekelumit peristiwa sejarah yang luput diabadikan dalam buku pelajaran sejarah tersebut. Ala kadarnya, tapi cukup memberi gambaran.

Hari itu hari Minggu dan langit sedang cerah, namun saya hanya satu-satunya pengunjung disana. Langkah kaki Ilham dan saya menjadi satu-satunya suara pemecah keheningan. Dia mengaku TMP ini memang hanya ramai dikunjungi pada saat-saat tertentu saja. Ulang tahun Kota Tangerang Selatan, misalnya, atau Hari Pahlawan, kemudian HUT salah satu divisi angkatan bersenjata. Kadangkala para ahli waris pahlawan yang terbaring disini mengadakan halal bihalal atau acara makan bersama di makam. Tetapi itupun tidak rutin dan akhir-akhir ini sudah jarang. Satu-satunya yang masih dijalankan adalah malam Renungan Suci setiap tanggal 17 Agustus. Mulai dari jam 12 malam hingga 1.30 dini hari, segenap pengurus Kota Tangerang Selatan meletakkan lilin di setiap nisan kemudian mendaraskan doa untuk mengenang para pahlawan.

“Tapi ini masih mending, teh,” kata Ilham. “Dulu, sebelum pindah kesini kan tempatnya kecil, tidak bisa dipakai untuk acara apa-apa. Sekarang mah sudah lebih enak, sudah diurus sama Dinas (Kebersihan, Pertamanan, dan) Pemakaman. Dulu waktu sama Dinas Sosial kurang diurus.”

Berbeda dengan kebanyakan situs perjuangan, TMP Seribu memang sudah tidak lagi berdiri di atas tanah bekas pertempuran aslinya. Sejak tahun 1996, Pemerintah Kabupaten Tingkat II Tangerang memutuskan untuk memindahkan lokasi TMP Seribu ke Jalan Raya Serpong, sekitar 2 km dari situs aslinya. Tugu peringatan pertempuran tidak ikut dipindahkan, namun dibiarkan terbengkalai di lahan yang penuh semak belukar di daerah Cisauk. Sejak itu juga, pemeliharaan tempat bersejarah ini diletakkan pada tanggung jawab Dinas Kebersihan, Pertamanan, dan Pemakaman Kota Tangerang Selatan.

Namun perpindahan kepengurusan tidak lantas mensejajarkan TMP Seribu dengan taman makam pahlawan lain di Jakarta. Sebagai tempat wisata sejarah, TMP Seribu masih tetap kurang diminati karena kalah populer dengan objek wisata sejenis yang memiliki tokoh yang lebih dikenal. Ilham mengaku, di awal tahun 2000, tempat ini malah sempat ramai dikunjungi pelanggan “kupu-kupu” malam yang suka mangkal di area pekuburan.

“Mereka kan tinggalnya di kampung belakang, jadi suka ketemuan disini,” ungkap laki-laki penyuka kopi hitam ini. “Saya kasih tahu baik-baik, dekati satu-satu, alhamdulillah sebagian mau cari tempat mangkal lain. Baru setelah (kampung dan TMP) ditembok, mereka nggak kesini lagi.”

Selain pelanggan perempuan malam, pernah juga TMP ini dijadikan perlindungan oleh anak-anak sekolah yang lari dari tawuran. “Saya kira anak pramuka, tahunya habis tawuran. Saya juga tahunya waktu ada polisi yang nguber-nguber sampai kemari.” Imbuhnya.

Pria yang berharap diangkat menjadi PNS ini menyesalkan kurangnya pengetahuan masyarakat dan perhatian dari pemerintah daerah, terutama untuk mensosialisasikan peristiwa dan tempat ini. Padahal TMP Seribu juga merupakan saksi sejarah Indonesia yang patut diingat juga dilestarikan, paling tidak oleh warga daerahnya sendiri.

“Saya cuma pengin orang tahu, kita kan bisa hidup enak ya karena mereka juga.” Tatapannya menerawang ke arah kuburan, entah memikirkan apa.

Matahari makin tinggi di atas kepala. Angin berkesiur pelan, merontokkan beberapa daun yang memang telah lama mati. Jalanan di luar masih ramai, tetapi saya masih satu-satunya pengunjung di tempat ini.

Dance of Life


Outside of the headmaster’s room in my brother’s high school, there’s a fish tank. It was not big enough to contain large, exotic fish which definitely could impress the students’ parents. The size was modest, so did the species it contained. I could not really tell the exact name of the species, but they’re not likely to be pricey. They were not colorful or captivating, much less attractive. Overall it was just something they put in the corner to fill the empty space. It was so ordinary, I guarantee people would just pass it by everyday without really noticing its presence.

And so I did, at first. I stared at the dirty, green water with an empty look on my face as I waited for my appointment. But then something caught my eye. Half of the fishes were of the same species. They were about a span, with grey scales and rather large eyes. Come to think of it, if it had not been for their movements, I would not have paid more attention to them.

They swam in accordance, following a path invisible to human eyes. They circled the stone decoration, gulped the black sand at the bottom of the tank, threw up the sand, and did another circle. They did it continuously, almost repetitive and identical to one another. As if there’s no other choice other than doing the same dance, over and over again. It’s like they’re bound to laws more binding than civil laws; the laws of nature. The laws that govern all of living creatures and determine all of their movements, stimulate their compulsions, and thus, make them no other than mere automatic, biological robots.

And I thought about us. Yes, us. You, me, the rest of the mankind. Are we any different from the fishes in that tank? We wake up every morning to the sight of the sun, we eat to satisfy our hunger, we drink to relieve our thirst, we mate, we have mother-child relationship, we have the desire to move our hand to scratch the itch in our body, and so on. We are driven by our primordial urges to do this, and we cannot do anything to avert them. It’s safe to say that our behaviors are dictated by laws of physics, biology, and chemistry; the laws of nature. It’s like the mankind are doing the collective, repetitive, almost identical dance in the giant tank called earth. Every single day.

Carl Jung proposed the ‘Collective Unconscious’ theory to explain about the innate basic behavior we inherited since we were born. The archetypes (behavioral pattern) are the form of primordial knowledge endowed to us by nature. It governs our unconscious decision and behavior. So subtle and natural, we would not even realize we are driven by it. Similar notion was stated by Stephen Hawking in his controversial yet interesting book, “The Grand Design”;

“Though we feel that we can choose what we do, our understanding of the molecular basis of biology shows that biological processes are governed by the laws of physics and chemistry and therefore are as determined as the orbits of the planets.” [page 31]

Because our body and our actions are controlled by such elaborate laws and we are bound to it, freedom of will is only an illusion we cannot possibly attain, at least not in this physical realm. In an extreme case, one can choose not to eat and ignore the hunger, but we all know the end is catastrophic. We can choose to suppress our sexual urges but it will never be gone. Our body and physical world are built over giant biological mechanism that evolves from time to time. The mechanism is always there, its innate presence binds the living organisms and acts as an invisible choreographer to our natural dance of life. The mechanism keeps this world from falling apart, and we are expected to follow the predetermined path in order to live in continuous harmony.

We are living in a system where our behavior is patterned according to primordial images, our bodily function is governed by chemical reactions, and our so-called desire and passion is driven by innate character compulsions[1]By this notion, we are tantamount to the fishes on that fish tank; biological robots. 

So must we, then, accept the deterministic reasoning that there is no such thing as free will?

Not necessarily.

I personally think that there is actually freedom of will, the freedom to choose options other than we are presented. The freedom not to, instead of doing the exact same routine everyone else is doing. But the freedom of will is not created as an alternative of the laws of nature. It’s not meant to be attained, for it lies beyond the edge of this physical world, where catastrophe and chaos neatly form a continuous, endless loop.


[1] Schopenhauer argues that our moral character is absolutely the same all through our lives. We cannot alter our characters, for which it is innate and immutable. Therefore, one’s action is definite and driven by one’s unchangeable character. 

Young and reckless.