do you remember how to make your own toys? i was born in the 1980s, my father still teach me how to make a boat or a little rolling car out of grapefruit skin and bamboo toothpick. i was born in the age where i still play traditional games at the streets and running around the abandoned land in my housing complex. climbing the mango trees at the backyard, throwing each other children mud-like rocks. one of my earliest memory of those “age to play” is putting my first paper boat in the river at the end of my street and try to watch whether it float back the same way. that particular river had a circular stream. my childhood memories are all in that greenness scene despite i grow up in a city, bogor, a 60 kilometer away from the capital of indonesia, jakarta.
things change in my housing complex. development come. they close the way to the river. they separate the kampung (village) and the housing estate. my place suddenly belong to the elite. i was 13 by then, all my childhood friends vanish into thin air. no more running around in the area. i felt the weird gut feeling every time i felt i saw one of them on my way home from school when i take the angkot (public transportation). i missed those days when we are just children and don’t care shit.
i guess those are the reason i choose to live in a kampung in jogja to raised bhumy. i would not say it’s an ideal place. but i do prefer my kid to live in a more natural surroundings. anyways, at the end of last semester, the kids in his school (MILAS playgroup) did an outing to one of the village in the southern part of yogyakarta, pandes village which famously called the kampung dolanan (the village of toys).
pandes is famous for their traditional toys maker. the whole village used to be a traditional toy maker. but now they are nearly vanishing, only 8 people left and all of them are women. the youngest of them all are the age of 80 and the oldest is 100 years old. amazing women and still actively selling these toys. they even stiil walked to the main market like beringharjo (which are quiet far) to sell their handmade toys for surviving their lives. they can make different 90 characters from the classic wayang tales, just by cutting them straight from a recycle cardboard and draw them. and i can’t believe that it is only IDR 1000 (what 10 cent USD?) per item. i raged for the prices. it’s way too cheap for whatever their skills and knowledge. this compare to all those shitty made in china toys.
pandes now become a center for learning how to make traditional toys. the youth there established a center where young children introduced to the wisdom of traditional games and how to make your own traditional toys. they documented all this traditional toys. they explain all the values of all this games with the consciousness that maybe in less than ten years all of this will disappear.
although seeing the amazing things, people and the best time my son and his friends had in the village: playing traditional games, toy-making with the women elder toymaker, catching catfish in the pond near the paddy-field and bamboo showers. i can’t help myself to be saddened. that all of this richness of cultural experience would go away someday. it’s like seeing an old dear friend you can’t touch and that weird gut feeling is back.