20 May 2008

A Night Without Fireworks

Last night during New Year’s Eve of 2008, I stood by the fence of my apartment balcony in Rasuna. I just got back from my brother’s house and started typing as I had something in my mind. I had been busily typing until fifteen minutes before midnight when my husband called me out from the balcony. I saw the cloudy sky was glowing by the brilliance of fireworks. Even the rains could not prevent people from burning the fireworks. For a moment I was charmed by the beauty of fireworks. They were every where. From the balcony, I could see some fireworks in the directions of Jl. Saharjo, Cempaka Putih, Tebet and East of Jakarta. I just realized that so many fireworks spots, let alone the residence of apartments as well as residence of Menteng Atas. Some of them lit the fireworks at their balcony and someone lit the fireworks at the roof of Tower 9 of Taman Rasuna Apartment. I was also enchanted by the color and shape of fireworks. They were like shooting fireworks to each other.

Despite my being amused by the complimentary show, I still felt uneasy. How much money they had burnt just to present a few seconds entertainment? It was very fast that I could not take photograph of them via my cell phone. In spite of my concern, I wanted to show the photo to my little girl, who was already asleep, to tell her how beautiful the fireworks were.

Taking into account fireworks in every direction of South and East parts of Jakarta, at least from where I saw them, I estimated hundred millions were spent for the 10 minute-show. I just made simple calculation, if hundreds million spent in one direction of Jakarta times 5 directions, at least one billion Rupiah spent or burnt for nothing. Perhaps, the intention of the fireworks contributor was right and justified, to amuse many people, mostly marginal society because the upper class might spend an extravaganza new year’s eve at some hotels or fancy restaurants.

Somehow, I just felt the timing was not right. We knew that there had been natural disasters happened to our brothers and sisters throughout Indonesia, earthquakes in West Sumatera, landslides and floods in Central Java. Even in Jakarta, some area had been closed due to floods, namely Bukit Duri area. All of them were in need of help a.k.a money.

I did not mean to be unthankful to be entertained for a while. I just could not get my troubled feeling away. If one billion was spent for 10 to 30 minute show, how many cows or goats could be bought by that amount. I made a rough calculation. There would be 140 cows or almost 1,000 goats. How many families could be satisfied for one or two days, many I believed.

Let us contemplate for a while. Was it the right way to entertain people if not ourselves? I would by lying if I said I never lit any fireworks during my childhood, I did. My father bought me boxes of 10 cm-long fireworks. We were very excited to lit the fireworks at the portico of our home. Well, it was 70s-80s, when generally, our economic condition was not as bad as at this moment. I felt such period as the golden years, just like our fathers or grand fathers referred to ‘jaman normal’’ of their version. Even during that days, not many fireworks show presented throughout Jakarta unless in a special event like a circus or acrobat. In the 80s, I remembered once saw a great firework showed at a special event, some kind of acrobat called Explomo (if I am not mistaken). Now, I saw it in many spots and in common residential areas.

I thought we were living in a difficult era, the era in which so many people were so poor and penniless. Ironically, at this moment we still had nerve to celebrate one night in an overexerting way. I felt disturbed that I wished I would not familiarize my daughter with that kind of celebration. I would not initiate such tradition in our family.

Perhaps this reflected that actually there were many unexposed rich people living in this country. Probably, it was the country that was poor, not the people including its officials. I thought the government should lead the action to change the manner of celebration in the coming years, so that people would follow. There should be feeling of sensitivity. Some of us might think that the celebration would not weaken our economy or on the contrary, the prevention the money from being burnt in one single night would not fortify our economy either. To me, any good and justifiable spending of money would always make difference, especially to the developing country like Indonesia.

The government should be seriously taking action on this. If possible, the government could issue some kind of regulations that control if not prevent fireworks. Not because it was illegal thing, but because it was not acceptable to the general condition of Indonesia. If people did not have enough consciousness to start, then the leader should take a lead. Wasn’t it one of their obligations to this country?

Rasuna, 2 January 2008

Gusnelia Tartiningsih (Nela Dusan)

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