Why did my parents have to call me repeatedly just because of the election of the head of village? I was curious! After a few calls from home, finally I found the answer, “Salah siji calone, Pak Sukino, iseh sedulur karo awake dewe,” (One of the candidates, Mr. Sukino, is our relative) my father said. “Ohhhh…,” I said briefly without any comment.
After going through the night, the next morning I started to see the row of rice fields, the simple houses, beautiful yards, carriages and pedicabs that stood in a line of every market that I passed, and surely there was no high rise building here. My brother picked me up at the usual place, at Bedogantungan traffic light. I came a little late this time. I arrived at home at 10 o’clock, while usually at 8. The bus I rode in had to go in a circle just like a mosquito coil, to drop off the passengers one by one.
I only took a little time to rest before I took a shower and immediately went to Dengkeng Village Hall. Dengkeng Village was my hometown, a village which was located in Wedi District, Klaten Regency. My father and grandmother had already left before me. I had not left yet when my father was taking my grandmother home. He only took her home and would go back to the village hall soon. Before he went, he approached me, “Le, ngko nyoblos sing gambar pari iki, yo, iki Pak Sukino. Oya, undangan pilihane Ibuk tak gowo. Yen undanganmu karo adimu,” (Son, you cast a vote for the rice picture, ok, this is Mr. Sukino. Oh yes, I bring your mother’s invitation. Yours is with your brother) my father said. “Okay, Dad,” I said.
My mother was still at work, teaching at Karang Elementary School. Not long after my father went to the village hall again, my mother came home. Finally, I, my brother, and my mother went together to the village hall. On the way there, I found some strange sights on some points on the street. Many cassavas were hanging everywhere, a post banner of one of the head of village candidates, and the election posters with pictures of rice, cassava, and corn on it, with the pictures of the candidates were posted on the walls on the side of the street.
When I arrived at the village hall, the nice smile seemed a little taboo and suspicious for now. Although we knew each other, even related, smiling to each other had to be done carefully. I felt a different atmosphere, a little hot. I then adjusted to the situation. I acted normally even though people I met were my family or friends.
Bringing the election invitation letter, I went towards the registration desk of KADUS (Kepala Dusun – Head of Village) number 2. My village was divided into two villages, because there was a main road in the middle of the village. The west of the road was the village number one, and the east of the road was the village number two. On that occasion, the main road was guarded by Lik Dhalan and his friend. Lik Dhalan was a popular hansip (pertahanan sipil – civil defense) in the village.
After registering, I went to another desk to take the ballot card which was a card to cast my vote. Then I went into the voting booth. The rice, cassava and corn with their pictures instantly greeted my eyes. The rice and cassava were new candidates while corn was an incumbent. Next, you knew what I would vote for, right?
I came out of the voting booth. The ballot box was waiting outside the booth. I immediately inserted the ballot card that I had already voted on into the ballot box. At the exit, the blue ink blocked me, asking one of my fingers to be dipped in. I’d been through all the voting ritual. I didn’t go home instantly, but sitting on a chair under the tent to watch the voting atmosphere.
I just realized, apparently in the voting area, the candidates and their wives dressed up, sitting in a line in front of the village hall office. While sitting, they had been watching the voting process from the beginning and certainly until the end of the event. On the wall above their heads, the pictures of rice, cassava and corn were posted. I said to myself, “Hmm…the rice, cassava and corn are lucky these days!”
I didn’t sit for long before my friend, Mas Yudi, a village activist, came and stayed in the motorcycle parking lot. I instantly waved my hand when I saw him. He was a journalist from Merdeka Village. His arrival coincided with the presence of rather heavy rain. After the rain stopped, I approached him in the parking lot. “How are you, Bro?” I said. “Yo, apiklah,” (I’m fine) he said. He had just gone around the villages which were holding the head of village election too. “Piye keadaane deso-deso liyane, Mas?” (How are the other villages, Bro?) I asked about the situation in other villages. “Yo ngunulah, saiki ki kabeh gur ngapusi, ra ono sing bener-bener demokrasi murni, yo politik, kan, ngene iki, demokrasine gur demokrasi transaksional,” (Well, that’s the way it is, now that’s all a lie, there’s no real democracy, well, this is politics, the democracy is only a transactional democracy) he said with a heavy voice, his talking style.
As far as I knew, this election was done simultaneously through the Klaten Regency. I asked Mas Yudi about this, “Kok, isoh serentak ngene, sih, Mas?” (How come it could be done simultaneously, Bro?). “Yo emang wis wayahe, tapi iki kan lagi tahap pertama nang Klaten. Sesuk bulan Oktober ono meneh,” (Well, it’s about time, but it’s just the first stage in Klaten. In October, there will be another one) he said. “Ohhh, dadi rongatus pitung puluh deso iku during kabeh, tho?” (Oh, so the 277 villages aren’t all yet?) I responded. “Durung…lho, rongatus pitung puluh wolhu, tho,” (Not yet…not 277, it’s 278) he said. Apparently there was a slight difference of the number of villages that were holding the election I knew and what he knew.
The conversation continued, “Lho, aku mau tuku Tribun Jogja karo SOLOPOS, nang kunu beritane rongatus pitung puluh pitu, oggg,” (Well, I bought the Tribun Jogja and SOLOPOS earlier, they said there were 277 villages) I explained about the source where I got that number. As he lighted his cigarette, Mas Yudi said, “Yo, berita iku kan entuke seko informasi sing beredar, tapi dataku nang kene rongatus pitung puluh wolhu!” (Well, the news got the story from the information that circulated, but my data here says 278). It was too bad that he had to go soon to see another village. So my conversation with him had to end here, and we promised to talk more on another occasion.
When I’d got off the bus at Bendogantungan traffic light earlier, I’d taken the time to buy the local newspapers, Tribun Jogja and SOLOPOS. As far as I’d known, today would be the election day of the head of village simultaneously in Klaten. The local papers certainly would’ve written about this. After buying and reading them, I was a little disappointed, because there was very little news about the election. On each paper, I only found an article about it, maybe because these were the newspapers from Jogja and Solo, that’s why the pages for Klaten were very little.
The Tribun Jogja reported about the election in Klaten with the title “I Hope to be Elected”, the subtitle was “277 Villages in Klaten Hold the Head of Village Election Today”. The lead of the article explained that “…the residents of Klaten in 277 villages will do the first stage of the Head of Village election on Thursday (11/04). There are at least 699 candidates of the head of village who will compete…”
Meanwhile, on Solopos, the news about the election of head of village in Klaten was given a little bombastic title. The title was “Klaten and Wonogiri Elect the Head of Village. Ahead of the Voting was Marred by the Violence.” The lead explained “…277 villages in Klaten and 91 villages in Wonogiri will hold the election of head of village simultaneously, Thursday (11/04). The violent action spoiled the preparation of the election in Klaten again…”
That afternoon I felt so sleepy, I was having a headache because I hadn’t had a rest when I got home earlier. The vote count would be done at 2 PM, while it was still 12.30 PM. Because I couldn’t stand this sleepiness, I decided to go home. When I arrived at home I felt that the bed was so soft. I slept soundly. I woke up around 4 o’clock. I immediately went to the village hall to watch the vote count. But from a distance, I couldn’t hear the voice that shouted rice, cassava or corn that were fighting for the vote anymore. I was anxious.
After pulling out the motorcycle, suddenly my brother, Agung, came on his beloved bicycle. “Kok wis muleh, Gung?” (Why are you home already, Gung?) I asked. “Lha wis rampung, ogg, Mas,” (It’s over, Bro) answered my brother, Agung. My heart was getting more anxious, because I might have missed the count. Because I didn’t believe it, I still went to the village hall, and apparently the officers were starting to pack the chairs, the desks and the sound system. Yes, that was right, I missed the vote count.
The information about the result that I got from my relative, Lik Hako, was, of the 1261 people on the permanent voter list, the rice got 279 votes, the cassava got 434 votes, and the corn got 373 votes. There were 34 broken ballot papers, meanwhile, 141 people didn’t use their right to vote. Apparently the winner was the cassava. Meanwhile, the rice, which made me have to go home from Jakarta, got the lowest votes instead.
The story wasn’t over yet. After the election, the whispering was getting louder. According to my mother and father, and also my neighbor behind my house, the cassava got the most votes because its money had been bigger than the rice’s and the corn’s. For those who had voted the cassava had gotten 300,000 IDR each. Meanwhile, the rice and the corn had only given 100,000 IDR each to their voters.
From my conversation with my neighbor behind my house, he said that the money game like that was common. In the previous elections it had also happened. However, the money in the past had not been as much as now. It meant that for the next election, the money game would be bigger. And the next one after that would be even bigger. And the next one after the last one, would be so much bigger, who knows?