WHEN sick, I sell my cloth for paying at puskesmas (the community health center). If there is nothing to sell, I don’t want to pay them. If they are mad at me, I resist,” she said, smiling. Her face even more cringed for the smile.
Her name is Juriyah. The old woman showed three pieces of Rp1,000 banknotes at her hand. That’s what she earned until that midday. She then requested for a hot tea from a street vendor.
All those street vendors operating under the flyover, next to commuting railway at Tebet crossroad in South Jakarta know her well. Her voice was strong though she already passed her 82nd birthday. She lived on her self in this unfriendly mega city. It has been over 30 years she has no more homes to stay, and lives wandering on the streets.
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Decades ago she came to Jakarta along with her husband from a certain location in Sumatra Island. They rented a small house at Senen district, C. Jakarta. Her husband was an amateur electricity installation fixer. He died for a wound infection on his leg after walking over rotten nails. Their son also died for another illness.
Since her husband died, she could no longer rent a house. She then became a house maid for two different employers. Bad luck struck her when she went to a traditional market but a car hit her badly. One of her eyes seriously wounded. Since then none employed her for any work. After the tumultuous year 1965 in Indonesia, she started wandering on the city streets. She slept anywhere in the open and depended her life for people’s generosity.
But now she could no longer walk far enough for any work. Yet now she often feels her legs strained and stiff. (Sri Maryanti)