"A man writes because he doubts, because he is tormented."

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Many Happy Birthday, N

‘Tis the time of the year when I hate to write. Not because it is a tedious task, but because this day is the day the siren of our old age rings again. I hate birthday because I don’t want to grow old. I don’t want you either to grow old. I hope you won’t get old. I want you to be forever young. You know, I always imagine you as a sempiternal doe, running around in the steppes. You are fascinatingly beautiful. So free and blissful, even death dares not conquer. That, my love, is my first and foremost prayer.

My second prayer is for you to be able to forgive me. I, for lack of better word, am nothing but thorns in your wilderness. I give you nothing but wounds. Yet you always give me grace and compassion. I took you – took us – for granted. I stopped listening to small things. I was clumsy and forgetful as ever. I harangued you even when you want me to just shut up. Yet you were always patient. Yet I did those mistakes again and again.

You offered me salvation. I put you on the cross instead.

I have nothing to give you as a birthday present but an apology for all these clashes I caused during this year.

Speaking of our little fights, here’s an equation I remember:
They say this is the key for lasting relationship. But what does it mean? It means that it would be better for a couple to argue on small problem and fix it as soon as possible than to keep the resentment build up. Of course, a relationship without a fight is more desirable. But it is impossible. After all, maybe it is true what Publius Terentius Afer once wrote in his comedic play: “Amantium irae amoris integratio est.” Fights are what bring lovers together.

So my next prayer is that I wish we can still argue about kittens and puppies and today’s millenials for years ahead, rather than become strangers again. Because I love you, and won’t cease to do so even when time and space divide us. I won’t cease, unless you wish for it.

Oh, and I hope we can travel somewhere. Of course you’ll be paying. Last year I wish you’d be richer than I am, and now you are. I’ll promise this time I won’t prefer staying on bed.

Live long. Live happily. And be prosper.

Amatus es. Ego semper amabo te.

Your kitten,


PS: Just this afternoon I saw a culinary travelogue on AFC. There's this bakpao vendor in Malaysia whose mom is still working in the kitchen, making the dough. She's 83. She's been working on the shop since 70 years ago. Yet she chooses to work there simply because she doesn't want to stay idle. I always imagine that how you'd be like 70 years from now.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Game Theory of Essay Grading

So, it's been awhile since my last post.

What intrigued me to write in here again was my lecturer. My taxation seminar lecturer, Mr. Riko Riandoko, has a very interesting grading method. (He's an awesome guy.) Basically, Mr. Riko gave us task to each write an essay every week. However, the grading system was like this (with some adjustments to make the assumption simpler):

- Everyone submits the essays to one designated student.

- That student removes the writers' names from every essay, leaving only the title. The essays then are put online on a cloud drive.

- Everyone then read and ranks the essays from the best to the worst EXCEPT for her own essay. (Thus A ranked B, C, D's essays; B ranked A, C, and D's, and so forth.)

- To make it simple, the ranking used scoring system, with the best essay given highest score, 2nd best given the 2nd highest score, and so forth. So if there are 10 essays, one would give the best essay 9, the 2nd best 8, and so forth. One must give her own essay a 0 score, due to the above rule. The winner is the one with most total score.

This system makes me think of some questions.

a) Assuming full honesty (no coalition in which the members give the highest score to members of that coalition, and no one give her own essay score > 0) what is the probability of one winning?

b) Is such coalition possible?


The first ones is not so easy to calculate. First, the possible combination of scoring (or the probability space) from a student's perspective with regard to her own essay is (n-1)^(n-1), with n as the total students in the class. This configuration got large the more the students are. For instance, if there are 3 students, there are 2^2 or 4 possible scores from A's perspective (2, 3, 3, and 4):

2 if both B and C give A each 1 score;
3 if either B gives 1 and C gives 2, or the reverse;
4 if both B and C give A score of 2.

If there are 4 students, the possible configuration of scores becomes 27. If there are 5 students, 64. 6 students? 125.*)

This makes calculation of exact probability get increasingly difficult in scale. Remember that it is basically similar to the probability of getting k in n-run. Even for binary outcomes (coin flip, "success"/"failure"), the equation is ugly, moreover the calculation. The equation is:

And that is only for two kinds of outcome. But Mr. Riko's essay grading have (n-1) possible outcomes. I'd rather pass this one over.

However! one can calculate the average expected score of her own essay. Since these scores are independent and identically distributed random variables, we can calculate the expected score E(s) using mid range method. This estimation is robust, as the n of students got large enough the expected mean will follow the central limit theorem.

The highest possible score for A is (n-1)^2, that is if everyone else votes A's essay with highest score. The lowest possible score for A is (n-1), in which everyone else thinks A's essay is the worst. Using midrange, it is easy to see that the expected score for A is:

Interestingly, this is also the score where there is no winner! Recall that the expression n(n-1)/2 is formula for 1+2+3+...+(n-1). This score is what everyone gets when there is Condorcet voting paradox. Condorcet voting paradox happens when the situation is as follows:

A voted B > C > D
B voted C > D > A
C voted D > A > B
D voted A > B > C

So everyone basically gets voted highest exactly once, 2nd highest exactly once, and so forth until she also gets the lowest score exactly once. Therefore, for the example above, A gets 1, 2, and 3, with the total score of 6. But so do B, C, D! They all get 6. In which no one wins (or everyone wins, if you're that "glass half full" guy.) What a bummer.


Now, the second question. Is it possible to form a coalition with some friends so that at least one of the members wins, or at least guaranteed above average score? It is interesting to answer that in game theory perspective.

My theorem is that, yes, such coalition is possible. Such coalition has to adhere to some rules, however. 

1) Members of coalition must vote cyclically among themselves. If a coalition exists between A, B, and C, A must vote B > C; B must vote C > A; and C must vote A > B.

2) There must exist at least someone who is outside the coalition, a.k.a. that forever alone guy who doesn't have friend.

My theorem: there exists coalition c with members of (k+1) so that E(c) > E(s). In other words, maximizing the possibility of getting the most score. Such coalition must have k that satisfies the equation:

The left side is derived from the total score from Condorcet voting amongst its members, plus the additional expected scores from non-members.

There exist finitely many solutions for this, except where k = 0 (no coalition) and k = n-1 (i.e. everyone is in the coalition, which is basically going back to the Condorcet voting paradox above). However I can't prove the generality of this theorem. In other words, I don't know if this always applies in general. My math is rusty.

If, however, this is the case, then the best strategy for a rational agent is indeed to form a coalition. A student will have better chance of winning if she makes a deal with her friends.

I don't know if anyone has put some thoughts to this type of game theory. If I recall correctly, most of social choice literature dealt with voters that are clearly distinct from the candidates. For example, election, in which Marquis de Condorcet, Kenneth Arrow, Allan Gibbard, and Amartya Sen extensively concerned themselves with. Or maybe Keynesian beauty contest-like situation.

In Mr. Riko's grading case, all voters are also all the candidates, except that they can't vote for themselves – creating the incentive to cooperate with opponents. Another difference from election is that a vote does not necessarily correspond to a score of 1, but ∈ of {1, 2, 3, ..., n-1}.

All in all, this got me spending much time in warkop, looking at its walls like a dumb ass.


Post script:

*) The all possible ordering, class-wide, is even nastier as the n of students gets increasingly large. It is the (n-1) permutation of (n-1) elements, to the power of n. In other words, it is.

Even for 3 students, the possible class score ordering is large. Take a look:

0, 1, 2   0, 2, 1
1, 0, 2   1, 0, 2
1, 2, 0   1, 2, 0

0, 1, 2   0, 2, 1
2, 0, 1   2, 0, 1
1, 2, 0   1, 2, 0

0, 1, 2   0, 2, 1
1, 0, 2   1, 0, 2
2, 1, 0   2, 1, 0

0, 1, 2   0, 2, 1
2, 0, 1   2, 0, 1
2, 1, 0   2, 1, 0

For a class with 4 students? It's 6^4 possible ordering, or exactly 1296. I'd rather not imagine how big it is for a class with 39 students like mine.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tentang Cinta yang Menua

Kita masih muda, sayang. Kita hanya merasa dikejar usia, dikejar cita-cita. Terlalu sering berlari, tanpa ada waktu untuk berpikir, tanpa ada waktu untuk menangis. Lantas cermin-cermin seakan selalu memantulkan betapa tuanya kita. Mempertontonkan kekalahan kita.

Tak ada yang perlu dikhawatirkan, sayang, biar matahari hari-hari ini sedang dingin dan senja selalu gelap. Kita hanya perlu mencinta. Entah seberapa besar. Entah sampai kapan. Rasanya tidak perlu ditanyakan. Bagiku itu cukup, dan semoga cukup juga bagimu.

Semoga telingaku juga cukup bagimu untuk mendengarkanmu saat kau sedang lelah dan marah pada dunia. Semoga pelukanku cukup bagimu untuk menghangatkanmu saat kau sedang menggigil. Karena aku tak punya apa-apa dan tak tahu apa-apa tentang jalan nasib dan sisa waktu kita. Semoga aku, dalam bagian umurmu, menjadi salah satu di antara penanda-penanda bahagiamu.

Tak ada lilin dan kue malam ini. Doa-doa sudah terucap seperti biasa. Kini saatnya berlayar lagi. Temukanlah bintang selatanmu. Menjelajahlah. Janganlah lupa untuk sesekali menikmati samudera, serta berbuat baik kepada semesta. Kelak jika perahumu sudah penuh, atau sauhmu terasa lebih berat dari biasa, aku akan ada sebagai tempatmu pulang. Kujanjikan akan selalu ada cinta di rumah yang menyambutmu pulang.

Selamat ulang tahun.

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Writing for a Birthday

Just like every year before, A's girlfriend, N, demands a writing for her birthday gift. In return, she will write one on A's birthday. Back then, A and N were separated for more than 900 kms, so exchanging gifts in the form of writing was more of convenience and budget-consciousness than a romantic gesture. But they are now in one town, already for two years. They no longer having to deal with the perils of a long distance relationship. Yet the writing grew to became a ritual. None of them weren't sure who decided this to be a yearly ritual.

It is better, A thinks, that N asks for a dinner in a restaurant or a handbag than a writing. Not that A is rich, of course. He's just a staff, a middle-class at most. Moreover the company A is working can only manage to achieve 50% of this year's target so A is expecting his wage to be cut in half. But A'd rather giving up his lunch to save for birthday gift than to write. He thinks he can no longer write.

Every time A looks at his laptop trying to write something not related to work, he feels numb. Years of writing corporate letters and mountains of data renders his mind bureaucratic, if not robotic.

"I cannot write anymore," said A to N on one lazy afternoon.

"Just write something about me. Something about us."

A looked at the wall, waiting for some divine inspiration. The divine inspiration came and told him of a trap question that's about to come.

"Or... is it that you don't know me at all after all these years?", N broke the silence.

The divine inspiration was right.

No, of course A knows N. Well, most of her. He knows her habits and quirks, her traits and personalities. He knows her family. He knows some of her secrets. He knows their stories together even though he's often forgetful. He knows what a decent boyfriend is supposed to know about his girlfriend. A just feels that telling her about her, repeating the same points and stories he's made in his previous writings is of no use.

A can write N a romantic letter – words of praise slapdashed with poetic phrases copied from Pablo Neruda's or Shakespeare's love sonnets. But the romantic era is over. At best his writing will be as cheesy as a double cheese burger designed to kill its consumer. N will laugh at his silly poems, and everyone else who happens to read his blog post will get eyesores.

A can also write their stories during this year in detail, like a diary of an obsessive person. He may try to write it in long, winding prose like that "great" Pulitzer winner Jonathan Franzen. But that verbose writing will more likely make N yawn, and everyone else who happens to read will probably think that they've just read a brickwall.

After a long meditation, A finally gives in to N's idea. He will just write something about her as usual. It's not that difficult. After all, they have some similarities. For instance, they both love eating and sleeping – the actual, literal sleeping, not the one involving nakedness and child-making. He remembers that one Sunday when the sun was so hot up high it was almost blinding. The road was reduced into a platform of dusts, with walls of torrid wind sweeping here and there. They were both hungry. But the heat that separated them with the food vendors nearby was too much of a hassle that they rather sleep away the hunger.

"Perhaps one day we'll die because of our laziness," N commented at that time.

"You know what's sadder than that?"


"That those damn online news portals will cover our stories for days and turn them into profits."

"And your friends will make statuses of us, complete with hashtags."

Eating and sleeping are not marvellous quality. A thinks that they are the most boring hobbies that a child usually uses to describe herself on her biodata, besides reading. So he thinks of their differences.

He opens his laptops and begins to write.

"Frankly, my dear, I don't know how you could fall in love with me. I am even more confused how could we last for years. Back then, I predicted that we only last for three months. Why three months, you may ask. Three months is usually the time one realises that she's dating a jerk or she's dating someone much worse than she expects. And I think you couldn't pick someone worse than me, especially your other potential suitors were more successfull and better than I am..."

A proceeds to list their differences. He is sloppy, she is organized. He is so-so, while she, who always aims for the great things, is herself great. He is the armchair-theorising leftist whose best activism is sharing news contents online almost no one in his online friends actually pays attention. She, on the other hand, is a full-fledged disciple of capitalism, a proud corporate slave, and a devout Über (and other sharing economy apps) user. A lists several more but then deletes them, concerned that they actually gives N comprehensive reasons of why she should break up with A.

He looks at his laptop.

What to write for a birthday?

How to write good as a gift?

A remembers, long ago, a god apparently gave someone to be crucified as the "greatest gift for the world". One unknown man, inspired by this revelation, write about that thusly: in the beginning was the Word.

A begins to type.

"In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was Love..."

And the Love was her.

And that's enough.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Grim, Grim Birthday

20 years ago, there was the joy. There’d be fast-paced heartbeats, in an insomniac night of imagining tomorrow. The next day, there’d be presents and friends, and – even if perhaps there’d be no cake – a little, simple celebration. Fire of the number-shaped candle danced before the bright, wide eyes. The little soul inside was restless and couldn’t wait any longer. But he knows that he must wait for five more seconds, for there would be a mandatory prayer and wish-making before blowing it. Older folks used to say that it was one of the moments when gods were summoned, just like when a star fell from the sky. They said that gods would grant whatever childhood desires and dreams that went up with the faint smokes from the dying wicks. So the little soul complied and couldn’t care more. For him, today was more important than tomorrow.

But that day has long gone and died have the tomorrows.

The little soul in me is malnourished, awaiting demise. Sorrow lurks above, vulture-like, ready to consume whatever left from him when he transformed into just another part in the machinery of the capital and the state. There’s only this god-forsaken life in this god-forsaken city.

Now I see birthday as the day of lamentation. Grim is the day because life’s also grim. Another year has passed, and in that year countless of mistakes and bad decisions were made. But the more sinister part is that I can’t even know for sure of how would my life be if I took different steps or decisions.

Birthday is also a day of giving up. One year older means one less year of opportunities. One year older means one more year of wasted opportunities. It is painful, moreover knowing that some people managed to achieve things that I can only dream of achieving, at the same age, or even at younger age. That’s why it is the day to sort everything all over again, to see which ones that have failed or are nearing failure, and to toss them to garbage. Peter Pan was right when he refused to grow up. The loss of innocence in being adult turns dreams into targets. Targets turn into obligations, and obligations turn into oppressions – oppressions in the form of fearing failure. 20 years ago I still have this childhood freedom. Now I have to opt for stability again and again, which happens to bring along with itself mediocrity into my life.

All those above notwithstanding, I find the notion of celebration for the sake of feeling good as transitory, or worse, cosmetic happiness. Early Christians believe in happiness through humility and suffering, while Buddhists believe in happiness through detachment. In a sense, I share their views inasmuch I am no longer religious. In detachment, or in viewing the world through somber lens of misery I am able to see the reality, to demand for justice, to be critical of consensus. The maturity of thought is the only thing worth celebrating in being older. Hopefully, this year, I finally attain it, because I feel dumber and dumber in each year passed. This is what I will whisper to the candle, should I have one.

And I of course will whisper for she who loves a junkyard like me: a hope that may her love don’t taper into vanity.

May I become an old anchor, sunk in her ocean.

May I stay with her even in the worst of tides, and be drowned in her till the end of time.

Ah, what is birthday but a curse. Blessed are those don’t know how many years have passed, for they don’t have to mourn.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Last One

It's been 18 hours since you sent your last message, an exact 18 hours of idleness and insomniac waiting. There's not so much for me to do than looking at the blip at the bright phone screen. Over and over I read your one and the last sentence for me, pondering whether this vague sense of eternal separation might finally come true in due time.  After all, it conveniently came at the weekend, when there's not so much works to run for distraction.

Of course, I've been thinking of going to the office which is within walking distance. There's internet (and with no one at the office I could use all the bandwidths for my pleasure). There's supply of cheap, instant coffee, too. There are also some security officers that may provide me with some uninteresting chats about football and silly politicians' antics that I would gladly endure just to kill time. But even these would not do much I think.
In the last 18 hours I've burned my cigarettes like a wildfire. I thought maybe if I burned this much I'd have killed enough brain cell to escape from you and your silence. Maybe if I devoutly burned this cigarettes like incenses I'd appease Father Time that he would come and save me. But there wasn't Father Time. There weren't dead brain cells. If any, this only gave me a bitter, raspy voice like Tom Waits on bronchitis.

This bedroom didn't help me at all. Whenever I tried to close my eyes, your image lingers permanently in my optic nerves. And so I decided to walk outside. The moon was a yellow slit not unlike a cat's eye. The sky was clear, albeit starless, with the air that bore a faint scent of mud from the last night's heavy rain.

Come to think of it, missing you is not entirely new for me. I still remember that day when you told me you were about to go somewhere that afternoon, in the coffeeshop by the airport.

"Where will you go?"

"I don't know. I'm still deciding. Most likely, I'll go somewhere randomly. You will know by the time I come back."

"So I can't contact you whatsoever? What if something bad happen to you?"

"Of course you can try. I just can't promise I can answer your chats or calls. Maybe you will get the clue of where I am going from the pictures I post online. Maybe not. You should stop worrying all the time."

You went almost a week to an indigenous community on a mountain, beyond the east of our city, the place where the imperial sun rise always greeted by the vast sand plateau. You said you were almost made a priestess. You said you taught school lessons their children. You said that the potatoes there were the best you've ever tasted, and the afternoon serene, and the morning dew you've always met when you woke up was as cold as snow. You came home with a lot of stories, but without answering messages I sent you.

You were always like that, either not telling me anything or telling me everything; everything, the truth, and nothing but the truth. Telling lies is not your policy. Often, at times, I was left with either the pain of not knowing or the pain of sharp words of your truth; either restlessness or anguish bordering on the depression. I know this too well, yet perhaps still too weak-hearted to accept.

But your last message cut me twice. I didn't know what drove you to wrote that, and I know once you wrote that you really meant the truth, which was quite hurtful to swallow. Everything was so fine yesterday, two days ago, even last week or last month. And my attempt to inquire you the reason was futile until this very hour.

Strangely, I didn't feel like eating, too. My stomach was as aimless as my feet. 

I hauled a cab and went to the supermarket. It was nearby, thankfully the driver didn't refuse because it's too short of a distance.

It was fully roamed by people, flocking like ants near the spills of picnic basket. I was looking at the fruits when behind me came a group of adolescents. I heard one of them saying something about the pain of shopping with women and the time it takes. It seemed like the rests of the group nodded in affirmations.

Supermarket, for you, is not merely a place to buy things. It is a feast for the eyes. You could spend almost half a day in there, and you're also the one who taught me this therapy. You showed me that there's a child in us who finds her kindred spirit in candies and chocolate bars; that there's a calming happiness in the ordered placements of fresh fruits and the bright green faces of vegetables; that there's some ritualistic satisfaction in comparing the prices and qualities. Even there's a quiet joy in seeing some stuff that are actually useless to your daily life, like that bottle of extra virgin olive oil, or balsamic vinegar. Every time you touch it you can always imagine yourself, being a world class chef, babbling about fancy-but-quickly-made recipe on a cable TV show. It shows you something that you can always try, but not quite, because you cannot take the risk of wasting expensive ingredient on half-cooked, failed dishes. That ephemeral dream is the beauty of supermarket isles, yet also its charm — a hypnotic one, if I may say. I sometimes dream of this one specific scenario.

In my dream I was alone in the supermarket. Its isles gave me a task (spoken in the air, in silence that I could listen) to buy something of no specificity. I walked from one isle, grabbed onto something, thinking that this is the thing that I must buy. But it said, still in silence, that it was not that. So I went to the second isles, scanning, taking the next best thing I thought would suffice. But it was not that. And then the isles showed me a multitude of, if not an infinite, possibilities of the thing that I could try to buy. An ocean of supermarket isles laid before my eyes. Infinite. Unending. When I took the next one thing, the lamps suddenly went off, and the supermarket closed. The time was up.

Today it made me lost once again, not in the dream but in aluminum-and-concrete reality. In the end I only took a bottle of water and a pack of cigarettes, never knew of what's best in there.

On the street outside the supermarket there were various food vendors. I sat on one creaky plastic cane chair while planning to make a decision. I found the food you really want to eat earlier this week. I ordered that food and ate it, even though the hunger was still nowhere. The taste was terrible. I imagined you would also said so, maybe even verbally express complaints, especially since your taste palate is much sharper than mine. I lit another cigarette and sipped what's left from the mineral water bottle when it dawned on me to look at my phone once again, trying to make sense of everything. I thought maybe I disappointed you in some way — in the sense that I am weak without you, in the sense that I am just a chunk of meat without you, and you didn't deserve this man in the form of me. Or perhaps you were trying to teach me something, that maybe in losing you I will finally find my strength. Or maybe it's that you are the wind, which can't settle in one place, always a wanderer. The time is up for me this time, and as the season changes, you will blow in the opposite corner of the world. The ephemeral dream may be over, and I have to wake up.

Under your last message is mine asking "Why?" It's still unread.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pasar Santa dan Wajah Lain Dirinya

Segala sesuatu berubah dalam lima bulan sejak saya pertama kali menginjakkan kaki di Pasar Santa. Kios-kios di lantai atas yang semula kosong kini sudah nyaris semua penuh ditempati. Harga semangkok mie ayam yang saya tulis di sini sudah naik kira-kira 50%. Jalan Tendean - Wolter Monginsidi yang semakin macet bukan kepalang tiap akhir pekan, dari siang hingga malam hari. Parkir yang semakin semrawut, terutama oleh mobil-mobil kelas menengah kelas kaya muda kita. Beberapa penjual makanan di lantai atasnya selalu mendapatkan pembeli hingga antreannya mengular. Sementara mereka, yang jauh dari hingar-bingar hipsterisme dan kegaduhan  dari alunan vinyl mendapati bahwa keberadaan mereka di pasar yang sudah bersama dengan mereka selama beberapa tahun, bahkan mungkin puluhan tahun, akan segera berakhir.

Jumat lalu, hampir tak terdengar karena tenggelam oleh berita-berita Valentine dan perdebatan-perdebatan trivial tentangnya, belasan pedagang kaki lima Pasar Santa berdemo di Balai Kota DKI Jakarta. Hanya belasan, karena mungkin sisanya sudah pasrah begitu saja merelakan tempatnya di sana. Anda hanya perlu menginjakkan kaki ke lantai paling bawah dan lantai satu untuk mengkonfirmasi hal ini. Jika Anda, seperti saya, pernah berkunjung di pasar ini sebelum ia "meledak" seperti sekarang ini, Anda pasti tahu perbedaannya.

Setahun yang lalu, Pasar Santa hanyalah tempat yang begitu biasa. Lantainya kotor. Cat di temboknya pecah di sana-sini. Kios-kiosnya tak terawat, bahkan banyak di antaranya tak memiliki penyewa. Ia nyaris mati, jika bukan karena pedagang-pedagang di lantai paling bawahnya, beberapa tukang servis ini itu, warung-warung mie dan rokok, serta penjual-penjual pakaian, yang bersama-sama menghembuskan nafasnya untuk menghidupi tempat ini. Di pertengahan 2014, dua orang membuat coffeeshop di sini. Beberapa cuitan di Twitter dan foto-foto Instagram kemudian, Pasar Santa lahir kembali menjadi sebuah tempat gaul alternatif bagi anak-anak muda Jakarta.

Yang selanjutnya terjadi adalah pertunjukan paling vulgar dari cara kerja kapital. Semakin ramai pasar ini, semakin banyak eksposur tentangnya, semakin digilailah kios-kios di sini. Orang-orang berlomba untuk memiliki kios di sini, dan harga makin naik seiring dengan demand yang semakin tinggi. Dulu, ketika baru saja bangun dari mati surinya, setahunnya mungkin hanya 3-3,5 juta rupiah. Beberapa bulan lalu, sekitar 6 juta rupiah. Sekarang ini, saya terlalu malas untuk mencari tahu. Namun ia sudah cukup tinggi, bahkan terlalu tinggi bagi pengguna-pengguna awal kios di sini, sehingga mau tidak mau mereka menyerahkannya kepada kaum muda kelas menengah kelas kaya ibukota dengan kekuasaan kapital yang lebih besar (baik uang maupun social capital bagi promosi).

Dan jika cerita-cerita anekdotal yang saya dengar benar adanya, di sini pun kapital sudah mulai bermain mata dengan alat-alat negara – kaum-kaum borjuasi yang digaji oleh pajak tetapi yang masih menggilai tawaran yang menggiurkan dari kapital, seperti kucing yang tanpa pikir panjang menyerobot ikan di meja makan. Ketika beberapa pemilik kios lama tetap bergeming, maka dengan cepat borjuasi-borjuasi negara ini menertibkan mereka ("menertibkan" tentu bahasa yang eufemis sebagai ganti kata "mengusir"). Dan ada 200-an orang yang diusir. Dan mereka hanya diberikan waktu 2 x 24 jam. Mengapa mereka diusir? Karena kemacetan, katanya. Akan tetapi, kita semua tahu, siapa yang berjubelan membawa mobil-mobil pribadi mereka tiap akhir pekan ke Pasar Santa.

"Lho, ini kan perbaikan? Pasar Santa dulu hampir mati, lho." Anda mungkin bisa berpendapat seperti itu. Pertanyaannya, perbaikan bagi siapa? 150 tahun lalu, Karl Marx pernah menulis:

"Improvements" of towns, accompanying the increase of wealth, by the demolition of badly built quarters, the erection of palaces for banks, warehouses, etc., the widening of streets for business traffic, for the carriages of luxury, and for the introduction of tramways, etc., drive away the poor into even worse and more crowded hiding places. (Karl Marx, Capital Vol. I, bab 25)
Ini adalah logika yang sama dengan yang berada di balik retorika "kemampuan kompetisi" yang dipakai oleh kaum korporat untuk menjustifikasi rendahnya upah buruh di perusahaan-perusahaan: sebuah perbaikan yang hanya dirasakan oleh mereka yang berada di atas.

Adalah mudah untuk memaki hipster-hipster berkelimpahan uang sebagai biang kerok di sini, namun yang demikian adalah analisis malas yang tak memperhatikan kelas dan bagaimana kapital bekerja. Akar dari gentrifikasi – penggusuran kelompok yang mula-mula menempati oleh para pendatang yang bermodal lebih besar – datang dari fakta bahwa ekonomi (kapitalis) adalah ekonomi yang profit-driven. Pemilik-pemilik kios lama tak mampu meyakinkan dagangannya pada anak muda kelas menengah kelas kaya yang hanya doyan makanan/minuman fancy yang berharga Rp20.000,00-50.000,00 sekali tenggak, atau kemeja flanel seharga Rp.200.000,00 alih-alih kemeja yang harganya di bawah Rp100.000,00 yang mereka tawarkan. Oleh karena itu, mereka yang mengakumulasi lebih sedikit kapital akan dimangsa oleh mereka yang mengumpulkan lebih banyak. Maka perlucutan (dispossession) pemilik-pemilik kios lama adalah prekondisi bagi terjadinya gentrifikasi di Pasar Santa ini, dan merupakan konsekuensi yang logis dalam sebuah ekonomi kapitalis. Kemudian, semuanya menjadi komoditas dan diperas sari-sarinya demi keuntungan kaum kapitalis. Eksternalitas negatif seperti kemacetan yang membabi buta bukanlah prioritas selama kemacetan ini terus mendatangkan keuntungan. Malah, bila perlu, salahkan saja pedagang lama agar ada tambahan alasan untuk mengusir mereka.

Bagi mereka yang beroperasi dalam ekonomi kapitalis, semua tulisan dan poster yang mengajak penyewa baru untuk merangkul penyewa-penyewa lama hanya akan mampir lewat seperti aktivisme-aktivisme tanda pagar yang lantas terlupakan setelah lima menit. Dalam ekonomi kapitalis, satu-satunya keadilan yang patut adalah economic survival of the fittest. Dan satu-satunya kerja sama yang mungkin adalah kerja sama yang mendatangkan lebih banyak keuntungan bagi kaum kapitalis. Anda tidak bisa mengharapkan kaum kapitalis untuk bekerja sama dengan kelas di bawahnya jika itu tidak menguntungkan baginya. Jika semua rantai supply sudah dicukupi oleh mereka sendiri, buat apa mengikutsertakan para pedagang di lantai dasar untuk menyuplai bahan-bahan baku? Buat apa bekerja sama memberikan tempat bagi para pedagang kelas bawah ini untuk bersama-sama hidup, jika mengambil alih 3-4 kios mereka sekaligus jauh lebih menguntungkan?

Lalu jalan apa yang mungkin? Apakah saya, bagian dari mereka yang ikut menikmati Pasar Santa, punya hak untuk (dengan munafik) memberikan saran kepada mereka-mereka yang tergusur untuk mengadakan perlawanan – sebuah resistensi yang tak hanya ditujukan kepada pengelola pasar, tetapi juga di hadapan mereka-mereka yang mengambil alih kehidupan mereka? Lalu apa yang bisa diharapkan dari resistensi ini? Sebuah aktivasi moral di otak hipster-hipster pemilik kios tersebut agar lebih peduli? Saya rasa tidaklah mudah.

Beruntunglah, ada beberapa orang yang bersedia meluangkan waktunya membuat manifesto, yang "memohon"  pihak pengelola Pasar Santa (mengapa tidak memakai kata "menuntut"? Bukankah mereka juga penyewa?) untuk membeli beberapa kios sebagai semacam kuota/aksi afirmatif bagi pemilik-pemilik kios lama, menetapkan harga sewa wajar, serta memberikan hak untuk memperpanjang masa sewa hingga 4 tahun ke depan. Orang-orang ini diam-diam melakukan pendekatan ke pihak pengelola Pasar Santa demi kondisi yang lebih baik bagi para pedagang lama. Apakah ini alternatif yang mungkin? Tentu saja, apabila baik penyewa lama maupun baru ikut serta bersama-sama bergerak menekan manifesto/permintaan-permintaan ini ke dalam sebuah bentuk peraturan yang adil dan kuat.

Atau, jalan yang lain adalah melalui penguatan peran koperasi. Idealnya, semua orang memiliki kedudukan yang sama dalam koperasi. Selain itu, keanggotaan koperasi bukan berdasarkan kekuatan kapital, melainkan kekeluargaan. Koperasi Pedagang Pasar Santa, yang selama ini menaungi penyewa lama dan baru, dapat memutuskan kembali suatu bentuk kerja sama yang adil, yang sama-sama menguntungkan, dan yang mengikat untuk dipenuhi anggota-anggotanya. Tidak perlu menunggu alat-alat negara yang borjuis turun tangan, mereka sebenarnya bisa mengatur nasibnya sendiri terlebih dahulu.

Sebab, sudah ada beberapa menteri yang pernah blusukan ke Pasar Santa semenjak tempat ini menjadi Taman Eden bagi anak-anak muda paling gaul di Jakarta. Namun, bagi Ibu Imah, seorang pedagang pecel lele yang sudah 20 tahun berjualan di pasar ini, keadaan tetaplah tidak lebih baik.

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