Last night I revisited the ketoprak tobong troupe I followed and photographed two years ago for my project Staged Life. While on the way there, I was a little bit nervous about the reunion. But when I arrived, to my own surprise, I was warmly greeted. It was really nice that they still remember me.
I was overwhelmed by the memories from two years ago. Seeing Rini putting make up last night, for example, suddenly reminded me of the same scene I photographed two years ago—one of the first photographs I made of them at that time. Then, they were staying and performing in Bantul, south of Yogyakarta. Now, they are in Sleman, north-east of Yogyakarta. And I noticed that some troupe members are not there anymore.
Sutiani has left the troupe. She went back to East Java, and according to other members, she is still performing with other ketoprak group there. Two other members have also left, Joko went back to East Java while Supri tried his luck in Jakarta. Two other have passed away, Grandpa and Grandma Ran—both were the oldest members in the troupe.
I was told that both had been sent back to East Java since they were too old to perform, and other members thought it was better for them to spend the rest of their lives at home. One day Grandpa Ran came back, saying that all that he had left was the troupe; it was his home. So they let him stay. He died in his sleep one night in Yogyakarta, while Grandma Ran passed away in her home in Kediri. They had no children.
The kids have now grown bigger. Riko is still naughty and Yona is also still shy, just like they were back then in 2010. Their mothers, Rini and Min, asked me to take their portraits last night—I’ll print and give to them. The siblings Bandung, Wiwin, and Banjir are still there, but Bandung is currently registering his ID card in East Java, so I didn’t meet him. Banjir now makes paintings on tshirt and sells them for extra money.
In all, it was a really nice and warm reunion, despite the fact that it was cold and a bit rainy. I really enjoy and deeply appreciate this kind of friendship they had offered me. What more can you ask as a photographer? ∎