My grandmother was like a mom to me.
Every day, when I returned home from primary school, I would sit with her in the kitchen and watch her do her batik work, carefully crafting the traditional motifs she had learned from her mother and grandmother before her. My grandmother was always there.
She taught mehow to batik. Sitting together with both my mom and grandmother, I would patiently learn the use of the traditional batik instrument, the tjanting. To this day, I remember the proud smile of my grandmother when I was finally able to finish my first own fabric.
Yet my parents did not want me to be a batik artisan.
Even though our home, Gesikharjo Village near Tuban, East Java, was once famous for its fine batik art, the craft was no longer seen as a viable source of income. Demand was unstable and often, the batik artisans of Gesikharjo would have to sell their work at a loss to one of the few middlemen.
So only a few years after my grandmother had passed away, I started working in an office nearby. It wasn’t an easy step for me. You see, only a few days before her passing, my grandmother had gifted me one of her most precious fabrics and told me to make sure the craft and our family’s proud tradition would live on. Yet, what was I to do?
Today, after meeting SukkhaCitta in 2017, I am the local champion (Jawara Desa) in Gesikharjo, leading a batik cooperative of 12 women. Equipped with new knowledge and a direct access to the market, batik can thrive once more in my village. To me, it is like a dream come true. The dream of my grandmother, and my own.