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The Unfathomable Solitude of Bella Vista and Splendid Inn Malang (2)

If not for constant care, preservation, and rehabilitation, what’s the 10.000 rupiah for? No, I am not sorry about the value. There are temples in Mojokerto for instance, let’s say Bajang Ratu, the visitor has to pay for 5000 rupiah as the place needs continuous care and rehabilitation had been made in the past. With a complete abandonment, what’s the 10.000 rupiah for? Ebenezer Scrooge—a character from a novel written by Charles Dickens, Christmas Carol—must have really hated this place, he’s the most frugal in the world literature. Mr. Scrooge won’t pay.

There’s a stairs leading to the second floor in the area where the ticket was sold. This red-painted, splintered stairs is left just that. Imagine if you are tripped there and die funny. Imagine a sudden accident; the stairs break and collapse and then you are trapped in the second floor until God knows for how long. I can tell you that today’s Splendid Inn isn’t preserved for the visitors, it is for the ghost, the ghost doesn’t need stairs.

It was even scarier when my mathematical brain cells work; I weigh 54 kg, we were around 8 visitors with weight ranged from 50 to 60 kg, let’s take median 56 kg times 8 visitors, equals 448 kg weighted upon the old rustic stairs. I tell you, readers. I don’t want to live long but I too don’t want to die like this. Again, what’s the 10.000 rupiah for? There’s probably an argument coming that Dutch architecture is far stronger than you think, but it is vital to note that no matter how flawless a building is built, there’s a durability. 

  • The Unfathomable Solitude of Bella Vista and Splendid Inn Malang (2)
  • The Unfathomable Solitude of Bella Vista and Splendid Inn Malang (2)

Splendor Swallowed by Chaos

I believe there’s a brink of restoration in 1950, post-independence of Indonesia. The inn was used as the center of administration for a Japanese colony, in 1950, Faculty of Teacher Training and Education, Airlangga University Surabaya (UNAIR) had the right for the building and restored it for lecturers’ guest house and university classrooms. But the rights shifted again, now it is owned by Malang State University (UM). Now we know, to whom it may concern, the stakeholder responsible for the building.

Believe it or not, I suggest you should believe this; Splendid Inn was renovated in 2015. In the year where Pribumi has all the freedom, in this economy, how come few parts are scattered, decayed, and ruined as if it has never been touched since the 1900s? The second floor just above the ticketing area is a medium-sized hall. It is empty; no furniture or whatsoever. The only sightseeing is windows and a door. There is a balcony leading to the sight of an old mango tree where one of the barks is hanged by a horror-struck swing. See, Indonesian horror scenarios are always predictable; a tree and a swing. Again, why is the swing there, to whom shall it entertain?

Upon leaving the building, I felt relieved about moving on from the stairs. But what waited then, remained unfathomable; it was like experiencing things outlandish and at the same time…whimsical. The second site we visited was this open area where cannons are laid bare and brazen in the yard. I believe they were just artificial, they couldn’t be real cannons. Besides, this place was an inn and university classrooms. I wonder why most sites entice paradoxical things like those Robocop and Ironman figurines in the south of Rampal field.

The Unfathomable Solitude of Bella Vista and Splendid Inn Malang (2)
The building behind/Putriyana Asmarani

We went on to the buildings behind, the notorious areas, the haunted ones, the ones where Jurnal Risa’s team got possessed by the demons. Let me briefly describe; it is the most wicked dwelling in all meridians. Was it because I felt haunted? No. It was threatening. The roof gable was mesmerizing as it signifies the key European housing style. But from the rake to its very foundation looked intimidating.

We marched to the second floor, we walked upstairs with a safer staircase but still the steps were all dirty. The first sight was a corridor, so far this area was the worst. The bats might have built their empire in the attic, because it crumbled. Their poop scattered all around the floor. There is also a thick scent of termite combined with dirt. Trust me, Ariadne (In Greek mythology, Ariadne boasted her weaving talent to Goddess Athena, she was then cursed as a spider, weaving in the darkest corner of the world) wasn’t cursed in Greek, she is in Splendid Inn all along, all this time.

This is a cosmic heart breaking; rotten plywood hung, hazardous vine entangled, mud-looking dirt scattered not only in the floor but also in the wall, I mean how can they reach the wall? Serial killers must really love it. I even accidentally found a young butterfly trapped behind the window glass, it struggled to bang itself in the mirror thinking that it pursued the brighter and greener world. But I couldn’t help it. My mother’s voice rang in my ear instantly, “Do not touch or meddle, move in or move out things or beings in the site. Those could be the toys, things entertaining the ghosts.” This is triggering though, Goddess Athene made attempt to save Odysseus from the Great God’s curse—in Homer’s Odyssey it is narrated that Goddess Athene felt sorry about the Odysseus’ struggle to sail the world with a curse of never returning home—but I couldn’t even help a single soul, the butterfly.

The Unfathomable Solitude of Bella Vista and Splendid Inn Malang (2)
The corridor in the second floor/Putriyana Asmarani

“Attack” by Something Secret

I walked through the corridor, tip-toeing (although I wore shoes), and found a stairs leading to the darker part of the inn; the third floor. I asked the tour guide, “What’s in there? Could I go there?” The tour guide said, “That’s the third floor, you may go there but I couldn’t be there for you?” I was shocked. I asked, “Why?” She gave me the short answer, “Why else!” After a few days I looked up on the internet and watched Jurnal Risa’s edition in Splendid Inn. I understood then, the area was where the two ghosts dwell; the lady in white and the soldier. 

We didn’t go further than that. But we marched downstairs in the final part of the route. There are speculations denoting that there was a secret door used as an escape during dire situations (raids and wars), there was a secret tunnel leading to SMA Tugu. But no one dares to find out. I understand why. I see smaller doors, not even a single window present, smaller passageways and stairs, enough for one person. If I walked there in a team, we cannot walk side by side so it is easier to predict who will die first in this journey.

I was enticed by the ‘secret tunnel’, the tour guide said, “It was probably in there,” pointing her hand towards one of the passage ways. She could only use her finger, she couldn’t lead us there for the same reason. But my curiosity is killing me. I’m a logic-driven person, I believe that as long as I behave, nothing bad will come after me. So I pledged her permission. Until…she said yes.

True, logic-driven but I still believe in ghosts, although I never see one. Fortunately, I wasn’t alone, there were three other visitors who demanded the same thing. We went there with salam and basmalah, I even said excuse me and bowed for it throughout the passage way. Until, the abrupt gust of something I don’t know what crept my back. It didn’t feel like a hand or a body, whatever on my back was, it felt heavy, like a burden, it was as cold as Satan’s hoof. I was short of breath a little bit. I held this sudden strike and took a photo of it, I believed it was clear but at home after the journey the photo ended up blurry.

(to be continued)


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Putriyana Asmarani adalah penulis konten kreatif di salah satu perusahaan pemasaran digital di Malang. Salah satu risetnya Identitas Politik Raja-raja Melayu mendapatkan beasiswa riset di National University of Singapore. Cerpen dan resensi bukunya pernah terbit di The Jakarta Post, Indian Periodical, Djavatimes, SuaraNet.id dan lain-lain.

Putriyana Asmarani adalah penulis konten kreatif di salah satu perusahaan pemasaran digital di Malang. Salah satu risetnya Identitas Politik Raja-raja Melayu mendapatkan beasiswa riset di National University of Singapore. Cerpen dan resensi bukunya pernah terbit di The Jakarta Post, Indian Periodical, Djavatimes, SuaraNet.id dan lain-lain.

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