December Sunshine Part 1


Endang dabbed a shy layer of pink lipstick on her lips. She observed herself and fixed her hair a little bit more. The reflection of her in the full body mirror was to her satisfaction. She pulled out her shirt a little bit from her trousers to cover her waistline. Riski her roommate was lying around lazily in her bed listening to the trendy music on the radio. The DJ’s deep soothing voice made her sigh dreamily.
“I love men with a deep voice.” Riski exclaimed.
“I know that by now, you keep repeating it over and over again during Pak[1] Guntoro’s classes.”
“Isn’t his voice so beautiful? So masculine and fatherly. Besides he’s so handsome. I wonder how a man, who looks and sounds like him, could work as a lecturer in our Campus. He should be an actor or model.”

“Well, maybe he gets stage fright and freezes in front of an audience,” Endang replied nonchalantly.
“Don’t be silly, if he gets stage fright, how can he teach in front of the whole class?” Riski rebutted.
“You got a point there.” Endang thought for a while, “He is very stingy in giving scores though, and not to mention the quizzes, that he gives, are student killers.”
“Speaking of quizzes, don’t we have one tomorrow? How could you so easily go out on a date today?”
“I’m not going on a date. I’m going to the library with Mas[2] Widodo, he’s going to tutor me on statistics. I feel that I’m one of the many students who’s been getting the evil eye from The Gun man because of my grades, so Mas Widodo will help me study today.” She replied coyly.
“Ah…, a study date?” Riski, “But I don’t understand how he can help you that much, he is after all studying finance and we’re studying agriculture.”
“According to Mas Widodo, the principles are the same. So, we’ll see.” She turned around and picked up her backpack. “I’ll see you later.”
“Okay, behave properly now, don’t do things that you’ll regret later.”
“I know. Thanks.”
They kissed each other on the cheeks. Riski snuggled herself back into her bed as Endang walked out the door. The cold Malang[3] the weather was perfect for one to stay in bed doing nothing. Riski mumbled to herself.
Endang walked out of the boarding house, she peeped at her watch it was just 9 AM. She smiled, she was early her study date was at 10 AM at the library. She walked over to her favorite food stall to buy some fried snacks. She picked several pieces, the auntie selling the snacks handed it to her in a clean small plastic bag and she received it then sat on a bench to eat.
She was half way through her greasy breakfast when she heard a familiar voice from behind her. She didn’t dare to turn around. She knew very well who it was. Endang sat still, looking for an opportunity to escape the food stall. Suddenly she felt the long bench she was sitting on gently thumped as if somebody sat down beside her. She glanced through the corner of her eye. It was him, her biggest nightmare.
“Good morning, Dik[4] Gun.” She smiled hypocritically as he turned around to see who was sitting next to him.
“Bu Lik[5] Endang, what are you doing loitering about at this hour of the morning?” He asked coolly.
“Dik Gun, it’s a little over 9 AM right now, and I’m not loitering about. In fact, I’m heading over to the library in a few more minutes to study for the Statistic quiz, my horrid lecturer is going to give us tomorrow.” She replied feistily.
“Ugh, thank goodness nobody in campus knows that I have to respect you as my auntie, otherwise I can’t imagine the level of embarrassment that I have to go through. Not only do I have to call Auntie to a person fifteen years younger than me, but that person happens to be one of the dumbest students in my class.”
“Hey, that’s not fair. I happen to have an average score of 2.89, which cannot be considered as one of the lower performers. I’m not the smartest, but certainly not the dumbest. It’s just that your subject is the one that hits me the hardest.”
“Huh, maybe if you try focusing in class and not chat with your friends, you’ll do better.”
“Enough! I’m late for my date…I mean to study at the library.” She stood up and stomped away.
Guntoro looked at her from behind and shook his head while smiling. He took a deep breath and frowned. He always knew that she was dotted by everybody and most of the time her parents would let her get away with everything she wanted.  Of course, it was common knowledge that she was adopted, and even she knew about it. His grandparents had been waiting for years for another baby that never came into their lives. Finally in their old age, they decided to adopt a child of a distant relative who was left widowed at a very young age.
He smiled remembering how his ex-wife Dini hated Endang with all her might.  She hated the fact that she had to respect a little girl who was stubborn, dirty and obnoxious. Every time Endang would come back from the river with his grandfather, she would be covered in mud and stinking of fish. Something Dini with all her high-class elegance could never tolerate.
Endang ran as fast as she could. She wanted to put a large distance between herself and Guntoro. As always he liked picking on her so much. She felt that the heavens had punished her the day she found out that he was the lecturer in her Statistic class. Being family, she thought that he would cut her a little more slack, but apparently he thought it would be a better idea to tighten the rope around her neck. People, who don’t respect their elders, will definitely suffer life’s punishment. She consoled herself.
She arrived at the library, there weren’t many students who came to study. Perhaps many people had the same idea as Riski, to just stay in bed enjoying their Sunday.
She scanned the reading room in the library to see if Widodo had arrived. She smiled when she saw him, sitting at a corner table with his nose buried inside a thick book. His thick glasses dropped down to the bridge of his nose, and his curly hair looked like a birds nest on a tree branch. But those were the qualities that drew her to him. He was simple, serious and soft-spoken. Not like that peacock of a nephew she has. He was in his last semester of university. She was a little bit sad that she only had a few months left to see him frequently around campus. Once he graduates, they would need to re-plan their relationship.
“Mas Wid,” She whispered, “Have you been here long?”
“Oh nDang, you’ve arrived. I wanted to catch up on some reading, so I didn’t really feel as if I was waiting.”
“Okay, I have my books, should we start?” She said while taking out her textbooks from her bag.
“So tell me what are you finding difficult?”
They immersed into the topic of statistics. Endang felt great, because of the way he explained to her, it was easier for her to understand and digest compared to the lectures she received in class. She never could understand how her friends would praise Guntoro for being such a good lecturer and making even the hardest subject very easy to understand. In her opinion, his teaching style is boring and his voice seem to lullaby her to sleep in class.
“So, what do you think? Learning statistics is not a nightmare after all, right?” Widodo smiled.
“Not at all, I finally got the idea behind it and can comprehend the formulas you showed me.”
“I don’t know, according to the guys that took Pak Guntoro’s classes, his a very good lecturer, he has the way to make even the thickest student understand his lesson, while my friends always criticize me for my lack of ability to re-explain things to them.”
“I don’t know. Maybe I’m just not a peacock person.”
“Never mind, do you want to grab something to eat? My treat.” She offered.
“Sure, do you want to stop by my dorm room later?” He asked her helpfully.
“Umm, I don’t think I can.” Her voice was trembling, “I still have some papers to finish.”
“Ah, okay, very well, let’s go and eat some bakso[6], and then I’ll walk you back home.”
Endang felt on top of the world reading the quiz, and her nose felt it grew wider answering them. She had never felt a satisfaction like this before, being able to conquer with ease problems written on a piece of paper.
She finished ten minutes before the end of the session and stood up to hand over her answers to Guntoro. Riski looked at her with disbelief. Usually, her best friend had to stay a few minutes after just to finish the one last problem.
Guntoro looked at her, “Wait.” He said softly, “Let’s see if you did well or just closed your eyes and scribbled down anything that crossed your mind.”
“Fine, go ahead!” She retorted.
Guntoro examined closely her paper closely. She could see his eyebrows arching in surprise. He looked up at her, then back down again to the quiz sheet. “Let me see your hands.” He said.
“What?” She asked in disbelief.
“I want to see if you cheated and have something written down on your hands.” He repeated.
She lifted her hand and pushed it forward as hard as she could, there was a loud sound as her right palm slammed against his left cheek.
An awkward silence filled the room as everybody looked towards them. The students’ eyes were wide opened with shock seeing a fellow student slap a lecturer.
Guntoro was quiet with shock, his only reaction was to sit on his chair with his hand on his cheek and look at Endang. She couldn’t believe her own reaction either, finally realizing that they were still in the class. She looked around at her friends, then turned and ran out the door, having mixed feelings of anger, shame, and confusion.
“I can’t believe you dared to do that!” Riski exclaimed when she and a group of friends saw Endang sitting on the bench in front of the faculty building, “You are going to get into so much trouble. You should go to Pak Guntoro and tell him that you’re sorry.”
“Endang, you’re bound to be suspended,” Syaiful added. “I agree with Riski, you should find him and apologize.”
“No, I won’t,” Endang replied stubbornly. “He was the one who unjustly accused me of cheating in the quiz.”
“nDang, the problem is, you never finished that quickly in a quiz, and I bet you scored pretty well, that’s why he thought you were cheating.”
“What? Does that stupid man think it’s impossible that I actually made the effort to study during the weekend? He should show more respect to me, he had absolutely no right to accuse me like that, more so without a single shred of evidence.”
“nDang, the problem is you should have talked it over like a civilized human being instead of going around and slapping the lecturer.” Mita tried to talk some sense into her. “Besides my poor Arjuna[7] his face was all red, partially from the slap and partially from embarrassment.”
“Well, there’s no way on earth that I’m going to apologize. He is the one who has to come, kneel down to me and beg for my forgiveness. He should learn to respect his elder.” She mumbled.
“Well, now you’re just talking crazy.” Riski commented. “I know that you went out to study yesterday. Maybe that shook your brain somehow.”
“I heard that you were hit by one of your students,” Nunik fumed. “I’m not going to let her get away with it. I’m not going to rest until she gets expelled from this University. “She paused for a few minutes, took a handkerchief and caressed his cheek with it. “Does it hurt?”
“Bu[8] Nunik.” He answered while awkwardly moving his face away from her hand. “No, I was more shocked than anything else. But please don’t do anything to her. I was out of the line when I accused her of cheating on the test, despite knowing that she went very early to study in the library just the day before.”
“Why are you defending her?” Nunik looked at him feeling unhappy at his words. “An insolent girl like that deserves to be punished as hard as possible.”
Guntoro smiled. “I’m alright, really I am.”
The next few days Endang walked through campus with a sensation as though she had a bull’s eye stuck to her back. She had been promoted from a nobody to the most hated by the majority of girls in her faculty. Riski was the only one at her side. “Be patient, nDang.” She said. “If you weren’t my best friend and roommate, I would hate you too, for slapping the most popular and desired man in our campus.”
“Thanks for your hard work in consoling me.” Endang responded.
Suddenly a faculty staff member came up to them, “Which one of you is Endang?” He asked.
Endang could feel her heart skip a beat. “…” She replied. Did the peacock squeal on her to the Dean? She asked herself.
“You have a phone call from your house. You can go to the administration office to take it.” He explained.
“A call from home?” She had a very bad feeling.
She quickly followed him through the hallway to the administration office. He showed her to the phone that was off the hook. “Hello….” She gingerly said.
“Endang is that you?” She heard her sister on the other side.
“mBak[9] Yuni, this is me.” She answered, “What’s wrong, mBak?”
“nDang, you have to come home immediately, it’s Bapak[10]. Bapak has been hospitalized, his condition is very bad.”
“What? mBak, tell me what happened to him?” Endang could feel the world spinning. She almost fell to the ground when she felt firm hands supporting her up by holding her by the shoulder. She felt someone take the phone away from her.
“Ibu,” Guntoro spoke into the handset. “What’s wrong with mBah Kakung[11]?”
Endang couldn’t hear anything else, the next thing she knew, he whispered, “Bu Lik, don’t worry he’s going to be alright, don’t worry. Let’s head home to Jember.” She felt him leading her out of the Administration Office.
In between consciousness she could feel people looking at them with bewilderment as he held her in his arm and walked her to his car.

[1] Pak is the Indonesian honorifics equivalent to Mr.

[2] Mas is Javanese honorifics to name men slightly older than one’s self.

[3] Malang a city in East Java.

[4] Dik is short for Adik, honorifics used to c all someone younger than one’s self or if the other person is considered younger in the family hierarchy.

[5] Bu Lik is honorifics for Auntie.

[6] Indonesian style meatball soup.

[7] Arjuna is a fictional character from the epic Mahabharata who is supposedly the most handsome out of the five Pandav brothers. In Javanese folklore, he was a womanizer having several wives.

[8] Bu is an abbreviate of Ibu, literally means mother, but in Indonesia, it is used as honorifics equivalent to Miss or Mrs.

[9] mBak is honorifics for older sister or a women slightly older than one’s self.

[10] Bapak is father

[11] mBah Kakung means grandpa

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