Endang leaned her head against the car window, looking out to Guntoro who was talking to the administration staff in the parkway, she couldn’t hear what they were talking about, but by Guntoro’s hand movement, she suspected she was part of the conversation subject. She saw Guntoro and man shaking hands then he walked back to the car and sat at the driver’s side.
“I had to explain to him why I was hugging you by the shoulder back there, he was rebuking me for inappropriate behavior towards a student.” Guntoro volunteered an explanation.
“What did you tell him?”
“The truth, that you’re my aunt and that the person who called just now was your sister who happens to also be my mother.”
“Oh well, there’s nothing we can do, I suppose. The truth will have to come out sooner or later.” She said softly.
“Let’s go.” He whispered.
Endang felt that the drive so far was the longest hour of her life. She glanced at Guntoro who was driving in silence, they didn’t really have anything to talk about. Guntoro glanced at her also sensing her anxiety he said, “You know, you pack a pretty hard slap for a girl.”
“Only to those who deserve it.” She replied.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. I was just playing around. I knew that you studied hard on Sunday, I shouldn’t have said that you cheated on the quiz.”
“I’m sorry too. Not about slapping you. I’m sorry that all your lady fans began to look at me as if I was a piece of dirty rag.”
Guntoro started to laugh, “My lady fans?”
“Yes, oh dear nephew. You are quite popular with the girls in campus, and even with more than one academic and administrative staff I presume.”
“Listen, Bu Lik. I know that we have a big age gap, and we hardly know each other. Maybe that’s why even though you came to study in Malang and I work there, not only in the same city but also in the same institution, you didn’t want to come and live at my house. So let’s take advantage of the next two hours to get to know each other better. What would you like to know about me?”
“You don’t teach so many classes, so how could you afford to buy a car? Do you take bribes from students? Is that why you give me bad scores?”
“You have such an evil tongue! No! I do not take bribes from students. My teaching job at your University, is not a full-time job, like you said so yourself, I only teach a few classes. I have another job, one that pays better.”
“Oh yeah? What would that be?”
“Have you heard of Dimas Dharmawan?”
“The bestselling suspense novel author? Of course, I’m a big fan.”
“I’ll take that as a complement to my work. Thank you!”
“No! You’re lying, you can’t be him.”
“If you are willing to stop by my house someday I can show you my manuscripts and submittals, also the correspondence with the publishing company. But keep this to yourself, if I wanted everybody to know that I am an author, I wouldn’t have used a pen name.”
“Oh wow!” She paused, “So why do you teach? I mean if you earn well as an author. Do you spend all your money at once and are broke most of the time or something?”
“Gosh no! I have my savings. I hope that I can take an early retirement and go traveling in the future. Maybe I can get better writing materials if I visit places and see how people from other cultures live.” He paused, “But anyway, I teach because I like to. It’s a life calling for me. I want to share my knowledge and make a difference in other people’s lives.”
“Wow, nephew. You’re really something else. I want to be just like you when I grow up.” She smiled.
“What about you? What do you like to do in your free time?”
“I draw. I like to draw, in fact, that’s how I earn some additional pocket money. My friends ask me to draw a sketch of them or their family and they pay for it.”
“So you’re an artist?”
“I’d like to be. I want to learn to use oil paint, so far I’ve only worked with charcoal and water paint.”
“May I ask you something else?” She asked with doubt.
“Go ahead, we do want to get to know each other.”
“I remember that you used to bring your wife to our house when you visited and for a while now you never bring her there anymore. Why is that?”
He was silent for a while, “We are divorced.” He finally said.
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Things like that happen in the world of adults.”
“Do you keep in touch with her?”
“Not really, we don’t have any kids between us so there is actually no valid reason to talk. Besides, she’s already remarried with a foreigner and is living overseas.”
“Ah…okay. Well, I guess that would make it awkward if you tried to communicate with her.”
“What about you? When we met last Sunday you said you were going out on a date, at the library was it?”
“Well, I am seeing someone.” She blushed. “His from a different faculty and he is almost in the last semester.”
“And how serious are you with him?”
“Well, we’ve only been going out for six months, so we are just getting to know each other. But he is very smart, and he helps me to study whenever he can, especially if it has something to do with math, he’s very good at it.”
“Do you like him a lot?”
She blushed and just nodded.
“So he was the one who helped you study for my quiz?”
“Hmm, he must be very good if he can make a dense person like you understand.” He mumbled.
“I’m not dense. I just have a bad teacher.”
They were silent for a few minutes, each lost in their own thoughts. Endang sighed when she remembered her father’s condition. It felt as though a razor blade had cut through her heart.
“I’m sure he will be alright,” Guntoro said, “Mbah Putri, always takes good care of him.”
“I know. But mBak Yuni’s voice sounded urgent on the phone.”
“Ibu always sounds urgent over the phone. Even if it’s to remind me to eat lunch.”
She smiled. “Thanks for cheering me up. Don’t you think it’s strange that mBak Yuni called the Faculty office instead of my cell phone?” She asked.
“Ibu? I don’t think it’s strange. She always calls me either at home or to the faculty. She never calls my cell phone, she read somewhere that the electromagnetic waves can induce cancer, so she doesn’t believe in cell phones.”
“Ah…no wonder she was upset when Bapak bought me one before I left to Malang.”
“She means well.”
“I know she does. She’s the best sister in the world.”
“Speaking about cell phone, could you call my parents’ house and ask them what hospital is Mbah Kakung in? Here, use my cell phone.” He said while handing the cell phone to her.
She called, the phone rang several minutes, and then somebody answered. “Hello…” Said a familiar voice.
“Mbak Yuni? Mbak, this is Endang, I’m in Dik Gun’s car right now, and we are a few minutes away, what hospital is Bapak in?” She asked.
“nDang, can the two of you come to my house and pick me up so we can go together?” She said.
“One moment.” She turned to Guntoro, “Dik, your mother asked if we can stop at her house and pick her up.”
“Mbak Yuni, we’re going straight to your house.”
“Okay, I’ll be waiting.”
It took them thirty minutes to arrive at her house. Once they arrived outside the gate, Guntoro and ending came down from the car and rang the bell at the gate. Guntoro’s mother was a heavy woman in her early fifties. She had a friendly disposition and is very energetic. Guntoro and Endang looked at each other with surprise when they saw that she was dressed up in er best clothes, wearing jewelry and some makeup.
“Guntoro, Endang, how are you?” She asked cheerfully.
“Ibu, we’re fine. Uhh, why are you dressed like that?” He asked her.
“Oh? Like what?” She pretended to not understand what he was saying.
“Mbak, you’re dressed like you’re going to kondangan, and not to the hospital to visit a sick person.”
“Is that so?” She asked. “Well, it’s too late to change now. Let’s go.” She said while opening the back door to the car and sitting on the back seat.
“Ibu, isn’t Bapak going to come with us?” Guntoro asked.
“Your father is already at the K eh, hospital.” She answered. “Gun, let me borrow your cell phone, so I can tell Ibu that we’re on our way.”
“Cellphone? You?” Guntoro asked surprised.
“Why are you questioning your mother so much? Are you such a big successful man right now that you think your mother is such a dumb woman who doesn’t know what she’s doing?” She asked in an angry voice.
Endang quietly snuck into the car, sat down and very gently closed the door. She knew very well, that her sister was a very great and easy going person, but it is a bad idea to cross her, because she can turn into a lioness at times.
Guntoro nervously handed his cell phone to his mother. She pushed his hand away, and then handed him a small piece of paper, “Are you trying to make fun of me? You know that I don’t know how to use that thing. Here dial this number and give me the phone when somebody answers.”
He dialed the number written on the paper, he heard a man answering, “Hello.”
“Bapak?” Recognizing his father’s voice.
“Ah, Gun how are you?”
“Bapak I’m fine, let me pass the phone to Ibu,” Guntoro answered seeing that his mother was becoming impatient.
“Bapake Gun, we’re heading there right now. Make sure you tell everybody.” She said in a bossy voice. “Is everything ready? Okay, okay, I’ll see you in a few minutes.”
Neither Guntoro nor Endang could hear what Guntoro’s father was saying on the other side of the line. Guntoro’s mother ended the call and gave the phone back to him. “You just drive and I will guide you.” She said. “First go straight and in the next intersection, make the right turn.”
Both Guntoro and Endang felt that she was acting strange, but neither of them dared to question her any further. Guntoro obeyed his mother and drove to the direction she gave him.
“Gun, park your car over there, under that tree. Let’s go down here and walk to the err… the hospital.” She said assertively.
Guntoro parked the car as she told him to. All three of them went down. Endang waited for her sister to lead the way walking behind Guntoro, just in case her sister felt like hitting her son, she would be clear out of the way.
They walked a few meters, when she caught sight of a familiar figure in the distance standing on the road side leaning against the gate of a building, he wasn’t alone, and there were others with him
“That’s Bapak.” She said almost to herself. “What is he doing there? Why isn’t he resting in bed? And Ibu is there too. What’s going on?” She said her tone was obviously full of worry and anxiety, she wanted to run towards her father, but her sister had moved directly in front of her and was in her way. She didn’t want to be rude and push pass her. So she walked slowly behind her.
When they arrived at the front of the building Endang could hear Guntoro’s voice saying in a weird tone “But this is not the hospital this is the KUA.”
She looked up at the building and was rendered speechless, why would her father be here?
The people, that were with her father and mother, exclaimed with joy, “Oh, here are the groom and bride, they finally arrived.’
Guntoro shouted, “What’s going on here?”
Endang was so confused she could only manage to let out, “Wh…ha…ha…ha..t???”
Suddenly Pak Bakrie, her father, clutched his chest, grinned in pain and fell to the ground while saying, “Oh no, my grandson and adopted daughter don’t love me enough to fulfill my wishes.”
Everything felt like a slow motion video for Endang, as people started running to catch her father who almost hit the ground, she could hear people screaming and panicking all around her. She tried to move, but her feet seemed cemented to the ground.
 Mbah Putri is the Javanese word for grandma.
 Kondangan means to attend a wedding party and congratulate the bride and groom.
 Bapake Gun literally means Gun’s father, it’s an endearing way to refer to one’s husband.
 KUA or Kantor Urusan Agama is the Indonesian Office of Religious Affairs.