December Sunshine Part 3

City of Jember

City of Jember

It took her several minutes to finally snap back to reality. When she came to, her father was lying on top of a pandanus leaf mat with his head on her mother’s lap. His eyes were tightly closed and his breath was short. As she leaped forward and ran towards him, her eyes were filled with tears.

“Bapak, Bapak!” She screamed, “What’s wrong?”
“We need to bring him to my car, quickly we have to take him to the hospital,” Guntoro shouted, getting ready to stand up and run to his car to bring it closer.
Pak Bakrie’s eyes opened slightly, he reached out and grabbed Guntoro’s arm. “Guntoro, my grandson.” He whispered, “I don’t have much time left in this world, you have to promise me something.”

“Mbah, calm down, you shouldn’t talk, you need to conserve your strength you…” He was left silent when he felt someone hitting his head from behind.
“Be quiet, you silly boy.” He heard his mother’s voice, “Give him a chance to speak, listen to your Mbah Kakung.”
Pak Bakrie threw a look of disapproval at his eldest daughter before continuing his words, “Guntoro, please promise me that you will take my place to take care of my little Endang. You know that she is a fatherless child, and her mother is very poor. I’m worried about her fate after I’m gone.”“Bapak, please don’t say things like that.” Endang cried, “Bapak, you’re going to be alright. Why don’t we go to the hospital so the doctors can take a look at you?”
“Guntoro, please give me your word that you are willing to be responsible for Endang from now on.” He whispered to Guntoro.
“But, Mbah, of course, she’s my aunt, of course, I will take care of her until she comes of age and I will make sure that she finishes her studies and marry a good man, I will….”
Pak Bakrie started coughing, Endang started to cry uncontrollably seeing her adopted father’s condition. The old man who had been her hero and idol all her life was now lying weakly on the side of the street.
“Guntoro, I want you to marry Endang right now. That’s why we’re here at the KUA, I have told your mother to do all the processes and submit all the documents necessary for the marriage registration. Everything is ready, all, that’s left, is for the two of you to enter the office and go through the marriage contract and registration.”
“Bapak, what are you saying?” Endang cut in, “How can I marry the son of my own sister, that’s disgusting. Ouch”, This time her sister’s slap fell on her head.
“Endang, don’t be stubborn. I want to see you married to a good and responsible man before I meet my maker. I want to rest in peace knowing that your life will be a good one, with someone who can give you dignity in the eyes of society and a good status. A man who can be a responsible head of the family for you and your children. Or do you have someone already?”
“Well, not really, but…”
“Then I don’t want to hear anymore, will the two of you fulfill my last wish, Guntoro, Endang?”
Guntoro and Endang looked at each other, “Bu Lik, let’s talk over there for a little bit.” He whispered.
“Why do you need to talk? It’s yes or no. Don’t you feel bad seeing Bapak like this?” Bu Nining, Endang’s mother who was quiet all this time said sharply. “Are the two of you ungrateful children who’re not willing to make him happy at a moment like this?”
“Mbah Putri, it’s not like that. I’m not ungrateful.” Guntoro protested
Pak Bakrie started to cough out loud, his wife cried and held his head closely to her chest, “Look at what you’re doing to him.” She cried.
“Okay, I’ll agree to it. Mbah Kakung, please calm down, if you stress yourself, you’ll get worse.”
“Dik Gun!” Endang shrieked.
He looked at her sharply, feeling that everybody was looking at her and waiting for her answer, she finally nodded.
“Excellent!” Guntoro’s father exclaimed. “It’s almost your turn, we should quickly go inside, come on the two of you.”
Guntoro felt his body being pulled up and several hands pushing him forward towards the building. He could see Endang trying to fight off the women who were surrounding her, she was trying to get back to where her father was lying on the ground, but she was overwhelmed by the women and ended up being dragged towards the KUA building, his mother being the person who was pulling her by the arm.
It all felt like an out of body experience for Endang, everything surrealistic and blurry, one minute she was pushed down onto a chair, the next minute she could here Guntoro being forced to rehearse the marriage contract, there were people talking and laughing, she couldn’t make out what they were saying. Suddenly without her realizing it, the Penghulu[1] sat in front of them.
She heard the sound of a chair being pulled beside her and someone sat at her side. She turned around to see who it was, to her surprise it was her father.
He had a big smile and sat up straight, he also was breathing easily and not coughing anymore. She wanted to open her mouth to protest, but the Penghulu started his sermon, so she held back. She glanced at Guntoro, his face was tense and he was fully concentrated, somehow she just knew that he was not aware of Pak Bakrie’s presence in the room. She tried signaling him by pinching his arm softly, but he kept brushing her fingers off.
Out of despair she whispered, “Psst, Dik Gun, psst…”
“Shhht……” Her mother silenced her and pinched her shoulder. She grinned in pain. She felt all hope had gone. The peacock wasn’t paying attention to her, and she didn’t have the nerve to try and stop the marriage registration ceremony. He was her only hope for that.
Even in her confused state of mind she was aware that she was merely an adopted child of the family, while he was their direct family member. She didn’t want to act unfilially to the people who had kindly taken her in since she was a baby, the people who had nurtured, loved and educated her for nineteen years.
To her horror Guntoro was too focused on his hand that was holding the Penghulu’s and trying to remember his line that he didn’t realize it was his own grandfather who gave the Ijab[2] despite just minutes before he was lying on the ground claiming to be dying. Guntoro quickly said the Kabul[3] accepting her as his bride. Just as he finished reciting, he realized what had happened, he quickly turned his head to Pak Bakrie while letting go of the hand he was shaking. He was surprised to see his grandfather there, smiling happily.
The Penghulu declared the marriage contract valid.
Guntoro stood up in protest when they put a pen in his hand so he could sign the marriage book. Endang was happy to see that he had finally realized how they had been tricked. Now he can stand up against them.
“This is not right,” He said. ”I won’t sign the marriage book!”
Endang smiled and nodded her head in agreement.
Seeing his behavior, the Penghulu became upset, “What’s going on?” He bellowed.
Pak Bakrie suddenly cough followed by a wheezing sound.
“Bapak..!” His wife and daughters cried.
This scared Guntoro, he feared that his behavior was causing his grandfather’s condition to worsen. He quickly sat down and signed.
Now that the pen was given to her, Endang fell into dismay, she signed her name into the book and handed the pen to her sister.
The Penghulu stamped the book and handed it to them respectively. “Congratulations!” He smiled. “We’re finished here.” He said as he stood up and walked away.
“Now we have to go back to our house, I’ve prepared the feast.” Guntoro’s mother declared. “I have everything ready to welcome my new daughter in law into our family.”
“Mbak Yuni…” Endang tried to speak up.
“Not Mbak Yuni, you have to call me Ibu now. I’m officially and legally your mother in law. You can’t call me mBak anymore, and you can’t refer to your husband as a junior either, you have to call him Mas from now on!” She ranted with her bossy attitude.
Endang cringed at the idea. But she smiled anyway.
“Ibu, Bapak, Mbah, I want to talk privately with Bu Lik, I mean this wife of mine. Can you please excuse us?”
“Don’t take too long.” His father said.
Guntoro dragged Endang a few meters away from everyone. “Why didn’t you say anything?” He chided. “Looking at his condition now, I’m seriously beginning to doubt that Mbah Kakung is really as sick as he claimed to be.”
“Excuse me?” She rebuked, “I was the one who was pinching your arm, remember, the fingers that you just brushed off?”
“I didn’t realize it was you.”
“What do we do now?” She asked.
“Nothing. Not until we know for sure how Mbah Kakung’s condition is and that we aren’t going to put his health in any danger.”
“I guess you’re right about that.” She paused for a while then began to wipe her eyes.
“Are you alright?” He asked with concern.
“No! I don’t understand what’s going on, I was told one thing earlier on the phone and then when we arrived here, all this happened. I’m confused and exasperated, but I’m afraid to say anything.”
He sighed, “Well, it’s not like it’s the end of the world. It’s just a marriage, I can personally say, I’ve been there and done that.” He then held both of her shoulders and looked into her eyes while saying, “But most importantly you should understand one thing.”
“What’s that?” She asked.
“They did this because they love you and think that they have made the best choice for you. Remember what Mbah Kakung said, he is very old, and if God forbids, anything were to happen to him, he wants to be sure that somebody will take care of you. Although I think forcing us to get married is a little bit on the extreme side, but the intentions were all good.”
“You think so?”
“I know so!” He let go of her shoulder, “Come on. Let’s go back before they think that we’ve escaped.”
“Wait a minute, isn’t that a good idea? Why don’t we do that?”
“And what if Mbah Kakung is really as sick as he claims to be? Do you want to risk making him worse?”
“You’re right. Let’s go back.”
The car ride back to Guntoro’s parents’ house was a noisy one. Since Guntoro’s mother opted to ride with her husband and her parents, they had to take back the extended family members in the car.
The back seat was filled with two couples, the two elderly men were brothers of Pak Bakrie. Endang sat in silence all the way, she felt strange that her position in the family hierarchy had shifted from daughter to granddaughter in law. These were her uncles and aunts who she grew up with, but now she felt like an outsider.
She pondered on Guntoro’s words regarding her family’s good intentions for her though she couldn’t help but feel angry and frustrated that they decided to marry her to him. In her mind, she felt as if they didn’t seriously consider her as a real daughter. If they did, then they wouldn’t have made her marry someone who she had considered her own nephew, her whole life.
Remembering that she was now married, another pain grasped hold of her heart. “Mas Widodo.” She said to herself. What would happen to them and their budding love for each other? How would she tell him about her situation? What does Guntoro think about this matrimony? Does he intend to abide his family expectation and start a family with her? Or is he planning to end everything soon before anybody else besides their family knows about it? All those thoughts haunted her mind.
Seeing her sitting in the front passenger seat with anxiety, he whispered softly so the elders won’t hear what he was saying. “Don’t worry, we will talk about it later. I’m anxious too, but we should solve this situation slowly.”
She turned to him and smiled, “Thanks for your comforting words, Dik, errr Mas Gun.”
Hearing her call him that, struck him by surprise. So much so, that he involuntarily stepped on the break causing the car to jump to a halt. The elders sitting on the back passenger seat started to complain about the abrupt stop.
Endang couldn’t understand why he stopped the car and looked at her with a blushing face.

[1] Penguhulu is a government official in charge of marrying people in the Muslim way.

[2] Ijab in a marriage contract the father of the bride or representative declares that he marries the bride to the groom.

[3] Kabul is the statement of the groom accepting the named woman as his wife.

2 thoughts on “December Sunshine Part 3

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