“Mas Wid, how are you?” Endang ran up to her boyfriend and greeted him.
As usual Widodo came to find her to her faculty building to spend some time in the afternoon together. “nDang, do you want to go and grab something to drink?” he asked.
“Unfortunately I can’t, I have to move out of my dorm room today, I’m going to live with a relative of mine.”
“I didn’t know you had relatives here in Malang. Are you moving far from campus?” He hesitated waiting for her to continue.
“No, my relative, nephew actually, lives just a few blocks away from here. I don’t know if you heard the latest new yet, but the truth is Pak Guntoro my Statistic lecturer is my nephew.”“So I heard. My housemates, who go to this faculty, told me about it. I couldn’t believe it at first, but since now it’s coming from you, it must be true. So are you moving in with him?”
“Yes I am.”
“You know, he is a very charismatic and good looking man, and even though he is your nephew, he is way older than you. I feel a little worried.” Widodo stated.
His words made Endang feel guilty, “Well, you should know that my nephew is a married man.” She said to him. Although the truth was that he was married to her, but their matrimony was just on paper, she didn’t feel the need to worry Widodo with minor details. “Let’s sit down on the bench over there. I’m waiting for Riski to finish her last class for today, before heading back to our room. She promised to help me with my move. We can use the next half an hour to chat.”
“Wow, isn’t that your aunt? Is that her boyfriend?” Bu Nunik said in a gossipy tone while peering out the window. “My oh my, she does have a strange taste in men, doesn’t she?”
Guntoro looked through the blinds to the bench where Endang and Widodo are sitting and chatting. Suddenly there was a loud crashing noise as the blind fell and hit the side of his desk, followed by a female voice squealing in surprise.
“I better call Gatot the handyman,” He said while standing up calmly, “Maybe the screws of the blinds were loose.”
One of Guntoro’s colleagues whispered to another, “The stucco on the wall fell off too, it doesn’t look like it was caused by a loose screw.”
His friend just lifted his shoulder “As long as he pays for the damages.”
“Well, knowing that he’s not a bachelor does make me feel a whole lot better. I’m sure he has a high taste in women, so my worries were just ridiculous.”
“Are you saying that I’m ugly?” She couldn’t believe her ears.
“No, of course not. I think you’re very cute.” He lowered his head and blushed, “But what I’m trying to say is, just by looking at Pak Guntoro, it’s obvious that he has refined taste.”
“Okay, so, I’m cute by a reek of low class, is that it?”
He quickly held her hands in his, “Endang, please don’t try to pick a fight with me. To me you’re the prettiest girl in the campus. The idea of you living in the same house as him made me jealous, but now that I know he is married, I feel a lot better.”
She smiled uneasily, “You don’t have to worry. He’s my nephew. He’s family.”
They were disturbed by the sound of a car honking, “Bu Lik, why are you sitting around here? Have you packed your things already?” Guntoro shouted from inside the car through the opened window.
“Umm..Dik Gun, this is my friend, Mas Widodo.” Endang presented while the two of them walked to the car.
“It’s nice to meet you Pak Guntoro, my name is Widodo.” Widodo introduced himself while extending his hand.
Guntoro reciprocated and the two shook hands. “Hello, nice to meet you, I need to borrow my auntie for now, would you mind?”
“Not at all sir, not at all….” Widodo replied while bowing as a gesture to show his respect.
“Get in,” Guntoro said to Endang.
“I was waiting for my roommate, she said that she would help me carry my luggage to the first floor,” Endang said while entering the car.
“Why? Do you have that many things?”
“Well, no. It’s just two suitcases.”
“Then you can carry them down by yourself, you have enough meat on your body, I don’t think you’ll break a bone lifting your own suitcases. Don’t be such a princess.”
“Look, it’s not about carrying the suitcases down or what not, it’s about saying goodbye to a friend who shared a room with me for more than a year. If you’re in a hurry to another appointment, you can write down your address, and give me your keys, I’m sure I can find your house. If you need to supervise me so I don’t touch your things, I’ll even wait in the living room until you arrive.”
“I’m sure you will be more than happy to wait in my living room, do you plan to invite your boyfriend so you can be alone in my house?”
Endang was appalled hearing those words from him. She stared at him intensely, her voice was emotional when she said, “Just what kind of person do you think I am? Why are you disrespecting the people who raised me and educated me? If you’re going to humiliate me like this because I’m a poor orphan who’s going to live in your house for free, then I’ll try to find a way to stand on my own.” She opened the door and put on foot on the ground, gesturing that she was going to get out of the car.
“Wait…” He stopped her, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry…I was out of line, again. I apologize. Of course, you’re a proper young lady and you would never do something like I just said right now.”
“I don’t know, this is the second time you’ve said something offensive to me.” She said while pulling her leg back inside and strapping the seat belt. “You should make it up to me.”
“Okay fine, how do you want me to make it up to you?”
“I want to have a housewarming gathering, with my girlfriends at your house, and I want you to be there, so you can’t accuse me of letting some man in your house.”
“Do I have to? I hate having people at my house.”
“I’m going to tell Bapak that he made me marry a jerk who does nothing but humiliate me all the time.”
“Don’t do that! Okay, you win. You can arrange your little party for this weekend, but not more than five people, and no loud noise or anything like that. And you have to arrange the food that you’re going to serve by yourself, I’ll give you the money of course.”
“No problem there. You know that I’m an excellent cook!” She replied while hiding her smile.
“I have to admit, that you are a good cook.” He paused for a few minutes, “I want you to stop seeing yourself as an orphan, you have parents, Mbah Kakung and Mbah Putri, and my parents are now your parents, and you have me also.”
“Thank you, Dik Gun.” Her heart felt warm.
“Dik Gun?” He raised his voice.
“What else should I call my nephew? Aren’t you my nephew while we’re in Malang? You were the one who said it.”
“You can call me that, but just when we’re in front of other people.”
“Sure.” She said while texting Riski. Her mind was already planning who to invite to her housewarming gathering, definitely girls who can give her sizable tributes to go and see Guntoro in his natural habitat.
His house was quite big for a single man, “I suppose a bestselling author does earn a good income.” She thought.
“The main bedrooms are on the second floor.” He explained. “You can use the room that’s across the hall from mine, there’s actually a guest room on the first floor, just before the kitchen, I plan to keep it empty just in case my parents come and visit, so that way they don’t need to go up and down the stairs. We have to share the bathroom, I don’t mind if you keep your toiletries in the cupboard that’s in there.”
“You’ll be in charge of preparing the meals, and making sure that the house is clean, I have a washing machine back there, you can use it for your clothes, and you can wash mine too while you’re at it, it’s to save electricity and water. I’ll give you a daily shopping allowance, if you can manage it well, whatever is left, is yours. But of course I want decent meals every day.”
“What else should the cooking and cleaning lady call the owner of the house?”
“Those are normal duties for a housewife, you know.”
“Cleaning lady is more in my comfort zone.”
“Have it your way.”
“Since Mbah Kakung trusted me completely with you, I want you to study in the living room, that way if he asks me about your studies I can give him an honest answer.” He continued, “Do you have any questions?”
“You wouldn’t mind if I put some feminine touch to the house would you?” She asked.
“I have water paintings that I think will look nice on that boring and empty wall over there, and there, and there.” She said while pointing around the house.
“Suite yourself, my house your house.”
“Okay then, let me help you bring your things upstairs.” He said while walking in front of her carrying her suitcase in each hand.
They went up to the second floor. The room was a big surprise for Endang, it was large and comfortable. There was a desk with a computer on it. She could see that Guntoro had bought new flower motif sheets for her bed.
“Wow, I never thought that it would be this nice.” She exclaimed.
“Do you like it?”
“Very much. Umm, may I use this computer?”
“That’s what it’s there for.” He paused, “Why don’t you organize your clothes in the closet first, then take a shower and dress up nicely. Today I’ll take you out for dinner.”
“Wow! You’re awesome.”
“I know I am.” He left her in the room.
She organized her clothes neatly in the closet, a lapse of minutes had passed by when through the closed door she could hear the sound of a guitar. She smiled recognizing the old songs that he used to play for her in the past, when he would come and visit her parent’s house in the countryside. Those were good times, she was ten and he was twenty-five. He hadn’t married his ex-wife yet at the time. He was simple and humble, just like any young man who grew up and lived most of his life in a small town. Although in the family structure he was her nephew, but she always saw him like a big brother. The big brother that had been snatched away from her by a big city woman. Tears inadvertently rolled down her cheeks. She wiped her eyes then quickly finished what she was doing and grabbed a towel and a fresh change of clothes.
It was a pleasant surprise for her to go eat at a nice restaurant and not some street side food tent. This was certainly out of her range, she made sure that she behaved properly and not embarrass him. Luckily she had put on a nice dress, otherwise, she would look like a fish out of water here.
They sat across each other on the table, feeling embarrassed that she might order something out of his budget, she asked him to order for her. He smiled understanding her self-consciousness.
“So, what do you like about…What was his name? Widodo?” Guntoro asked.
“Oh about Mas Wid? I don’t know, a lot of things. His personality, his seriousness, his humility, and simplicity. Comes from Lumajang, so he is a small town person like me, when we’re together, we can talk about many things that we have in common.”
“And is that the type of man you’re looking for? Simple, humble, from a small town?”
She shrugged, “I don’t know if that is the kind of man I prefer, but it is the kind of man who in my current state of mind makes me feel comfortable to be around.”
“So you’re saying that in the future, you might change preferences?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.” She paused and took a sip at her drink, “What about you? Well, I know what your type of woman is. Why haven’t you remarried yet?”
“I have remarried, remember?”
“Ah…right.” She nodded, “No seriously. Why haven’t you remarried for real? Are you still in love with her? With Dik Dini?”
He smiled, “How do you know when you’re in love or not in love with someone?”
“I don’t know, well in my opinion, if you want to be close with that person, you want to hear their voice when you’re far away, something like that?”
“Is that how you feel for your boyfriend?”
“How childish!” He laughed.
“Maybe, but that’s the type of falling in love that I know of.”
After they finished eating, he took her for a drive around the city.
“Have you been to Batu?” He asked
She shook her head.
“Then let’s go there to Paralayang, it’s beautiful at night.”
Endang shrieked to see the city lights from the height of the mountain, she pulled out her cell phone and took several photos.
“Let’s take a photo of us here.” She said to him taking a side by side selfie.
“Do you like the view?” He asked.
“Eh-he.” Suddenly she had an idea “Mas, mas can you please help take a photo of us?” Endang said to a young man who was there with a group of friends.
“Sure.” He replied
Endang dragged Guntoro to the side of the mountain, to pose against the night lights.
“Mister, why don’t you hug your daughter around the shoulder?” The young man said to Guntoro.
Seeing him pout and fume to be mistaken as her father, she laughed out loud. Causing the photo to turn out funny.
They arrived home a little late that night. With Endang still laughing remembering what the young man said.
“Does it make you that happy?” He asked.
“Yes it does, it’s a good change for once.” She caught her breath, “Ever since I’ve moved here, I here girls praising you like some kind of Adonis, that was a fresh point of view, don’t you think?”
“Hurry up go brush your teeth and go to bed! You have classes early tomorrow morning, don’t you?” He scolded.
“Sure, father……” She giggled and ran up the stairs.
A few minutes later she came back down holding a book in her hand, “Mas Gun,” she called out gently. “Hmm?” He replied while turning to her.
“M..Mas Gun.” She stuttered still not used to using those honorifics on him, “You know that I’m a big fan of your work, can you please sign this copy for me?”
“You’re weird!” He looked at her puzzled but took the book from her anyway.
“You don’t need to write “To Endang” or “For Endang”. Just write umm…let’s see….Okay, write; “I hope you enjoy this book” and then sign it. And make sure that your signature is identical to the one printed in the book.” She directed while handing him a pen.
He took a deep breath and shook his head, but complied with her wish.
“Thank you, you’re the best.” She smiled and ran upstairs again.
Guntoro walked towards the academic staffs’ office space, several students had gathered in the hallway immersed in a conversation. When he passed by them, he heard a young man’s voice say. “Yeah, I saw it myself, it’s authentic. She said she’ll sell it to the highest bidder.”
“But nobody has ever seen what Dimas Dharmawan looks like, he’s very elusive. How can we be sure that’s it’s his real signature?”
“Well, you know how his books always have a forward page that has his signature printed in it. Well, this is exactly the same but in blue ink.”
Guntoro stopped approached them and asked, “Who is selling a book with the original signature of Dimas Dharmawan?”
“Oh, Pak Guntoro. The one selling it is Endang from the second year. Ah, she’s your aunt, isn’t she?”
“Ah….okay…” He nodded then walked away. “Why that little weasel…………” He muffled under his breath.
 Batu a small town adjacent to the City of Malang.
 A famous spot in up mountain in Batu where you can see the city lights at night.