“Stop blaming her for our failure!” Guntoro suddenly appeared behind them. “She has nothing to do with what happened, leave her out of it.”
“She has nothing to do? Can you really say that so easily?” Dini insisted.
“What are you guys talking about?” Endang was beginning to get confused.
“Don’t mind her, apparently she hasn’t changed a bit,” Guntoro said. “Bu Lik, why don’t you go inside, I have to talk to Dini for a while.”
Endang hesitated but complied. She walked away, occasionally turning her head to look at them. She picked up her drawing pad and entered the house, feeling uneasy leaving the two alone together.
“Leave her alone!” Guntoro said as soon as Endang left.
“It was she who approached me first,” Dini replied coolly.
“It was a mistake for me to let you come here in the first place. If you try to mess with her again, I’ll drag you out and throw your clothes on the street!”
“You can’t be serious.” Dini shocked at his disposition.
“Do I look like I’m joking? Try me!” He walked towards the house, passing Endang who was sitting in the living room, and entered Dini’s room.
Endang was surprised to see him go in there, so she followed behind him, he grabbed Dini’s suitcase opened the closet and started throwing her clothes into the suitcase.
“What are you doing?” Endang asked.
“Cleaning up the house!” He replied without even looking at her.
Dini pushed Endang away from the door and ran inside. “Stop that!” She screamed, “Don’t touch my things. You ungrateful bastard! You wouldn’t be where you are today if it wasn’t for my father! He was the first person to trust your talent, he was the one who opened the opportunity for you to get your first book published!”
Guntoro looked at her “I can’t deny that, and I am eternally grateful to him.”
“And how did you repay him? You betrayed his daughter! You became a philandering, cheating womanizer!”
“That’s not true! I’m not that kind of person! I never cheated on you when were still together!” Guntoro shouted back
“You did, you did! You did! And you even had the balls to say to my face that you fell in love with someone else, don’t deny it!”
“For heaven’s sakes that’s all in the past, why are you bringing it up now? It’s all over, we’re over, and we’ve been over for almost five years already.”
Unexpectedly a loud clanging sound overcame their shouting, silencing them both. They turned their heads towards the direction of the sound to see Endang holding a frying pan and wooden spoon in her hand. “Enough!” She said. “If you keep shouting, the neighbors will hear you, it’s embarrassing! How would they think about your demeanor? Dik Gun, please get out of Dik Dini’s room, even though this is your house, it’s not right to barge in here and start throwing her clothes like that. And Dik Dini, maybe you should find another place to stay, your presence here is disrupting the peace.”
“I’m not going anywhere! Who are you to tell me what to do?” Dini glared at her.
Endang took a deep breath and shook her head without saying a word.
“You’re right,” Guntoro said softly to Endang, “I don’t know what got into me. I’m sorry. Let’s go, come with me upstairs.”
“I’m sorry you had to see that.” Guntoro said when they got to his room, he sat on the chair by his desk “It was a bad idea for me to let her stay here.”
“Yes it was. A very bad idea!” She said while stepping closer to him and embracing his head, “You’re shaking all over.”
“I’m just so upset. You know this was how it used to be every day when we were together. She has a way to bring out the worst in me.” He buried his head in her chest and put his arms around her. “Thank you!” He said.
“For existing, for being who you are, and for coming into my life.”
She kissed his head gently then said, “Mas Gun, is there something that you’re not telling me?”
“Ndang, what are you talking about?”
“Mas, why did she say that it was my fault that the two of you separated?”
“It’s not your fault, you had nothing to do with it.” He tried to convince her.
“Mas, you know, sooner or later I’m going to hear about what happened. Don’t you think it will be better that I hear it from you rather than anyone else?”
“Endang, I’ll tell you everything, but please don’t hate me, okay? If there’s anything I fear in this life is to lose you.”
“Mas Gun, why would I hate you?” Endang asked, “What did you do?”
Guntoro took a deep breath, “I think it’s better if I start from the beginning. Do you remember the time when I came back to Jember after I got married…….”
“Take off your clothes! Take them off! Prove to me that you didn’t do anything with that receptionist!” She screamed viciously while pulling at his shirt and pants. The buttons flew off as Dini yanked her hand that gripped the front side of his shirt.
Guntoro’s mind went blank, he lifted his arm to prevent her from doing anything else, Dini screamed loudly and fell down sprawled on the floor, as she sat up while crying, a pang of self-loathing covered his soul, “Dini, I’m sorry…..” He whispered not having enough strength to speak louder.
“How dare you push me?” She cried, “You’ll be sorry for treating me this way. I’m going to tell my father! You wretched husband, do you think just because you earn some money by selling your book, you can act big in front of me?”
“Dini, why are you like this? Why do you humiliate me all the time? Even though I come from a humble family and can’t match up to your father, but as a husband I don’t think I’ve failed you in anyway, I work hard to give you everything you need and want, I come home on time, I never go out with friends or party, I buy you flowers and gifts, what more do you want?” Guntoro couldn’t control his emotions and began to cry, he sat on the bed and covered his nose and mouth with both hands. “I can stand all your verbal abuse and jealous accusations, but if you want to scrutinize my body, that’s too much! How low are you going to degrade me?”
“You, you’re trying to stop me from inspecting you because your guilty, aren’t you? I called the factory, the security guard told me that there was only the two of you there.” She insisted.
“I didn’t even know that she was there, I was in my office, she could have been there for many different reasons, why do you have to assume that she was with me?”
“Oh? Then why was she there?”
“Everybody knows that the security guard is her father.”
“Ah….so you’re that interested in her to even know who her parents are. So you admit that you’re sneaking around with her.” Dini grabbed his shirt and shook it harshly, “Confess, be a real man and admit your actions.”
Guntoro shook his head, “I’ve had enough, no more, please no more. I can’t live like this anymore….” He stood up jerked her hand away and walked to the door.
“Where are you going?” Dini yelled at him.
Guntoro ignored her and walked to the front door, he quickly opened it and went out, slamming the door behind him. He ran to the street, with his shirt torn and barefooted. He didn’t care about the eyes that were looking at him with curiosity.
He touched his back pocket and felt relieved when he found that his wallet was there, he checked the content of his wallet, but it wasn’t a lot, and he wasn’t in the mood to find an ATM machine.
He walked to the main road and halted a bus that went to the terminal, the bus was completely full, so he stood at the door, holding on to a pole to prevent himself from flying off and falling when the bus picked up speed. As they came closer to the terminal, many passengers had gone down, giving him space to sit. Guntoro was determined to go home.
At the terminal he looked for a nonstop bus to Jember, he paid the driver the ticket price, which was all the money he had left without any doubts, quickly going to his seat and sat down, even though the bus wasn’t due to leave for the next hour.
He spent the next four hours in a haze, he couldn’t manage to sleep, but his senses were not exactly in tune either.
The Bus driver shouted out for all the passengers to make sure that they don’t leave anything behind as they have arrived at the destination.
Guntoro got off the bus, he looked from left to right and walked to his parents’ house. When he reached the house fifteen minutes later, he found that the gate was locked and the house seemed empty. He knew that it wasn’t a good idea to wait, since he didn’t know when they would be coming back, so he decided to walk towards his grandparents’ home. A two-hour walk.
It was late when he finally reached the house, the streets were quiet with nobody in sight only big trucks occasionally passing by as drivers prefer to travel by night to deliver goods to other cities. He knocked hoping that they were at home to open the door. There was a sound of the door bolt being opened and a young girl’s head peeked out, she looked at him suspiciously at first, but then after a few seconds she seemed to recognize him.
“Dik Gun, what happened to you?” Her voice was full of concern, she opened the door a little bit more and came out, “Good God, why are you in this state?” She looked at him, he was covered in dirt, his shirt was torn and barely covering his body, and his bare feet were caked with mud and blood.
He didn’t answer, he just shook his head. She quickly helped him in, and then aided him sit on a chair. She ran to the well and filled a bucket with water and grabbed a towel, then hurried back to the living room.
He was still sitting there, but his mind seemed to be someplace else. She could see that he had been crying because the tears had left streaks on the dirt that covered his face. Endang took a deep breath and shook her head. She didn’t know what had happened to him, but she knew it was something serious. She dipped the towel in the water and squeezed it half dry. She gently used it to clean him, starting with his face.
“Excuse me, okay? I’m going to take off your shirt.” She said, he just nodded. She proceeded to clean his body. “This is going to hurt a little bit” She said as she lifted his leg and put it inside the bucket. She cleaned his feet one at a time, scrubbing the mud off and cleaning the wounds. Guntoro gasped in pain as she passed the towel over his open blisters.
She stood up and entered her room then came out with a small box, she tended to his wounds the best that she can. Then she went to her parents’ room and took out her father t-shirt and helped him put it on.
“I’m such a weak and shameful man, aren’t?” He asked out of the blue, “Men are not supposed to cry, but look at me.”
“I don’t know what happened to you, so I can’t really say if it justifies for your to cry or not.” She said in a low voice, “But it’s obviously something that is very tough, for you to arrive here looking like this.”
He didn’t answer, he just sat in silence.
“Do you want me to prepare something for you to eat?” She asked. He shook his head. “Then maybe it’s a good idea if you rest now. I’ll prepare the spare room for you. Bapak and Ibu went with Mbak Yuni and Mas Koes to Lumajang to attend a wedding. They will be back tomorrow afternoon.”
“Bu Lik…”He said while grabbing her hand, “Thank you.”
The young girl smiled and looked at him with sympathy then quickly closed the front door and took away the bucket of water. She disappeared to the back of the house for a few minutes before coming back again with a cup of tea, “Your room is ready, you should drink this sweet tea to help you sleep.” She said while handing him the cup.
He took a sip, the warm and sweet liquid felt good in his mouth. He put the cup on the coffee table in front of him, then tried to stand up, only to feel a cramp on his left leg. He dropped on the chair again, gasping in pain, “Bu Lik,” He tried to call out but his voice was hoarse, “Bu Liiiiik……………help me…………” He shouted at the top of his lungs.
Endang ran to the living room to see what was going on, Guntoro was still on his chair contorting and holding his leg. “A cramp…I have a cramp…..” He gasp.
Endang rushed to him and grabbed his leg, “Stop squirming!” She said while massaging it.
“Okay, okay, I think it’s alright now……” He said.
“Try to stand up!” She said.
He used his arm to push his body up “It still hurts a bit, but I can manage.” He limped to the room and closed the door. Maybe it was his tired body, the long journey, the cup of tea, the quiet rural ambient, or all of that, but that night he fell into a deep dreamless sleep.
Endang served the coffee on the table, then went inside. She knew that when the adults are talking, she had to stay clear away.
“Tell us what happen, Gun.” His grandfather said, “How could you arrive here from Surabaya with no clothes, no money and nothing on your feet?”
“I had an argument with my wife, Mbah. She accused me of having an affair with the receptionist at the factory. I left the house because I was tired, it’s not the first time this happened. She’s always suspecting me all the time, we fight almost every day. I need some time to rest and find peace.”
“I don’t think that leaving your home because of a fight is a good thing to do.” His grandmother said, “You should try to talk and resolve the problem with your wife.”
“I’ve tried it so many times, Mbah,” Guntoro explained, “She never listens, and she’s obsessive about the idea that I cheat on her.”
“Okay, okay, you can stay here for a few days until you feel ready to go back home,” Pak Bakrie said. “Its a good thing that your aunt is in her school holiday period, she can accompany you and entertain you, so at least it will help you forget about your problems.” He paused then called out, “nDang, Endang…….”
“Yes, Pak?” She replied walking from the back of the house.
“Guntoro is going to stay with us for a few days, I want you to keep him company. But I want you to behave properly and don’t be nosey! Don’t ask about anything that’s not your business. Remember that!”
“I understand, Pak.” She said. Her facial expression was kind of sour. “But can I start accompanying him from tomorrow? My friends and I have plans to make spicy fruit salad in the fields behind the house, and it’s a little bit embarrassing to bring an old man to our gathering.”
“Endang!” Her mother scolded.
“That’s okay. I don’t want to make anybody uncomfortable!” Guntoro said blushing.
“No..no…no…I would feel better if you go with her.” Pak Bakrie said, “This girl, she hasn’t fully realized yet that she’s a young woman now, and that she can’t go around acting any way she wants to anymore. If you’re with her, you can make sure that she behaves properly.”
“Perfect! I came here to rest, and they make me babysit a group of teenagers. Lucky me!” Guntoro thought.