“Yun, we have to do something about those two, they are getting too close to each other, it’s not right. Ugh, it was my fault in the first place to tell Endang to accompany Guntoro while he is here.” Pak Bakrie said as soon as his daughter served his coffee, “Guntoro is thirty years old and already married, he’s been away from his wife for a couple of months now. It’s our duty as their elders to save them from temptation and sin, and prevent our family from falling into tragedy.”
“Pak, aren’t you exaggerating?” Pak Koes said calmly, “I trust Guntoro, he always acts as a gentleman, and he would never do anything irresponsible and disrespectful to a woman, especially not to Endang. She’s Dik Yuni’s sister, and even though she is his aunt, but due to their age difference, he sees her as a younger sister that’s all.”
“Pak, why do you think that Guntoro has other feeling for Endang?” Bu Yuni asked.
“The other day when I was in the field, by chance I saw the two of them together, I saw Endang asleep on Guntoro’s lap and he was touching her face.” Pak Bakrie explained.
“Pak, if that’s what you saw, I have to agree with Mas Koes, I think you’re misinterpreting Guntoro’s feelings for Endang.”
“I don’t know, I have a bad feeling, something in here tells me that something else is going on.” Pak Bakrie said while pointing to his chest, “Trust me, this is my white hair speaking. I’ve lived long enough to be able to sense these things.”
“Pak why don’t we do this, when they come here tomorrow, I will observe them and pay attention to what they do and how they interact with each other, I will let you know if I see anything that’s not right.”
“Okay, Yun, I will trust your judgment.”
“Don’t worry, Pak. When have I ever disappointed you?” Bu Yuni smiled assuring him.
Bu Yuni sat beside her son as he was lying down on the bed. “Be honest with me Gun, today all day I was watching you, I saw how you looked at Endang. What’s going on with you?”
Guntoro took a deep breath and stared at the ceiling, “I don’t know what’s going on with me, it’s just something that grew inside of me, and now I find it harder and harder to control. I feel embarrassed and bad for what I feel, I’m not a young man anymore, I should be able to control my emotions and prevent something like this from happening.”
“What is it that attracts you to her?” Bu Yuni asked wanting to understand her son more.
“I don’t know where to start, for me it’s something emotional, she moves my heart, Bu. At this moment, when I’m facing my most difficult situation, when I felt my life was entering a dark tunnel, she appeared. She was the person who was beside me, without asking, without judging, without giving an opinion. She doesn’t try to pull me out of my situation, but I know for sure that she’ll be there to help me if I fall.”
“So what you’re trying to say is that you don’t see her as a woman, but as a very good friend as family?” Bu Yuni tried to dig deeper.
“…..” Guntoro couldn’t find anything to say. He was confused, how can he make his mother understand something that he doesn’t quite understand himself. “She’s very young. Very young.” He whispered.
She touched his leg and began to massage it affectionately, “When I married your father, I was sixteen and he was twenty three. Although things were different back then…… Your grandfather is concerned about your closeness to Endang, which is understandable, you are married after all, he’s afraid that you will be tempted to eat the forbidden fruit.”
“Bu, I would never do something that would ruin her life like that.”
“I know,” She sighed, “As your mother I feel angry and offended by the way your wife treats you. You’re my only son, the son that I gave birth to and raised with all my love and devotion. I can’t accept a stranger coming into your life and hurting you that way. I didn’t see how you were when you arrived to your grandfather’s house, but Endang’s tears that she cried when she told me about your condition was more than enough to break my heart and it makes me dislike your wife.”
“She was crying for me?” Guntoro asked not expecting something like that had happened.
“Oh yes…..”His mother nodded.
Guntoro heart became warm, unconsciously he smiled.
Bu Yuni observed him quietly, “Any mother would want her son to be with a woman who truly and sincerely loves him, a woman who respects him and above all, wants to see him happy.”
Guntoro shook his head “Mbah Kakung is right to be worried about me and her getting closer, it’s not right for someone like me to feel something for her. She deserves better, she’s young, pretty, with a bright future ahead of her. I wouldn’t dare to dream….”
Bu Yuni took a deep breath, “I don’t like to see you like this……”
“The motorcycle is free, Gun, why don’t you take Endang for a ride?” Bu Yuni said in an ordering tone.
“Where should we go?” He asked.
“Around town, to another town, anywhere….Just use your imagination!”
“Do you want to go out?” Guntoro asked Endang.
She raised her shoulder, “Sure, I guess……..”
“Good! Hurry up, while it’s still early, that way you have more time to be together, I mean more time to go sight-seeing together.” She said while pulling Guntoro out of the chair and pushing him out of the door.
Endang got up also and walked out the door. She headed to Guntoro who was already mounted on the motorcycle, he handed her a helmet and then put one on himself. He kick-started the motorcycle, as soon as it started Endang saddled behind him, and he drove out of the driveway.
“You promised Bapak that you would make sure that nothing will happen between those two kids. Why did you send them out alone on the motorbike?” Pak Koes asked his wife.
“When did I promise that to Bapak? I promised him that if I saw anything that’s not right, I will tell him. I don’t see anything wrong, do you?”
“Dik Yun…..what are you trying to do?”
“Mas, I want my son to be happy, don’t you?”
“I do, but…”
“But nothing! Do you think that wife of his will make him happy?”
“No, but he is still married to her, I don’t think it is right for you to push him towards Endang, she’s still under-aged, and besides, she’s your little sister.”
“She was raised by my parents that means we know for sure that she’s a good woman!”
Pak Koes shook his head, if his wife has her mind on something, no power in this world could change it.
“Where should we go?” Guntoro asked.
“I don’t know, wherever you want to go is fine with ,” Endang replied.
Guntoro thought for a while, he looked at the fuel meter, “Let’s go to the ocean. To Papuma Beach” He said while adding more speed.
Endang fell slightly backward because of the impact of the velocity change, she quickly moved her hands to hold Guntoro around the waist to prevent herself from falling off the motorcycle. Guntoro smiled slightly, her arms were warm and soft, just like her heart.
The one-hour drive wasn’t so bad, they first had to pass the ticket counter, Guntoro paid the entry fee for both of them and also the motorcycle parking fee. Once entering the beach, he could hear Endang admire the amazing view of the cove.
“Are those fisherman boats?” She asked while pointing towards several boats tied to the bay.
“Yes they are.” He replied he continued to cruise around the vast area, looking for the best spot to enjoy the view. He made one round around the track, so they could see the whole forest area, and then he stopped the motorcycle and parked it.
Endang hopped off the motorcycle, he received the helmet from her and hooked it to the vehicle. He smiled as he watched her run to the sand and began kicking around with excitement. She waved towards him, “Come here!” She shouted.
He got off and walked calmly towards her, “Do you like it?”
She nodded happily, “It’s beautiful.” She exclaimed.
“Give me your shoes so you can feel the sand under your feet and play in the water.” He said while extending his hand.
She nodded and quickly took off her shoes and rolled up her pants. She handed her shoes over to him. She ran towards the water, screaming with joy when the water hit her feet. Guntoro got caught in her excitement just by watching her from a distance. He sat on a rock to avoid getting sand on his trousers, giving her time to enjoy herself. Seeing her trying to out run the waves made him laugh, it was quite an entertaining view.
After feeling satisfied and bored running up and down the beach edge, she walked back to where he was sitting. “Are you thirsty?” He asked.
She nodded, wiping her sweat from her forehead with her hand, leaving traces of sand on it. Guntoro reached out and cleaned the sand away from her face gently.
“Let’s go to one of the shops over there.” He pointed to a row of shops in the distance.
They entered one that Guntoro considered the cleanest. He ordered two young coconuts, “Do you want something to eat?” He asked her.
She shook her head, “Maybe later.” She said.
They drank the cold sweetened coconut water with gusto. “Let me scrape the fruit for you.” Endang said as she saw that Guntoro had drank all of his.
“Are you having fun?” He looked at her affectionately.
She nodded, “I am, this place is so wonderful, thank you for bringing me here.” She passed the coconut back to him.
“Let’s take a walk, that way.” He said while pointing towards the farther end of the beach.
Endang turned her head to the direction he was pointing, it was a hill, “Let’s go.”
As they walked towards the hill, Endang pointed out some monkeys that were refuging on the trees escaping the hot midday sun. Guntoro smiled “The crab eating macaque.” He explained, “They are called that way because they are often seen foraging the beach for food. Look, over there, a squirrel!”
“It moves so fast.” She gasped.
The road got steeper as they climbed up the hill, Guntoro took Endang’s hand to help her track up the path. They walked hand in hand until they reached the top of the hill. From there they could see the open ocean, a vast blue Indian Ocean landscape stretching out until the horizon. The waves that hit the shore line, resonated a natural rhythm, in tune with the breeze and the dance of the coconut trees on the coast.
“There are no words to describe how beautiful the view is.” Endang suspired while clearing her hair from her face.
“No there aren’t any…..” He said, his eyes only seeing her.
They went down the other side of the hill, the beach here had less sandy area and was more of a rocky shore, and the waves were a lot bigger than the other side. They walked around for a while before climbing the hill again to reach the previous side.
They walked towards the motorcycle, ready to head back to Jember. “I had a good time.” She said.
“Me too.” He agreed.
He started the motorcycle and after she had hopped on they drove away. They had reached the forest area when the engine started to cough a few times, then suddenly died.
“What happened now?” Guntoro wondered.
Endang got down so he could try to kick start it, but the engine just wouldn’t start. Guntoro tried turning the choke, but nothing happened. Guntoro shook the motorbike from side to side to quickly assess if the there was any fuel, from the sound of the tank, there seemed to be enough. He got off the vehicle and squatted beside it. He remove the fuel line, the smell of gasoline filled the air as the clear liquid dripped from it. He quickly fastened it back again and stood up.
“I’ll need to check the carburetor but I don’t have any tools here.” He said to her.
She looked worried, “What should we do?” She asked.
“Let’s just wait until somebody passes by and we can ask if they have any tools to lend us.”
Guntoro peeked at his wrist watch, it was four o’clock, in two hour it will start getting dark. He looked over at Endang with concern. “Hey, come over here. Don’t stand too far away.” He called out.
He pushed the stand with his feet and yank the motorcycle backwards to put it upright. He sat sideways on the saddle facing the street and gestured for her to do the same.
“Are you upset?” He asked seeing how quiet she was.
She shook her head, “Why would I be? I had one of the best days of my life.” She said while smiling. “I’m just worried about the people at home, it would be good if we can contact them some way.”
Guntoro nodded, at moments like this he wished that he hadn’t left his cellphone in Surabaya. “You know when we were on our way here, we passed so many cars and motorbikes, but now that we’re stuck here, there’s nobody in sight.”
Endang laughed, “There’s like a name for that, a foreign one. What is it? I’ve heard it on TV once.”
“Murphy’s Law.” Guntoro laughed, “Whatever can happen will happen.”
“Oh well, it could be worse. But at least I’m here with you, so I know that everything will be alright.” She declared.
“Do you really think so?” He asked, suppressing his stirring heart.
“I know so!” She smiled.
“Thank you for having faith in me.” He whispered, then said in a louder voice, “Here, why don’t you lean on my shoulder, you look tired.”
“Would it be okay?” She hesitated.
“Sure, why not?”
She put her head on his shoulder and he supported her back with his arm, his hand holding firmly to the motorcycle saddle so she can lean on him comfortably.
“I wonder what the monkeys are doing.” She said, “Now that the sun is not so hot, maybe they’ve climbed down from the trees to go and search for food.”
“Speaking about monkeys, it is sad how many people in the city want to keep them as pets. And even in some countries they use them as lab animals.”
“But they look so audacious, how do people catch them? I mean they move so fast and live in the trees.”
“Well when I was younger just after graduating high school, I came here to camp with a group of friends. We got to know this old man from a nearby town. He told us about how people around here catch the wild monkeys. You see they make a small hole in a pumpkin, just enough for a monkey’s empty hand to enter, and they hollow it out, and fill it with boiled peanuts. Monkeys love to eat boiled peanuts, and they are attracted to its sweet smell. So then they’ll leave the pumpkin under the tree where the monkeys live. When the little animals smell the peanuts, they would climb down and try to grab a handful. But since the animal’s hand is full of peanuts, they can’t take it out of the hole. And wild monkeys once they grab hold of food, they don’t let go. So it makes the easier for poachers to catch them on the ground, since with the pumpkin stuck to their hand, they can’t climb up a tree.” He explained.
“Ah, I see….” She nodded.
“There’s another even brutal way, some hunters find mother monkeys carrying their babies and shoot them. When the mother is dead, the baby is left orphaned, kidnapped and sold to the animal market.”
“Oh…..” She said softly. “I’m never going to watch Topeng monyet again.”
“It’s incredible how humans love to entertain themselves on the suffering of others.” He commented.
Just then in the distance a grey truck drove up on the road. Guntoro jumped down from the motorcycle and waved to it. It was a Navy truck. Three men were riding in the front seat. They stopped in front of them and two soldiers came down.
“Do you need help?” The older one asked, he was in his forties and had a thick moustache. Guntoro read his name Made Oka.
“Good afternoon sir.” He said respectfully, “We are having trouble with our motorbike, it stopped and won’t start again.”
The other soldier a man in his early twenties walked over to the motor bike and shook it, “It has fuel in it!” He said. He looked at Endang who was standing by the motorcycle and smiled at her, “Good afternoon. My name is Bambang.” He said.
Endang smiled back, “Good afternoon. I’m Endang” She replied.
“Oh, so we’re a match made in heaven, aren’t we?” The young man exclaimed
The older man shook his head and rolled his eyes up looking at his younger comrad, “Can I see an ID?” He said to Guntoro.
“Certainly.” Guntoro pulled out his wallet from his back pocket and showed him his ID.
Pak Made read it, and then looked at Guntoro and Endang strangely, taking a deep breath and shaking his head again. “mBang.” He said to the young soldier, as he handed the ID card back to Guntoro, “Help him lift his motorbike to the back of the truck. We’ll bring it to our post we have tools there, and Bambang here is a good mechanic. He can help you take a look at the motorbike.” He said while looking back at Guntoro.
Guntoro and Bambang heaved the motorcycle on the back of the truck. After they secured it Pak Made said to Guntoro, “Well since you’re travelling with your wife, I think it would be wiser if the two of you sit in the front passenger seat.”
“Heh…?” Endang was about to protest, but Guntoro quickly dragged her to the front of the truck and pushed her to the passenger seat.
Bambang shook his head in disappointment, “Tsk, why are the pretty ones always taken.” He said to Pak Made, “I want to be a sugar daddy too when I grow up.” He added with a wide smile and holding his thumbs up.
 Topeng monyet is a traditional street entertainment where monkeys are trained to perform tricks. (I personally hate it grrr….cruelty to animals)
 In the Javanese version of Mahabarata, the children of Arjuna, when a boy his name will start with Bambang, and when a girl it would start with Endang.
 Indonesian ID cards have marital status included in it.