“Why don’t you go inside…” Guntoro said to Endang.
Endang didn’t hear what he said, instead of entering she moved closer to him and touched his cheek that was slapped by Dini, “Are you alright? Are you hurt?” She asked.
“Get your hands off him!” Dini yelled at her, grabbing Endang’s wrist and pulling her hand away from Guntoro’s face.
“You’re Dik Dini, aren’t you?” Endang said to her.
Hearing the girl call her that way, Dini was surprised, “You…are you….”
“Din, this is Bu Lik Endang….” Guntoro replied, “You remember my aunt, don’t you?”
Dini calmed down slightly, but looked at Endang suspiciously.
“Bu Lik, why don’t you go inside, while I talk to…to my wife…..” Guntoro said. Those words made Endang’s heart sting.
“Okay, yes, you two should talk…..” She whispered. She entered the house walking as if she was in a trance.
Endang entered the living room as Bu Yuni was walking out, “nDang what happened, what’s the ruckus?” She asked.
“Dik Dini is here, mBak.” She answered, she didn’t know why her voice seemed to not be able to come out.
“Let me see what’s going on…” Bu Yuni went outside.
“mBak, he got slapped………” Endang said, her eyes were wet again, “He got slapped instead of me, I hope it doesn’t hurt…..”
“I’ll take a look, wait here….” Bu Yuni said to her sister. She rushed out of the house to see what was going on.
“No! Dik Yuni, I´ll go out and talk to them, you stay here!” Pak Koed said while holding his wife back. “It´s time our son acts like a man and confront his situation.”
“What are you thinking?” His wife asked.
“He should go back to Surabaya to his wife.” Pak Koes said.
Endang felt something stuck in her throat, although it felt heavy in her heart, but deep down she knew that her brother in law was right.
“Din, why are you here?” Guntoro asked her.
“I came to pick you up, you’ve been gone for too long, my father has been asking for you, there’s work to be done at the factory, and I……..I miss you.” She explained.
“Couldn’t you find another way to show me? you said you miss me, but the first thing you do when we meet is slap my face.” Guntoro said.
“I didn’t intend to slap you, I was going to…”
“Slap my aunt?”
Dini looked to the ground.
“I didn’t know that it was your aunt who was with you just now. When I saw you in the street, it looked like you were lovers. ”
They heard a cough behind them, “Good morning, Pak.” Dini greeted her father in law.
“Good morning Nak Dini, have you been here long?” He asked as pleasantry.
“I just arrived, Pak.”
Guntoro took a deep breath, “Pak, I´m going back to Surabaya.” Guntoro said. “I´m going to sort it out with Dini.”
Pak Koes nodded, “That´s the right thing to do.”
“Pak, please say goodbye to…to everybody for me…” He said, knowing well that seeing her would make it harder for him to part.
Pak Koes understanding who he was referring to nodded, “I will.”
“Let´s go, Mas.”Dini put her arm around his and led him to the car.
Guntoro looked back towards the house, then followed her in. Pak Koes stood in front of the house as he waved goodbye to his son, he stayed there until the car disappeared in the distance, then walked back in.
“Where´s Guntoro?” Bu Yuni asked.
“He left, with his wife.” Pak Koes replied.
“Why didn’t he say goodbye?”
Pak Koes gestured towards his sister in law. Bu Yuni, understood and didn´t say anything else.
Endang stood up and smiled widely, “Well, I guess I have to head back home now, bapak must be worried about me.”
Bu Yuni glanced at her husband, although her sister was smiling, she knew that Endang was holding back her tears. “I told Bapak that you had a toothache last night, and it was quite bad, that´s why you couldn’t go back home and go to school today.”
“Then, I’ll let him know that it’s cured already.” She said again.
“nDang, I’ll take you home. Come on.” Pak Koes said.
“No, it’s okay. I’ll take a public transport.”
“Let your brother drive you home, nDang. Don’t be stubborn!” Her sister scold her.
“Okay, thank you for everything.” She kissed her sister on the cheek.
Endang didn’t say a word during the trip back to her house, as soon as she arrived, she excused herself claiming that her tooth still hurt and that she wanted to take a nap, then entered her bedroom. As she closed the door behind her, she laid on her bed. Just like any other visiting relatives, it was time for him to leave, there’s nothing to it. A man should be with his wife, and going back to Surabaya was the correct thing for him to do, it was irresponsible of her to hope otherwise. Looking at the ceiling she said to herself, “Goodbye……….my first love.”
Guntoro remained in silent, he didn’t feel like saying anything to his wife. He looked outside the window, even though the view was changing in front of him, all he could see was her teary face.
“Mas Gun, do you want to stop for a meal?” Dini asked breaking the ice.
“No” He replied.
“Mas, I apologize for making you angry at me. Could you forgive me? I’ve changed since you left the house.” She said in a smooth seductive voice.
Guntoro looked at her as if she had two noses, inadvertently touching his cheek that she slapped. “You’ve change have you?” He asked coldly.
“Mas, let’s try to improve our relationship, let’s start from the beginning, okay?”
“Dini, I’m going to divorce you.” He said out of the blue.
“What?” She looked at him with disbelief.
“I said that I’ll divorce you, as soon as we get to Surabaya, we’ll go through the legal proceedings.”
“I don’t accept! Don’t think you’re going to get your way so easily! I’ll do everything I can to make you stay with me as my husband.” She hissed.
“Why would you want that? Why would you want to be with somebody who doesn’t love you anymore?”
“You don’t love me anymore?” She stared at him, “Then who is it, who is it that you love? Who’s the other woman?”
“Why does it have to be another woman?” He denied. “I just don’t want to continue living a tormented life anymore.”
Dini began to cry, “Mas Gun, I’ll improve myself, I’ll really change to be the woman that will make you happy. But don’t leave me. You don’t know how hard these three months have been for me without you by myside. You know how much I love you. You know I can’t live without you. If you leave me, I’d rather die! If you dare leave me, I’ll kill myself! I swear I’ll do it!”
“Dini!” Guntoro held his forehead and massaged it, hoping to get rid of the headache that was attacking him mercilessly. “I’m going to close my eyes and try to sleep. Please don’t wake me up until we get to the house.” He said while closing his eyes.
Guntoro held his hand to his chest, for some strange reason, he could feel a sharp pain there, as if he had lost something very important. He realized that he actually did. With his eyes shut, all he could see were the happier moments he lived in Jember these past three months.
Guntoro had the maids move his clothes and belongings to the guest room. He couldn’t see himself sharing a room with his wife anymore. No matter how much she cried and pleaded for him to be with her, he had made up his mind. He developed a new habit, since Dini had insisted for him to go back to her father’s factory and resume his responsibility there, every day after he arrived from work, he would lock himself in the room and begin to write. He channeled all his anger and frustration towards developing his creativity. As soon as he finished rereading and editing it, he printed the manuscript and sent it to his publisher. Getting it printed wasn’t his first priority, but sharing his anger to the world was.
Guntoro’s head was pounding vigorously, he took some medicine then laid in his bed, his mind drifted to her, what is she doing? How is she feeling? Does she think about him? All these questions passed his mind. How long has it been since he last saw her? Too long. He quickly shook the thought away. This is wrong, very wrong.
There was a soft knock at the door, he tried to ignore it, closing his eyes and covering it with his arm. It didn’t stop. He drowsily got up and dragged himself to the door, opening it just a few centimeters. Dini was in front of his door, she was wearing the sexy pajamas that she had bought to wear on his birthday last year. She pushed the door and slowly walked into the bedroom, her eyes fixed on his.
Guntoro looked at her, she is truly a beautiful woman, her luscious lips were red and wet, her hair was flowing down her back, and like always, she smelt of floral perfume. Should he give her another chance? Should he pass this night with his wife to take the first step in patching up their differences? She walked closer to him, tiptoeing she put her arms around his neck and kissed the lobe of his ears. She removed her hand and began unbuttoning his shirt, then she slowly moved her lips to his and began kissing him passionately. Guntoro closed his eyes and kissed her back.
“I wonder how her lips taste like.” Guntoro thought, he jerked his eyes opened and pushed Dini sideways.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry…..” He said panicking, “I didn’t mean to have such indecent thoughts about you….”
“What?” She looked at him confused. “That’s kind of the point of it all.”
Guntoro turned around, “Dini…..this isn’t a good idea”
“What? Not a good…………who?” Dini looked at him furiously, “Were you imagining someone else? We were about to spend the night together and you were thinking about somebody else?”
“Go and cover yourself, if the maids see you, it would be very embarrassing!” He scolded.
“Embarrassing?” She repeated. She oened her eyes widely staring at him “Who is it? Who were you fantasizing about?”
“Fantasizing? I would never! I’m not that kind of person! I’m not a man who will ever disrespect a young maiden like that.” He denied, his heart beating fast and face became red.
“A young maiden?” Dini’s voice was becoming higher and higher. “What maiden? Who is she? Where did you meet her? She’s the reason why you’ve been indifferent to me lately, isn’t she?”
“Dini, I don’t want to fight! I have a headache, I want to get some sleep. Tomorrow I have to be at the factory very early.” He said.
Dini stood in silence for a moment, “So my worries were right all along, I’ve always feared that you would try to find another woman, a virgin, to re-compensate that you weren’t the first man for me.”
Guntoro looked at her and sighed, “Dini, you know that I never held that against you! I’m not a chauvinistic man. When we got married, I loved you and accepted you just as you were. You were everything for me, all I cared for was our future together and not your past.”
“Then why are we growing apart now? Why have you changed?”
“And you haven’t? The woman I married didn’t see me as a useless womanizing man who could never make it without the help of her father.”
“You’re an expert at finding excuses! So you’re going to blame it all on me, are you? If you don’t smile to women left and right, I wouldn’t be like this.” She shouted.
“Keep your voice down! We don’t want the help to hear us fighting again.”
“If I see you as a useless man, it’s because you are! You just don’t admit it. Or are you going to deny that you could afford to buy all this because you work for my father? If it wasn’t for me, you’d be nothing! Just a small time factory worker. But look at you now, you’re a Director in a factory, you drive a nice car, have a big house. Who is this all thanks to? To me!”
“Yes, it’s all thanks to you. Thank you for constantly reminding me and making sure that everybody knows about it!” He said, rushing her to the door and closing it behind her, “Good night!”
Endang walked through the rice field, she kept count of the days he had left without even saying goodbye to her, a hundred and fifteen days. The rice field is now home to new plants as the harvest season had passed already. She walked to the hut and sat there, remembering how they used to spend time together talking and admiring the surrounding nature.
“nDang, let’s go! Volleyball practice is about to start soon!” Gatot shouted and waved at her in the distance.
She quickly dried her eyes and waved back “I’m coming!”
“This weekend is my parents’ wedding anniversary, I’m going back to Jember to celebrate with them.” Guntoro said as he put his briefcase down on the table.
Dini took her eyes off the magazine she was reading and looked at him sharply, “Then I’m going with you, if I let you go alone, you’ll be too happy with your young maiden and won’t come back.” She said.
“Suite yourself!” Guntoro replied indifferently.
“We’re going to stay in the usual hotel.”
“Whatever! Just make sure you reserve a separate room for me.”
He went inside his room to pack his clothes, he changed out of his work clothes and into something casual. He picked up his car keys and walked out, Dini was already waiting for him in the living room with her suitcase packed.
“I’m taking my own car, since you don’t like it, you are free to take the other car.” He said to her.
“I’ll ride that second hand junk with you.” She said.
“It may be a second hand junk, but it’s all I can afford with my book’s royalty.” He replied.
They walked to his five year old Toyota Corona, he didn’t bother to open the door for her like he did when they were dating, Dini noticed. She sat quietly in the passenger seat during the whole trip, as he didn’t try to speak to her either.
They arrived in front of his parent’s house. The house is exactly the same as when he was last here a few months ago. The motorcycle is parked in the front yard, with the two helmets hanging there. He looked at it sadly.
Guntoro opened the gate and entered followed by his wife. He knocked on the door. A few minutes later his mother opened the door. “Guntoro…..” She greeted him happily and kissed both his cheeks.
“Nak Dini, thank you for coming too.” She smiled kindly to her daughter in law.
“How are you, Ibu?” Dini asked. “Congratulations on your wedding anniversary.”
“Thank you….Come in, come in. How was the trip from Surabaya?”
“It was good, Bu.” Guntoro said, “Luckily my second hand junk performed well and got us here quick.” He said while glancing at Dini.
Bu Yuni pretended not to hear him, “Your father went to our mango plantation and hasn’t returned yet. My sister asked him to bring some mangoes when we go to their house this afternoon.”
Hearing Endang been mentioned, Guntoro’s heart started to beat faster, “Oh? You had plans to visit them?”
“Yes, Bapak has been having constipation lately, it’s because of his old age, very normal. And Endang thought that the fiber from the mangoes will help him feel a little better.”
“Ah, she’s very thoughtful as always.” Guntoro whispered.
“She is, she’s a very kind and thoughtful young woman.” Bu Yuni smiled. “I’m sure her boyfriend must be the happiest young man in this country.”
“Boyfriend………?” Guntoro’s voice sounded shaken.
“Well, I don’t know if they’re really boyfriend and girlfriend, but he comes to visit her every Saturday night, and also comes to pick her up for volleyball practice every afternoon, and takes her home afterwards. They look very good together, he’s quite a good looking young man. I hope they develop something serious in the future, I mean even though we’re at this day and age, but it’s still okay for a girl to get married as soon as she finishes high school. University is expensive, I don’t think Bapak can afford to pay for her tuition on his teacher’s pension. ” Bu Yuni took a deep breath, then turned her attention to Dini, “But enough about my sister, how are the two of you doing?”
“We are doing well, Bu” She replied.
“Excuse me for a minute, I’m going to the front yard.” Guntoro said. It was beginning to be hard for him to breath, and there was a sharp pain in his chest. He needed to get some fresh air to help him calm down.
So she has a boyfriend already. Apparently he’s feelings for her were just one sided. Well what could he expect? He was way older and married, while she was a teenager. It’s not strange that she would only see him as family. He walked to the motorcycle and punched the saddle.
“Eh Gun, when did you arrive?” Pak Koes walked in the gate holding a five gallon bucket in his hand. The bucket was full of ripe mangoes.
“Pak, just a few minutes ago.” Guntoro replied.
“How are things with you and your wife?” He asked again.
Guntoro shook his head, “Not so good.”
Pak Koes sighed and patted him on the shoulder. “I hope you find a solution soon.” He said to his son.
Guntoro nodded. He followed his father into the house.
“Nak Dini, how are you?” Pak Koes said seeing his daughter in law.
“Bapak, I’m fine thank you. That is a lot of mangoes.” She said while looking into the bucket.
“I picked some ripe ones and some half ripe. Endang said she will make some mango preserves for us.” He told them.
“We should head out now.” Bu Yuni said to her husband.
“I’ll take you in my car.” Guntoro said.
“Let’s go then, I’m sure Bapak, Ibu and Endang will be happy to see you. And together with your wife too.” She smiled at them.
Guntoro parked the car in the front yard of his grandparent’s house, he felt the palms of his hand sweating heavily and his throat was dry. He always sweats like this when nervous, and the thought of seeing her again made him nervous.
They got off the car and entered the house. Pak Bakrie greeted them happily, not expecting his grandson and wife to visit him. For him it was a very pleasant surprise. Bu Yuni went to the kitchen to make refreshments for them. Guntoro glanced left and right trying to get a glimpse of Endang, but she was nowhere to be seen.
They exchanged pleasantries, talking about light subjects. Bu Yuni came in with a tray in her hand filled with tea and mangoes already peeled and diced for her father to enjoy. As she finished putting the cups on the table, her eyes caught sight of something outside.
“Isn’t that Endang and Gatot?” She wondered, “What’s wrong with her? Why is she bleeding from her knee?” She murmured worriedly.
Guntoro turned around and looked outside. Gatot was helping Endang get off the bicycle. Her knee was bleeding and she was grinning in pain. Instinctively he stood up and rushed outside, “What happened?” He asked.
“She fell during volleyball practice, Mas.” Gatot replied.
Endang didn’t expect to see him standing in front of her. Her head felt light because of the sudden clash of emotions in her heart, she almost fell backward. Guntoro quickly moved forward, he scooped her up in his arms and carried her towards the house.