December Sunshine Part 17

Gatotkaca Gandrung dance depicting the courting of Pergiwa by Gatokaca

“Why are you here?” She asked.
“It’s my parents’ anniversary, I thought I would give them a surprise visit.” He replied.
“Oh….” She looked down calming her heart that was about to explode.
Guntoro walked in the door and placed her gently on a chair.
“Endang what happened?” Her mother asked.
“I had an accident during volleyball practice, Bu.” She replied, “It’s nothing serious, nothing to be worried about.”
“Where is the medicine box?” Guntoro asked.
“It’s in Endang’s room, let me get it.” Bu Yuni quickly ran inside.

“It’s just a flesh wound, it’s not a big deal,” Dini said while looking at Endang from her seat.
Endang looked at her then at Guntoro, “You’re right, this wound isn’t what hurts.” She whispered.
Bu Yuni came back holding the small box in her hand. She gave the box to Guntoro, gesturing him to tend to the wound. Guntoro kneeled in front of Endang, he carefully cleaned it and applied the medicine. “You know as her boyfriend you should have taken better care of her.” He looked sharply at Gatot as soon as he finished putting on the bandage.
“Eh? Boyfriend?” The young boy’s eyes beamed. “Are you saying that you approve for us to date?”
“Gun, don’t give him any ideas.” His grandfather said, “This boy already doesn’t have any shame, showing up here every day to court your aunt. Don’t give him any encouragement.”
“So the two of them aren’t ….” He glanced at his mother.
“Tot, are you sure it’s okay for you to leave your bicycle outside, why don’t you park it on the terrace.” Bu Yuni pretended to be busy with other things.
“Mas Koes, I see that you brought some mangoes,” Endang said looking at the plate in front of her father.
“The guys from our volleyball team said that they will be coming here later to see how you’re doing, we could go the hut and make mango salad.” Gatot beamed cheerfully.
“You’re not going to bring my daughter to any hut, young man!” Pak Bakrie warned him off. Making Gatot shrink in distress.
“Bapak, Nak Gatot has nothing but good intentions to Endang, that’s why he is courting her up front in front of you.” Pak Koes intervened.
“Pak, this is not the first time I had a gathering with my friends in the rice field.” Endang pouted.
“But before I didn’t know that there was a young man in the group who was interested in you,” Pak Bakrie argued.
“How about this, since Gun and Dini are here, why don’t they go with them,” Bu Yuni suggested.
“But the sun is very hot…” Dini complained.
“You can stay here then, I’ll go with them.” Guntoro smiled at Gatot, “Do you have your guitar?”
“No, but I live nearby, and I can go quickly and get it. And I’m going to buy the other ingredients.” He replied. Ready to accommodate Guntoro as his only ally in succeeding to court Endang.
When Gatot left, Endang got up and went into the kitchen, the last thing she wanted was to see Guntoro and Dini together in front of her, even though she knew very well that was the natural order of things.
She packed the green mangoes quickly in a plastic bag, grabbed a knife and limped out to the rice field, she sat in the hut alone. These past few months she had been sensible and reasonable, making herself understand that he wasn’t for her and that it was wrong of her to keep her feelings for him. This hut had become her regular hideout when she wanted to count the days and try to forget him. She always succeeded in convincing herself that she had to focus her energy in studying and doing positive activities. She hardly cried, although the urge never faltered, but usually it was a tear drop or two down her face then she could compose herself. But today for some strange reason, her tears didn’t want to stop, they just kept flowing and flowing.
“Why do we have to go to the field with a bunch of country bumpkins?” Dini protested grabbing Guntoro as he stood in the front yard alone wondering where Endang disappeared to.
“Nobody said you have to go, you can head back to the hotel,” Guntoro said.
“Is she one of your aunt’s friends?” Dini interrogated.
“What in the world are you talking about?”
“The young girl you’re always thinking about. The one who stole you away from me.”
“Dini, enough with the paranoia!” Guntoro was beginning to feel impatient, “Even though we’re still legally husband and wife, but there’s nothing between us anymore, at least on my part. If it was up to me, we would have divorced as soon as I got back from Jember!”
“She must be one of the girls in the group.” Dini murmured to herself. “When I find her, I’ll teach her a lesson, she’ll never forget.”
“Mas and Mbak, why are you still here? Everybody is already at the hut.” Gatot said from his bicycle, “I’ll head over there first.”
Guntoro walked towards the back of the house, leaving his wife to follow behind him. He knew very well where the hut was, remembering that he spent many happy afternoons there.”
From the distance, he could see a group of people was already sitting in the hut, and a very familiar figure was among them, a figure that had filled his mind and dreams these past months.
He hurried towards them. “Good afternoon.” He greeted.
“Mas….Mas Guntoro, we didn’t know that you came here to visit.” They greeted him familiarly.
“How are you guys? It’s been some time since I’ve seen you.” He smiled.
“Mas, who is that fairy from heaven behind you?” A girl shouted out, seeing Dini who was standing behind him.
“That is Mas Guntoro’s wife, Mbak Dini.” Gatot presented.
“Wah, Mas, who would have guessed that you are a very lucky man.” She looked at Dini with admiration, followed by the loud chatter of agreement from her friends.
“Mas Gun.” Gatot called out, “Your wife might be a beautiful fairy from heaven and all, but for me, there’s nobody more beautiful than my Endang Pergiwa here.” He said while pulling on Endang’s hand.
Guntoro didn’t like the way Endang smiled and blushed at the boy’s dimwitted and cheesy pick up phrase, “You need to grow some muscles and a mustache first before claiming to be Gatotkaca.[1]” He said.
The group booed and hooted at him, “Tot, aren’t you tired of chasing around a girl who’s never interested in you?” A girl said out loud.
“True love is not about possessing,” Gatot said.
“Okay, okay stop it with this stupid discussion about love.” Endang interrupted harshly. “We should dig into the salad before the air makes it insipid.”
“Bu Lik, do you know if there’s any of your friends who is close to mas Gun?” Dini said after she succeeded in sitting close to Endang.
“Well, there’s Gatot and Adi, they are close to him, they used to play volleyball together when Dik Gun stayed here for a few months,” Endang said while pointing at the two boys.
Dini looked at her in annoyance, “I mean girls, are there any girls, who were close to him….”
“Oh….girls….no, none.”
“Are you sure?” She asked again.
“Positive, Dik Gun was always with me when he stayed here, I don’t think that he had time to be close to any girls.” Endang answered positively.
Dini looked at her cuttingly, “He was with you all the time?” She asked.
“Yeah. My father told me to accompany him.”
Dini doubted for a while, there was a slight doubt and suspicion in her mind. Then she continued. “I hope you’re not trying to cover up for him. You should tell me honestly if he is close to anybody. For the sake of ….of the sake of this child, I’m carrying in my stomach.”
Endang’s heart dropped to the ground, “You are expecting child?” She asked.
“It’s only natural, isn’t it? Married couples will have children sooner or later.” Dini smiled.
“How….how far are you in the pregnancy?”
“Two months.”
“Congratulations, then.” Her voice quivered, “I guess I’m going to be called Mbah soon. I’ll have a grandson or granddaughter.”
“For the sake of this baby, you would help me by telling me if Mas Gun is really fooling around with one of your friends or not, wouldn’t you?” Dini’s eyes shined cunningly.
“Of course,” Endang whispered. “Excuse me, I’m going to throw these mango peels away.”
She climbed down from the hut and ran to the edge of the rice field. The pain in her knee seemed to have melted away, concealed by the pain in her heart. She tossed the peel onto a pile of dried leaves that somebody had swept into a little mound in the corner of the small grass opening. She dropped to the ground and began to cry. She was angry at herself to feel sad and upset about this very good news. Isn’t this a cause for the whole family to rejoice? She’s sure that her sister had been waiting for a grandchild for so long. Her parents will also be extremely happy knowing that they will meet their great grandchild before they die. She hated herself for being selfish, for only thinking about herself and her own feelings.
Unexpectedly there was a rustling sound behind her, she tried to hide her tears, but they just wouldn’t stop falling. She froze when she felt that somebody kneel behind her and hug her from behind. “Why are you crying?” Guntoro whispered in her ear.
She shook her head. Not knowing what to say or what to do. She knew that she should push him away, but his embrace was warm and comfortable. She turned around halfway and buried her face in his shoulder.
Guntoro caressed her hair gently, “What happened?” He asked again.
“I feel embarrassed to talk about it, can you just let me cry for a while?” She asked without lifting her face.
“Of course.” He whispered.
“He actually loves me like a little sister,” she told herself. “He’s kind and warm and cares for me. I’m such an ungrateful and shameless person to betray him and the rest of my family like this.” Endang realized that she owed her life to his family. His grandparents had raised her like their own child, his parents had always cared for her since she could remember, and he had always been one of her best friends. And now, at the happiest moment of his life, she’s feeling angry and jealous, instead of being happy and celebrating with him.
She raised her head and forced a smile, “Thank you.” She said softly.
“Do you want to tell me what’s wrong, so I can …”
“Nothing’s wrong.”
“I saw you speak with Dini then headed off this way, that’s why I followed you here. Did she say anything to offend you?”
“No, no she didn’t.” She paused took a deep breath and smiled, “Dik Gun, Dik Dini told me the good news. I’m very happy for you. I’m sure that Mbak Yuni and Mas Koes will be very excited to hear about it. Also Bapak and Ibu. They have been worried about this, but now they don’t have to worry anymore.”
“What are you talking about?”
Endang sprang up from the ground, “You can count on me to help you with anything. Since everybody has almost left, I’m going back to the house to make some mango preserves and sweets. I think that would be good for Dik Dini. Yes, for someone in her condition, there’s nothing better than mangoes. When are you leaving?”
“Tomorrow afternoon.” He answered.
“Then there’s more than enough time, okay, I’ll get to work, I’ll see you later.”
Guntoro didn’t understand what she was rambling about. Before he knew it, she had already left and ran away towards the house.
“What the……” He said to himself.
For the rest of his stay Guntoro never caught sight of her again.

“Hello….” Guntoro said picking up his cellphone, “Oh Ibu…”
“Gun, why didn’t you tell us about it, why did I have to hear about it from Endang?” His mother scolded him.
“About what Bu?” Guntoro didn’t understand what his mother was talking about.
“About the baby, why didn’t you tell me that Dini is expecting?”
“What?” Guntoro gasped. “How did she get that idea?”
“Oh, she heard it from Dini herself. Dini told her about this news when you were in the rice field. Your wife gave her the good news that she was two months pregnant.”
“Bu, there’s no way Dini could be two months pregnant, we haven’t been together ever since I left the house.” Guntroro thought for a while, “Bu, do you think that’s why she made five big jars of mango preserves and other mango sweets for Dini?”
“Yes, it was. She was very upset that you supported Dini when she refused to take them. And it was also cruel what Dini did, telling her that country people’s food are disgusting and could make her sick. You should have said something, you should have scolded her for offending Endang, don’t you know how much time and energy she dedicated to make those treats? Now the girl avoids any conversation that mentions your name, and if she does speak about you, she acts as if you were some kind of plague. She’s trying to make herself hate you, and sooner or later she’s going to succeed.”
“It was my fault, Bu. I was acting immature, I was angry at her for disappearing on me, while all I wanted was to see her and be near her. And also I just wanted to avoid an argument with Dini, Bu. You know how she is.” Guntoro swallowed his saliva, “Bu, can you tell her that it isn’t true, that Dini can’t be pregnant with my baby?”
“I’ll tell try. I have to find the right opportunity. But you are aware that I can only say that Dini is not pregnant, about the reason why she isn’t pregnant that’s a taboo subject to talk about with a young maiden like her. Although I don’t think that it will make much difference. Gun, you know I love you, you’re my only son. And I’ve made it clear that I support your feelings for Endang. But from the bottom of my heart I have to tell you, as long as you’re still married, forget about her. You’re only going to hurt the poor girl.”
“It’s for the best, Gun.”

Endang jumped up and hit the ball with her right hand. A loud whistle blew and a man’s voice called out, “Game Over!”
She jumped up and down happily, her friends gathered around her and gave her a big hug. “We should celebrate!” Siti said.
“Let’s see whose father can spare a few roosters for us to sacrifice,” Wati commented.
“Hey, Adi’s father! Let’s try to convince him to talk to his father.”
The group of girls walked to Adi and persuaded him with the sweetest voice they could make. “Fine, let’s see.” He said, “If he says no, then we’ll just kidnap one.”
They cheered and started walking behind him.
They gathered in front of a bonfire, the boys were roasting two whole birds while the girls were busy chatting with each other.
“Hey, the meat is ready!” Gatot shouted.
They cheered and attacked. “This thing is as hard as rubber!” Endang said while fiercely biting into the drumstick that she was holding in her hand.
“Careful not to break a tooth!” Someone shouted out.
“This is what you get for talking me into stealing two of my father’s rooster!” Adi said.
“Ndang, when’s Mas Gun coming back?” Gatot asked.
Endang shrugged her shoulder “I don’t know, and I don’t care.”
“What’s that about?” Siti asked
“He and his wife are arrogant jerks,” Endang said while looking to the distance.
“Well, his wife was arrogant, but Mas Gun never seemed to be.”
“They’re both the same, birds of a feather flock together!” Endang said, “And those two are just that, they’re birds of a feather, a pair of peacocks.”

[1] Referring to a spinoff in the Javanese version of Mahabarata. The love story of Gatotkaca king of Pringgandani with the daughter of Arjuna, Endang Pergiwa.


8 thoughts on “December Sunshine Part 17

  1. Honestly i barely know story of gatotkaca n endang pergiwa. Make me curious to find the story.
    I hope many people could read your writing, coz u do share many interisting indonesian culture n exciting tourism spot like jogya n malang. N that can be useful reference for travelholic. Tq for update. God bless

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