Guntoro put his cell phone down, he leaned against his chair closing his eyes. Blaming himself for his indecisiveness. His cellphone rang again. “Hello,” He answered.
“Is this Guntoro?” A man’s voice was on the other side.
“Hey Wahyu, to what do I owe this miracle?” Guntoro answered.
“I was looking for your phone number, and I just found it a few days ago in my wallet. And because I decided to buy myself a cellphone, that’s why I’m testing it by calling you.”
“So, is this your number?”
“Yes, it is,” Wahyu replied. “Gun, I’ve been stationed here in Surabaya for two months now you know.”
“Oh really? Are you going to be stationed here permanently?”
“No, it’s a temporary, I’m going to be stationed in Malang!”
“You’re joking, right? Malang is in the middle of four mountains, how could there be a navy base there?”
“I’m serious, all cadets enter through the base in Malang, it’s the main entry hub for all naval soldiers.”
“Huh…I didn’t know that.”
“Gun, stop wasting my minutes on stupid questions, the reason why I called you is I wanted to know if we could meet up for some drinks. And read between the lines here, I’m asking you to treat me to a drink.”
“Of course, where should I pick you up?”
Both men entered into the bar, some girls came up to them offering to accompany them to drink. Guntoro shook his head and shooed them away, he ordered two bottles of beer for them and chose a place to sit.
“I can’t believe you made those girls go away,” Wahyu said.
“There’s nothing enjoyable about being in the company of women with x-ray vision.” He answered.
“What x-ray vision?”
“Their eyes can burn a hole through your pocket.”
Wahyu laughed. “I forgot, your taste now tends to go for the innocent country maiden type.”
Guntoro laughed, “It’s not a matter of taste or not. It’s about finding the right person, in the right place, and at the right moment.”
“So how’s the wife?” Wahyu asked while taking a gulp at his glass.
Guntoro shook his head. “The same old story.”
“Huh. I think the solution is up to you, you’re letting it drag on and on, you should man up and end it!”
“You’re right, but Dini said that if I dared to leave her, she’d kill herself.”
“Gun, dogs who bark don’t usually bite.”
“But I don’t know if I can take that risk. How can I live with myself if she does go through with her threat?”
“I understand where you’re coming from.”
“You know what happened this weekend? Dini told Endang that she was pregnant.”
“Man, aren’t you a crocodile? You’re in bad relationship, but you’re still eating from the same pond.”
“Are you crazy? I didn’t eat anything. Well, I almost did. But in the end I didn’t go through with it.”
“I started thinking of someone else. But not in the sense that you’re thinking about.” He quickly added seeing his friend’s face.
“How would you know what I’m thinking about?”
“I know that grin.”
“But I’m sure you didn’t call me out to talk about my love life.” Guntoro glanced at him
“You’re right, I’m in a situation where I need a well-off friend.”
“My older sister, her husband just died last month. A heart attack.”
“My condolence.” Guntoro’s voice lowered.
“Her kids are still in high school and one in university. Her late husband was a lecturer in the state University in Malang, he was a big timer. Had a Ph.D. from overseas, held a dean position, they were well off.”
“So what’s the issue?
“Well, a few months before he died, he took out a loan to invest in a private university. Apparently a lot of the academic professional there do that. But now, since he died, my sister is left with the debt which obviously she can’t pay.”
“And what about his colleagues or the university he invested in? Can’t they take over his debts?”
“Well, business wise they told us that they are growing and getting good revenue, but they can’t afford to take over her debts, they’ve already used the money to expand, what they can do is give her the dividends every semester, which actually is a very good amount, but doesn’t help her cover the monthly overdue.”
“So you need me to take over the debts for your sister?”
“Yeah, consider it as taking over an investment, all my sister needs is to stop getting calls from debt collectors.”
“How much is the debt?”
Wahyu wrote it on the table with the condensation water from his beer glass.
Guntoro whistled lowly, “That’s quite a large amount of money.” He said.
Guntoro took a deep breath, “I have some savings, but it doesn’t amount to that much, I suppose I can take a personal loan for the balance. The good thing is, if I suddenly died, Dini would be my widow and end up having to pay off my debts, so maybe that’s not such a bad thing.”
“What University is it?”
“It’s UUUU University.”
“Hey, that’s one of the biggest private Universities in the province.”
“Aren’t you glad to have me as a friend?”
“Where have you been? Why did you come home this late?” Dini was waiting for him in the living room. “You smell of alcohol.”
“I went out to have some drinks with my friend.”
“Ah, so you went to those places where you get sexy young girls to serve you drinks?”
“Yes I did,” Guntoro answered calmly.
“Mas Gun, you’re not even trying to deny it? How could you say that to my face?” She wailed.
“Dini, let me ask you something.” Guntoro paused, “Why did you tell my aunt that you were pregnant with my baby?”
“I just….I just wanted her to make sure that whoever her friend was who got involved with you, to know that you’re still my husband.”
“I don’t appreciate you using her like that. She has nothing to do with our relationship, don’t ever bother her again!”
“Mas Gun, why did you follow her to the other end of the field after I finished talking to her?” Dini fished. “And also, when I picked you up from Jember, I saw the two of you on the motorcycle, you weren’t acting like normal relatives.”
“Dini, I don’t feel like I need to answer anything to you. I can’t believe you still don’t understand till now that I’m here not because I want to be, but because you’re forcing me to stay.” Guntoro walked away heading towards his room.
“Mas Gun! I’m going to find out! If you won’t tell me, then I’ll make her tell me!”
Guntoro turned around and took several strides towards Dini and grabbed her by the arm, “Don’t you even think of going near her.”
“Let go! Let go you’re hurting me.” She tried to pry his finger off.
“She’s innocent in this, don’t try to drag her into the middle of our relationship.”
“So it is her. How can she be innocent, a decadent young woman who gets involved with her married nephew. How did she succeed in seducing you? Did she offer herself to you? In exchange for what? Clothes? Jewels? Trips? For what?”
Guntoro lifted his hand and was ready to swing it towards her face, but he held himself back.
“Dini, you can say all you want about me, you can humiliate me, degrade me and insult me. Do whatever makes you happy, but leave her out of this. Don’t mess with her. Or I won’t ever forgive you!” He stepped backward.
“Mas Gun! You don’t know what I’m capable of doing! I’ll never forgive you and her! I’ll never forgive the two of you!” Dini threatened.
“Pak Guntoro, Pak Winarto wants to see you in his office!” His father in law’s secretary said through the phone.
“I’ll be there in a few minutes.” He said finishing the data analysis in his computer. He stood up and walked to the big office at the end of the hall. He knocked on the door and entered. He was not surprised to see his wife sitting there.
“Guntoro, sitdown, I’ll be with you in a minute.” The big man sitting behind the desk said.
Guntoro sat down in one of the chairs in front of the desk. He waited, already able to guess what his father in law wanted to talk to him about.
“How are your parents?” Pak Winarto asked.
“They are fine, thank you for asking.” He replied.
“I have a meeting in half an hour, so I’ll just get to the point.” He said, “I’m concerned about your relationship with Dini. She came to tell me that you’re not putting enough effort to resolve the problems between the two of you. I hope you understand, that she’s my only daughter, and all I want is to see her happy. You should try to understand her and be more……. should I say…… compliant towards her. Do you understand?”
“I….I do….” Guntoro said softly.
“My daughter loves you very much, you know if it wasn’t for her who insisted that I pay more attention to your work, I would have never realized that you were such a talented person, and could one day even become the General Manager for this company.”
“…..”Guntoro remained indifferent.
“Try to complacent her more. And listen, as a man, I understand that sometimes we feel the need to find a little excitement outside of the house, younger girls are quite a fascinating experience with their fresh and tight young bodies……….”
“Papa…..!” Dini shrieked.
“I’m sorry, I don’t think I like what you’re getting at…” Guntoro feeling offended by his words.
Pak Winarto looked at his daughter, “Dini told me that you confessed to her that you’re involved with a younger woman. As her father, of course I’m very upset, I feel that you should show more respect towards my daughter and not put her at the same level as some immoral teenager who is willing to let an older man have his way with her for money.”
Guntoro stood up briskly and turned to Dini, “I’ve always allowed you to look down at me and treat me as a parasite for the sake of our marriage. I gave all of me and more to make this matrimony work, but enough is enough! I’m not going to take this anymore. Didn’t I tell you not to involve her in this, I won’t sit here and listen to you and your father humiliate her in front of me. I resign from this job! Dini, this is the end for us!” He walked to the door.
“Mas Gun!” Dini called hugging him from behind to prevent him from leaving.
“Dini, don’t lower yourself and chase after that …that…ungrateful peasant.”
Guntoro turned around, “You’re right, I’ve allowed myself become a beggar, now it’s time I earn back my dignity! Oh and Dini, for your information, Endang is not some immoral teenager like you said she is, she’s the woman who is my one true love!”
“I won’t let you go, you can’t leave me!” Dini tried to block the door with her body. “You’re going to her aren’t you? You’re going to run into her arms and be with her.”
“Are you crazy? I’m not a pervert like your father! I’m not a man who will sexually prey on teenage girls.”
Guntoro drove back to the house and headed straight to his room, he threw his clothes in his suitcase, packed his laptop and other personal belongings then loaded it all in his car. He drove around town looking for a room for rent, one that would fit his current budget. He wondered around for three hours, before he found one with all the amenities he needed. The landlords were an elderly couple who were very kind, and not nosey, just as he needed. And what he liked most was there were only two other rooms in the building, meaning that it wasn’t a crowded place.
As soon as he finished bringing his belongings inside the room, he called his parents to let him know his current condition.
“Leaving your house doesn’t mean that your problem is resolved, if you’ve decided to divorce your wife, then make sure you go through all the necessary legal processes.” His father advised him.
“I understand, Pak.” He replied.
“Gun, you have to remember, our doors are always opened for you.”
“Thank you, Pak.”
He didn’t want to go back to Jember for several different reasons. One of which was Endang, he was afraid that if he saw he again he wouldn’t be able to control his emotions. He had promised himself to let her live her youth and being by her side, he might unwillingly impede that.
The other person he remembered to call was Wahyu, “Yu, I have a new bachelor pad now.” He said.
“Did you run away from home again?” Wahyu mocked.
“I didn’t run this time, I drove, and I took out all my things.” He replied, “I need your help, I need a witness for my divorce process.”
“Sure, count on me.”
The next three months Guntoro learnt two valuable lessons: When you think you’ve seen the worst of your partner during cohabitation, try getting a divorce, and getting divorced is a process more trying and painstaking than getting married. He swore to himself if he ever got married again it would only be to her, and he would make it last forever. No matter how long he had to wait for her. If he couldn’t have her, then he would just stay alone, to avoid all this crap from happening again.
“Like I’m going to believe that.” Wahyu laughed. “And what about if she falls for someone else, don’t tell me you’re going to save up all your seeds until the day you die. Or do you plan to leave your future kids on the bathroom ceiling?”
Guntoro threw a punch at his best friend’s arm, “No wonder my soap disappears so fast whenever you’re around.”
As always, Wahyu invaded his room while he was busy typing up his new manuscript. He stroked it lucky with his last one, as the publisher only required a little edition and it was ready to be published. The public’s reception was also good, his book had the potential to hit number one best seller. Of course, because of his current marital process, he decided to use a pen name, just in case Dini or her father had any shady intensions towards him.
“I envy you, with all your talent, you get to work from your room and not having to clock in your time every day.”
“I don’t see you clock in every day either,” Guntoro replied with a joke. “But I really need to find another job. Although I have an income, but being cooped up in here with only seeing the likes of you once in a while, drives me crazy.”
“Maybe you should contact the University, maybe they would have a position for you.”
“How should I do it, make a recommendation letter for myself? Remember that the investment was made under a company name to avoid potential clawing from my soon to be ex-wife.”
“Man, I don’t understand how you got involved with a scary woman like that, she won’t be happy until she leaves you on the streets in your underwear.”
“That’s just goes to show that a beautiful face, rich parents, and high education doesn’t mean that a marriage will be a perfect one.”
“But the irony of everything was that she tried to take a bite out of your first book’s royalty and ended up having to put the house and car as part of the divorce settlement.”
“Yeah, it’s not like she needed any of that, I mean she’s the only daughter of a millionaire.” Guntoro thought for a while. “She can have all of that for all I care, the thing that I want most at this moment is to have her out of my life.”
“Hey, what about your little country maiden? How is she?”
“She’s good, she’s in the second year of high school already.”
“Have you ever spoken to her?”
Guntoro shook his head solemnly, “When I go to visit, she avoids me all the time, and she refuses to listen to anything that involves me. I don’t know if she knows that I’m separated yet, because when my grandparents or parents try to even hint a discussion that involves me, she’ll just stand up and leave.”
“Hmm, this is my point of view, if she keeps trying to avoid you, or avoid conversations concerning you, then she still thinks a lot about you. Do you know what the opposite of love is?”
“No, indifference! If she is able to look you in the face without one drop of emotion, then you know for sure that she doesn’t care about you anymore, but as long as she still tries to avoid you, then trust me, she’s still as in love with you as you are with her.”
“It’s easy for you to say! Try being in my position and see if you can stay calm.”
Guntoro jumped at the sudden vibration on his desk. His Cellphone was ringing. “Hello….” He answered.
“Gun….Gun…..”His mother was calling, she was crying on the phone.
“Gun, it’s your grandfather, he’s in the hospital, he had a heart attack. It was because of that woman, she came here and told him about you and Endang.”