“Yu, I have to go back to Jember right now.” Guntoro said after he hung up the phone. “Where’s my car keys.”
“What’s wrong, I heard your mother crying?”
“It’s my grandfather, he’s in the hospital. He had a heart attack.”
“You shouldn’t drive, I‘ll come with you, give me the keys. I’ll drive.” Wahyu said firmly.
Guntoro threw him the keys and they both headed out to the car.
“Can’t you go faster?” Guntoro almost yelled at Wahyu.
“Gun, get a hold of yourself.” Wahyu said looking at his friend’s restlessness. “We don’t want to get into trouble for speeding, or get into an accident too.”
“I know, I’m sorry, I’m just….I can’t think straight….sorry.” He clutched his fist, “It’s that woman again, I swear if anything happened to my grandfather, I’ll make her pay.”
Guntoro rushed through the door of the intensive care unit, he jumped to the front desk and asked the nurse who was on duty where his grandfather was being treated. She directed him towards the back of the hospital. He walked as fast as he could, from a distance he could see his mother, father and Endang standing in front of one of the rooms, he hurried towards them.
“How is he?” He almost screamed.
“We don’t know yet, Ibu is inside with him.” His mother said while crying.
“Was it Di…”He was about to ask, when his father signaled him to be quiet, discretely pointing towards Endang.
Guntoro paced back and forwards. He caught sight of Endang sitting quietly in a chair, her eyes were swollen, and her breathing was heavy. He sat beside her silently.
“He is going to be alright, isn’t he?” She whispered
“Of course he is, he’s a very strong man.”Guntoro whispered.
“When I went to school this morning, he was alright, he was going to the field and he even scolded me for running back into the house to get my book that I left in my room. Then suddenly after lunch break, my teacher called me to the office and Mas Koes was there to tell me that Bapak was hospitalized.”
“The best thing for us to do now is pray that everything will be alright, we can’t lose hope.” Guntoro coaxed her.
“Pak, what did the doctor say?” He asked his father
Pak Koes shook his head, “They’re assessing him to see if he would need a surgery or not.”
Guntoro nodded, Wahyu appeared a few minutes later, “Pak Lik, Bu Lik, how are you?” He greeted them shaking their hands.
“Nak Wahyu, thank you for coming.” Pak Koes said softly. “Gun, why don’t you come with me to buy some coffee for your mother?”
He followed his father to the cafeteria, “Gun, we need to talk.” Pak Koes said while pointing to a table in the far corner of the cafeteria.
Guntoro nodded pulling out a chair and sat down. “Bapak, was it true that Dini came to speak with Mbah Kakung?”
Pak Koes nodded, “Yes, according to Ibu, she came this morning, she was angry and she was actually looking for Endang. Luckily Endang had already left for school. She made such a scandal that all the neighbors came to the house to see what had happened. She told everyone that you and Endang were having a relationship, and that she was the cause of your separation. She even alleged that the two of you have had intimate relations during the time you were here. Ibu tried to calm her down, but she became even more hysterical.”
“Pak, that’s not true…” Guntoro.
“Gun, you don’t have to explain to me. I’m your father, I raised you, and I know that you’re not someone who would do something like that.”
“Then how did Bapak end up getting a heart attack?”
“One of the neighbors went to the field to find him, he came running back home, and tried to calm your wife, but she was too hysterical. She started insulting Edang, insulting Bapak and Ibu, she said that they raised a loose and immoral girl. Bapak was angry and upset, defending our family’s honor, and because of the stress, he suddenly collapse.”
Guntoro covered his face with both palm of his hand. “I never thought that Dini would be so crazy to do something like that.”
“Gun, Endang doesn’t know about what happened in the house, she doesn’t know about Dini going there and saying all those things. The problem is her reputation in front of the neighbors has been ruined, you know how they always talk about what happened to her biological parents, now, I’m afraid the gossip about her will get worse.”
Guntoro nodded in silence.
“Your mother and I, we’ve watched her grow up ever since she was a baby, she’s very dear to us. We don’t want her to get hurt because of this situation. Before you arrived, your mother and I have talked, and we’ve decided to bring her to live with us. Tomorrow I’m going to start with the process to transfer her school to the one near our house. We’ve also decided that she shouldn’t go back to Bapak’s house to prevent her from hearing those mean rumors.”
“I understand, Pak.”
“Gun, after we have settled this problem, I want you to keep your distance from her. If you keep trying to be close to her, this problem might happen all over again.”
Guntoro looked at him with disbelief, he wanted to protest, but he knew that his father was right. He quietly nodded his head.
“Gun, I know it’s hard for you. But you have to understand, this is for her own good. It’s not fair if she has to go through this situation at her age. Gun, the truth is I don’t know what you think you feel for her. But from one man to another, I advise you not to rush things. After you’ve finished the process of separation with your wife, I think you should take the time to reorganize your own life. Look at Wahyu, he has a stable job, maybe he doesn’t earn much, but at least his family has something to depend on every month, a good health plan and not to mention that he will get a pension after he retires. You should start thinking about taking him as a good example.”
“You’re right, Pak.” Guntoro whispered.
“Gun, when you decide to build another family, you should be sure that you have the means to respond for them. Don’t let what happened with Dini repeat itself. Stand on your own two feet, don’t receive handouts from anyone. I’m sure that you can achieve great things if you put your mind to it.”
He stood up and patted his son on the shoulder. “About Endang, if she is meant for you, she won’t go anywhere. We should pick up that coffee now. I’m sure your mother is wondering where we are.”
They went back together to the ICU, everything was still the same. Guntoro handed a cup of coffee to his mother and another one to Endang. At this moment, he really wanted to hug her and comfort her, but his father’s words echoed in his ear. And he knew perfectly well that his father was right.
“Gun, I’m going home to my parent’s house, call me if anything.” Wahyu whispered to Guntoro.
“Thanks for driving me here, Yu.” He said.
“Everything will be alright, don’t worry.” He pated Guntoro on the shoulder.
The reality of life is, even in the most desperate and painful situation, life goes on. Pak Koes arranged for Endang’s school transfer, it wasn’t hard to persuade his mother in law that it would be better if they moved in with them. Not only will it help in Endang’s circumstances, but also for Pak Bakrie, living in his daughter’s house he would receive better care.
Pak Bakrie’s situation was not as dire as they had feared. He was soon moved to a bed in one of the pavilions. Once he had enough strength to speak, his son in law told him about their plan and he agreed, knowing well that it was the best option for everyone. The only condition that he had was that Pak Koes should find somebody to work for them tending the rice field.
“Pak, for your sake, I think the best option is to rent out the land. That way you don’t have to worry about the rice plants and just receive the annual rent fee.” He suggested.
“Koes, I think that’s a good idea. I’ll leave it in your hands to deal with this matter, and since we’ll be living with you, please use the money to pay for our living expenses.”
Pak Koes smiled, “Pak, don’t worry about your living expenses. Let’s just save up land rent money for Endang’s tuition fee. I want her to have a high education, so she can grow up to be a sophisticated lady.” He said.
Pak Bakrie nodded thanking his son in law. “I’m glad my daughter chose you as her husband.” He added, “Can you please call Guntoro, I need to talk to him in private.”
Pak Koes hesitated for a while, but nodded, “Of course, Pak. He’s still having lunch, as soon as he comes back, I’ll tell him that you want to talk to him in private.”
“Mbah, Bapak said that you wanted to talk to me.” Guntoro said while approaching his grandfather’s hospital bed, involuntarily his eyes wandered to the young girl standing beside the bed.
“Yes, Gun. Take that chair and bring it closer.” Pak Bakrie pointed to a metal chair in the corner then turned to his wife who was removing his plates. “Buk, I need to talk to Guntoro alone.”
“We’ll go and get some coffee,” She said while taking Endang by the hand and walking out together.
“Guntoro, I’m sure you’ve heard about what happened.”
“Yes, Mbah. My father told me about it. I’m sorry that you had to go through all this suffering because of me.”
Pak Bakrie laughed softly, “What are you talking about? You’re my only grandson, it’s my job to suffer for you.”
“Gun, I’m glad that you’ve divorce that woman. A wife who shouts out her husband’s shortcomings to the four winds is not a proper woman.” He said, “What she said about you and Endang…”
“Mbah, it’s not true. I never…..”
“I know, you don’t have to explain!” He patted Guntoro’s hand, “But I also know that you see her more than just family.” Guntoro didn’t answer.
“Are you sure about your feelings for her?” He asked.
Guntoro took a deep breath and nodded, “I’m sure.” He answered with conviction, “But I do agree with what my father said, that I’ve just recently left a very difficult relationship, and I should take some time before I start another one.”
“Your father is a very intelligent man, you should listen to him.” Pak Bakrie nodded, “Gun, this incident made me think about my mortality. I’m very old, and I could be called back any time….”
“Mbah, please don’t talk like that.”
“Death is going to come whether we talk about it or not. It’s the people who will go on living that we have to think about. In my case, the one I worry most about is Endang because she’s still so young, and she doesn’t have anybody in this world except us.”
“Mbah, I promise that I will stop from……”
“I want you to marry her when she’s old enough!”
“Huh?” Guntoro looked up.
“Why? Do you object to it?”
“No, not at all. I’m………” Guntoro couldn’t find what word to say.
Pak Bakried laughed softly, “Because I’m her father, it’s my responsibility to find a good husband for her, if she marries any other man, how could I be sure that after I die, she wouldn’t be mistreated and suffer, but you’re my own grandson, if she marries you, I know that you will take good care of her and make her happy.”
“Mbah, I promise that I won’t disappoint you,” Guntoro said.
“Good, so you have until she graduates, your father wants her to go to university which I think is a good idea. You’ll have more than enough time to sort out your life and make sure that you will be a husband who gives everything his wife needs and wants.”
“I understand, Mbah.”
“But don’t tell Endang about this, I don’t want to make her worry, thinking that I’m going to die anytime soon. I might be old, but I still have a lot of life in me….” He paused, “As long as I don’t meet your ex-wife ever again.”
“Why are you smiling all the time like an idiot?” Wahyu asked seeing Guntoro smiling to himself from time to time while drinking his beer.
“Why? Should I be crying? He responded sarcastically.
“Are you trying to make a move on a girl?” Wahyu looked around them, from left to right, in front of them and behind them. “No pretty girls in sight.”
“Who says, I’m making a move on a pretty girl?” Guntoro replied.
“I’m leaving Surabaya soon, I’m going to try my luck in Malang. I’ve written to the university and they’ve agreed to give me a teaching job, part time.” Guntoro explained.
“Good for you. Have you found a place to live?”
“I’m thinking of renting a house, so I’ll be driving there this weekend to look for one.”
“I’ll get my nephew Rahmat to help you, his a smart kid. Since my sister moved back to Jember, he’s living in a boarding house there in Malang while he studies.”
“But your smile doesn’t say that you’re happy because you’re starting a new job.” Wahyu continued to interrogate him.
“What do you mean? How am I smiling?”
“I don’t know, it’s kind of perverted. Oh, I know! You’ve found a new girlfriend, haven’t you?”
“I’m not even looking for one. I have to save myself for my future wife.”
“How could you find a future wife, if you don’t look for a girlfriend first?”
Guntoro smiled again, annoying Wahyu even more.
“I suppose if I had to go fasting for so long I’d end up crazy like you too.”
Endang sat on the bed looking around the room. Her sister had told her to use Guntoro’s room. Traces of him was still there. His toys from when he was a boy, photos of him in high school with his friend, and even his high school note books, with his scribbly writing in it. She didn’t want to touch anything or make any changes. Perhaps only to the posters of scantly clothed girls on motorcycles which she tore off the wall, threw it on the floor, jumped on it and viscously burnt it in the yard. “Pervert!” She fumed.
While tidying up the closet she accidently found a lose photograph, her heart ponded at the image in the photo, Guntoro and Dini when they were still dating.
“They look good together,” she thought “His handsome and she’s beautiful.” Her heart was filled with jealousy and sadness.
She realized that she’s been acting like an owl longing for the moon. She was just an adopted child to the family, how can she dare to fall in love with him. Besides, how can she think to compare herself to his beautiful high-class wife, and even though they had divorced like her sister said, it was obvious what type of women he preferred.
Endang crumpled the photograph and threw it to the rubbish bin. She sat quiet for a while thinking about her life. She was very fortunate that she was adopted by her parents and given a good education. They even promised to send her to college, she should show her gratitude by knowing her place and stop dreaming of impossible things. She promised herself that from now on, she would study extra hard to make her adoptive family happy. She made it her purpose to forget about Guntoro.
“One day I’ll meet someone who will suit me,” she thought. “That’s right, a simple, humble man for a simple and humble woman like me.”
 Owl longing for the moon (pungguk merindukan bulan) an Indonesian proverb to express an unrequited love or an un-fulfilled love due to difference in social status or physical appearance.