“Wah…” Yuni couldn’t help but admire Sitawati. She was beautifully fair skinned, thin, with hair that reached her waist. Yuni had seen her during the performance in her village, but up close in person she seemed even more beautiful.
As proper manner at the time, she kneeled on the floor while serving the tea and cookies on the living room table for Sitawati and Bu Karto.
“Sita, this is Yuni, she is working here as our servant, she comes from Desa Sumber Rejo. Koes hired her when he was there.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that Mas Koes was looking for help,” Sitawati said.
“Neither did I,” Bu Karto smiled, “But Yuni is a very good cook. She only started to work here last week, and look at how tidy and well organized the house is. She’s very efficient and hard working.”
“Oh, that’s good, how considerate of Mas Koes, to find someone to help you around the house,” Sitawati stated. She observed Yuni closely then nodded with satisfaction. “Just a simpleton.” She thought.
“Yes he is, sometimes. He promised me to bring you here to visit a week ago, but look, I had to wait all this time to be able to see you.” Bu Karto sighed.
“Oh, he did, did he?” She replied.
Bu Karto turned to Yuni, “Where’s Koeswanto, Sita is here to visit, but he disappeared just like that.”
“I will go to look for him,” Yuni replied.
She went to Koeswanto’s bedroom and knocked on the door, but there was no answer. She looked around the house only to find him heading out to the field, “nDoro Koes,” She called out, “nDoro Putri Is looking for you. She wants you to entertain nDoro Sitawati.”
“Ah, I brought her here after dance practice to visit my mother, not to visit me. I’m going to check the field.”
“May I come too?” Yuni asked.
“Let’s go.” He said.
Yuni observed the condition of the field, it wasn’t bad size wise, but the trees growing there looked quite pathetic and there were patches of dry soil.
“This part is the one closest to the house, but I have other parcels of land that I rent out, they are a good and steady income for us, plus the fee I get from dancing that’s where my income comes from. Nobody wants to rent this parcel, they say it’s cursed, it’s too dry and not productive.”
“I hear water, do you have a stream passing by this land?” Yuni asked.
Koeswanto nodded, “Over there.” He pointed.
“And who takes care of this? I can’t imagine you holding a hoe, but there are some traces of planting activity over there.” She asked,
Koeswanto looked at her in surprise, “Pak Amin, I pay him to take care of this field. I’m thinking of changing him, I don’t like him, his very stubborn.”
“This land is dry and not productive, because it’s not cultivated properly, it doesn’t have a good watering system, there is an active stream nearby, but the soil is very dry. The lemon and orange trees are also too old to produce, they need to be rejuvenated, but first, you have to restore the components of the soil, you should plant legumes like peanuts or beans, then you’ll get to kill two birds with one stone, you can restore the quality of your soil, and you can sell the products. After planting legumes, your soil would probably be good enough even to plant rice on. See those group of mango trees over there? They can stay, but I suggest that they be trimmed.” She explained.
Koeswanto’s jaw dropped, he looked at her with disbelief, “You’re not quite the village idiot, are you?” He asked.
“Me? I graduated junior high school as the top ranking of the Regency. And my father taught me a lot about cultivation since I was a little girl, since I’m his only child, who else is he going to pass the land to? We don’t have we as much land as you do, but we are proud of it.” She paused, “Just because my parents are poor, it doesn’t mean I can’t be smart.” She put on a smug smile.
“You mentioned about the watering system, what do you suggest?” He asked.
“You should canal it through this area, that way it would water the field equally, I’m sure you get a lot of water flooded patches when it rains, right? I guess the rain water doesn’t drain properly during the wet season.” She said again.
“How did you know?”
“It shows, just by looking at the landscape.” She pointed out. “nDoro, If you want to rescue the productivity of the land, you should start thinking about what I said, the wet season is coming.”
“Let me introduce you to Pak Amin,” He said, putting his hands behind his back.
Pak Amin was a man in his thirties, well built, he had a pleasant and friendly disposition, but he wasn’t very smart,
“Pak Amin, this is Yuni, she works in our house.”
“Yes, nDoro. mBak Yuni, I’m Amin.”
“Good afternoon, Pak Amin.” She smiled, “I’ve been looking around, this land, I’m very impressed with how you tend to the land, my father is a farmer, so I know a little bit about it.”
“Thank you mBak Yuni.” Pak Amin smiled.
“You know, when I was younger, my uncle had a problem like this, his land was dry and infertile, but the some students came from the city to teach him how to create a good watering system, his land now is very productive.”
“What did they teach him?”
“It’s very simple, digging ditches across the area and rerouting the stream to circle it, not the whole stream of course, just branching it out, that way you have a constant flow of water.”
Pak Amin nodded. “Maybe it’s a good idea to do it here too, nDoro!” He said to Koeswanto.
“Wah, Pak Amin, you are a very smart man. I would have never thought of that idea.” Yuni said while clicking her tongue.
Pak Amin laughed while touching his beard and nodding his head, “My wife says that too, she is always amazed at how smart I am.’ He replied.
“Wah….” Yuni clasped both hands.
“I’ve discovered something new,” Koeswanto said after they left Pak Amin who was excited about digging ditches for his new irrigation plan.
“What’s that?” Yuni asked.
“That I can never confide in your compliments.” He said.
Yuni laughed, “I was just copying my mother, when she wants my father to do something for her.”
Koeswanto laughed, “I didn’t think you had any feminine wiles in you. So tell me, the other day when you said that I was your hero, because I offered to marry you. What was it that actually happened?”
She looked at him, “nDoro, it’s obvious to anybody that there is no way you will be sincerely interested marrying me, you are only doing it out of the kindness of your heart. Besides, my father doesn’t think that you’d make a good son in law, he thinks that you’re useless and only like to play around with women. He probably would prefer to see me become a spinster than marry you.”
Koeswanto stopped in his step, “Why would he think of me like that?” He asked.
“Who knows, maybe it’s your hair. It makes you look like one of those irresponsible youngsters from the big city who passes by the main road speeding in their motorcycles.”
“Is that so?” He wondered.
“nDoro, I’m, going to take down the laundry. I’m going back to the house first.” She said while walking away.
“Koeswanto, where have you been?” Bu Karto scolded her son when he entered through the front door. “I asked Yuni to look for you, but she said she couldn’t find you and started to do other things so she forgot.”
“I was in the field, Bu. I had something to talk about with Pak Amin.” He replied.
“Mas Koes, what happened to your hair?” Sitawati asked.
“I asked Saleh, Pak Amin’s son to cut it for me, it was beginning to itch. I was afraid that I was beginning to have lice.” He replied while touching his hair.
“nDoro Putri, dinner is ready.” Yuni politely called out to Bu Karto.
“Thank you, Yun.” She replied, then looked at Sitawati, “Let’s eat after that Koeswanto will take you home.” She said.
Sitawati nodded, following them to the dining room. Yuni looked at Koeswanto, her eyebrows knitted together.
“What’s wrong Yun?” Bu Karto asked.
“nDoro Koes, there’s something different about you.” She said.
“Yuni, don’t you see that Koes cut his hair. He said that it was itching.” Bu Karto replied. Koeswanto smiled.
“Could it be lice?” Yuni jeered, “I think I’m going to change your bed sheet and pillowcase before we all get infected.” Yuni cringed and ran to his room.
Koeswanto looked at her with a frown, he sighed and shook his head.
“What kind of role do you want then, Koes?” Pak Atmojo asked.
“Anything but the main ksatria or anything alusan, maybe a cakil or punokawan.” He said.
“If you don’t play the part of Prince Rama then Sitawati will have to play him that means the only part that is available, is Princess Shinta, because Wati our other prima donna is maternity leave,” Pak Atmojo said without looking up from his thick paper folder.
“I’ll take it. I’ll play Shinta.” Koeswanto said with enthusiasm.
Pak Atmojo looked up, rolled his folder lifted it in the air and hit it against Koeswanto’s head. “Stop spurring nonsense and go change and start practice!” He yelled lifting his arm again.
Koeswanto quickly ran to the corner of the open Sanggar, Budi laughed at him, “You got whacked?” He asked. “What part did you ask for?”
“Shinta,” Koeswanto replied.
“Shinta……..” Budi looked at him, “This is not a ludruk group, you know, we don’t do comedy.”
“I’m serious about it. An artist has to be able to take any role that’s given to him, and perform it to perfection.”
“Koes, I do acknowledge that you are a handsome man, congratulations, but that’s as far as it goes. You couldn’t pass a woman, even if your life depended on it.”
“Let’s practice, I want to do Bambangan Cakil, but I get to be the Cakil.” Koeswanto said.
“Let’s do it.”
“Nak Budi….it’s been a long time since you’ve visited our house.” Bu Karto greeted kindly.
Yuni was sitting on the floor massaging her leg, “nDuk, make some coffee for our guests.”
“Yes, nDoro Putri.”
Budi looked at Yuni then at Koeswanto, “What was that about?”
“Nak budi, she is Yuni, Koes hired her to take care of me and help around the house,” Bu Karto explained.
”Yes, Bu….” he said while bowing his body. He glanced at Koeswanto then elbowed him, clicking his tongue and shaking his head.
“Nak Budi, please take a seat, how are your parents?” She asked.
“They are fine, Bu. They are happy expecting the birth of the baby, it should be any time now.”
Bu Karto nodded. Yuni entered bringing a tray. “nDuk, this is Budi a friend of Koes in the pagguyuban.”
“nDoro, we met in my village when they performed there,” Yuni replied with a smile, “Congratulations on your baby nDoro Budi, is this your sixth child? ”
“Huh?” Budi scratched his head.
“Yuni, Nak Budi still isn’t ma…”
“Bud, drink your coffee before it gets cold!” Koeswanto cut in while lifting the cup and handing it to his friend.
“Oh, thank you.” He said receiving the cup and bringing it to his mouth.
“Excuse me, I’m going to check on Pak Amin, he started planting peanuts in the field yesterday, but they were too close together, I had to make him replant it.”
“Go, nDuk.” Bu Karto smiled, she turned to Budi and Koeswanto, “She’s a very nice young girl, hard working, and caring. The two of you can chat, I’m going to my room to rest.” She said as she stood up and entered.
“You even brought her here to your house? What are you planning to do?” Budi whispered.
“I don’t know, it was a last minute idea that came to my mind, I just wanted to save her from marrying the old rich man who sponsored the performance,” Koeswanto explained.
“And what was that about my sixth child?”
“What sixth child? Bud, you’re imagining things.”
Budi looked at his suspiciously, “Really….?”
“Isn’t she a little bit too normal looking for you? Everybody thinks that you should be with Sitawati, you’re a handsome man, and she’s a beautiful woman, you look good together like…..like… Kama and Ratih. Normal people should be with normal people.”
“Then what are you going to do with your wife and six children?”
“Amin, what a change the field looks green again, just like when Bapak was alive,” Bu Karto exclaimed.
“nDoro Putri, this is thanks to Yuni, she is good at convincing a stubborn old man like me to do things differently than what I’m used to.” He praised.
She nodded, “I’m glad she came here. She’s a very smart girl. I hate to see her working as a servant, she has the potential to be so much more. Unfortunately, she only finished junior high school so it would be difficult for her to find a better job.”
“Eh, but nDoro, look at her, she gets along very well with my son Saleh, they are about the same age,” Pak Amin said in a low voice.
“Hmm, Amin, what are you thinking?” She smiled.
“Nothing, yet,” He smiled, “But maybe if they get along well, I can visit Desa Sumber Rejo to get to know her parents.”
“Amin, that’s a very good idea.” She nodded while lifting her right thumb.
“Ibu, why are you out here in the field, the wind here is too strong, it’s bad for your health.” Koeswanto showed up from behind them.
“Koes, has Budi gone home?” His mother asked.
“Yes he has.”
“That was very fast.”
“He just came here to pick up a book I borrowed a few weeks ago.”
“Mmm….I see.” She replied.
“So what were you talking about?” He asked again.
“nDoro, I was just looking at Saleh and Yuni, they are about the same age, and they get along well with each other. I hope that something will develop between them.”
Koeswanto looked at the two young people in the distance, Yuni was directing Saleh on how to plant the seedlings.
“Come to think of it, that would be perfect, if she and Saleh get married, then I sure she would continue to take care of this old woman, that way, Koeswanto and Sitawati wouldn’t have to worry about me and concentrate on building their own family and having many children. I don’t know what you’re waiting for, Koes. Sitawati is perfect for you. She is beautiful, well mannered, educated and her family comes from the same level as we are. I don’t want anybody else as my daughter in law.”
 Ksatria is hero.
 Alusan means gentle, in Wayang Wong, the heroes are usually portrayed as gentle in the way they act or speak, in some cases, the parts are even played by women.
 Cakil is giant or even spirit.
 Punokawan in the Javanese Mahabharata universe serve as the comedy sidekick for Pandawa.
 Sanggar also means a place of practise.
 Ludruk East Java theatrical comedy.
 Bambangan Cakil a classical dance from central java about a hero fighting the evil giant
 Kama is the Hindu god of love, and Ratih is his wife. The well-known sutra dedicated in his name is the Kamasutra.