“Yun, why won’t you talk to me? What’s wrong?” Koeswanto persuaded.
Yuni shook her head in silence, “Nothing.” She replied.
“Is it something I did? Something I said? Did I offend you?” He chased.
“No, who am I to feel offended?” She replied with sarcasm.
“Are you upset that I’m going to the terminal with Sitawati to pick up my mother? Yun, it was my mother who asked for it. She called to the neighbor’s house this morning, I….”
“I said, who am I to feel offended?” She looked straight at him defiantly, “It’s getting late. nDoro Koes, you should head out now, otherwise you won’t make it in time. Remember that you have to pick up nDoro Sitawati.”
“nDoro Putri, welcome home.” Yuni welcomed Bu Karto at the door, she discretely glanced at Sitawati who was standing next to Koeswanto. Yuni bit her lower lip, she took the bag from Koeswanto and brought it into Bu Karto’s room.
She went to the kitchen to boil water for the coffee. Bracing herself, she poured the hot water into the cups and stirred the coffee. She walked out with the tray in her hand, sitting on the floor to serve the coffee on the table.
“Yun, sit here for a few minutes,” Bu Karto said.
“Yes, nDoro Putri,” Yuni replied making herself comfortable on the floor.
“Congratulations, I heard that you got a job as the paguyuban as the treasurer. I always knew that you were a smart girl and could be more than just a housemaid. You should take advantage of this opportunity.” Bu Karto said.
Yuni thought carefully about what her patron said, she nodded her head, “Yes, nDoro Putri. I won’t take for granted this chance that I received.”
Bu Karto looked at her son, “Koes, when I was in Semarang, I talked a lot with your uncle. Since your father has died, your uncle is now the head of our family. He is coming here next week. We are going to officially visit Sita’s parents to propose marriage and set a date for the ceremony.”
“Bu Lik Karto, thank you!” Sitawati smiled then stood up to hug the old woman.
Yuni felt like she was hit by thunder. She instinctively looked at Koeswanto. He was looking at his mother in shock, “Buk, why did you decide like that without consulting me?” He asked.
“Koes, why are you still hesitating? You know that Jeng Rini Sitawati’s mother, and I have planned this for a long time. I’m tired of waiting, I’ve made my decision, and there will be no more discussion!”
“Mas Koes.” Sitawati shrieked jumping towards him and hugging him around the neck.
Yuni composed herself and smiled, “Congratulations, nDoro Putri, nDoro Sitawati, and nDoro Koes.” She managed to say with a straight place. “I should go to the kitchen now and prepare some delicious food to celebrate. Excuse me.” She stood up and left the living room.
Yuni was heartbroken, but for some strange reason she couldn’t seem to cry, instead her hands shook out of control and her stomach was turning. There was a sensation building up inside her that was urging her to pack her clothes and leave the house. She took a deep breath to calm herself, bending over she picked up a basket and walked into the field behind the house. She picked a couple of ripe tomatoes, wiped them against her shirt then popped it into her mouth one by one, she continued to pick empty mindedly the vegetables that she was going to cook for dinner.
“Yun….Yuni…..Hey.” She didn’t realize that Saleh was calling her until he held her shoulder and slightly pulled it.
“Saleh, what do you want?” She asked.
“Has Bu Karto arrived?”
“She has. She’s in the living room with nDoro Koes and nDoro Sitawati. I think she has finally decided to ask her brother to visit nDoro Sitawati’s house to discuss the marriage plan.” Yuni explained with inexplicable ease.
Saleh fell backward, his face became pale. “She’s finally going to marry nDoro Koes?” He held his chest, tears rolled down his eyes, “Yun, I feel like my heart just got shattered into a million pieces.”
Seeing his tears, Yuni felt her blood rush to her head, she pulled Saleh by the collar of his shirt, shook him vigorously then began shouting at him, “You knew that it would never happen, you knew that he was out of reach, you’re stupid for hoping that something will actually happen between the two of you. You’re nothing but a stupid village girl who dreams of marrying a landlord. Who cares if you gave yourself to him? It doesn’t mean anything to him! You’re stupid for wanting something that’s out of your reach? You should realize that you’re just an ugly, poor and uneducated peasant. This happened to you for not knowing your place!” She threw Saleh back causing him to fall to the ground.
“Yun, are you possessed?” He looked at her with fright, “I’m a man, Yun. How could you mistaken me for a village girl?”
Yuni took a stick from the ground and hit it several times against a tree before picking up the basket and trudging back to the house.
Yuni sat in the corner of the kitchen on the low stool waiting for the rice to cook. Her eyes were swollen and her nose runny. She was munching on a fish cracker. In her mind, Parman’s words resonated. She asked herself, was it true that she was only an entertainment for Koeswanto? Is it true that he only wanted her for nothing more than a concubine? She covered her face with both hands.
Thinking about her relationship with Koeswanto, if she had to be honest with herself, this was her own decision, nobody forced her to get involved with him, and certainly nobody forced her to give herself to him. Society dictates that a woman should conserve herself until her wedding night. She had chosen to ignore those noble norms and take the wrong path by engaging in adultery with Koeswanto. If someone had to take responsibility for her and her life, then it’s her ownn self. She refused to see herself as damaged or ruined. She had much more to expect from life than just being somebody’s wife. She was still uncertain about what she should do next, but her anxiety had gone now.
She heard a rustle at the kitchen door, she turned her head to see Koeswanto entering he walked to her squatting in front of her, “Yun, don’t pay attention to what my mother said. I don’t have any intention to marry Sitawati. You’re the only one I want to be with.”
Yuni looked at him without emotions, she shook her head, “You know, deep down, I always knew that this was going to happen. That night when we were together for the first time two months ago, Saleh had told me that your mother wanted you to marry her, but I chose to ignore his words and allowed myself to live a fantasy. Now it’s time for me to come back to reality.”
“Yuni, don’t do this to me. Don ‘t give up on us without even trying.” He grasped her shoulders.
She exhaled pushing his hands away she said, “You should go! Your fiancée or your mother might see us.”
“Yun, you can’t imagine how your indifference hurts me. After everything that happened between us, could you really let me go that easily?”
“What do you expect me to do? I made a mistake, now I have to live in it. I’m not going to just roll over and die. I have to continue with my life.”
Koeswanto stood abruptly, “It wasn’t a mistake for me! You can say whatever you want to say, but I can tell from your face that you feel the same way I do. You don’t want this to end either.”
“Oh? So is that how you feel? You don’t want it to end? So what do you plan to do? Marry her and keep this concubine of yours? Are you going to sneak into my room after your wife falls asleep, so you can enjoy my cuddly body every night?”
“Yun, what are saying? How can you say something as vulgar as that?”
“I’m just repeating what people say about me, how they see me and judge me.”
“Who? Who thinks that way about you? Who dared insult you like that?” His face turned with anger.
From the outside, they could hear Bu Karto calling her.
Yuni wiped her eyes and quickly grabbed a handful of onions peeling it then slicing it.
“Yun….” Bu Karto arrived at the kitchen, “Koes, what are you doing here? Sita is alone in the living room.”
“Buk, I didn’t want to offend her just now, but I’m not happy that you’re deciding on your own about my marriage without bothering to talk to me. I’m going to the field, don’t look for me until that woman has left!” He pointed at Yuni, “You! Bring my food to the field!”
“Koes, but who’s going to take Sita to her home?”
“Bu, you wanted her to come here, you find a way to take her home!”
“What happened to him, Yun? Why is he in such a bad mood?” Bu Karto asked.
“I don’t know nDoro, he was already upset when he came into the kitchen. Maybe he has diarrhea.” Yuni replied nonchalantly.
Koeswanto took out his cigarette and inhaled it in anger and frustration, he sat on a tree stump still trying to restrain his feelings.
“nDoro, I want to congratulate you,” Saleh said showing up on his left-hand side.
“Congratulate me for what?” Koeswanto asked without looking at him.
“For your wedding plan with nDoro Sitawati.”
“Who told you about that?” Koeswanto turned around in annoyance to look at the young man, “Saleh, what happened to your eye?” He asked surprised to see the young man had a blue circle around his left eye.
“That was, that was Yuni. She accidently poked me with a stick when she was attacking the tree over there. And I doubt that she realized I was hit.”
“Why was she attacking the tree?” Koeswanto wondered.
“I don’t know nDoro, she was in a bad mood. Maybe she was possessed by a passing ghost, because she grabbed me by the collar and started shaking me, calling me a stupid village girl who dreams of marrying a landlord.”
Koeswanto suddenly burst into laughter, Saleh looked at him in fear, “nDoro, are you alright?” He asked gingerly, while looking to the left and to the right.
“Saleh, go buy me some fried bananas and fried yuccas! And ask your mother to make me some coffee and bring it here. Since you succeeded in improving my mood, this money is for you. Don’t take too long!” He ordered in a good mood.
“Saleh…Saleh!” Bu Karto called when she saw him pass in front of the house.
“Yes Ndoro Putri.” He replied.
“Where are you going? I need you to do something for me.” The old woman said.
“nDoro Koes told me to buy some fried bananas for him. He’s waiting in the field.”
“Ah…okay. Eh, is he still in a bad mood?”
“He was nDoro Putri, but just now he was laughing and he gave me some money because he said I improved his mood.”
“That’s strange.” Bu Karto became pensive, “Why do you think he’s acting like that?”
“nDoro, I think there was a ghost that passed by the field today, everybody was acting strange.”
“Ah! Hurry up and do what Koeswanto told you to do otherwise he’ll hit you again, look at that eye of yours. Tsk, Koeswanto is too much. After you’ve finished your errand then come back here. I need you to take Sita home.”
“Take nDoro Sita home?” Saleh’s eyes shined with joy. “I won’t be long nDoro Putri.”
Bu Karto shook her head seeing him run as fast as he could.
“What happened with Mas Koes, Bu Lik?” Sitawati asked walking out of the house without hiding her concern.
“Uhh, it looks like he has diarrhea,” Bu Karto replied.
“But he looked fine a few minutes ago.”
“Sita, Saleh will take you home. He went to buy some medicine for Koeswanto, as soon as he gets back, he’ll take you on the bicycle.”
“Saleh, where are you going?” Yuni asked seeing Saleh run in front of her as she was washing the dishes at the well, he was carrying a small plastic bag.
“Yun, I’m in a hurry. I have to give this fried bananas to nDoro Koeswanto and then take nDoro Sitawati home.” He said not wanting to stop.
“Fried banana? He’s going to eat fried bananas in the field?” Yuni jumped forward and grabbed him by the shirt, “Let me see that!” She took the plastic bag from his hand.
“Yun, don’t do this to me.” He pleaded, “When will I ever get another chance to ride a bicycle with nDoro Sitawati?”
“You stupid idiot! She’s about to marry another man, and you’re still hoping for her!” Yuni said more to herself than to him.
Yuni took the plastic bag and sniffed it, the sweet smell of the fried snacks made her mouth drool, this was perfect, she had felt unusually peckish all day and no matter how many times she ate, she just couldn’t feel satisfied. She emptied half of the content to an empty plate she had just washed. “Here!” she returned the bag to him.
“But Yun, you’re going to get me in trouble with nDoro Koes.”
“Just tell him you accidentally dropped it on the way.”
“Yun…have pity on me.”
“Hmmm, you’re right. It was unfair of him to hit you in the eye like that. Here, I’ll put two pieces back.” She said while putting the pieces in the bag and taking a bite at a piece in her hand.
“Yun….” Saleh scratched his head in despair.
“What happened to my snacks? Did the auntie double the price or something” Koeswanto asked when he saw the plastic bag came back half empty.
“nDoro, I’m sorry. I was robbed on the way here.” Saleh said looking down at his feet.
“You were robbed? On your way here? Do you expect me to believe that?” Koeswanto looked at him with disbelief.
“It was Yuni, she was at the well I swear I didn’t want to stop, but she grabbed me by the shirt, then took the snacks by force.”
“Yuni?” Koeswanto‘s voice lightened.
“Yes, nDoro. I would buy you some more, but nDoro Putri wants me to take nDoro Sitawati home, so I don’t have enough time to go back to the food stall.”
Koeswanto laughed, “That’s great!” He said, if she was taking his food, that must mean she wasn’t that upset anymore. “Here! This is for you! Good work!” Koeswanto handed him another bill.
Saleh looked at him, puzzled.