Koeswanto held the prop Keris in his right hand, his left arm forming an arch beside his body. His legs wide apart and knees slightly bent, he moved left and right to the rhythm while stabbing the Keris in the air horizontal to his neck. He picked up the end of his sash with his left hand and walked in a small circle, he moved his left foot forward, in line with his left arm and flipped the sash covering his forearm and hand. His right arm forming a seventy-degree angle behind his body, the Keris held between his index finger and thumb. He flipped the sash again then repeated the movement, but this time facing a different direction.
Tanto stepped forward joining the dance, he reciprocated Koeswanto’s movement but in a different direction, if Koeswanto faced left, he faced right. If Koeswanto stepped forward, Tanto stepped backward. And alternately making the stabbing movements as the other stepped away from the Keris. They danced the Keris fighting scene between Alusan roles.
“Huh. Imagine if real warriors fought that way,” Yuni thought to herself. ”They’d grow white hair and lose their teeth before anyone can win the fight.”
Pak Atmojo had called her to the paguyuban today to help with preparations for the next event. She was feeling perfectly fine until she arrived at the hall, then the mixed of odors in the air began to disturb her, and provoke an uneasy sensation in her body.
Yuni was exceptionally cranky today, her body was heavy, her breasts hurting and everything seemed to annoy her. Since she didn’t want to offend anybody with her bad mood, she kept to herself at her desk most of the time, only going to the bathroom when she needed to.
She passed Sitawati in the hall way, “Oh, you’re here.” Sitawati said.
“Yes, I am.” Yuni replied with a smile.
“Did you come here with Mas Koes?” She asked again.
Yuni took a deep breath, she was beginning to lose her patience as the girl’s perfume was attacking her sense of smell, “No!” She lied.
“Good! Remember that I’m his fiancée and I don’t like you being too close to him.” She warned.
“Yes, nDoro.” Yuni nodded while walking away, cursing Koeswanto under her breath.
“Mas Koes, why are you with her all the time?” Sitawati furrowed while stomping her feet to the ground.
“What does that have to do with you?” He asked without looking at her, he was sitting on a chair while observing the prop bow in his hand.
“How could you say that? I’m your fiancée, you’re mother already decided on our marriage.”
“Then you can marry my mother!” He turned and smiled.
“Mas Koes!” Sitawati yelled holding back her tears.
“Mas Koes, you shouldn’t be mean to her.” Wulan intervened, “You should be considerate to Sitawati. She’s jealous with Yuni because of what Parman said to us the other day.”
“And what was that?” Koeswanto asked uninterested still balancing to bow.
“He said that Yuni is your concubine. Since she works at your house as a live in maid that makes her an easy and accessible entertainment for you. He also said that he’s sure you sneak into her room every night, because that girl has a cuddly body that men would like to enjoy.”
Koeswanto threw the bow to the floor he looked at Wulan, “So it was all Parman’s vulgarity.” He growled. “I’ve had enough of that Parman!”
Koeswanto got up, he walked towards Parman, tapped him on the shoulder and as he turned around Koeswanto punched him on the face.
“What did you say about Yuni?” He grabbed Parman by the collar of his shirt, “I’ve had enough of you! You provoked me so many times and I always let it pass, but now you’re messing with my woman.”
“Ah, so she’s your woman is she?” Parman hissed while wiping the blood from his lip. He sneered, “So I was right, about you and her. Eh, how is she? Is she docile or is she wild in bed?”
Koeswanto lost all self-control, he punched Parman again in the stomach, as he curled down to grasp his aching abdomen, Koeswanto pushed him to the floor, sat on his chest then began to beat him on the face with his bare hand over and over again.
“Koes, stop it!” Budi shouted.
Budi and Joko pulled Koeswanto up and restrained him, while the others helped Parman up, he was bleeding from the mouth and the nose. Koeswanto moved forward again to attack Parman, “Calm down, Koes. What’s gotten in to you?” Budi held him back.
“Crazy bastard!” Parman looked at him with anger.
“Come here if you want some more!” Koeswanto challenged.
“What’s going on here?” Pak Atmojo showed up, “It’s the two of you again.”
He looked at Parman and Koeswanto in turns, “If we weren’t a few days away from an event, I’ll suspend the both of you. But since we’ll be performing in a few days, I’m going to deduct your salary. If you don’t like it then don’t bother coming back here again.”
“Mas, why were you fighting?” Yuni asked giving him a glass of water.
“Why didn’t you tell me that it was Parman who said those vulgar things about you?” He looked at her with reproach.
“I overheard their conversation.” She replied softly, “Besides, I’m used to people saying bad things about me behind my back, and insulting me to my face. People treat me that way in my village, and they treat me that way here too. Nothing’s changed, it’s all the same.”
“But what Parman said about you just now, was not an insult, it was disgusting and dirty. I can’t accept that. I would have punched him some more, if the guys didn’t hold me back.”
“Thank you for defending me………. I have to sit down.” She said faintly.
“You look pale.” Koeswanto observed taking Yuni’s hand and helping her back to her desk.
“I don’t feel too well.” She said. “Everything here stinks and my breasts hurts like hell.”
“Do you want me to take you home?” He asked while touching her forehead.
Yuni shook her head, “I still have a lot of work to do, and luckily the upcoming event is here in Jember. At least it makes my job easier since Pak Atmojo wants me to get more involved in organizing the logistics.”
“Do you want me to get you anything?”
Yuni shook her head again, then thought for a while, “Hmmm, I wouldn’t mind some star fruits”
“Dancer, what are you doing in here? Haven’t you caused enough trouble already?” Linda said while walking into the administration office, she spotted Yuni at her desk. “What’s wrong with our friend here?”
“She’s sick.” Koeswanto replied.
“Hmmm, how attentive.” Linda looked at them suspiciously.
“Linda, I didn’t know you smoked, you smell like cigarettes.” Yuni said in annoyance.
“I don’t, but when I was outside….” He looked at her then sniffed his clothes, “How could you smell it from there? Huh, if I didn’t know better I would think that you’re pregnant, my sister was like that when she was pregnant with her second child. Look, you got me talking nonsense. Yuni, I came here to give you these receipts. And I need some money to buy face paint for these guys, I swear they must be swallowing it instead of putting it on.”
Yuni took out some bills, she made him sign a receipt before handing him the money. “Make sure you give me the actual purchase receipt and the change.” She warned.
Linda walked away fanning her face with the bills.
Koeswanto leaned over and whispered, “Yun, could it be true what he said? Is it possible that we have a baby on the way?”
Yuni looked at Koeswanto, “I don’t know. Let me see, the last time I had my visitor was…hm….”
“No, you didn’t get it last month.” Koeswanto said after thinking for a while.
“How could you….” The look on his face made her stop her question. She didn’t want to embarrass herself hearing what he had to say.
“Yun, I’m going to ask around for a midwife and have her check you.” He said with excitement, putting his hand on her belly.
“Mas, wait a minute. How can you take it so lightly, who are you going to ask? If anybody finds out about this, it’ll be hard on me. People are going to sneer and gossip. It won’t only be Mas Parman who is going to insult me, but everybody in this paguyuban.” Yuni looked down at the table, “Mas, remember that we’re not married. On top of that our parents don’t know about our relationship.”
“Yun, we’ll think of a way around it. The most important thing now, is to find out about your condition.”
“Serves you right! Who told you to provoke me like that?” Sitawati said upon seeing Parman’s bruised and scarred face. “Mas Koes is a gentleman, look at how far he went to defend my honor.”
Parman looked at her then laughed, “Defend your honor? It was that stupid country bitch who he was defending, I didn’t hear him mention your name even once. You’re delusional if you think he has the slightest interest in you.”
“You’re lying!” She sulked.
“Would you bet your life on it?”
“I’m not marrying her, Buk!” Koeswanto said to his mother while massaging her leg as she lied face down on the bed.
“But Koes! This is my dream, you know that Sita’s mother and I are very good friends, we want to strengthen our bond by marrying our children.” Bu Karto insisted.
“Buk, I already have somebody that I want to marry.”
“Who is she?” Bu Karto asked sharply.
“Yuni?” Bu Karto sat up, she looked at her son with disbelief. “Our servant?”
“I didn’t bring her to be our servant that was just an excuse. I brought her here because her father wanted to marry her off to the village rich man.” Koeswanto explained.
“How could you do something like that? Have you gone crazy?” Bu Karto stared at him in anger.
“That’s not all, Buk. She’s pregnant now. I’m going to have a baby.”
“Huh?” Bu Karto screeched. “No! I won’t accept it! I won’t accept it! If she is able to sleep with you who isn’t her husband, who’s to say that she didn’t do it with any other person? How can you be sure that the child she’s carrying is yours and not some other man’s? God knows how many men she’s slept with.”
“Buk, of course it’s mine. I won’t allow you to humiliate her. You know very well that Yuni is not that kind of girl! ” Koeswanto asserted.
“I don’t believe it! She sly, cunning and wicked girl. She pretends to be all innocent and noble, but she’s capable of seducing a man into her bed. Koeswanto! Are you blind? How can you reject a proper and pure woman like Sitawati for an easy, wild and loose harlot like Yuni? I don’t care if she’s pregnant. I won’t acknowledge her baby as my grandchild. I don’t trust her. That child might even have two, five or ten fathers. I’ll never accept a disgusting creäture like that into my family. Never!”
Yuni stood at the door with the tray in her hand. Her heart became cold hearing Bu Karto’s words. She had enough, she didn’t want to hear anymore, “You can humiliate me all you want.” She said to herself, “But what did my child ever do to you? My baby never asked to be conceived, it’s innocent.”
Yuni walked back into the kitchen. She put the tray down standing motionless in the darkness. She put her hand over her belly. It was still flat, according to the midwife, she was already two months pregnant.
She walked slowly to her room. Sitting on her bed she touched her belly again, “I’m sorry!” She whispered. “I’m sorry, this is my fault. Because I was irresponsible, you had to come into my womb at this time. Before I could give you a proper family.”
Bu Karto’s word rang in her ear. Is this how people will see her as soon as her stomach begins to expand? Will her baby have to bear the nickname of “bastard” all its life? Will it have to live a life of shame, without being able to lift its head with pride in this world, growing up as a person to be sneered and mocked by society?
Yuni was determined not to let that happen. If she stayed in Koeswanto’s life, his mother and all the other people who are his social level will continue to insult her and her child. These are pretentious people, who seem to act with high manners and good behavior but are capable of falsely accusing people for their own benefits.
Yuni stood up. She took out her bag and packed her clothes. Pak Lurah, he and his wife had always been nice to her. They were the ones who recommended her for the job at the paguyuban. If anyone could help her and her baby, it was him. But first she had to go home to her parents’ house. She wondered how long she can keep her pregnancy a secret.
“We’ll survive somehow.” She whispered to her belly.
She took out the money she had earned from working in the house and from the events. It wasn’t much, but at least it could buy her a ticket home and she would still have a little more. She pocketed a few bills which she calculated would be enough to pay for the fare, then rolled the rest and secured it in her bra.
Yuni quietly headed to the back field. It was dusk already, there wouldn’t be any trains left, but buses run til late at night. She walked quickly passed the field and headed to the main road. Yuni walked a few minutes, then flagged a bicycle rickshaw. “To the terminal.” She said.
“I don’t care what you think, Bu.” Koeswanto said, “I’m going to marry her!”
“You can’t! I won’t give you my blessing. If you insist in marrying her, it’ll be the same as killing your mother!” Bu Karto raised her voice.
“Bu, you know I love you, I’ve always done what you want me to do, I’ve never once gone against your bidding, but this time it’s different. It’s not about you, there’s the woman I love and my child at stake, and I won’t let anything happen to them.”
He walked out of the room.
“Koeswanto! I haven’t finished talking to you!” His mother shouted.
Koeswanto looked for Yuni all over the house and the field but she was nowhere to be seen. The last place he looked was her bedroom, the door adjar, and the cupboard door was also opened. He looked inside, it was empty.
Koeswanto hurriedly ran out of the house, he mounted his bicycle, there was only one place she could have gone to, the train station. He swore to find her and bring her back with him.