Koeswanto was extremely nervous as he stood at the door of her house. He paced back and forward wondering why nobody had opened the door to let them in.
“Koes, calm down. You’re going to get a panic attack if you keep that up.” His uncle persuaded him.
“Why are they taking so long?” He asked almost to himself.
Finally, the door opened and Pak Bakrie greeted them, “Welcome.” He said.
Koeswanto was slightly relieved seeing his future father in law’s expression was relaxed and friendly. He was somewhat worried that he would try to pick a fight with them.
“Please, sit down,” Pak Bakrie said to them.
The table was set with various containers filled with snacks, there was also a tray ready with glasses filled with tea. Koeswanto looked around the living room it was obvious that his future mother in law had put in an effort to clean it and decorate the room with their humble means.
Pak Bakrie and his wife sat on the long chair while the two guests sat across them. It was according to custom that during the marriage offer, the future bride should not be present in the room. Yuni was waiting inside her own room.
“Bapak,” Koeswanto said, already calling his future father in law as a father instead of Mister. “This is my uncle, the brother of my late father, Pak Lik Darto, he has come today to represent me in proposing my marriage to your daughter.”
“Pak Darto, thank you for coming all the way to Desa Sumber Rejo,” Pak Bakrie replied.
“The pleasure is mine,” Pak Darto replied. “My nephew Koeswanto approached me a few days ago, to ask me to represent him today to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage. I actually have an older brother, mas Tono, who is more appropriate to represent Koeswanto, but he could not come here to Jember due to unforeseen circumstances, but he has expressed his approval and blessing to Koeswanto.”
“Thank you for explaining this to me Pak Darto.” Pak Bakrie nodded. “I will be honest too, and I have said this to Koeswanto before. I am not a hundred percent happy with the idea of my daughter marrying your nephew, but the circumstances now force me to accept their relationship.”
“Pak Bakrie, may I ask why you don’t really agree with my nephew?”
“Pak Darto, I’m not trying to be mean or judgmental towards your nephew. But let’s be logical about this. Your nephew is a very good-looking young man, he is the star dancer of the biggest Paguyuban in the regency, and he has many women following behind him. He is also rumored to be involved with the prima donna of the group, who I have seen for myself is a very beautiful woman. If you compare him to my Yuni who is a very humble woman both in looks and in origin. Koeswanto at this moment is like a child who had just received a new toy, he is still happy with it and would like to play with it all the time. But what happens when he realizes that there are prettier toys out there that are available to him. Wouldn’t he drop the one in his hand for a new one?”
“Pak Bakrie, first, your daughter is not a toy. She is a person with feelings, she might not be a beauty but she must have qualities that caused Koeswanto to fall in love with her in the first place.”
Pak Bakrie smiled ironically, “I’m not even convinced that your nephew is in love with my daughter. But I do appreciate his willingness to take responsibility for the child that is growing in her stomach.” He quickly added.
Koeswanto was about to speak up to defend himself, but Pak Bakrie continued, “I have discussed this situation with Pak Lurah’s brother, Pak Atmojo. He has agreed to continue employing Yuni in the Paguyuban after the wedding, in fact he has promised to give her a permanent job, instead of the part-time job that she has now. ”
Pak Darto nodded, “How generous of him.”
“Bapak, I don’t understand why Yuni has to work, I will provide for her and the child. She can stay at home and take care of the household.” Koeswanto said.
Pak Bakrie looked at him with dislike, “Koeswanto, do you have a problem with my daughter working? It is important for our family that she can be independent, just in case she would need to provide for herself in the future.” He asked with a threatening tone.
Koeswanto shook his head.
Pak Darto glanced at his nephew, “Pak Bakrie since we have solved that issue, can we set the date for the wedding?”
Pak Bakrie nodded.
“Bapak, I would like to go ahead with the marriage contract this upcoming Friday. Yuni’s pregnancy is almost three months now, it would be better to do it a soon as possible.”
Pak Bakrie took a deep breath, “I suppose you’re right since it is a shotgun marriage, we won’t have enough time to organize the reception.”
“Don’t worry, Pak Bakrie” Pak Darto said, “I will personally arrange for the reception, it would be held in my house. We’ll set it for the next week.”
Koeswanto looked at his uncle he did plan for any reception and didn’t think that his uncle would either.
“Please, go ahead and drink the refreshment.” Pak Bakrie pointed with his thumb. “Buk, why don’t you call Yuni out to greet her future uncle-in-law?”
Bu Nining nodded, she got up from her chair and entered the house, and soon she came out again with her daughter.
Koeswanto looked at Yuni, she was pale and looked thin, “Are you sick?” He asked.
“She’s been vomiting a lot lately and hasn’t been eating well,” Bu Nining replied.
Koeswanto felt uneasy seeing her like that and not being able to be by her side. “Is there anything you want to eat? Are you craving anything?” He asked.
Yuni shook her head, “No.” She replied.
“Pak Darto, please come to the back, we do not have a proper dining room, but we have prepared a very simple meal for you to enjoy, please this way.” Pak Bakrie showed him in.
“You look pale,” Koeswanto said to Yuni as soon as the elders entered.
“I’m okay, it’s just the morning sickness.” She replied.
Koeswanto looked at her tenderly, “We’ll be together soon.” He said.
Yuni smiled and nodded.
“Wedding reception?” Budi asked when he received the invitation from Koeswanto, “Why is it so sudden? Oh…could it be….” He made an arch movement in front of his stomach.
Koeswanto didn’t reply.
“Ah…..so it’s true….” Budi nodded.
“Well, how else would somebody who looks like that succeed in trapping Mas Koes in marriage?” Sitawati said walking up behind Koeswanto. “That’s why you shouldn’t have allowed just anybody into your house to work there, I’m sure she must have used black magic to seduce you into being with her.”
Koeswanto’s face turned red, “Sita, how long have we known each other? Fifteen years, is it? I’ve never understood why people think that you’re beautiful. You may have fair skin, easy to look at face, and whatever else people see in you, but I don’t see you as a beautiful woman. And even as a friend you’re not pleasant to be around. You’re pretentious, capricious, impudent, and you always look down at other people. For me, Yuni is ten times the woman you are, in every sense of the word.
“Mas Koes!” She shrieked, stomping her right foot on the floor. “How embarrassing that a woman has to offer herself around to get a husband, that’s disgusting and unacceptable.”
“Is that so? I agree completely, as you said a woman offering herself to get a husband is disgusting and unacceptable, it’s a good thing Yuni never offered herself for marriage, not to me or anyone. That’s more than I can say for you who keeps trying to get my mother to force me into matrimony. No matter how much you offer yourself to be my wife, the answer is still no, I’m not interested.”
“Mas Koes, you’ll regret this! She doesn’t suit you.”
“Bud, let’s go,” Koeswanto said to Budi. Budi nodded his head and followed his friend.
“Wow, that woman is dying to marry you, what did you do to her?” Budi joked.
“I rejected her! I think I hurt her pride more than her heart.”
“Thank you for the invitation,” Pak Atmojo said, “Joko, you and Wulan are going to perform Gatot Koco Gandrung at the wedding reception.”
“But the reception it’s just going to be a simple reception, nothing fancy,” Koeswanto explained.
“But that’s alright, it would be embarrassing if the star of a traditional dance group doesn’t have any traditional dance exhibited at his wedding reception,” Pak Atmojo stated.
Koeswanto nodded, “Okay then.” He smiled.
The big day of the reception had finally arrived. traditionally the reception should be held in the bride’s home, but because Pak Darto had stated that he will host it, it was held there. The house was decorated with coconut leaves and flowers, the row of chairs for the guests stretched out on the road in front of the house while the center stage was set on the terrace.
The ceremony started with the meeting of the two families on the street. Each family carried with them twin tower shaped decorations called Kembar Mayang. The Kembar Mayang consists of coconut leaves, fruits, and flower garners attached to a banana branch. As a part of the ceremony both family, symbolically exchanged the towers.
Each family then threw a small bundle of betel leafs towards each other to rid of evil spirits.
The next ceremony is the stepping on an egg by Koeswantoro symbolizing an upcoming consummation of the marriage and the husband’s intention to become a responsible head of the family. After which Yuni then squats in front of him to wash his foot with flower water, as a form of prayer that the seed of the union will be free of any impurity and also to symbolize a wife’s submissiveness to her husband.
Then the bride and groom are wrapped with a red and white lined material, Pak Bakrie as the father of the bride walks in front of the two while holding each end of the material in both hands, while Bu Nining as the mother of the bride pushes them from behind. This symbolizes that the father will give a good example in the bride and groom’s future life, and the mother will always support them.
They walk to the chair, where Pak Bakrie sits on it, and Koeswanto sits on his right leg while Yuni sits on his left.
As part of the ceremony Bu Nining asks, “Which one is heavier, Pak?”
“My daughter, of course!” Pak Bakrie replied.
His wife slapped him on the shoulder,”Be serious!” She warned.
Pak Bakrie sneered then answered “They weigh same.”
The purpose of this ceremony is to declare that the parents will love both equally.
Then Pak Bakrie helped both bride and groom to sit, symbolizing that the marriage is done.
Koeswanto then stands and spills a bag filled with grains, coins and flowers to Yuni’s lap which was covered with a piece of fabric, this is to symbolize that Koeswanto as the husband will provide akl his wife’s needs.
The bride and groom then are made to share a plate of food to symbolize that they will be together for better and for worse.
Finally the groom’s parents are brought to the ceremony, in this case it was Pak Darto and his wife since Bu Karto refused to attend.
The bride and groom then bowed before the parents, but after Koeswanto had removed the decorative keris from his waist as part of the tradition, one must never face their parents or sovereign armed. the first bow goes to the bride’s parents then followed to the groom.
This was the end of the ceremony. The next on the agenda was the Gatot Koco Gandrung Dance. This dance depicts the courting of Endang Pergiwo by Gatot Koco, it is a spin-off of the Javanese version of the Mahabarata. There are different dances that are usually performed during wedding ceremonies, but romantic themed dances are usually preferred.
While the dance was shown, the guests were served the food and refreshments at their chairs.
When the ceremony finished, they changed out of the wedding costume before going back to Koeswanto’s house. Koeswanto didn’t see his mother when they entered, he assumed that she was in her room, not wanting to see him.
“Are you tired?” Koeswanto asked with concern when they were in the room.
Yuni nodded “I’m very tired.” She replied.
“Then let me help you clean your face.” He said. “You should get some sleep don’t worry about anything else.”
“Thank you.” She smiled.
Koeswanto smiled as he watched her curled up on the bed facing him. She was sleeping soundly and peacefully. He caressed her face and hair gently then moved his hand to touch her belly. Koeswanto could feel the bump that had grown there. He smiled moving his head closer to her belly, “How are you, baby?” He asked the person inside. “I hope tomorrow you’ll behave your best when your mother wakes up. Don’t be a naughty baby, you should let her eat and don’t provoke her to throw up, if she doesn’t eat properly then you won’t grow to be a big and strong baby. I want you to promise me this.” He smiled then kissed her stomach.
He heard a knock on the door, he carefully got off the bed and opened it. It was Bu Karto.
She glanced at the bed where Yuni was sleeping, “Oh, how nice. She’s already sleeping, she didn’t even bother to prepare dinner for us or even take care of herself by taking a shower.”
“Buk, Yuni was very tired.She hasn’t been feeling well and it’s the baby who is affecting her this way. Besides, It was me who told her to sleep.”
“Don’t worry. Thank goodness your mother has thought of everything.Tell your wife that she doesn’t have to worry about taking care of me, I don’t want her to come near me anyway. From now on, Sitawati will stay here to take care of me.”
Sitawati showed up behind Bu Karto, “Hello Mas Koes.” She said.