“Is it true that Tia Chang came and visited you at your apartment this morning?” Princess Latifa asked.
“No, it’s not true,” Ahmed replied.
“Ratna saw you with her own eyes, she went to your apartment to bring you breakfast and she saw you and that woman coming out of your apartment.” She insisted.
“Well, it isn’t true that Tia came to visit me this morning, she stayed with me all night.”
“You horrible punk! How could you speak like that to your mother? Don’t you have any sense of decency?”
“You asked didn’t you?” He smirked.
“How could you do something like that, you’re already engaged, how can you spend the night with a woman other than your fiance?” She criticized.
“Yes, I am engaged, this morning I asked Tia to marry me.”
“Are you out of your mind? We’ve already announced your engagement with Ratna at the party. How can you treat her like that? Don’t you have any respect? Don’t you have any considerations towards her feelings? How do you think she would take it, seeing her fiance flirting around with another woman in front of her”
“Considerations? Are you going to talk about having considerations? I don’t remember any of you having considerations towards me when you suddenly announced my engagement to Ratna. An engagement that I never agreed to.” Ahmed refuted, “I don’t have any intentions to marry Ratna, not now, not ever. I don’t see her more than a friend. I think I’m more than old enough to make my own decisions about my life.”
“Ahmed, please come to your senses. How do you think it would look if only a few days after we made the announcement, you’re already going out with another woman. What would people think about our family?” She pleaded.
“Ma, maybe you should have thought about that before forcing me to go ahead with your plans.”
* * *
“Tia, where were you last night?” Mr. Chang questioned his daughter when she arrived home.
“I was with….” Tia’s voice lowered
“Good afternoon, Mr. Chang.” Ahmed greeted entering the door after Tia.
“Ahmed, I didn’t know that you were here with Tia.” He said, “Sit down, I think we need to talk.”
Tia looked at Ahmed, her heart was pounding nervously. They sat side by side in front of her father, his eyes were closely observing them. “Why didn’t you come home last night?” He asked again.
Ahmed was about to answer on his behalf when Tia held his hand, “Pa, I spent the night with Ahmed at his apartment.”
“Tia….” He father sighed, “What were you thinking? Do you think its alright for a decent young woman to do such a thing?”
“Mr. Chang, please don’t be upset at Tia, I…”
“I’m not angry or upset at my daughter, I’m very upset at the idiot who took my daughter to his apartment and made her stay with him all night. Ahmed, I thought you were a proper and decent man, I never thought that you didn’t have the common sense to bring my daughter home at a decent time. ” His voice was calm but intimidating. “Tell me, have you………” He choked.
“Pa..,”Tia cut in, “I love Ahmed…I….”
“That’s enough!” Her father stopped her. “I want you out of my house. I don’t acknowledge you as my daughter anymore. I don’t have a daughter like you!”
“But Pa…” She protested.
“Pa….why are you kicking our daughter out of our house….” Mrs Chang came out from inside the house with Raden Nabila, they were carrying two big suitcases.
“Toni, are you out of your mind?” Raden Nabila scowled at him as she put down the suitcase in her hand.
“You stay out of my family matters!” Mr. Chang pointed at his in law, he turned to his daughter, “I told you before, if you want to live here, you have to obey my rules. But you ignore it and do what ever you want to do. I can’t have that type of behavior in my house. If I don’t punish you, your sister might copy your actions, and what will happen to our family’s honor? People will think that the daughters of the Chang family are free and loose women.”
“Pa…how could you treat our daughter like that? What will happen to her if she doesn’t live with us?”
“Toni, you’re a stubborn old mule. How can you treat your own daughter like that?” Raden Nabila said, “Tia, pack all your clothes. Since yesterday Mr. Chang had cordially told me that my son and I are no longer welcomed here, I had Hafiz search for a house to rent, so you’re going to live with me.”
Tia nodded, she rushed to her room to pack her bag.
“You got that right, you old hag. With all your money you could have rented a place to stay, why are you free loading off a poor person like me.” Mr. Chang grumbled.
“You’re poor because you’re nothing but a hard headed obstinate fool!” She huffed “Ahmed, are you going to stand there like a statue? Hurry up and fetch my bags and help Tia bring hers to your car.”
Ahmed felt guilty for what happened, he nodded silently and picked up both suitcase, carrying them out of the house and putting them in the trunk of his car. He turned to see Tia coming out of the house, she had a big bag in her hand. She walked to the car and handed it to him.
“Baby, I’m sorry about this.” He whispered.
Tia shook her head, “If it wasn’t you, it would be something else. I was getting tired of his dictatorship. Don’t think too much about it. He’ll come around, he always does.”
They saw Raden Nabila and Mrs. Chang walk out of the house, “I don’t understand how you married a man like that.” Raden Nabilla said.
“Jiejie, he’s my husband the father of my daughter.” Mrs. Chang defended.
“The father of your daughters, one of which he just kicked out of your house.”
“Jie, please take care of my daughter, okay?” She pleaded.
“Of course I will…” Raden Nabila replied, “We’ll talk by phone.”
Both women kissed on the cheeks.
“Tia,” Mrs. Chang held her daughter, “Take of yourself, listen to your aunt, okay?”
“Ma, take care of yourself too. And also take care of Papa. Don’t let him get too stressed out, it would be bad for his heart.”
Mrs. Chang nodded. “Ahmed, please be good to my daughter, I hope you don’t mistreat her and please be good to her.”
“I promise Mrs. Chang!” Ahmed reassured.
“Thank you.” She patted his shoulder.
Ahmed opened the back door for Raden Nabila, then the front one for Tia. He went to the back of the driver seat and drove away.
“Ahmed and Tia, explain to me what the two of you are thinking of doing. Ahmed, didn’t you get engaged the other night? Then why did you have a pajama party with Tia at your apartment? Isn’t that an irresponsible thing to do?”
“Bunda, you know that I never agreed to marry Ratna. As far as I’m concerned she doesn’t have any relationship with me. What’s left to do is cancel the engagement.” Ahmed said, “The person who I want to marry is this woman sitting beside me, and she has agreed.”
“Hmm….I think it’s good that the two of you have taken the first steps to build your life together.” Raden Nabila nodded, “You can count on me to support you.”
“Thank you, auntie.” Tia replied.
* * *
“This is all your fault!” Hafiz pointed at Ahmed and Tia.
“Oh stop that Hafiz!” Raden Nabila rebuked, “Tia, come with me to your new room.”
“Okay, auntie…” Tia walked behind her.
“If you had kept your pants on, Tia wouldn’t have to be kicked out of her house.” Hafiz hissed.
“Hafiz, I’ve asked Tia to marry me, and she has accepted.” He explained.
“Oh, you’re engaged to two women are you?” Hafiz asked sarcastically , “Not even Bang Ali would do a thing like that and he is a Crown Prince, he has more money and power than you.”
“I only have one fiance, your cousin.” Ahmed insisted, “Ratna doesn’t mean anything to me.”
“Make sure you don’t forget what you said, because if you let her down, I’m going to make you pay!”
* * *
Ahmed entered his apartment, feeling tired and spent. He threw himself on his bed without bothering to take of his clothes or shoes. He was feeling drowsy and almost fell asleep when the door bell rang. Ahmed dragged himself out of the bed and peeped through the peeping hole. It was Ratna. She pressed the bell again.
“I’m not home!” He shouted.
“Ahmed, let me in. I cooked some dinner for you, why don’t we eat together,” She replied.
“Didn’t I tell you that I’m not home? The apartment is empty!” He shouted again.
“Ahmed, stop fooling around, open the door and let me in. This is embarrassing,” Her voice was shaking, “Ahmed, please….”
“Ratna, I don’t think it’s decent that a woman enters a man’s apartment at this hour. It’s already late, go home!”
“But you let her in, how come she could stay in your apartment, and I can’t?”
“Because she’s my girlfriend…”
“But I’m your fiance….”
“No you’re not! Tia is….”
Ratna’s eyes became wet with tears, she leaned against the wall, calming her heart then walked away.
* * *
“What’s wrong with my favorite girl?” Mr. Sumantri asked his daughter.
“Pa, it’s Ahmed. He has been cheating on me with one of the employees at work,” She sobbed.
“What are you talking about, the two of you have been engaged for only a few days, and you’re already accusing him of cheating on you?” He looked at her in disbelief.
“I’m not accusing him, I know for sure. He even held her in front of me, always sticking to her side. They were even together in his apartment a few nights after the engagement. He went as far as telling everybody that he’ll marry her and not me.” She sniffed in her tears, “The other day his lover humiliated me in public and picked a fight in front of all the office staff, but Ahmed’s parents didn’t defend me, in fact they made me apologize to her.”
“What?” Mr Sumantri was shocked. “Ratna, how dare the Al Rashids treat my daughter like that?”
Ratna bowed her head in sadness, “Pa, you have to do something to defend my honor. You have to make Ahmed be good to me. Make him act as a proper fiance.”
“Ratna….if he’s such a big bastard, you should forget him, why don’t we call off the marriage arrangement?”
“Papa! I don’t want to call it off. I want to marry Ahmed. You have to make him leave that woman and marry me. You have to force him to be loyal to me and forget about her.”
“I’ll see what I can do. But Ratna, I till think it would be better if you forget him. Why don’t you take a trip to Italy so you can take your mind off this situation?”
“I don’t want to forget him, I don’t want to go to Italy, I don’t want anything. I only want Ahmed!” She insisted.
* * *
“Mr. Omar, Mr. Sumantri is here, he says he want to talk to you.” His secretary buzzed him.
He took a deep breath and wiped his face with his handkerchief, before putting it back into his pocket, “Let him in.” Mr. Omar replied.
After a few minutes, his secretary opened the door and welcomed Mr. Sumantri in, “Can I get you a cup of coffee?” She asked.
“Thank you, an espresso for me,” Mr. Omar replied.
“I’ll have a regular black coffee, please. With two teaspoons of sugar.”
“Excuse me sirs,” She walked out ad closed the door.
“To what do I owe the honor of this visit?” Mr. Omar asked breaking the ice.
“I was in the area today, and I decided to drop in to check on my daughter. But unfortunately she was in a meeting, so that’s why I decided to drop in to your office.” Mr. Sumantri replied diplomatically.
“Ah…I see..” The other man nodded.
“I was pleased about the quarterly results that you sent. The company is doing very well, it seems.”
“It is. I think our regional division is helping a lot to leverage our revenue.” Mr. Omar added.
“Ah, yes. That is all thanks to your son. He did a very good job a few years ago in starting up that division, and making sure that the operations ran smoothly.”
“Yes, you’re right. My son is a very hard worker, and he has a very keen eye for business.”
“Omar, we’ve been business partners for a very long time, and as friends for longer than that. I wan very happy when your wife contacted us to proceed with the marriage plan between our children. But I’m concerned.” Mr. Sumantri paused, “My daughter tell me that your son hasn’t been acting like a good fiance for her. Last night she came home sad and devastated because she went to his apartment to bring him dinner, but he wouldn’t even open the door for her.”
“Well, I can’t say I blame him entirely. Fiance or not, a woman has no business being inside a bachelor’s apartment alone with him.”
“I agree.” Mr. Sumantri nodded, “But that’s not only the problem, she said that your son has been cheating on her, and is having an affair with one of the employees here.”
Mr Omar exhaled, “I think this is a problems among the youngsters, we old men should just sit back and let them resolve it among themselves.”
“Ah, you see, that’s where I don’t agree with you. For me my daughter is the most valuable treasure in the world. Her happiness is important for me, and I want to ensure it. You should tell your son to love her and treat her right, or I will have to take drastic measures.” He warned.
“What drastic measures?” Mr Omar looked at him suspiciously.
“You own the majority of the shares, but between Mr. Imran’s 30% and my 21%, we outweigh you. He’s been after me for months to support his son to take the position as General Manager, if your son Ahmed doesn’t complacent my daughter, I might do just that.”
“What are you saying?” Mr Omar was shaken.
“Tell your son to start treating my daughter properly, with love and dedication as his fiance, or tell him to kiss his job goodbye!”