Smaradahana Chapter 13

Cultural Trivia: In the original story written in the 12th century by Empu Dharmaja, Dewi Kamaratih’s soul was torn in two when she was sent to be reborn. One part reincarnated to Dewi Anggraeni, and another part reincarnated into Dewi Chandra Kirana, both women were married to Raden Panji Amsarabangun. Dewi Anggraeni was killed by the order of his Queen mother to make way for him to marry Dewi Chandra Kirana. To stay loyal to the story, I will keep part of this plot, obviously following the 21st-century twist that I have added……

“I sense that something is wrong!” Bathara Brahma furrowed.

“What is it?” Bathara Narada asked, “They are about to be married now. What could be wrong?”

“I don’t know for sure, but I sense something sinister,” Bathara Brahma said pensively.

“You are right to be concerned, Bathara Brahma,” A sweet voice rang behind them.

“Bathari Parwati, greetings to you…”  Bathara Brahma and Bathara Narada exclaimed simultaneously.

“Parwati greets both Bathara Brahma and Bathara Narada….” She replied kindly.

“You were saying, My Lady…?” Bathara Narada asked.

“Ah yes, Bathara Brahma is right to be concerned. Before this incarnation cycle, the Demon King attempted to taint Dewa Kamajaya’s soul with evil, Dewi Kamaratih and I arrived just in time to save him before he was defiled by malice. But when Dewi Kamaratih and I tried to purify, we found that the Demon King’s power was too strong for us. Dewi Kamaratih sacrificed herself by giving him all her power, we were able to purge the darkness from him. But, as a result her soul shattered. Even though I had succeeded in gathering the pieces and sent her to earth to be reborn,  I don’t know what effect this has on their relationship,” Her voice was alarmed.

“How could this be? I have to do something to help them!” Bathara Brahma exclaimed

Bathara Narada considered this information for a while, “We should let fate take its course.”

“But we are Gods, we are the ones who write fate!” Bathara Brahma argued.

* * *

“I’ve been thinking, ” Roni started as they were sitting down to breakfast, “How could I believe that you really love Luna. Whatever happened between the two of you, it happened a long time ago, and you were both kids at the time. You even married someone else, so you moved on from her.”

Panji exhaled, “Like I said, both women have a special place in my heart.”

“Your marriage to Anggraeni wasn’t official, was it?”

Panji shook his head, “No it wasn’t, we only married through a religious ceremony. My mother never approved of our relationship.”

“You never told me how you met her. All I know is that she was your girlfriend during college, was she in the same class as you?”

“She was my junior. In fact she studied a different subject all together, she took a short course in polytechnic while I was taking my undergrad. We met at the cafeteria, I dated her for two months before I knew that I wanted to marry her. My mother was very upset when I told her about Anggraeni, my parents were already talking to Luna’s father about our engagement. I rebelled and married Anggraeni anyway, a month later she died in the accident. I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.”

“Look! I sympathize with your feelings, but Luna isn’t a spare part who you could use to fill up your broken heart.”

“She’s not! Trust me, she isn’t.”

* * *

“Samantha, Kak Panji is going to pick you up this afternoon, make sure you behave well with Aunt Rita. I have some work to catch up on, the web page for kak Panji’s company. Luckily I have permission to work from home, so you know where to call me in case of anything.” Luna said as she said goodbye to Samantha after dropping her off at her father’s house.

“Okay, Kak…” Samantha replied, “You sound less like my sister and more like my mother.”

Luna froze at her comment, “I’m your big sister and you’re my baby…sister. Besides, our age difference is very big, so it’s natural that I take care of you like this.”

“Don’t be angry,” Samantha said, “I’m glad that you love me the way you do.”

“I’m not angry,” Luna kissed her cheeks.

“Kak, don’t only worry about me, you should take care of yourself. Please don’t get sick, I don’t want you to be sick again!”

Luna smiled gently, “I won’t! I’ll see you later at home.”

Luna waved goodbye to Samantha while pushing her scooter towards the gate. She kicked started it and drove towards the office. Being by herself with no one to talk to, she began to feel an anxiety gripping her soul. She was going to marry Panji in a few weeks and it was making her nervous. Although he had promised her that he wouldn’t try to force her to do anything she didn’t want to do, but the thought of living in the same house with him worried her. On the other hand, she knew that deep inside she wanted to be with him.

She arrived at the building and drove straight into the parking lot in the basement. Luna left her scooter in its parking space. She walked towards the elevator. A sharp pain at the back of her head began to disturb her, it was a banging pain giving  a sensation like it was about to split her head. She tried to shake the sensation off, “Damn migraine,” She muffled to herself.

Luna entered the elevator as soon as the door opened and pressed the button to the appropriate floor. She held her head as the pounding refused to go away leaning against the elevator wall. As soon as the door opened again, she stumbled out. She traced the wall to support herself from falling down, her hands trembled as she took out the key to open the door to her apartment. With difficulty, she managed to open the door and push it open. Luna entered her apartment and closed the door behind her. She forced herself to walk to her room, to get the medicine that was kept in her nightstand drawer, she barely walked two steps when, the world around her became dark and silent.

* * *

Panji whistled as he fixed his hair and straightened his shirt in the elevator mirror. Luna was busy working on the web page, and he had to pick Samantha up from her “father’s” house. He was so excited to be able to have a few minutes alone time with his daughter that he left the apartment hours earlier before the promised time, maybe he could stop at the shopping center and buy her a stuffed animal or something nice as a gesture of his affection.

The elevator arrived at the basement and the door opened. Panji rushed out and walked to his car. He pointed the remote to unlock the door. A beeping sound echoed through the enclosed area, he walked towards the flashing backlight when suddenly he heard a voice calling him from behind.

“Mas Panji….” The soft smooth female voice made the hair on the back of his neck stand on its end.

Panji quickly turned around. “Mas Panji…” Now he could see the source of the voice.

“Luna, what are you doing dressed like that and calling me Mas?” He asked nervously, “How come you’re wearing simple clothes and old women shoes? And what happened to your disrespect towards me?”

“Mas Panji, it’s me, don’t you remember me?” She asked, “Mas, how can you forget me so fast?”

“A..Anggraeni?” Panji’s whole body shook, his mouth became dry and his heart beating hard.

“Mas, I missed you so much!” She cried.

“They told me that you were dead, in a car accident….” He shook his head.

“I went to a cafe to meet your mother that day. She explained to me why it was important for you to marry the daughter of Jenggala Finance, and why our marriage will only harm your family. It made me very upset, so I ran out to the streets, I was hit by a car, but luckily the driver stepped on the breaks on time, so I wasn’t hit hard. Your mother took me to the hospital, and I was there for a few hours, because of my bruises. She gave me a lot of money to leave the city and stay away from you. She said that if I loved you, I wouldn’t stand in the way of a better future for you,” Anggraeni explained.

“So you let me think that you were dead and broke my heart to pieces over money?” He couldn’t believe his ears.

She moved forward and shook her head,”No, I did it for you, for your future, I did it because I loved you. I didn’t even spend the money your mother gave me. It’s still there, I haven’t touched it. Mas, you have to believe me.”

“Why are you here now?” He asked coldly.

“I realized how much I love you, I realized that I can’t live without you and that I don’t want you to be with anyone else but me,” She replied, “No one could ever love you like I do, not even her, Luna.”

“How do you know her name?” Panji wondered.

“Because like I said, I love you very much. I never really left you. I was watching you from afar,” She smiled, and clasped his hand, “Mas, tell me that you still love me, tell me that you still want to be with me.”

“No!” He pulled his hand away, “Anggraeni, this is too much. I don’t know what to think right now. This too  much of a surprise for me.”

“Mas, thank you,” She smiled happily, “At least you didn’t reject me. if you’re doubting that means that I still have some hope left for us to be together.”

“I have to go to pick up someone,” He brushed her off while opening his car.

“Mas, I can be a mother for her. Give me a chance and I can be a good mother for Samantha,” Anggraeni rushed to prevent him from closing the door.

Panji quickly pulled the door and closed it, he started the car and drove away. His heart was beating hard and his mind clouded over this new discovery. He didn’t know to whom he was more upset, to Anggraeni or to his mother. Suddenly he realized something, he hit the stirring wheel with his fist, “Damn it! How did she know about Samantha?”

* * *

Luna picked herself up from the couch, she looked at her wrist watch, she couldn’t believe how long she passed out. She rushed to her bedroom, in the mirror she could see her pale face. The last thing she wanted was for Samantha to see her like this and become worried. She brushed her hair and put on some makeup before going to her computer. While waiting for it to boot up, Luna went to the kitchen and made herself a hot cup tea. As far as she could remember she hadn’t been passing out for a month or two, she thought that she was getting better and she couldn’t understand why it’s happening again now.

Luna picked up her cell phone and dialed a  umber saved in it, “Doctor Baskoro? Hi, this is Luna,” She said.

“Luna, it’s been a while since you called. How can I help you?” He asked from the other side of the line.

“I need to make an appointment. I’ve been passing out again lately,” She said.

“Ah, did you hurt yourself again?” His voice was full of concern.

Luna shook her head and replied, “No, no…I didn’t. But I’m afraid that I might. Now that my baby sister is living with me, I don’t want her to see me like this. Doctor, I need your help, please. What’s wrong with me?”

She could hear the doctor exhaling, “Luna, how about I see you at my clinic on Thursday at 3 PM.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” She sighed in relief.

She sat in front of her computer and began working on the web page that was assigned to her. Sick or not, she had to deliver her task professionally.

* * *

“Samantha, Nak Panji is here to pick you up,” Her Aunt Rita announced, disturbing Samantha from her drawing.

She turned around and looked at the two people standing at the doorway. “Hello, Samantha…” Panji greeted her with a friendly smile. His heart pounded in pride looking at her small figure sitting in front of the table and concentrating in her drawing.

“Samantha, Nak Panji is here earlier than expected because he wants to take you out to the shopping center to get you some ice cream,” Aunt Rita said with a smile.

Samantha looked at him, “Okay….” She quickly packed her colored pencils and got up, ” I have to get my bag from the room.”

“Okay, go ahead I’ll help you pack the rest of your things here,” Panji squatted in front of the table. His brow flexed when he saw the drawing on the piece of paper on the table.

“Samantha loves to draw,” She explained, “I personally think she is talented.”

Panji smile and nodded, “Yes she is, she’s very talented.”

“She also loves to read, that’s not common for girls her age these days. But Samantha is very diligent, she’s smart at school and she has a deep interest in our traditional culture. On top of that you’ll see that she is quite mature for her age.”

Panji felt ten feet tall, he almost couldn’t hold himself back from hiting his chest with his fists and jumping up and down like a gorilla.

“You’re her biological father, aren’t you?” The elder woman asked.

Panji was taken by surprise, “Excuse me?”

“It’s not only wrinkles, that come with old age, but also comprehension and wisdom,” She smiled, “The two of you have the same facial gestures, and your eyes, they are exactly the same.”

“I hope that you would help me, please…”

“Keep this a secret?” She cut him, “Of course I will. Just make sure you take good care of my two girls, promise me that.”

“I will, I promise.” He nodded with security.

“Kak Panji, I’m ready…” Samantha said as she popped up in the living room again.

“Okay, Princess. Here’s your drawings, let me put it in your bag,” He walked around and kneeled behind her, putting the sheet of paper in his hand in her back pack.

“Thank you!” She sincerely said, “Let’s go, since you offered to buy me ice cream, I want to go to my favorite place, the place where Kak Luna always takes me. I haven’t had my favorite vanilla cone for ages”

To his pleasant surprise she took him by the hand and dragged him out of the house towards the car. Luna was right, his daughter is like him, she is assertive, she knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask for it. “Sure, your highness, what ever you say…”

“Kak Panji, there is something very important that I have to talk to you about. It’s my sister, Kak Luna.” Her little face became serious as she sat down in the front passenger seat and strapping herself with the seatbelt.

“What is it?” Her words were beginning to worry him.

“Kak Luna, I think she’s still sick.” Her eyes became wet, “Kak Panji, I don’t want anything bad to happen to her.”

“Luna….Luna is sick?” His heart sank to the ground.

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