“Batara Brahma, I can’t imagine why people at this day and age really take their time in finding their soul mate and settling down. How long since they have been reborn?” Batara Narada asked.
“Twenty three years.” Batara Brahma replied.
“Imagine that, I remember a few hundred years ago, at twenty three they were already married and planning the engagement for their first child.” Batara Narada exhaled.
“Times have changed in the mortal world, life expectancy has increased, If people still married young, the world would be over populated faster.”
“Still, they’re twenty three and they still haven’t met each other again, they haven’t even began a relationship yet. And he even married another woman. We should intervene.”
“No. not yet!” Batara Brahma, raised his hand, “Let’s wait and see for a few more days.”
“Oh fine!” Batara Narada agree disgruntledly, “But on the first sign of problems, I’m swooping in.”
* * *
“Panji, you should move on with your life, if you keep living in depression like this, it wouldn’t be good for you!” Mrs. Dari said to her son, taking the glass of whiskey from his hand. “It has been five months already since Anggraeni died. It’s time for you to let her go.”
“Ma, how could you ask me to do that, I didn’t even get to see her body to bid her farewell.” Panji argued.
“Panji, you have to understand, we did that to protect you, she was in a traffic accident, her condition was very bad. Your mother and I made that decision so you could remember her as the wife who lived with you and not how she looked after the accident.” His father explained. “Think of how would Anggraeni feel, if she saw you like this. You’re drunk day in and day out, you shut yourself in your room all day, you don’t shower, you hardly eat and refuse to work. What will become of you? What will become of our company?”
“Is it the company you’re worried about?” He slurred, “If that’s the case then go and do what you want to do. I don’t care anymore!”
“Panji, we are going to go ahead and ask Mr. Dartono for his daughter’s hand in marriage, I’m sure once you meet her, you won’t regret. Besides, this girl she looks like Anggraeni, I’m sure she can take her place in your heart.”
Panji sniffed back his tears, “Nobody can take her place in my heart.”
* * *
“Have you gone senile old man?” Luna jumped up from her chair. “You’re going to marry me off as a replacement bride to some guy who lost his marbles over his dead wife, because I look like her?”
“Luna, this is not just some guy, this is the heir of Kediri Jaya Properties. ” He explained.
“So?” She shrugged.
“Luna, they’re under a lot of financial trouble, most companies want to pressure them to sell off their property at a very low price. But we, can offer them a debt solution plan, and why not? After you marry their only heir, we’ll be part of the family.”
“Pa, that’s a great plan!” She smirked, “I think you should go ahead and marry their son.”
“Luna, don’t be stubborn. You should have sympathy to your Papa, you’re my only daughter, my Princess, and my sunshine. Do this for me, okay, okay?” He coaxed.
“No! All my life you’ve always prohibited me from dating or seeing any boys, and now you want me to marry one who is in mourning and recently widowed.” She paused, “My answer is straight forward, no way Jose!”
“My Princess…..” Mr. Dartono puckered, “After your mother died six years ago, it has only been you and me against the world. I did everything imaginable for you, now why don’t you do this for me? And it’s not even for me, it’s for you. I want to make sure that you have a secure future after I leave this world. You know my uncles are hanging over my head, ready to take the company away from me. Marrying into the Erlangga family will make my dreams come true for you.”
“Don’t make me take extreme measures!” Mr. Dartono’s tone changed, “I can play the role as the evil stepmother, you know.”
“What are you going to do?” She looked at him with suspicion.
Mr. Dartono took out a set of keys from his pocket before running to the door, Luna dashed after him, but she was too late, he closed the door and locked it from the outside.
“Ha..ha…ha…..I bet you didn’t see that coming….” He laughed.
“Papa…Papa….” Luna shook the door by the knob, “Let me out of here. Do you hear me, old man?” She shouted.
“Luna, calm down. This is for your own good.” He shouted back.
Luna kicked the door in frustration, she looked for her cell phone to call for reinforcement, but she couldn’t find it anywhere.
“Oh, and by the way, I have your phone with me…” her father shouted from outside the room. “Now stay there calmly, your engagement party is in two days.”
“Old man, are you going to lock me in here without any food or anything to drink?” She said.
“Check on your desk, there’s some bread, milk, chocolate, fruits and canned meat. Make sure you don’t eat them all in one day.” He joked. “You have your computer, to entertain you.”
Luna’s face lightened up but dimmed again , “There’s no internet!”
“Do you really think that I would be dumb enough to leave your internet connected? You can watch TV.” He chuckled, “Oh, by the way, I’ll do you the favor of calling to your work and tell your boss that you’re sick.”
“You’re so mean….” She growled in frustration.
* * *
“Panji, look at you!,” His mother frowned seeing her son dressed in the suit but his shoulder long hair was tied in a pony tale and his face was still covered with facial hair.. “If you put a little effort in grooming yourself, I bet when Chandra, the daughter of Mr. Dartono sees you, she’ll fall in love at first sight.”
“Yeah, whatever…” He muffled.
“Come on, let’s go,” Mr. Erlangga said sighing at the site of his son. “Luckily it’s fashionable for young people today to look like vagabonds.”
They entered the car together, Panji sat at the front passenger seat while his parents at the back. It didn’t take them long to reach the Dartono’s house. They could see that some of the guests had already arrived. The family got down from the car and entered the house together.
Mr. Dartono rushed out to greet them, at the door, “Welcome…welcome…” He said.
“Mr. Dartono, I’m happy that we’re finally going to tie the family bond between us,” Mr. Erlangga said.
Panji was restless, he didn’t want to be there, all he wanted do was to go home and curl in his bed, remembering Anggraeni his late wife. The beloved wife that was taken away from him too soon.
“Is this Panji?” Mr. Dartono asked. “Let me introduce you to my little Princess, the ladies from the salon are still getting her ready. She’ll be down in a few minutes.”
“Mr. Dartono….Mr. Dartono, a problem, a big problem….” One of the ladies ran down the stairs and ran to the door towards them.
“What’s all the ruckus?” Mr. Dartono yelled.
Panji took this opportunity to sneak away from them quietly. He slid himself backward against the wall, making sure that his parents didn’t notice him. He continues to trace the wall until he couldn’t see them anymore. When he was sure that they couldn’t see him, he took off his jacket and tie and tossed it into the bush. He pulled his shirt out of his pants then ran towards the main gate and out on the street.
* * *
“Miss Chandra, Miss Chandra, she told us that she needed to go to the toilet, but she’s not there, we can’t find her anywhere.” The woman gasped.
“Where is that naughty girl?” Mr. Dartono mumbled, he looked at Mr. Erlangga, “I’m sorry, I have to find my daughter, she must be here…”
Mr. Dartono looked at the drive way with his mouth open, there in front of him his daughter, still in her engagement gown drove by on an ivory colored Vespa. She was wearing an open face helmet and motorbike goggles, but he could still recognize her.
“Bye…bye…Papa….,” She shouted while throwing one arm in the air and waving her hand at him, “Send me a postcard from your honeymoon…..”
“Luna…..” He yelled in anger. “Both hands on the steering handle!”
* * *
Luna laughed out loud. She was confident that she could escape from this tight fix, and she succeeded. She knew that her father would forgive her in no time. The most important thing to do now is to go to her favorite place to crash for the time being. When she would have fall outs with her father, she would go to her best friend’s apartment. Luckily Nuri lives alone, her father wouldn’t guess to call there and ask for her.
She drove while making her plans, without knowing it a man jay walked in front of her, she slammed the the steer handle to the right to avoid him, making her fall sideways, luckily she was able to put down her leg to support herself and her Vespa.
“Hey!” She yelled at him “Are you stupid or what?”
Panji looked up starring at her, “For some strange reason her with presence makes me feel a strange feeling of familiarity.” He mumbled to himself as he observed her carefully, “She is in an elegant and expensive party gown, but she was driving a Vespa with an open face helmet and goggles. Not a harmonic match.”
“Hey, didn’t you hear me?” She shouted again, “You crossed the street abusively without looking….” She closed her mouth, getting off her Vespa, and putting it on the stand, she approached him carefully. “Did I hit you? Do you have a concussion?” She waved her hand in front of his face.
She looked at the scruffy looking man in front of her, something inside made her feel sorry for him. She observed his clothes, it looked nice, “Some good Samaritan must have donated it to him,”She thought to herself.
“Do…you….need….to….go…to…the…..hospital….” She shouted slowly, thinking that maybe he had hearing problems for living too long in the streets.
“I’m fine!” Panji said to her. “I was surprised that’s all.”
“Ah….that’s good. Okay then, if you’re alright, I’ll take my leave now.” She said walking back to her Vespa.
“Hey, wait.” He called her, “Can you give me a ride?”
“Huh?” She looked at him with distrust.
“I won’t harm you! I promise, I just need a ride back to my friend’s house. Here, I’ll pay you.” He said while reaching for his wallet.
“No..no..no…its alright. Okay, I’ll give you a ride, but you drive, that way I can be sure that you won’t try anything funny,” She said.
Panji laughed at her heart warming behavior, “Fine.”
Panji sat on the Vespa, turned the key and started in, “Hop on!” He said to her.
She nodded and saddled behind him.
“Let’s roll!” Panji exclaimed, surprisingly his voice shows how his heart felt lighter.
* * *
“Your friend lives in this area?” She asked in disbelief.
“Yeah, why?” He asked back
“Wow, you have friends with money…” She praised.
He smiled widely, “Thank you for the ride, would you be okay travelling all alone at this hour by scooter?”
“Actually, I was headed to this same building.” She said.
“Oh really?” Panji opened his eyes wide.
“My friend lives on the fifth floor in tower one.” She explained.
“Oh…mine lives on the fifth floor also but in tower two.” He said in amazement.
“Cool, I’ll be seeing you around then.” She waved as she pushed her Vespa into the parking space.
* * *
Nuri opened the door. “You need a place to crash again, huh? What is it this time?” She asked not surprised.
“My father tried to make me marry this man.” Luna explained curtly.
“Well, was he that ugly that you ran out in your party gown?”
“I don’t know what he looked like, I didn’t bother sticking around to find out.” She replied.
“You should move in permanently. You pay part of the rent, and have a closet full of clothes here anyway, not to mention your toiletries and shoes.” Nuri said pursing her lips.
“I don’t feel comfortable leaving the old man alone.” Luna replied while taking off her jacket.
“Hmm….Hey you’re dress beautifully like that, but why are you still wearing that childish little silver necklace?” Nuri asked.
“This necklace? I don’t know why I’m still wearing it, but I just can’t bring myself to take it off. This is my good luck charm.”
“A good luck charm from you childhood friend who totally forgot about you?”
Luna smiled, “This was the first present I ever got. So I believe that it would bring me good luck.”
* * *
“Who are you and what did you do to my cousin?” Roni asked when he saw the man with Panji’s voice at the door.
“Stop fulling around,” Panji replied while walking in.
“Hey, I’m glad you finally decided to go out of your house after…after what happened to Anggraeni. I mean I know that I never knew your wife, because I haven’t had the chance to visit you after returning from the Netherlands, but I know you must love her a lot to be in such pain.”
Panji sighed sadly “I had to leave my house. My parents were about to make me get engaged today. I can’t do that to my wife, I can’t betray her.”
“She’s gone, my friend.” Roni held his shoulder.
“Not for me. Not in here.” He pointed to his heart.
Roni exhaled in sympathy, “Look, I let you stay here, but I’m not going to take it if you’re going to lay around the house mopping and drowning in your sorrow. If you want to stay here, you should work in my company, can you do that?”
Panji nodded, “Okay, I’ll work with you, I have nothing to loose anyway. What do you want me to do? Make coffee and scrub the floor?”
“You’ll do what you’re good at doing, marketing. You’re going to be my new Marketing Manager.”
“You’ll start tomorrow. make sure you shave and cut your hair.”
* * *
“I meant shave your beard and cut your hair, not shave your hair off!” Roni gritted as they walked into the parking space of the office.
“It was an accident,” Panji grinned, “I tried to cut it myself and I went overboard.”
Roni sighed, “Let me show you to your office, before we introduce you to all the staff, we’ll have IT set you up with a laptop and smartphone.” They walked to an office, Roni gestured him to enter. “Wait here, IT will arrive in a few minutes, I’m going to my office to reply to some emails.”
“Ah okay…” Panji nodded. He sat at his new desk, opening all the drawers to see if there was anything that the previous occupant left behind. It was clean.
He spun his chair to look out the big window that was behind him, he could see the view of the other buildings across the street.
“Good morning…” A familiar cheerful voice rang from the door. Panji recognized it as the voice of the girl who had given him the ride last night. He quickly turned his chair around. His eyes opened wide as he saw her face, “Anggraeni,” He whispered.
“Hi, I’m from IT,” She said, “I’m here to set up your laptop, logins and email.”
He couldn’t say a word, he just nodded as she walked over to his desk cheerfully, she put the laptop on his desk and opened it, putting on the adapter and plugging it on the wall. She stood across him leaning against the desk as she typed on the laptop’s keyboard.
Panji froze when from the corner of his eyes he caught sight of a familiar shiny object hanging down her neck, “Luna……?” He said hesitantly almost whispering.
She looked up with a big smile, “Huh, I must be so famous that you heard of my name before I introduced myself.”