The boy can finally leave home

Cyandra village is like gems glowing in a cave. It has long been pulling in holiday makers throughout Magelang city and neighborhood coming to it no matter how challenging its route is.

You need to spend about three hours from the heart of the downtown by car.  Twenty minutes minus traffic jam is all that you require to get through the hustle and bustle of the city. Once you pass that, the real adventure is about to begin.

As 150 miles lie ahead of you, extra fitness is one sure thing. Another hard ingredient is being totally patient because you are not alone in seeking happiness in the village. Hundreds plan the same in weekends. Whenever extra days off hit, you may take four to six hours to get there. People from even as far as Surabaya don’t mind spending hours on road to quench their thirst of something green and fresh there.

Cyandra is like a magnet drawing more and more newcomers one can’t resist. Its charm has spread from mouth to mouth for the last five years. Once you get there you will go home bringing the Cyandra virus that will infect your relatives, brothers or sisters.

Sumardjan family had been caught by the virus thanks to the bombastic story told by one of their relatives. Maryati, the mother, the financial manager of the family of four, had been begging his youngest son, Adam to lead the trip.

“Because your father has been too old to drive while your brothers and sister are busy with their kids,” the mother said.

“And please, put that books down, Adam! I’m so sick watching you spending weekends reading in the room. Have a life my son! Please, do!”

Since Adam couldn’t stand with his mother’s fuss any longer, he nodded.

“The curse of being the youngest child. You have no options other than staying at home with your parents while your elder siblings can roam around the world,” he said to himself.

Although he is more like a homeboy, Adam still wishes he will leave the house one day like his siblings. Whenever he utters this desire his mother rejects the plan. For her, Adam must accompany her and the father until their last breath.

“Among all my children I trust you the most. After you get married I wish you and your family living here, too,” she once said.

Luckily for Adam, he gets a handsome job nearby the house. He works as a interior designer in a reputable private company outskirt of Yogyakarta. He doesn’t need to rent a house or a room to make him easier to commute because the house is nearer to Yogyakarta than the centre of Magelang.

Adam is an exception among Maryati’s children. The youngest, the quietest and the cleverest of all. While her other kids love going out, making lots of friends, Adam prefers a small circle of buddies. In contrary with his siblings who mostly love music and film, Adam turns to books whenever he is alone. Being in a group of people exhausts him.

Adam excels in everything that he does. If not being the class winner, he snatches a lot of trophies when he represents his schools, from elementary to senior high school in drawing or writing competitions. He garners many admirers from teachers and his peers, girls especially but Adam is Adam. He loves being alone.

Three weeks prior to the journey to the Cyandra hamlet, Maryati had already warned him to not forget the plan. So frequently that he got so fed up. Seven days before the departure Adam instead told her mother what he had prepared so that he wouldn’t hear her fretting.

His behavior hinted Maryati that she had been pushing him too far. It was time for her to stop. So the family set out in stillness. Only the laughter from Bagus’s 2 years-old girl who broke the silence once and in awhile as she was mostly sleeping in the car. The other two were canceling joining because of having other events to attend.

As much as Adam hated this trip, he was making the first move to clear things out.

“Mother, did you bring my favorite snacks? Please bring it here for I start getting bored in this traffic jam,” he said.

Her mother handed him the snack and they both began talking to each other.

“I’m sorry for forcing you getting out of the bed, my son. But I really do want to come to the countryside,” his mother said.

“I apologize for the harsh deeds lately, mother. I hate the thought of getting stuck in traffic jam only to have pleasure. That’s so silly,”

They both reconciled. It was always easy to make amends for them.

Four hours passed. The much-desired village was like waving from afar. Maryati’s heart jumped. She was so excited viewing all trees standing in a good order circling dozens of houses painted in either white or blue.

The houses are put in such a way that they look like colorful boxes arranged from top to down. This has been the most favorite sight among picture freaks. Even from distant, this hamlet has been a very delicate object, the scenery that washed away all the tiredness being four hours on the road.

The family was staying in the hamlet’s most-wanted inn run by the third generation of Waskito family who was earning high respects from other hostel or hotel owners there. To get a room in the inn, particularly during peak season, you must book at least one or two months beforehand. Adam was the one responsible for doing this as requested by her mother.

“My mother always wants the best, the most exclusive in everything. I’m doomed!,” he thought.

Three rooms were ordered under Maryati’s name, Adam got his own. He was happy that though he was in noisy place like Cyandra at times like this, his mother allowed him having some time alone in his room.

Nothing was really spectacular of spending the long weekends here. Taking walk across the countryside, picking up fruits, riding horses were among weekenders’ favorites. Others opted laying mattress or cloths then putting foods, fruits and snacks on top of it. Some call this as ‘a pretty vintage picnic’ or ‘a chic go-together moment’. Then bunch and bunch of pictures in social media.

“How can this be called as recharging your mind? You are here in this peaceful place but your mind is full of updates in Facebook, Instagram or Path? I don’t understand you, people!”, he said.

While Adam was embracing his skeptical side, Maryati and the rest of the company was completely savoring each and every moment. The 63-year old was even busy making new friends with her daughter-in-law every time they went out from the homestay. With such a cute and adorable girl like Amanda at their side, the duo was finding it very easy to make strangers to at least dropped a hello.

Sumardjan and Bagus were trailing behind their women. They both didn’t mind having their time wholly for their wives and kids. “One day you will understand it is worth the joy,” Sumardjan told Adam when his son was rambling about it.

Friday evening went casual with early dining in the inn then exploring culinary stalls all around the village. The home for about 1,000 residents was making it a bit loud in nights. When holiday season is around the corner, around 1,500 people pack the place, 500 of whom are from nearby villages working as seasonal security officers, parking attendants and cleaning service employees. All of them are hectic providing best services for around 1,000 tourists flocking the area.

So you can estimate food areas all around the village are full. Some book seats in advance, others come very early even before restaurants are operational. You still can enjoy the food and the people you bring along though as the air is cool with trees swinging to and fro. Each and every restaurant grows trees and flowers to ensure guests can take delight in eating.

Lucky enough that the Sumardjan family got seats for all of them. The eatery is well-lit, a large part of its two-story bistro is outdoor while the smaller one is in the building. It is just a few blocks from where the family was staying.

Since Amanda was prone to flu, the family opted spending the night inside the bistro. The Sundanese food they ordered tasted so delicious upon their mouths. They were enjoying meal in good mood. Maryati and Adam were looking merry as if they had forgotten their quarrels weeks before the night.

After Maryati finished eating all the meal she withdrew herself to the bathroom. It was painted in black and white with luxurious interior. Upon arriving to the village she couldn’t help but feeling surprised at everything that she saw.

“You can hardly call Cyandra a village. An exclusive resort it really is,” she said.

Though the houses in the countryside are relatively small they are well-built. Colorful tiles, strong foundation and delicate design. Not to mention restaurants which are well-composed.

So when she entered the toilet, she didn’t that shocked at finding she was like into a five-star hotel’s toilet. A middle-aged woman was washing her face then cleaning it up with tissue. She was in a long black dress with hair were tied up.

She greeted Maryati when the latter was just inside the toilet. The woman was looking modest yet elegant and most of all, friendly and humble.

“Do you like the food here, madam?” she asked.

“Oh yeah, I love it. Fresh and tasty, not too spicy. No wonder the eatery is so packed,” Maryati said.

“Do you know who owns this place? I’d love to meet him or her may be,” Maryati added.

The woman whom Maryati was addressing the last question was silent. She was tidying up her hair then putting all beauty essentials into her black wallet. “Hmm.. may be you should ask for the information to the cashier or the security officer. Till then, excuse me,” she said.

The short, ambiguous encounter left Maryati wondering for the whole night. She kept awake at night playing with the thoughts of who the stranger was. She looked classy and rich but wasn’t necessarily beautiful. Her tender words captured Maryati’s heart.

The following morning brought Maryati to the restaurant again. This time around she didn’t come to eat like the night before but to ask for the woman’s whereabout. She firstly interviewed the eatery’s security officers yet none of them had a clue about her. The same replies were uttered by people working in restaurants that stand in its right and left sides. They said they didn’t know such a fine lady was living or working there.

As her efforts were fruitless, Maryati was heading back to the inn before the Saturday morning was still young. “Hopefully neither my husband nor my sons ask why I leave the room early in the morning,” she thought.

On the way coming back to the hostel, Maryati saw the woman she had been looking for crossing the street. Maryati was at first puzzled on what she saw because the woman was wrapped in plain cloth with no makeup. She was looking like ordinary women in the hamlet but her look was still sophisticated.

“Oh hi, mam. Good morning. Do you still remember me? The woman whom you met in the toilet?” Maryati said.

“Oh yes, I still recognize your face. What can I do for you?”

“Hmm.. is it possible that we can sit together and have a nice chat? I have a few questions for you if you don’t mind,” Maryati said.

The woman was directing Maryati walking to a serene location where very visitors were spending the cloudy morning there. Like some who was drinking chocolate or coffee, the woman was buying Maryati a cup of hot tea. The two was sitting in wooden benches looking out a carpet of tea plantation. A number of women were plucking tea leaves, placing them into baskets they were carrying on the shoulders.

“I was wondering why you asked me about the food the other night?” Maryati opened the discussion.

“Are you up to something about me, mam? Just tell me,”.

“I only wish to know who you are since you look different than all women I have seen here. You seem educated and have a high taste. So, who you are if you don’t mind telling me.”

“The eatery belongs to my family, mam. If you were wondering why I was dressed up like a visitor that was because I wanted to know people’ opinions about the food and the service,” she said.

“I have been doing this disguise for years and this has proved making the business running well,” she added.

“Why did you do that? Don’t you have husbands, kids?” Maryati asked more.

“Because I’d love to see guests speak honestly. If I introduce myself as the manager or owner they most likely make up their answers.”

She added her husband had long passed away and she didn’t intend to marry anyone else. Her kids were away with their respective families but regularly visited her with their children.

“So you live alone here?”

“Biologically speaking yes. But people here are like my families. I was born and have been living in this village for the rest of my life.”

Up to this point, Maryati was tight-lipped. She was gazing at the row of people taking selfies in the tea plantation.

“Now you are quiet. What’s the matter?”

“Don’t you feel lonely, mam? They are not your family after all.”

“Yes, sometimes but I have to let them go to find their lives. I can feel their love from miles away. If I die, I’ll be proud with what I do of setting them free because I now believe love can stand the test of time and space.”

The last word left Maryati in stillness. They both parted ways as the woman had to clean up the bistro while Maryati was afraid her family started panicking looking for her. On the way of returning, Maryati couldn’t stop thinking the woman’s point of view. She was too absorbed with her words that she didn’t realize she had been staring at the breakfast in front of her without touching it.

“Mother, are you sick? You don’t like the food?,” Bagus asked.

“Oh no, my son. Lets, lets eat,” she said.

As breakfast was concluded Maryati was approaching Adam who was about to play with Amanda.

“Adam, can we talk?”

“Why, mother? You look pale. Do you have any problems, here?”

“Oh I’m fine, my boy. Don’t worry about me.”

“Adam you can go wherever you wish to go,” Maryati went straight to the point.

“Wait, mother! What is this? I don’t get it.”

“You can work in Jakarta, Singapore or any places you dream of. I’m sorry for keeping you at home all this time but now spread your wings and be free to fly.”

Adam was left perplexed. Not only as she granted his long wishes but also the ways she spoke of; soft but deep.

“My dear mother. Thank you so much but what happens? Why do you let me go, eventually?”

“Because I want you to live your life and I want to take care of myself and your father on our own. I want to be an independent old woman.”

Adam chuckled then hugged his mother.

“Thanks God. You don’t change. Still silly but this time around, on point.”



When the sun doesn’t set right

The sun was setting down in the sky. Within a few minutes the moon would come up, exchanging jobs with its eternal partner. For how many years one can’t remember, the sun and the moon have been the source of life for billions of people. They have been very faithful for human beings.

For most of us, though, their loyalty doesn’t interest us. Their constant devotion matters so little in exchange of fortune and fame. We are too busy to notice should the sun doesn’t rise exactly at 6 in the morning or if the moon hides behind the cloud. For Indra, his belief is the exact opposite. There’s no such thing as ‘busy’ when it comes to sunset hunting.

After his old friend, Sandro, got married last month, Indra was the only singleton in his group of five. He had been told for hundred of times to seek for a lifetime friend to grow old with by his peers. All advice that fell deaf to his ears.

“Sunsets are sexier than women. Even the winner of Miss Universe title,” he said.

“You fool! One day you will realize your mistake and that will be too late,” another pal replied. And Indra just smiled. He knew it would be futile to explain his choice.

“I wish I could marry sunsets. For not only they are beautiful, they, too, are punctual.”

Sunsets have driven him exploring Indonesian beaches. Every time he gets extra days off, Indra sets out to the sea. “I chase after my curiosity,” he told his friends whenever he was asked.

His friends even call him the sunset expert, the one people will turn to whenever they need all information about sunsets. “Hunting sunsets is like playing a game of life. It’s a matter of luck. Sometimes they show up, sometimes they don’t. But when they do, the time length is always similar. Brief but breathtaking,” Indra once said.

Like an addict Indra never gets enough of sunsets. The more they are hard to view the more eager he becomes. Oddly enough, sunsets in the Putri island is one of the few ones he wishes to enjoy.

Indra didn’t want to visit the island because he knew Kepulauan Seribu that includes the Putri island had been too ugly. Trash has made Kepulauan Seribu unappealing for him. He had held this belief until a week ago when he was missing sunsets so much but with short holiday he had no option than going to Kepulauan Seribu.

What used to be so unattractive to him now turned out to be adventurous. So he packed his bag then sailed to the Putri island.

Like a long-distance lover en route to meet a partner, Indra was nervous and excited at the same time. So he had been spending one hour to embrace the moment. His heart leaped when the sun was blushing among grey sky. He held his breath when it was fully blooming, almost forgot to catch its ravishing view through camera lens.

He was standing in awe watching the sunset greeting him by far. Fifteen minutes went like a blink of an eye. The sky was covering it little by little until it was gone.

“Oh baby, I will come back tomorrow,” he said to himself after that.

Sunday morning would promise me another mesmerizing experience, so he thought. But when he woke up the cloud made him staying at his bed a bit longer. “The sun didn’t show up this morning,” he said to himself. He somehow pulled out white blanket that was covering his body throughout the night. He was surprised he felt so chill.

“Don’t worry, mister. I believe the sun will come up this afternoon. It’s often like this, cloudy in the morning but burning bright in the afternoon,” said an inn servant who was bringing him a tray of fried rice, eggs, fruits and mineral water.

Being a lone wanderer in the island since he came upon by himself was something extraordinary for he was always with his pals. His solo adventure was now forcing him figuring out how to enjoy spare time while waiting his lover welcoming him in a few hours to come.

So he was exploring the little island. His camera that was clinging on his left hand and a mineral water on his right hand were all that he needed to make him less alone.

Unlike most islands within Kepulauan Seribu, the Putri island is still blessed with white sand and pristine water. You can barely see any wide space left empty for trees keep it from the excessive ray of sunlight. Birds tweet here and there. Stone-made trails lay out to help inhabitants walking, especially after rain pours it down heavily.

About four hours from the Muara Angke port, not many travelers put the island in their desired place. Not only it is too far, the cost of an inn’s room is also pricey. “But the view is so worth it,” Indra thought just he stepped down from the boat upon the island.

He decided to encircle the island on foot, rejecting the inn’s offer of doing it by bicycle. He was sure he was fit to do that all for he got enough sleep the night before. “I believe I can do this all alone,” he said.

He captured moments through the lens of his camera but not too many. He was gazing at the blue sea that was meeting his eyes wherever he walked. He let the strong wind hit his V-shaped face. He inhaled the fresh air then exhaled it slowly. For countless times he let himself just be in the moments he was in.

Two hours was all that he took to ensure all parts of this island were being seen. Here came the last part of his habit whenever coming to beaches: playing with the water and the sand. He was heading to the island’s sea part that was close to the inn he was staying at.

Little did he know someone had the same idea with him. From a far, he was noticing a woman in black was already doing what he wished to do. She was wearing a blue headscarf. Long black trousers and a red backpack bag. She left her camera and green sandal at the edge of it.

Her head was looking down the clear water while her feet were playing with the sand. Sometimes she was picking up a handful of water then releasing it all. She was smiling all the way unknowingly someone was watching over her from behind.

Ten minutes passed. The stranger was still immersed on her activities submerging her feet on the water and Indra didn’t move any inches at all. The woman started withdrawing from the water when the tide was coming toward the bank. It went up and up that it reached the woman’s thigh. Indra, too, realized he should leave her before she knew it all. He walked away just when she was about to turn her head.

She was relieved that the camera and the sandal were still there. Then she was heading back to the inn, completely clueless she was just being observed.

Indra reached the inn with head full of thoughts about he just saw. He hardly saw her face yet the way she was enjoying herself in the beach astonished him. One hour went away without him doing anything much. He kept lying on his bed while watching his mind processing things about the experience. Until a knock at his door woke him up.

The servant was standing in front of the door bringing lunch consisted of rice, vegetables, meat and fruits. Two bottle of mineral water were in the tray, too.

“Sir, is there any women residing in this place, too? She is alone I believe,” Indra asked the servant.

“Hmm.. I saw a short, nice woman checking in yesterday, mister. May be that is the one you are talking about. But I don’t serve her, my fellow does,” the servant said.

“Well, then. Thank you, sir,” Indra said.

After eating all the meal Indra decided to sleep. He was surprised he got tired after walking around the little island. It must have been because of the very fine weather that caused his eyes to feel sleepy.

At 4.30 pm he was ready to leave the hospice again. Just him and the camera that were going to accompany him watching the sunset. It must be more dazzling than yesterday’s,” he expected.

He walked to the spot where he had been spending waiting for the sunset to appear. When he went there a woman was already busy preparing for her camera. She was setting the lens, adjusting the focus when Indra came. Without any more thoughts, Indra believed this was the same person whom he had seen in the beach before. The bag and the headscarf were the same.

While he were able to flee when they were in the beach, Indra couldn’t and didn’t want to take the risks as this was the best point to look at the sunset. He had no choice than being there despite his wishes of viewing the sunset on his own.

He was sitting in a rock nearby the one the woman was at. He didn’t dare to take a look at her face though he was eager doing so. He was attempting to start absorbing the view laying in front of him. It took some moments for his mind and heart to fully impregnate the sky because his heart was beginning to leap, this time around it was because of the woman, not the sunset.

As Indra was working on putting his overall mind into the landscape, the woman completed the arrangement. All was set and now I am ready to snap, she said. When she snapped a few pictures she then realized she was not alone.

She saw a man was also heading to the same object as she was. She was gazing Indra’s face. She stopped taking pictures for a while then extending her hand to him.

“Hi, Amalia. What’s your name? I bet you come from Jakarta,” she said.

A little shocked, Indra was welcoming Amalia’s hand.

“Indra. Yes, I am from Jakarta. Are you here alone?” he asked.

“Yes. I always travel alone. I love doing it solo. And you?”

“This time I go on my own. Why always solo?,” Indra asked again.

“I don’t know. I just love it.”

They ceased conversing as their eyes were spotting the sun began emerging with its red  beam was radiating, reddening the space.

Both Amalia and Indra were quiet, savoring the opening show while anticipating more and more to come.

But no more than that. The sun was shyly burrowing among the clouds. The watchers kept waiting and waiting only to realize none was left to be seen. For about 20 minutes the sun didn’t show more of its body. It was instead sinking itself between the clouds. The sky was changing into dark, its red color was gone.

“Oh my.. I spent Rp5 million and now this was all that I’ve got?,” Amalia said.

“Well, I don’t know about you but I don’t mind at all because I met you here. This was worth all the chase.”

They then left the point for having dinner. Together.