Your Stories

This page will feature the selected short story, poem, or article of the month along with its English translation.

Bilingual writers, we would appreciate your help with the translation of Indonesian work into English. Please contact us at dalangpublishing@gmail.com

Please adhere to the following maximum word limits:

Short story – 3000 words.
Poem – 500 words / poem – please submit 5 poems on individual pages.
Article – 2000 words.

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Kisah Cinta Perempuan

Ranang Aji SP’s debut short story, Unjuk Rasa, was published in 1992 in Mekarsari, a Javanese language magazine. His short stories and poems have since been published in various newspapers such as: Media Indonesia, Pikiran Rakyat, Kompas, Jawa Pos, Kedaulatan Rakyat, etc. Serigala yang Berzikir di Akhir Waktu, is Ranang’s short story collection (Penerbit Nyala, 2018).

In 2011, Ranang cofounded KoranOpini[dot]Com, a digital media, with Novri Susan. Under the auspices of the Yayasan Museum dan Tanah Liat in Yogyakarta, Ranang and the artists,  Ugo Untoro, Topan, and Adi, launched Jurnal Lembar, a trimonthly journal on art, culture, and literature in 2018.

Ranang can be reached at ranangajisuryaputra@gmail.com

Published in June 2019. Copyright ©2019 by Ranang Aji SP. Published with permission from the author. Translation copyright ©2019 by Oni Suryaman.

 

 

Kisah Cinta Perempuan yang Diberkati Kiai Kambali

 
Di sebuah kota kecil, Pati, di pesisir utara Jawa, ada seorang perempuan muda nan cantik dan kaya, selalu menjadi perbincangan hangat dalam masyarakat. Baik itu di rumah-rumah, saat para ibu tengah berkumpul untuk arisan, kondangan, atau hanya sekedar ngobrol tentang kutu rambut Yu Giman –atau juga di jalanan,  tempat para pengangguran berkumpul di malam hari, mengutuki nasib sembari menikmati sebotol ciu oplosan. Semua itu berkat Kiai Kambali yang budiman dan sakti setengah mati. Kisahnya seperti ini.

Menurut cerita, Kiai Kambali yang berdiam di wilayah utara Jawa, adalah guru dari para guru di dunia jin dan manusia. Jika dia berjalan di antara jalan atau pematang sawah menuju gedung utama di daerah pondoknya yang luas, dapat dipastikan dia diiringi oleh seribu jin yang siap melayaninya sebagai tuan guru yang dimuliakan. Hal itu bisa disaksikan oleh semua mahluk di dunia, kecuali manusia.

Meskipun usianya masih tergolong muda, sekitar empat puluhan tahun, tapi karena keberhasilannya mendapatkan sesobek dari ribuan halaman kitab Ratamalsya, milik Nabi Sulaiman (yang semoga damai bersamanya), tiba-tiba dia menjadi menguasai pengetahuan alam jin dan alam manusia. Kemampuannya ini jelas dinilai sangat luar biasa karena banyak orang suci dari seluruh dunia memburu kitab tersebut tanpa hasil.

Hasil jerih payahnya itu diperoleh di sebuah gua di tepi Sungai Silugonggo–setelah mengalahkan jin penguasa setempat dalam sebuah pertarungan maut yang disaksikan oleh para jin dan arwah-arwah suci para guru. Dengan hasil itu, dia kemudian mendapatkan ijazah atas penasbihan gurunya, seorang kiai yang memiliki ijazah dari guru lain dari Kalimantan yang berguru pada guru-gurunya sampai pada Syekh Hussein bin Hussein dari Iran yang langsung berguru pada budak  Sulaiman (yang semoga damai bersamanya), dari sebangsa jin. Berkat ilmu ilmu kesaktian, dan kitab yang dimilikinya itu, Kiai Kambali menolong banyak orang.

Ketika seorang perempuan muda nan cantik datang padanya, untuk meminta petunjuknya agar kehidupannya berubah dari ketiadaan menjadi melimpah ruah, Kiai Kambali yang memiliki sifat kasih sayang, pada perempuan itu memerintahkan muridnya Jafar, mahluk dari kalangan jin, untuk melihat kemungkinan di dunia ini yang mampu mengubah nasib perempuan itu.

Maka, Jafar segera pergi dan kembali secepat kilat dengan membawa berita yang diinginkan.

Perempuan muda nan cantik itu, kemudian diperintahkan untuk menanam tanaman hias. Tapi ada syarat-syarat yang harus dipenuhi oleh perempuan cantik itu.

“Kamu harus menyiapkan ruangan khusus yang terkunci dan tak boleh dibuka lagi,” ujar Kiai Kambali dengan suara yang tegas.

“Untuk apa, Kiai?” Perempuan muda itu bertanya polos.

“Tidak bertanya tentang syarat adalah bagian dari syarat.” Kiai Kambali berkata sembari tersenyum.

Perempuan itu mengangguk mengerti, dan menerima syarat itu dengan rasa patuh disertai dada penuh gemuruh.

Beberapa bulan kemudian, perempuan muda nan cantik itu, datang kembali dan membawa kabar gembira. Dia menceritakan dengan rasa suka cita bahwa semua tanamannnya dibeli orang dengan harga yang tinggi –bahkan melebihi harapan harga lukisan para seniman di pasar. Kehidupannya sekarang berubah tajam. Dia mampu membeli tanah yang luas, rumah dan mobil yang bagus dan mengembangkan usahanya. Tapi masalahnya, katanya, saat ini ia dia tak memiliki suami.

Mendengar itu, kiai yang penuh kasih sayang pada perempuan itu tersenyum. Dia meminta perempuan muda nan cantik itu menunggu. Kali ini, sang maha guru memerintahkan muridnya  yang lain, juga dari kalangan jin, bernama Bendro, untuk membantu perempuan itu.

Bendro, murid pilihan itu pun segera pergi dan kembali secepat kedipan mata manusia serta mengatakan sesuatu yang hanya bisa dipahami semua mahluk di dunia, kecuali manusia.

Setelah itu, Kiai Kambali meminta perempuan muda nan cantik itu mendekat padanya. “Semua ketetapan hanya ada pada Allah Sang Maha Kuasa. Hanya Allah Yang Maha Pengasih yang akan memberimu jodoh. Apakah kamu siap diberi jodoh oleh Tuhan sendiri?” Kiai Kambali bertanya dengan nada bijak.

Perempuan muda nan cantik itu dengan kepasrahan yang penuh, mengatakan sungguh bahagia bila bisa mendapatkan jodoh atas pilihan Tuhan Yang Maha Bijaksana.

Mendengar suara perempuan itu, Kiai Kambali tersenyum. Perempuan itu dipersilakan pulang dan melakukan upacara di depan kamar khusus sembari puasa mutih, yaitu tidak makan semua yang berasa kecuali nasi dan air putih selama tujuh hari tujuh malam.

Ketika upacaranya selesai, di pagi hari setelah itu, perempuan itu menemukan seorang pemuda tengah duduk bersimpuh di depan teras rumahnya. Tubuhnya kotor dan berbau seperti sampah yang menumpuk tahunan. Dia segera memerintahkan pembantunya memberikan pemuda yang dia sangka sebagai pengemis itu uang seribu rupiah.

Namun pemuda itu tak mau menerimanya. Katanya, dia hanya ingin bekerja di rumah perempuan muda nan cantik itu.

Pembantunya menyampaikan keinginan itu pada majikannya.

Perempuan muda nan cantik yang tengah menikmati makanan buka puasanya, tak begitu menanggapi, dan hanya mengatakan silakan kapan-kapan saja kembali lagi. “Saat ini kita belum butuh,” ujarnya pendek.

Pembantunya menemui pemuda itu dan memintanya pergi setelah menyampaikan pesan majikannya. “Kembali saja kapan-kapan, siapa tahu, mungkin kamu beruntung,” katanya.

Seminggu kemudian pemuda itu datang lagi dan mengatakan meminta pekerjaan.

Kali ini, perempuan muda itu yang langsung menemuinya. Tetapi, karena setengah jijik melihat penampilan pemuda itu, dia langsung menolaknya dengan halus.

“Saya bisa mengurus tanaman,” pemuda itu mencoba menyakinkan.

Tapi, sekali lagi perempuan muda nan cantik itu menolak.

Pemuda itu lantas pergi, tapi kemudian dia kembali lagi –bahkan bolak-balik tanpa jera hingga beberapa minggu kemudian. Kunjugannya yang terakhir, tepat di saat pembantu perempuan muda nan cantik itu menyatakan berhenti bekerja.

Karena perempuan itu sedang membutuhkan tenaga, terpaksa dia memutuskan untuk menerima pemuda itu bekerja di tempatnya. Dia memberikan tugas mengurusi semua tanaman hiasnya.

Menyadari keputusannya ini, perempuan muda nan cantik itu menjadi berpikir dan mulai kuatir, jangan-jangan pemuda inilah yang diberikan Tuhan Yang Maha Pengasih kepadanya. “Ya Allah, apa dosaku,” keluhnya. Dalam hatinya dia marah dan menolak tegas pemuda dekil itu sebagai jodohnya. Maka, dia menjaga jarak agar tak selalu bertemu.

Suatu malam, tanpa bisa ditahan karena kegelisahan dan rasa muak, dia memutuskan mendatangi Kiai Kambali untuk meminta nasihat.  Namun, sebelum sampai di pelataran pondok, tiba-tiba matanya seperti melihat pemuda dekil itu di sebuah gubuk tengah sawah bersama seorang perempuan. Hatinya menjadi semakin kaget bukan kepalang karena ternyata perempuan itu sama persis dengan dirinya. Di sana, dia melihat mereka tengah berbincang mesra selayaknya kekasih. Jantungnya berdebar kencang. Dengan perasaan yang diliputi ketakutan, tapi juga rasa penasarannya, dia memaksakan diri untuk mencoba melihat lebih dekat. Namun, ketika kakinya hendak melangkah, tiba-tiba bayangan itu menghilang.

Karena semakin takut, akhirnya dia memutuskan kembali ke rumah.

Pikirannya kacau.

Hatinya dibingungkan oleh apa yang ia lihat.

Mengapa pemuda itu ada bersama perempuan yang mirip dengan dirinya di gubuk sawah Kiai Kambali? Apakah dirinya tengah mengalami penampakan?

Semakin lama merenungkan, semakin dia merasa kuatir. Bila benar bahwa pemuda dekil itu adalah orang yang dikirim Kiai Kambali, maka seharusnya dia mau menerima. Jika tidak pasti akan membuatnya mendapatkan bencana, pikirnya.

Setelah lelah memikirkannya, perempuan muda nan cantik itu akhirnya membuat kesimpulan, bahwa pemuda dekil yang bekerja untuknya itu mungkin orang yang dikirim oleh Kiai Kambali. Untuk itu, dia seharusnya menemui dan memperlakukannya dengan baik.

Esok harinya dia ingin bicara pada pemuda itu untuk memastikan kemungkinannya, tapi sebelum sempat bertemu,  pintu rumahnya diketuk oleh seseorang. Masih dengan perasaan yang tumpang tindih, dia membukakan pintu untuk melihat siapa yang datang berkunjung. Agak terperangah, karena tamunya kali ini adalah seorang pemuda yang bersih lagi tampan, dengan wajah mirip Kiai Kambali.

“Jafar, Bu… Saya Jafar,” kata tamunya memperkenalkan diri. Pemuda itu mengaku ingin membeli beberapa bunga untuk kebutuhan pernikahan.

Tanpa bertanya siapa yang akan menikah, segera saja dia memanggil si pemuda, untuk mengurus itu semua.

Dalam beberapa hari Jafar kembali datang untuk keperluan yang sama.

Ketika Jafar datang suatu malam untuk ketiga kalinya, mereka menjadi semakin akrab dan perasaannya tiba-tiba merasa terpikat.

Perempuan muda nan cantik itu mulai berpikir bahwa pemuda bernama Jafar ini adalah jodohnya, bukan pemuda dekil yang bekerja padanya. Hari-hari berikutnya kepalanya dipenuhi dengan lamunan asmara. Dia bahkan telah bertekad untuk menikahi Jafar. Keputusannya ini akan dia sampaikan pada Kiai Kambali, sekaligus memohon agar diberi doa mantra asmara sebagai cara memudahkan jalannya.

Perempuan muda nan cantik itu kemudian menemui pembantunya, si pemuda dekil, sebelum berkunjung ke pondok Kiai Kambali.

Namun, saat dia berbicara, tiba-tiba dia merasakan perasaan yang aneh, semacam perasaan yang sama seperti rasanya terhadap Jafar. Bahkan, dia juga melihat wajah pemuda itu nyaris sama dengan muka Jafar, sekaligus mirip Kai Kambali. Diliputi perasaan yang aneh,  bergegas dia datang untuk menemui Kiai Kambali di pondoknya.

Ketika bertemu Kiai Kambali, gurunya itu memandangnya dengan penuh kelembutan.

Sinar matanya yang teduh itu membuat hati perempuan muda itu seperti berada dalam dekapan kedamaian yang penuh cinta di musim bunga. Keadaan itu membuatnya lupa apa yang mesti dia sampaikan. Tersesat dalam perasaan yang aneh seolah masuk dalam sebuah lilitan tanpa ujung, perempuan muda nan cantik itu akhirnya hanya mengatakan bahwa dirinya siap menikah.

Pernyataannya itu membuat Kiai Kambali tersenyum penuh arti. “Bagus kalau seperti itu,” ujar Kiai Kambali lembut. “Kau boleh masuk di dalam kamar yang terkunci sekarang,” tambah Kiai itu.

“Kapan, Kiai?”

“Kapan saja.”

Saat pamit, perempuan muda nan cantik itu ingat apa yang hendak disampaikannya, tetapi kemudian dia urungkan niatnya itu,  karena hatinya tiba-tiba dibebani oleh keinginan yang sama terhadap Kiai Kambali. Seperti hasratnya terhadap Jafar dan pemuda dekil itu. Sepanjang perjalanan pulang, batinnya terasa tumpang tindih, pikirannya tak tentu arah. Tetapi ia mencoba membuat keputusan.

Ketika malam tiba, perempuan muda itu ingat pesan gurunya, bahwa dia bisa membuka pintu kamar khusus yang selama ini terkunci. Maka, didorong oleh rasa penasaran, dibukanya pintu kamar yang selama ini terkunci rapat.

Begitu masuk ke dalam kamar, tiba-tiba seluruh kesadarannya adalah semua jenis kebahagiaan seorang perempuan yang memimpikan pernikahan. Dia melihat dirinya bersanding berjajar di tengah-tengah diapit bersama Jafar, pemuda dekil dan Kiai Kambali. Dalam sebuah pelaminan yang indah itu, matanya seolah-olah melihat bunga-bunga yang berasal dari kebun bunganya. Di dalam pesta itu tampak pula dayang-dayang yang berdiri berjajar di depan pelaminan. Tubuhnya bergetar, sulit sekali rasanya benaknya memahami itu semua. Dengan perasaan yang seperti diayun-ayun, dia mencoba bertanya mengapa bisa menikahi tiga pria sekaligus dalam seketika. Tapi seluruh pertanyaannya itu tiba-tiba lenyap begitu saja ketika dirinyaerasakan betapa seluruh hasrat, rasa senang dan bahagianya telah mencapai puncaknya tanpa bisa dipungkiri. Ketiga pria itu baginya sama saja.

Tak ada yang bercerita bagaimana perempuan muda nan cantik itu berbagi ranjang.

 Cerita yang ada adalah, dia hidup bahagia berlimpah kekayaan bersama tiga suami yang tak pernah disaksikan secara nyata oleh masyarakat sekitarnya.

Demikianlah, kisah perempuan muda nan cantik itu terus diceritakan, dengan tambahan bumbu-bumbu yang setiap waktu bisa berubah rasa dan ceritanya, oleh para ibu yang terpesona dan cemburu dengan keberuntungan perempuan muda nan cantik itu. Juga oleh para pemuda pengangguran yang nestapa dan tak bahagia karena ditolak cintanya, dan juga karena kemiskinan yang mendera. Kisah itu terus diucapkan, setiap saat, setiap waktu dan ketika mereka sempat.

Sebagian dari mereka yang memiliki nyali, kemudian datang untuk melihat kebenarannya di kebun bunga yang diurus oleh pemuda cakap mirip Kiai Kambali dan mengaku bernama Bendro. Terkadang Jafar.

Sebagian masyarakat yang lain, berbondong-bondong mendatangi pondok Kiai Kambali untuk meminta mantra-mantra tertentu agar bernasib sama seperti perempuan muda nan cantik itu. Sebagian yang lain, bahkan  nekad pergi ke gua di tepi Sungai Silugonggo untuk bertirakat, meniru laku Kiai Kambali, dengan harapan mendapatkan kesaktian yang mampu menaklukkan dunia yang keras ini. Semua itu berkat kisah cinta perempuan yang diberkati Kiai Kambali. Seorang kiai, yang bila berjalan, selalu diringi seribu jin –yang semua itu, bisa dilihat oleh semua mahluk di dunia ini kecuali manusia.

***

The Lovesick Lady

Despite his technical background, Oni Suryaman is driven by literature. In his spare time, he writes essays, book reviews, and fiction. He also worked as a part-time translator for Indonesian publisher Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia and Kanisius Publishing House. He has recently published a picture book titled I Belog, a retelling of a famous Balinese folklore, an adaptation of which was performed at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) Singapore 2017.

Read some of his essays and book reviews at: http://onisur.wordpress.com and http://semuareview.wordpress.com

He can be reached at oni.suryaman@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

The Lovesick Lady

 
In Pati, a small town on the northern coast of Java, lived a beautiful, rich, young lady.

She was often the talk of the neighborhood in people’s homes, when women gathered for an arisan – a gossipy social gathering that included a money game –, wedding, or just small talk, such as the lice in Yu Giman’s hair. She was also the talk on the street, when the unemployed men gathered at night, cursing their fate while enjoying a bottle of diluted alcohol. Kiai Kambali, a powerful and kindhearted holy man was the cause of it all. The story goes like this.

Kiai Kambali, who also lived in the northern part of Java, was the master of masters in the realm of jinn and human beings. When he walked on the road or across the rice field to the main building of his vast estate, he was always accompanied by a thousand jinns ready to serve him as their revered master. These jinns were visible to all beings in the world — except humans.

Although he was still relatively young, around the age of forty, Kiai Kambali had succeeded in obtaining a fragment from one of the thousands of pages of The Book of Ratamalsya, which belonged to the Prophet Sulaiman (Peace be upon Him). Kiai Kambali’s achievement received high acclaim, because holy men from around the world had failed in their search to find this book.

Kambali received his divinity in a deadly duel, after he defeated the jinn that lived in a cave by the Silugonggo River. Their battle was witnessed by all the jinns and spirits of the masters. After his victory, Kambali was ordained by a master who had been ordained by another master from Kalimantan, who had learned from his masters, who, in succession, led all the way back to Sheikh Hussein ibn Hussein from Iran, who had received instructions directly from the slave of Prophet Sulaiman (Peace be upon Him), a jinn. Blessed by a supernatural power and the possession of a torn page from The Book, Kiai Kambali helped many people.

When a beautiful young lady came to him and asked for guidance on how to change her destitute life into one of wealth, the merciful Kiai Kambali asked his disciple Jafar, a jinn, to look for ways to change the lady’s fate.

Jafar departed immediately and quickly returned with the answer.

Kiai Kambali then ordered the beautiful young lady to return home and grow decorative plants and flowers. But there were rules she had to obey.

“You must prepare a special room, which should then be locked and not opened again,” said Kiai Kambali firmly.

“What for, Kiai?” the young lady asked, innocently.

“Not questioning the rules is part of the rules,” Kiai Kambali said with a smile.

The lady nodded. She obediently carried out the instructions with a pounding heart.

Several months later, the beautiful young lady came again to Kiai Kambali with great news. She had sold all of her plants for a high price — even higher than some of the paintings at the marketplace. Her life had changed dramatically. She now could afford to buy a large piece of land, a beautiful house, and a nice car.  She also could expand her business. But, she said, her current problem was that she didn’t have a husband.

After listening, Kiai Kambali, who was filled with love for the beautiful lady, smiled. He asked her to wait. This time, he ordered Bendro, another of his jinn disciples, to help.

Bendro departed immediately and returned in a flash. He spoke to Kiai Kambali in a way that every being in the world could comprehend — every being except humans.

After Bendro finished, Kiai Kambali asked the beautiful young lady to come closer. “All has been destined by God Almighty. Only God the Merciful can grant you a husband,” Kiai Kambali said knowingly. “Are you ready to receive a husband from God Himself?”

The beautiful young lady, with total acceptance, said she would be happy to receive a husband who was chosen by the All-Wise God.

After hearing the lady’s response, Kiai Kambali smiled again. He told her to go home and observe a mutih fast, a ritual that meant she could not eat anything but white rice and water for seven days and seven nights, in front of the special room she had locked and not opened again.

The morning after the ritual was finished, the beautiful young lady found a young man sitting cross-legged on the porch of her house. He was unwashed and reeked like a pile of rotted garbage. Thinking he was a beggar, the lady immediately ordered her servant to give the man one thousand rupiahs.

But the man would not accept the money. He said he only wished to work as a house servant for the beautiful young lady.

The servant delivered the man’s message to the lady.

The beautiful young lady, who was enjoying breaking her fast with a meal, did not pay any attention and said to tell the man that he could return another time. “We do not need any help right now,” she said tersely.

The servant went back to the man. After he delivered the lady’s message, the servant asked the man to leave. “Come back some other time,” he said. “Who knows, you might have better luck.”

A week later, the man came again and said that he was looking for a job.

This time, the young lady met him herself. Disgusted by his appearance, she politely refused him.

“I could help you take care of the plants,” the young man said, trying to convince her.

But once again, the beautiful young lady denied him.

The man left, but for several weeks, he kept coming back, again and again. His last visit happened to coincide with the same day that the lady’s gardener quit.

Because she now needed help, she had no choice but to hire the man. She tasked him with taking care of all of her decorative plants.

After her decision to hire him, the beautiful young lady started to worry that this dirty man might be the husband who God the Merciful had chosen for her. She sighed. “Oh, God, what sin have I committed?” Deep in her heart, she was angry and vehemently rejected the notion that this dirty man was her match. To avoid any contact with him, she kept a distance.

One night, her unbearable restlessness and repulsion of the dirty man drove her to visit Kiai Kambali again for advice. But as she crossed the rice field, before reaching Kiai Kambali’s courtyard, she suddenly saw the dirty man with a woman in a shanty that stood in the middle of the rice field. She became even more surprised when she noticed that the woman looked exactly like her. The dirty man and the woman in the shanty were engaged in a seemingly intimate conversation and looked just like lovers.

Her heart racing, overcome by fear, and driven by curiosity, the beautiful young lady forced herself to take a closer look. But before she could take another step, they vanished.

Growing more fearful, the beautiful young woman decided to go home.

Her mind was in turmoil. She was confused by what she had seen. Why were the dirty man and a woman who looked exactly like her, in a shanty in Kiai Kambali’s rice field? Was she hallucinating?

The longer she thought about it, the more worried she became. If the dirty man had indeed been sent by Kiai Kambali, she should receive him. Failing to do so would be disastrous.

Troubled by her thoughts, the beautiful young lady came to the conclusion that Kiai Kambali had possibly sent the dirty man to her. Therefore, she should receive him and treat him well.

The following day, she went to talk to the dirty man to ascertain the possibility. But before she had a chance to meet him, there was a knock on the door. She opened the door with mixed feelings and was dumbfounded. This time, her guest was a clean and handsome man, who looked like Kiai Kambali.

“Jafar, my lady … My name is Jafar.” After the young man introduced himself, he said he wanted to buy some flowers for a wedding ceremony.

Without asking who was getting married, the lady called for the dirty man to take care of Jafar’s request.

Several days later, Jafar came again for the same purpose.

One night, Jafar came for the third time. He and the beautiful young lady became closer, and she suddenly felt attracted to him.

The beautiful young lady started to think that Jafar might be her match, not the dirty man who worked for her. During the following days, she was preoccupied with thoughts of love. She even decided to marry Jafar. She wanted to tell Kiai Kambali about her decision and, at the same time, ask for a love spell to smooth her way.

Before visiting Kiai Kambali again, the beautiful young lady went to see her helper, the dirty man.

But this time when she spoke to the dirty man, something strange happened. She noticed that she had the same feelings toward the man as she had for Jafar. She also noticed that the man not only looked like Jafar, but also like Kiai Kambali. Overcome by this strange feeling, she rushed to Kiai Kambali’s house.

When she saw Kiai Kambali, he looked at her tenderly.

His gentle gaze made the young lady feel as if she were being held in a loving, peaceful embrace during the flowering season. It made her forget why she came. Feeling lost in a seemingly never-ending spiral, the beautiful young woman finally said that she was ready to marry.

Kiai Kambali smiled meaningfully. “That is wonderful,” he said gently, then added, “Now you can enter the locked room.”

“When, Kiai?”

“Any time.”

As she said goodbye, she remembered her reason for coming, but her heart had suddenly filled with a desire for Kiai Kambali — the same desire she felt for Jafar and the dirty man. All the way home, her heart was in turmoil and her thoughts were scattered. Still, she tried to make a decision.

When night came, the young lady remembered that Kiai Kambali had said she could now open the locked room. Driven by a great curiosity, she unlocked the room.

Once inside the room, her mind filled with the happiness of a woman dreaming of her marriage. She saw herself sitting with Jafar, the dirty man, and Kiai Kambali. On the beautiful bridal platform, she saw all the flowers from her own garden. Many handmaids also stood around the platform. Confused and unable to comprehend what was happening, she shuddered. How could she have married all three men at the same time? But when her desire, joy, and happiness, reached an undeniable intensity, all of her questions vanished. For her, the three men were the same as one.

There are no stories about the young beautiful lady sharing her marital bed. The story only tells us that she lived happily, in great wealth, with three husbands who were never seen by her neighbors.

Thus, the townspeople of Pati told the story of the beautiful young lady again and again.

Sometimes, women who were impressed by but jealous of this lucky young lady told the story and spiced it up with details that changed some of the tale.

Sometimes, idle young men who were poverty-ridden and miserable because of unrequited love told this story, whenever they could.

Some, who were brave enough, went looking for the truth in the flower garden that was tended by a dirty young man who looked like Kiai Kambali. The man sometimes said his name was Bendro, and at other times claimed to be Jafar.

Others flocked to Kiai Kambali’s estate to ask for spells so they could have the same luck as the beautiful young lady. Some even dared to visit the cave by the Silugonggo River to meditate. They hoped to gain supernatural powers to overcome the hardship of their world.

All of this happened because of a love story about a lady blessed by Kiai Kambali, who always walked in the company of a thousand jinns — which are visible to all creatures in the world except humans.

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