01 March 2012

Short Story : MONKEY

By : MAMAT SASMITA                                                                  Sundanese Version 
Translated from Sundanese into English by Josephine Natania.
It came to his senses that he might have neglected his family, that he might have less care to them. He went out whenever the darkness still covered the morning sky and came back home whenever the darkness covered back the sky. It was for his devotion to his job.
            Kang [1]Sabri pondered about this truth while sitting on a chair in front of his house. The cold morning breeze blew.
Suddenly his wife came out of the house. She took a seat beside him.
Kang, don’t think it too much. A child only has little understanding of things. “
Kang Sabri just slightly glance at her and stared into the distance. Then he got up from the chair to stretch his body. He asked his wife to bring his sneakers.

Kang Sabri jogged and jumped on the streets of his house complex. His mind was preoccupied with what his son said before. He understood that he had not had understanding as he was a boy of three, of four almost. Still a child under five.
The kid had just learned to speak fluently. He liked to jump everywhere in the house and grabbed anything his hands could grab. Kang Sabri understood these facts very well.
Was what Bi[2] Amah said untrue? Or was I frightened by her? He deeply thought. But it was impossible. Bi Amah was just a maid in his house. It was surely inappropriate to ask her to tell the kid that he had done something wrong.
Kang Sabri had three children. The oldest one was in the 2nd grade of junior high and the middle was a 5th grade student. Both of them were girls. The youngest was a 3-year-old boy, almost 4.
At first, he and his wife felt that having two children was enough. However he wanted a boy. They had a baby boy eventually. That was why the boy’s age was quite far from his sisters.
He felt that his life was blissful. His career rose though he still held the position of the head of sub department in government. He had a good wife and healthy children.
Being responsible to his family made him working all out. He left home early in the morning and went back again at night.
The household matters were all taken by his wife as she did not work at office. She followed a few activities, such as RT[3] and RW[4] activities or women activities in her husband’s office.
Since they had the little boy, they looked for a housemaid to help with the chores. They found Bi Amah, a Ciawi-Tasik native, who came from a pesantren[5] in Sukapancar.
She was a middle-aged woman, yet she was able to handle her tasks well and always ready to do something. His wife liked Bi Amah very much since the first time. She no longer considered Bi Amah as a maid, but her parent. The children were also asked to call Bi Amah Enin, a nickname for nini[6].   

Kang Sabri jumped. He went around a park in his house complex. He had an early intention to take care his son while he jogged. Yet, the boy refused and the insistence at his dad only made him crying, clinging closely to his mom.
He felt as if his heart had been cut by a knife. Yeah, he realized that he had neglected his children. The boy never called him ‘dad’. It was normal to call ‘dad’ to the father and ‘mom’ to the mother, right? Still, he was never been called like that since the boy was taught how to speak. He also shrank back as his dad approached him. He looked afraid.
Normally, father and son should have been close to each other. Play and fight together, tickle one another. But this one, the boy seemed to have no interest to his own dad.
He had no problems with his friends. Even they thought him as an outspoken boy. He was also close to his sisters. It was funny to hear ‘teteh[7]’ with a lisp came out of his little mouth. To the oldest sister, he sometimes asked to draw a golden fish or a carp for him. Fish was his favorite animal. Every time he ate golden fish or carp, he always feasted on them.

Being realized that he had set aside his family, he decided to change himself. Whenever there was a day off, he tried to stay at home in order to be with his children.
It had been several months, but his self change showed no effects, especially of course, to the youngest. This Saturday was the proof.
On Saturdays, there were a lot of Kang Sabri’s friends who got a chance to work out along with their families. While drying off their sweats, they were very happy to walk hand-in-hand with their children, buy rice flour pancakes or chicken porridge at the street side, stuff themselves, and make jokes. 

Kang Sabri walked with quick steps. He panted. Then his cell phone rang and he answered it. He always kept his phone close to him, even when he took a bath.
“Sir, 40 kilos of durian have been sent to Buah Batu Street as usual.”
“Thank you. Don’t use ‘durian’ anymore. I’m afraid KPK[8] remembered the word. Change into ‘carp’.”
“Alright, Sir. It’s easy as long as I took the other projects as well.”
“It can be arranged, ok? Thanks,” he shortly decided and ended the call.
  Kang Sabri walked faster, feeling relieved and wiping the sweats from his forehead. He went around the park two more times then came back home. 
He arrived in front of the house. He quietened his steps as he heard his son was laughing loudly. Probably the sisters had been teasing him. He now looked with his own eyes that the boy was truly cheerful and outspoken.
Kang Sabri could not suppress his desire to join with this little happy group. He opened the door with a single push and exclaimed, “Bo-peep!” He thought that the boy would laugh louder, instead the boy shrieked, “Monkeeey…” while sacredly falling upon his sister.
It was really beyond his expectation. He just wanted to make joke with his son. The house turned silent. Only the boy was heard sniffing. Luckily, the mother got out of the kitchen. “What’s the matter?” she asked, but nobody spoke. It was just the boy darted to his mom.
Kang Sabri went away, undressed his sport clothes and took a bath. After that, he dressed suitably, brought his car out of the garage and drove somewhere. “Why did he call me monkey? So what’s that a monkey?” He asked to himself. A cloud of confusion hanged above him.

It was almost 5 PM when he came back home. He brought many things, fruits, craps, cakes, and toys.
He found Bi Amah was teaching the children to read Quran. The boy, who was wearing a little-sized sarong and white peci[9], also sat cross-legged near Bi Amah. Those stuffs suited him well and made him looked handsome. Kang Sabri sat near his wife too. He put down his belongings in the middle of the house.
Bi Amah used to teach to read Quran. She managed to read books too. She ever said, “You can read anything, as long as it’s good to set life examples and give self-reflection.” Kang Sabri’s wife set the study time perfectly so that the children had a useful thing to do while they were waiting for maghrib[10] time.
It was a habit of Bi Amah to tell a story for about 15 minutes after the lesson was finished. She often told them the fables of monkey and turtle. The children, who were fond of being told a story, clapped their hands right before the storyteller began.
            This time, she told a fable of monkey and turtle again. The monkey borrowed the turtle’s tiger-boned pipe but the monkey never returned it. At the end of the story, Bi Amah shared the moral lessons, “We may not be like that greedy monkey. We shouldn’t play tricks on somebody else nor consider what belongs to others as mine. We shouldn’t practice corruption like what often happened right now. Corruption is something harmful and it’s prohibited to buy food by using money coming from that evil action.”
            The boy burst out all of a sudden while pointing his little index finger at Kang Sabri, “He he, monkey…” Without any remorse, he moved his head to another direction and stuck his under lip out against his sister.
            It was only the laughter of the sisters heard in that room. Bi Amah and the mother were silent. Kang Sabri smiled bitterly.    
            At night, when the children had fallen asleep, a soft indistinct speech of a wife was heard. “Kang, let’s just take the lesson of it. I believe you’re clean and not doing something bad. Maybe it’s me who lack of understanding. Maybe I’ve ever done some religious mistakes or behaved improperly.”  

[1] Brother (also used in conjunction with personal names, official title, etc)
[2] Aunty
[3] The abbreviation of ‘Rukun Tetangga’ (Neighborhood Community)
[4] The abbreviation of ‘Rukun Warga’. It is the unity of many neighborhood communities 
[5] A kind of school where the students are mostly taught about Islam religion
[6] Grandmother (also as a term of address to an old woman in general)
[7] A term to address older sister
[8] The abbreviation of Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (Corruption Eradication Committee)
[9] A skull-cap used by the Moslem men.
[10] It is one of five-time prayer set from the Moslems to pray, about 6 PM


1 comment:

ADMIN Yuz site - Yusril Ibnu said...

Terimakasih, atas informasinya..