Henson & His Works

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Story: The Girl I Met on the Trip

By Hendro Darsono

It was 10.00 a.m. The driver started to drive the big bus which was going to take me and other passengers to our destination, Yogyakarta. It was the third time for me to go to that ‘Student City’. And I always used the service of this public transportation company because the bus was comfortable and had some facilities, such as air conditioner, toilet, DVD player, blanket, and reclining seat. Due to this comfort, the long distance between Palembang and Yogyakarta didn`t appear to be a big problem.
As always, I sat in the front row, on the left. I like taking the seat number one since I could enjoy the scenery more freely. Besides, by sitting in the front row I could see the horizon. (According to medical experts, looking at the horizon can prevent us from the so-called ‘motion sickness’.)
The bus crept on the busy street of Palembang City. Then it climbed on the Ampera Bridge, the big and tall bridge which becomes the landmark of this ‘Empek-empek City’. After the bus had been away from the downtown, the driver seemed relieved since he could drive this big box faster.
I took off my favorite red hat and put it down on my lap. During the trip I spotted lots of new things that I couldn’t find in my hometown Palembang. The walks of life were frequently different from one place to another. On the left side of the road I saw well-organized rice fields. Some farmers were spraying pesticide and insecticide solution.
Then my eyes went to the girl sitting beside me. She had a beautiful face, straight, long and shining hair, and flawless skin. She was physically perfect! No sooner had I admired her beauty than she looked at me. For a split second I was at a loss and immediately distracted my eyes to the horizon. To disguise my being awkward, I looked back at her and tried to break the ice of silence.
“Are you going to Yogya?” I struck up the conversation. The question actually didn’t have to be answered because everybody in this bus knew that the bus was running to Yogya.
“Yes.” The girl replied curtly.
“Oh yeah, we haven’t introduced ourselves.” I extended my hand to shake her hand. “My name’s Bambang.”
“I’m Lucy.”
“Having vacation?” I asked.
“Not really. I just want to visit my friend.”
“Is it your first time to go to Yogya?” Again I asked the girl whom I thought to be one or two years younger than me.
“No, I’ve been there many times.”
“And you always go alone?”
“Yes.” Her beautiful round eyes stared at me. “What’s wrong with it?”
“No, no. There’s nothing wrong with it. I just think that a young and beautiful girl like you is so brave to take a long trip alone.”
“I’m not alone, as a matter of fact.” This time the girl smiled. The white teeth and thin lips illuminated her nice smile. “Look! There are a lot of people in the bus.”
“Yes, you’re right.” I didn`t want to debate with her.
“How about you?” Lucy asked back. “What do you go to Yogya for?”
“I’m going to spend my vacation. My elder sister happened to live there.”
“So, you’re a student?”
“Yes, I am. I’m a university student and I’m now in the seventh semester.”
“What’s your major?”
“I take up management.”
“Wanna be a director, eh?” Lucy grinned.
“Not really,” I replied calmly. “I just want to be able to manage a business well. Who knows, someday I have a chance to be an entrepreneur. In this crisis time, to land a good job isn’t an easy thing to do. Unemployment has become a serious problem. There are plenty of job hunters who compete with one another for a certain job. As far as I’m concerned, what they should do to overcome the problem is not by hunting the job, but by creating a job field.”
“Hmm… It seems to me that you’re an idealist.”
“No, I’m not a true idealist. But I try to get the hang of the reality.”
“But… creating a job isn’t easy either,” Lucy argued.
“Absolutely!” I was of the same opinion. “That’s what I study for. I know that the knowledge I get from the university isn’t just enough. Knowledge without experience can’t work well. So, I`ll try to learn from people who have enough experience.”
Our conversation stopped when the bus entered the parking lot of a restaurant. I glanced at my wristwatch. It was 01.30 p.m. The driver and his assistant got off the bus, followed by most of passengers including Lucy. Some passengers stayed in the bus, unwrapping the meal they brought from home. I myself kept sitting on my seat. I ate a small loaf of bread and drank a little mineral water. I wasn’t a kind of person who liked to eat and drink much during the trip. From the windshield of the bus I could see Lucy eating in the restaurant. Her pink-colored T-shirt and light blue jeans went well with her white skin. But then… oh! My admiration vanished instantly when I found her lighting a cigarette and smoked. I didn’t like to see people smoking, let alone a girl! She seemed to have gotten used to smoking.
After around thirty-minute break, the bus ran again. I didn’t know exactly how many kilometers this Mercedes bus had run. What I knew was that it had reached the Province of Lampung.
“Candies?” I offered Lucy as I took out some candies from my small bag.
“No, thanks,” the girl said politely.
“By the way, are you a student?” I asked after I put a candy into my mouth.
“Yes, I was. I used to be a university student but I quit.”
“You quit? How come?” I wondered.
“My parents couldn’t afford to finance my study,” Lucy explained. “Besides, I don’t think it useful to complete my study because … in fact, there are a lot of unemployed scholars in this country.”
“But I think you should have thought positively.” I tried to give my opinion. “Scholars find it very difficult to get a good job, moreover high school graduates.”
“You’re not wrong.” Lucy took out a sheet of tissue paper and swept her face. Then she furthered,”But, if we can get a job offering a large sum of money, why should we continue our study? People study to get a job, don’t they?”
“Yes.” I had no comment. “Hmm… Lucy, where do you work now?”
Hearing my question, Lucy looked a little awkward. But then she calmed herself down and said,”Uhm… I work as a sales representative in a manufacturing company.”
“How long have you been working there?”
“Almost two years.”
“Oh, two years. It means that you’ve had much experience.”
“Not really.”
The trip wasn’t comfortable this time. The road was in bad condition and it was raining cats and dogs. A truck was trapped in the middle of the road. Fortunately, there was still enough space for the bus to keep on crawling. The driver had turned on the lights since it was dusk. Meanwhile the driver’s assistant played the DVD player. The eyes of most passengers were directed to the TV monitor featuring a movie about a giant snake named Anaconda that liked to assault and swallow human beings. Some old women at the back cried out when they saw a scene where the snake attacked a man on the river.
Lucy felt asleep. Maybe the light from the monitor had made her sleepy. And I had a gut to wake her up when the bus dropped in at a restaurant. This time everybody got off the bus to have dinner. Actually I didin’t have a desire to eat, but I took a pity on my stomach singing all the time. Besides, I had to wash my face in the toilet of the restaurant. The toilet in the bus was too small and the water wasn’t fresh enough since it came from the air conditioner.
I felt fresh after I had eaten a small portion of rice with fried chicken and a glass of tea. Then I got on the bus. After all passengers had sat on their respective seat, the driver drove the bus.
At midnight the bus arrived at Bakauheni seaport. The bus had to stand in line, waiting for its turn to be carried by a ship. The driver got off the bus and had a chat with other drivers.
“Where are you going?” I asked Lucy when she was about to get off the bus.
“I’m going to meet my friend.”
“Your friend?” I asked in surprise. Before my question was answered, Lucy had been out of the bus.
I observed Lucy walking towards a building in the west. A man seemed to have been waiting for her. They talked for a moment. I didn’t know what they were talking about because their position was far from the bus and I just could see them in the dim light. Lucy took out something from her handbag and gave it to the man. Then she walked back to the bus.
Some passengers complained because it took so long for the bus to be carried by a ship. Maybe it was caused by holiday time. In the holiday time there were usually a lot of people who did traveling.
After about two hours’ waiting, the bus finally got its turn. During the sea travel most of passengers slept. I changed the position of my seat to make it comfortable. And then I closed my eyes. But I didn’t sleep. I just could hear an old man behind me snoring.
When the ship reached Merak seaport, I felt free because I could enjoy the scenery again. Although it was dark outside, at least, the light from the lamps and the moon did me good.
At dawn the bus reached Jakarta. What I saw here was very different from other places. On the left and right side of the motorway I spotted skyscrapers. I tried to keep awake although I was so sleepy. But then… I lost! I fell asleep. I woke up when the bus had been in West Java. The driver grumbled because of the traffic jam. After creeping for several kilometers, the bus passed by a traditional market. So, that was the center of the problem! I didn`t know why the local government didn`t make an effort to manage the market in such a way that it didn`t cause the traffic jam. Or, maybe the government had done something, but the regulation they made wasn’t complied with.
* * * * *
The bus was scheduled to arrive in Yogya at about 04.00 p.m. But, because of the bad roads, queuing at the seaport, and the traffic jam , the bus reached Umbulharjo terminal at 08.30 p.m. My brother-in-law had been waiting for me. And he helped me carry my bag into his car.
“I’m going, Bambang,” Lucy greeted me from a jeep. I didn’t know who drove the jeep. Maybe he was her brother, her cousin, or her boyfriend. I didn’t care!
“Yeah, see you.” I waved my right hand.

* * * * *

I had been staying here in Yogyakarta for three days. It was Saturday afternoon. I wanted to take a look at the well-known Malioboro Street. My brother-in-law offered to drive me around the city but I preferred to go alone. Besides, I had been familiar with Yogya. I wouldn`t have a chance to get lost.
The weather was hot on Malioboro Street. There were loads of people walking around. The parking lot was full with cars and motorcycles. Becaks and andongs took a part in coloring the atmosphere. On this street I could see a number of foreigners with different kinds of skin. Something that I’d never witnessed before! Yeah, from magazines I’d ever read, I got some information that a lot of foreigners came to Yogya to learn Indonesian language and/or culture.
I tried not to miss every corner of the place. On the sidewalk some people sold T-shirts, bracelets, necklaces, etc. Then I walked again to see some products made of leather, like bags, wallets, and key holders. When I was absorbed in observing those things, I heard a soft voice calling out my name. I turned around. I was surprised to see Lucy along with a Caucasian man.
“What are you doing here?” Lucy asked.
“Just sightseeing.”
“Oh yeah, let me introduce you to my friend, John. John, this is Bambang.”
“Nice to meet you, John.”
“Nice to meet you, too, Bambang.”
“Uhm… do you wanna go with us, Bambang?”
“Where are you going?”
“We’re going some place where we can create great happiness.”
I didn’t really understand what Lucy meant. But I remembered having promised my elder sister to come back before 06.00 p.m. “I’m sorry, Lucy, I can’t go with you. I have something to do.”
“All right then. See you again some other time.”

* * * * *

As usual I watched crime news on TV at 11.30 a.m. The first news was about a murder of an old man committed by his son. I was so touched and at the same time shocked to see the fact how a son had a heart to kill his own father sadistically. The second news was about a couple of lovers who were arrested last night. According to the report, they were drug dealers who had done the job for two years. When the cameraman closed up the suspects, I was startled because I recognized their faces. They were Lucy and the guy who drove the jeep several days ago.Lucy… oh Lucy! Why did you do that? I’d never thought before that you were a drug dealer. You’d spent your youth for a temporary pleasure. Of course, nobody could hear the sound of my heart. I had nothing to do with Lucy. But still… the fact remained that I regretted what she had done!


Ena Lubis said...

Since this part, "I observed Lucy walking towards a building in the west. A man seemed to have been waiting for her. They talked...", I can guess what happen next. It will be much more interesting if the story a little bit more complicated and challanging. Unless, it's such a true story...

dianti said...

If it's a real story, I'm so eager to grab her as my friend. Help her to fight against 'life problem'.
U know Sir, I think there are many Lucies here, in Indonesia. What can we do for them?

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