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By Dyah Kuncorowati


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The wide window with brown panel was opened. It always was during the days, even the nights. The second floor seemed not too high to look up. And people sometimes did when they passed on the street below. Those people, who often went on that street knew well who was there behind that wide window. They sometimes took their time to look up again when the night came, the time they went back home. Who was it really behind that wide window which sometimes covered by clean, white curtain. Not an actress for sure, for they must be busy during the year end, besides, if she were, people would stop and looked up longer or even screamed in disbelief of what they saw.


The rain kept falling down and it seemed reluctant to end. It had washed the earth clean. She looked down through her window to the street below where people getting wet, where the vehicles bumped to the right and left to avoid the traffic, where the colorful umbrellas moved quickly here and there, to go to places the holders wanted to go. She just looked down with an empty look. She didn’t realize when an elderly man looked up at her direction even though the rain fell quite heavily, ignoring the fast drops of water on his wrinkled face.


She perhaps also ignored the rumors about a young lady behind the window who looked down with an empty stare. She perhaps didn’t think it was her, cause sometimes she went to her workplace – a company   belonged to her father. It meant that she might go there anytime she liked since her father didn’t seem to care about it. What she didn’t realize was that she only left for her office at about 10 am and was already behind that window even before 7 pm. Her housemaid even thought that her real office was indeed her favorite nook behind that brown-paneled window.




“When will you return?” She asked the man sitting beside her.

“You probably don’t want to know” replied him.

“I did ask, it means that I do want to know!”

“Emm, around six months, maybe”

“Why is it so easy for you to say that?

“To say what?”

“Around six months, maybe … you think it’s a short time?”

“We can still talk via phone, you can come to see me anytime you want, just … I cannot leave every time I want, unless…”

“Unless what?”

“Unless, I leave my company also”

“You can find a decent job here too.”

“Where? Working in your father’s office? It’s not a job Karin, it’s a charity!”


She chose not to answer. She hated the way the man sitting next to her thought about the job-offer her father gave to him. He had to work in another province, far away from their hometown, around four-hour flight and it only flew once a week. She did try once to visit him for she could go anywhere, anytime she wanted but he just had no time to show her around. She even met him when she was already there for 48 hours! He didn’t go home, he had to stay in the office to take care of some matters he said. She questioned that but he merely said that it was the job he had to work on.


Six months. The last time he said that, he returned 8 months later after six-month period was over. She wondered why he could be that busy. Sometimes she thought that he had another woman he visited during his free time. She sometimes was so na´ve. If only she remembered the way her father did with her mother, she wouldn’t think that way. But, she didn’t get used to remember things which weren’t related to her, directly!


Her father often went out of town for quite long time without a word of it. He seemed too busy with what he did and he came home only for a while before leaving to other places, Karin hardly knew. That was before he could manage his own business well.




Dearest Alex,

It’s already six months now, where are you? I called you from time to time but your cell phone wasn’t active. You went to those uncivilized people again? I wonder, why are you so devoted to them and never care about me ….


It was a time of uncertainty for you and I. I could never understand how it became the two of us. You seem so far away and every time I reached you, you were  never there …


He probably got that message weeks later. People at home started to wonder about his job. He kept saying that he worked for an MNC there. He told Karin that sometimes he went to a very remote area to settle things down, but what she and everyone didn’t know was that he decided to leave his company six months ago and devote himself to a research project for an indigenous tribal group. It had been his dream to be able to work with an international research group to help the tribal group. He got no money of course but he was satisfied with that. He managed his living cost by consulting his former workplace. It wasn’t as much as when he spent the whole time there but his life style in that province didn’t demand much unless when he returned home, where Karin was.


When he returned home, his life was like to change 180░ from the life he used to have. Honestly, he liked it there, where people were still sincere about things. He wanted to marry Karin and brought her there but the only thing he knew was that he couldn’t. She wasn’t the type of person who got used to hard work and rough life. She was a princess but, he was no prince. He was more like a warrior, perhaps. From long time ago, he realized that he was in love with the wrong person, but his heart was too full of her that he hardly managed to forget her.


And finally, leaving her home, sitting behind her window was the only thing he could do. He knew that many people talked about that but there was nothing he could do. He wouldn’t be able to explain to her about what he was doing now ‘cause she would think that he was part of those uncivilized people. And, by knowing that, she’d leave him for sure. And, he knew that he wouldn’t be able to bear that.


He sometimes wondered whether she loved him dearly enough that she could bear the life he was now living. But then, he didn’t have enough courage to tell her the truth. Then another six to eight months away, no words, little conversation on the phone, no reply sent. Every time he returned, “sorry” was the “obligatory word” he said to his beloved.




“Didn’t you get my message? Karin asked when he returned some day.

“I did, but..”

“Why didn’t you reply, at least you could call me.”

“Sorry,…I … .”

“I tried to call your cell phone but I wasn’t connected.”

“Oh … I no longer use that number.”

“And you didn’t tell me?”

“I tried,..”

“And then?

“You didn’t listen, you were too upset and busy, beside that … whatever party had kept you from me, so…”

She looked at him and said,

“About that party, I’m sorry, I …” he managed to nod.


Every time he was reminded about her whereabouts, it was like a sharp, burnt knife stabbed deeply straight into the center of his heart. It left a wound there and it would bleed again every time he remembered what kind of life she had. Longer he thought about that, more convinced he was that he would never be able to possess her as a wife.

“I love you Karin, but …”

“But what?”

“I feel … think that we’re two worlds apart.”

“We can manage that if we wish to.”

“You will never be able to live the life I do.”

“What? In the province? Well, you can move here, can’t you?”

He looked at her and shook his heavy head,

“You don’t understand, Karin, my life is there.”

“Well, I can go back here anytime I want and … .”

“You see, we’ll live in a very remote area, you can manage that?”

“You’ve moved from your former place?”

“Well,…not really… actually, the company has another project and I was assigned there so …” He couldn’t tell her about his research cause he believed that she wouldn’t like it.

“But, you’ll move out someday, right, to your former place?”

“Well, we can manage that, I think.”

She smiled to hear that and held him, but his eyes were heavy with the thoughts inside his head. If only he could tell her the truth …


And then another six months passed. Fights on the phone, debates in the e-mails were just routines for them. But when he returned they said nothing about these. She already reconsider about their relationship. She was told by her parents, friends, and her own though to let him go. Every time she tried to think about it, her head became heavy and her heart ached.


She couldn’t help thinking that he had someone new, somewhere out there in the province. But she never knew how restless were his nights there, in the remotest area of the farthest province in the country. When he could no longer take it, he would cry silently knowing he couldn’t let both his dream and Karin. If only, … if only she were simpler, perhaps he could convince her about his dream. But, he met someone “more sophisticated” than his chemistry teacher. He was in love with someone “more civilized” than he, himself.


He could smile during daylights but his eyes sometimes wet when the nights came. An old herbalist from where he was doing his research seemed to notice his restlessness.


“If you need to go home, you can go every time you want.” He said.

“I will miss some important events here.”

“What about your own events, I mean what about your own life?”

“It’s my life.”

“But, it seems that it isn’t the life of the one you wish to live with.”

“How do you know that?”

“I met many young men who had similar problems like yours now.”

“And you have the cure?”

He simply laughed.

          “Why?” Alex asked.

“I don’t perform that kind of medication but let go one dream and you’ll be fine.”

“What if I want both of them?”

“Don’t be greedy!”

“What will you choose, your lifetime dream or your love?”

“Which one you think most, you prefer most, you want most?”


“I wish I could.”




“Can you tell me what’s going on here?” A police commander asked one of his men.

“We were called by the restaurant’s owner that there were two dead bodies found on one of the table in her restaurant Sir, and about an hour ago the coroner already took them to the hospitals for an autopsy.”

“Can you take me there, now?”

“Yes, Sir!”




“What we got here?” The tall, fair commander asked his men.

“We found no blood in those bodies Sir, but their lips were blue, so the preliminary assumption was poison as the cause of their death.” One of his men explained. Then, another police officer added,

“We found these letters Sir, one in the man’s pocket and the other one in the lady’s bag.

“What kind of letters?”

He then handed those letters to his commander.


Dearest Alex,


Not that I hate you, Dear, but I need to live my life. It’s still early and yet I have to wait for you in vain and uncertainty. Love isn’t supposed to mean to hurt each other and leave us in pain…


But look at what happens to us. Pain is our daily consumption, fight is our regular sport, and hatred is all what we got….


Dear, tell me how am I supposed to cope with it. You may be strong enough but not me. And don’t tell me to hold on once again. My hands have been blistered and my heart is severely wounded.


Don’t tell me to wait ‘cause I can’t. You may say that I’m unfaithful. But let me explain, I’m no masochist, I don’t handle pain the way they do … sorry to say but I have to say it. Dear …I’m … leaving you…I take my father’s suggestion to move abroad where one of his offices is.


Goodbye – Karin.


And then the other one read this way,


Dearest Karin,


How could you do this to me? How am I supposed to live without your caring attention. How am I to hold on? I’ve tried to build a home for us, I’ve purchased the finest car for our future family, though it’s far from our “sophisticated” hometown’s standard. What else you want me to do, Dear. Oh .. no… why love is so demanding? I’m away just for you, for us. If I keep staying at home, you think I can pay all the expenses? Even if I’m home, a big question Dear, will you be with me while I’m deadly poor?


Can I see you next Monday at 7.30 pm at “The Mediterranean Hut”, I need to have a word with you, thanks.


Love – Alex.


The Commander took a deep breath after he read those letters, and then a senior officer approached him and said,


“Commander Ivan, those two letters were sad, right, very sad indeed. Perhaps, they killed themselves by eating the food with the poison in it, or perhaps she didn’t know that. Perhaps he deliberately put the poison in their food. Possessive, it was why it happened. Perhaps next time when our children are in love, Sir, we should tell them to learn to let go in the very first time they realize that they’re in love. Love is just too dangerous when it deals with possession …  .“

“And we better tell them not to demand too much to the one they love.” Commander Ivan said,

His colleague said nothing but nodded.




Far away, in a dense forest, in one of its clearings, there was a simple village with simple people who lived in. By the firelight, an old herbalist also took a deep breath, and said to himself, whispering.


“It may not be a fair choice, but it’s yours. When we deal with heart, Son, you have limited choices sometimes none!”




Manila, December 2004


Dyah Kuncorowati



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