A noise was heard from Suliah’s house when she was scolding Meriam, her only daughter. How could she not be furious? Meriam, now 16, oftentimes becomes the slanderous talk of Madurasa villagers. Since she was a little girl, Meriam had always been the darling of Abas and Suliah, a married couple blessed with this only child. This little girl was extremely pretty, but this prettiness made her teased by her male friends. When Meriam was only 6 years old, Abas left for Jakarta to try his luck there. Now, Suliah must fully shoulder the responsibility to raise Meriam.
“How many times have I warned you; don’t play around with men before you marry. Do you wanna be a whore?” Suliah screamed, slapping her daughter’s face. “Even if we’re not rich, people still esteem me here. Don’t you know that your behaviour gives our family a bad name?”
Here’s the why and wherefore: when going home from washing clothes in the river, Suliah caught her daughter red-handed giggling and flirting with Didi, the eldest son of Mr. Gadé, in bushes near the school. After cursing Didi, Suliah dragged her daughter home to teach her some lesson. Though sad, as she did not have the heart to hurt her beloved daughter, she, in her simple head, only knew one way to teach her daughter: beat her.
On that night, Meriam, with puffy eyes from crying, sat pensively on her bed mulling over her mom’s words. Her pubertal blood rebelled against the abusive treatment which she thought unfair. Is this the embodied love she deserves from her parent? Is it her fault if her schoolmates, especially males, like her? If my mom doesn’t love me anymore, why would I stay in this village any longer? If I leave this village, where will I go? Jakarta! Yeah, JAKARTA will be my destination to find dad. Thousands of questions raged in her mind, but she was determined. She would go to Jakarta!
The moon was creeping up high in the sky when Suliah’s door was slowly opened and a shadow of a slim girl sneaked out, carrying a bundle of two sets of clothes and a pair of her favorite shoes.