A loud voice could be heard coming from Suliah’ house. Suliah was chewing Meriam out like a rag doll. How couldn’t she be irate, when in the entire village of Madurasa tongues were wagging about Meriam, who had barely turned 16 years old. Since she was a little girl Meriam was Abas and Suliah’s darling, as she was the couple’s sole offspring. The little girl had a gorgeous face, but this very beauty made her a temptation to the young boys around her. Just when she turned 6 years old, Abas went on a journey to Jakarta to try to make his own way in life in the capital. The entire burden of raising Meriam rested on Suliah’s shoulders.
“I have already warned you several times not to fool around with boys before getting married. A hooker! Is that what you want to become?” yelled Suliah as she slapped the girl across the face. “Even though we are not rich people, your mother has a fairly good reputation in this village. Don’t you know that this behavior of yours sullies our family’s good name?”
What a scene Suliah discovered as she was returning home after washing the clothes by the canal! She caught her daughter by surprise giggling and making out with Didi, Mr. Gadé’s eldest son, by the bushes near the school. After reading Didi the riot act, Suliah dragged her daughter home to teach her a good lesson. It was painful for Suliah because in truth she did not have the heart to hurt her precious child, but in her unsophisticated mind there was only one way to discipline her daughter: hitting her.
That night, Meriam, with her swollen weepy eyes, sat pensive on her bed, mulling over her mother’s words. Her adolescent blood was getting up in arms against the rough treatment she received, which she felt was unfair. Did she deserve this type of love from her parents? What is wrong with schoolmates, essentially boys, liking her? If my mother does not love me anymore, what is the use of staying in the village? However, if I leave, where should I go? Jakarta! Definitely, JAKARTA will be my choice to look for my father. A thousand questions raced through her mind, but her determination was clear. She was leaving for Jakarta!
The moon was already high in the sky when the door of Suliah’s home slowly opened and the tiny girl silhouette slipped away, carrying nothing more than a bundle containing two changes of clothes and her favorite pair of shoes.