A noisy row was heard coming from Suliah’s house when she was scolding Meriam, her teenage daughter, her one and only child. How could she not have been hopping mad. Meriam, who had now turned 16 was often the object of gossip by the villagers in Madurasa. Truly, since young Meriam had been the most precious treasure of the couple, Abas and Suliah, blessed with just one child. The little girl had a very beautiful face. Alas, her beauty caused her to be the target of teasings by her boy friends. When Meriam was only 6 years old, Abas had to leave home for Jakarta in search for work in the capital. The responsibility of bringing up Meriam was now on Suliah’s shoulders alone.
“How many times have I warned you, do not hang out with men before you’re married? Do you want to be a hooker, or what?” shouted Suliah while slapping her daughter’s face.
“We may not be rich, but people in this village still have quite a respect for your mother. Don’t you know that you have tarred the family’s good name with that behavior of yours?
The cause of all this was Suliah catching her daughter by surprise. She was on her way home from washing clothes in the river when she caught her daughter giggling and making out in the bushes by the school with Didi, Pak Gade’s eldest son. After giving Didi a tongue lashing, Suliah, all by herself, dragged her daughter home to teach her a lesson. Even though it pained her heart, because the truth of the matter was, she could not bear to hurt her darling daughter, but being of a simple mind, hitting her daughter was the only way she knew how to teach her a lesson.
That evening, with eyes swollen from crying, Meriam sat brooding on her bed, pondering her mother’s words. The pubescent roiling blood in her rebelled against the harsh treatment she felt was unfair. Was this the kind of love she deserved from her parents? Was it her fault when her school friends, especially the boys, liked her? If my mother doesn’t love me any more what's the point of me staying in the village any longer? But, if I did leave, where should I go? Jakarta! Yes, JAKARTA, that's where I should be heading for to find Dad. Thousands of questions whirled in her head, but she was determined. She was leaving for Jakarta!
The moon had crept high up in the sky when the door of Suliah’s house slowly opened and the figure of a slender girl slipped out. She carried with her a small bundle containing two changes of clothes and a pair of her favorite shoes.