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     By Dyah Kuncorowati


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She sat down on a round, ceramic chair with plant motif – a local product – under a huge banyan tree, in a town square, where the parents liked to take their children there, when the sun almost set. The tree looked so ancient with its aged trunk, strong boughs which reached up the sky above, and green, dense leaves which covered the area below from the heat of the sun.


But not her. She wasn’t that ancient. In fact, she looked so young with her beautifully-cut flowery skirt and white shirt. She let her straight, long, dark hair loose. She had been in the square for almost two hours, waiting it seemed. She came when the place was still deserted, and now, it was crowded with little children laughing and running around with their parents or relatives and friends. Still … she was waiting.


Once in every two months she went to that place to meet someone who came from another place in the direction of the rising sun. For almost two years now, he never came late but this time. But, it didn’t seem to bother her. She sat still and watched the playing children all around her. Her plain face sometimes laughed with those children too.


About a year ago, a friend commented on her so-called-natural face as plain, no make-up at all. She wore some before, only thin ones but beautifully applied. Then, in one sunny morning she put those all away. Her friend questioned this.

“He wants me to be natural.”

“Who’s he?”

“What? Natural? If he asks you to go in his way, you’ll do that?” A boyfriend asked even before she answered.

”Well, yes. Why?”

“Today your make-up, tomorrow your way of life, the next day your very self, and  the next month he’ll leave you with someone else!”

“Oh … shut up!!!”


The place was almost deserted again. The sun almost set when there was a taxi stopped and a man got out of it. She suddenly looked at his direction. Her face looked bright in an almost obscure day. She stood up and his pace approached.

“Sorry, I’m late!” said he, who looked tired.

“Never mind.” She replied with a happy smile.


There was something wrong, she thought. He didn’t seem to be happy with their meeting, unlike the ones had passed.

“Everything’s fine?” there was no answer for sometime.

“What? … Oh, yes. Why? I’m just a little bit tired.”


He tried to smile. And then they left that place to his hotel which she had booked before. She waited him in the lobby while he was cleaning himself up. She sat the way she did under the banyan tree. She didn’t even touch the magazines laid on the glass table in front of her.

When he finished, he looked fresh and fine. Now, he smiled to her the way he did two months and the years passed. He was on his own again, she thought happily. It was just a tiring trip.


They had a dinner in a restaurant not far from the town square. The banyan tree stood still. Even the darkness couldn’t hide its glorious figure. They found a table near an aquarium with bright, little fish within. The people came and went. There was a young lady who looked very distinguished among the people around. She wore a short, flowery skirt and white blouse. Her hair which was dark as the night, tied high with white ribbon. Her face was so bright with soft make-up, newest trend. She came alone. She looked so beautiful with two tiny diamond earings on her both ears.

“Lord, if only she were mine!” whispered a waiter to his friend.

“Not even in your dream!” replied his friend.

She took the seat behind the plain-faced girl. She took the position so that she faced the man in front of the girl.


The night got older. The stars spread on the dark sky. They were like small diamonds displayed on the black velvet, only this time there was no glass cover. They already finished their dinner. They still had time to walk a little while. They shared their stories, told their dreams and laughed at the old days which were framed with tears and laughters and kept secretly in their mind, before he took her home and returned to his room in the hotel, by himself.


When he reached his room, the phone was ringing. He picked it up.

“She looks innocent,” said a female voice on the line.

He hadn’t said a word when the phone was hung up.


The next day, the sun shone brightly. It was like thousands smiles gathered in one spot. It was up above. They walked – again – together among the people in a traditional market where everything was sold; food, clothes, handycrafts, toys, etc. It was crowded with people. They didn’t buy, just walked and looked at the people. They enjoyed that, once. Among the pedestrians, there she was, the young lady from the night before. She was in blue. She wore blue jeans and blue shirt, tied her hair with blue ribbon and her umbrella was as blue as the sky above her.


She still looked charming, just like the night before. Charming and distinguished. People looked at her direction to fulfill their curiousity. Then, she passed by the couple and smiled at them. They smiled back at her. She absorbed a lot of attention from the people around. She kept walking westward.

“She’s so beautiful, don’t you think?” the girl said.

“What can I say?” replied the man next to her.


Then, it was the time for another farewell. They waited his bus in the bus station. It didn’t take a long time until it arrived. There was nothing else he said but,

“Take care!” And there was nothing from her but a smile.

Not long after he got on the bus, it was driven away. After sometime, it reached a bus agent next to a Javanese restaurant and stopped there. There were some people got on, and the lady with the umbrella which was as blue as the sky, was among them. This time, she folded her umbrella. He couldn’t notice her until she sat next to him. He looked surprised but still, he smiled broadly at her. He took her hand whose nails were polished pink and kissed it. And the bus was driven away.


The plain-faced girl was still waiting for her bus which would take her home when his bus left the bus agent. She’d need to wait for the next two months to sit again under the banyan tree and wait for him. He, whom she called as a “lover” and who called her as an “intermezzo”. He, who told her to do this and that. He, whose note felt down from his jacket pocket in the restaurant when he was about to the man’s room. The note which she picked up. Only a one-lined blue note which ran, “She’s a sweet intermezzo”


In the next morning, that sweet intermezzo walked confidently as she did a year back. Her thin make-up, her bright shirt, and her short hair. She also had a note for him, with whom she had spent her weekend, the week before. The note which he received two months later when he got in his hotel after he failed to see her under the banyan tree. It simply ran, “There’ll be no more sweet intermezzo under the banyan tree.”