If there ever was a day that the villagers wished to happen every day in their lives, it would be a twenty four hour length of Sunday. It was the only time in the whole week that the town hall was open for public, driving all the villagers to the field like a migrating group of red crabs, desperately looking for nothing but entertainment. Sunday also meant a gala of young and beautiful women, riding their bicycles around the reservoir, or simply eating their boiled peanuts waiting for the twilight to come. It sometimes became the moment of young men showing off their peafowl feathers to hopefully find someone to mate. It was undoubtedly true what the people said: a town did have a merrier life than the one a village had. Most of the villagers only made their livings by working at some factories, some rice fields, or even some fishponds owned by some village officials. They did what they were supposed to do all day Monday to Saturday, and finally did what they wanted to do, such as having a family time, on the beautiful Sunday. But a different story happened to Parjo. For him, who was a daily paid construction laborer, hell was giving a free ride in the form of that beautiful god damned particular day of week.
It had been exactly two months since he worked for Wardiman. He was really excited when a friend called Zul, Zulaikha, offered the job to him at first. He just knew, selling some bird foods never really made a proper living even for him and himself only; becoming a construction laborer was a way better option, he believed. Wardiman, the overseer, was known for his successful line of work. He once worked on some sites in Jakarta, Bandung, and even Manado. But this time, the project took place only five kilometers away from his village that he could go home right away at every end of the day. In fact, it was the main reason that made Parjo took the offer. Parjo just could not imagine how to live far away from his home and leave his dear old mother alone all by herself. On the other side, Wardiman was satisfied with Parjo’s work that he thought Parjo was kind of a handy man just like his father. Even though all Parjo was ordered to do was to make the foundation piles, he did also, in the initiative of his, dig the dirt and made a ditch. When nobody was even arrived yet, there he was, building a shed for them to rest later. It was his work ethic that impressed Wardiman the most. And pointing the fact that it was Parjo’s first experience working as a construction laborer, it was almost like he was a natural. Maybe it was right, Wardiman thought, like father like son.
That evening, like every other evening, the wind from the west came blowing the rice fields. It brought warmth and a bit of September scent: kind of dry and wet at the same time. For the farmers, September had always been one melancholic month. They would never know what was yet to come. It felt like September had her own emotion: It would be raining when she was sad, and it would be nothing but cracked dry ground when she was angry. But, what if happiness filled her heart? Sometimes, September felt just perfect. The rice fields began to turn colors, the catfish grew big and bigger, and every seller felt grateful for their sold out wares. Everything was just that perfect, and then people would say, “She must be happy right now!”. In that certain month, Pariyem would usually go around the village to sell melinjo crackers. And for no concrete reasons, she had always believed that September came bringing a lucky charm for her and her melijo crackers. As the evening began to fade, she shouted from the yard.
“Jo, come here, son! Help me with these melijo seeds, would you? I’m going to the mosque.”
“I’m coming, Mother.” Parjo replied. “It is dark already, I can walk you the mosque if you want me to.”
“Oh come on, like it’ll make any differences. I’ll still walk on my feet, anyway. Just go grab those seeds and put away the bad ones!”
“But why don’t you just pray at home, Mother?” Parjo asked.
“I’m old, son, don’t you see? I’ll be dead in any minutes, and come back to The God Almighty. It will be such a shame to pray alone at home. You young people should start going to the mosque too! Before it’s too late… Okay, I’m leaving!”
Parjo was often worried about his mother. In her old age, she would go around the village to sell melinjo crackers and was still accustomed to walk to the mosque and pray there. Parjo had repeatedly remind her, and at every single try, she blew him off. There was this little desire in Parjo’s heart, so small it’s even smaller than the seed of melinjo in his bare hands, to build a mosque in front of their house. He would wreck down those pigeon cages for land, he would wreck down everything, so that the mosque could be built. So that one day, his mother didn’t have to walk so far to simply meet her God Almighty.
Lately, the long-running rumors were spreading faster among the workers. Wardiman was fired by the project owner. It was said that he was found guilty of corruption, misusing the project money for some new car he bought. Parjo refused to believe it at the time because he thought Wardiman was such a good guy; in fact he was the first man who greeted Parjo at the site. Parjo felt like forever in debt with him somehow. Maybe it was because the bonus he sometimes gave to Parjo, or the snacks he bought him in the rest hours. For all of that, he would not fall easily for the thing people were gossiping about.
“It’s true, you know. He’s got fired! I saw one of Rofiq’s men the other day, he came by and spoke in anger to Wardiman. Poor guy.” Saepul said.
“What? Do you have any proof for that? I just cannot believe it. He’s a rich guy, why would he steal anyway? It’s nonsense!” Parjo replied.
“Humans, dude, humans! Our instinct is always about getting some more of literally everything. More and more!”
Parjo paused for a moment, and Saepul’s words began to make sense to him. But still, his heart refused to believe the awful reality.
“And where’s he now?” Parjo finally broke his silence.
“Well, not around here, for sure! That Rofiq’s guy didn’t even get him some separation pay. Poor poor Wardiman!”
The next day Parjo came an hour earlier than the usual. It was because the car he used to ride every Monday also happened to leave early. When he reached the site, Parjo immediately questioned Wardiman’s whereabouts.
“Hey, Le. Did you see Wardiman around?” Parjo asked Tole.
“What? You haven’t heard the news, have you?” Tole replied, making some confusion appeared in Parjo’s face.
“Is that really true? The corruption? I just can’t believe it, Le”.
“Well, just ask the others. And by the way, that second floor won’t cast itself, so I will. See you, mate!”
Suddenly a deep voice of someone was heard from behind the steps of the ground.
“Hey you! Keep digging! You don’t want some black mark, do you? Hey, Didi, the sand is not smooth yet! Don’t you see? Fix it again, or I’ll cut off your wages!” Shouted Sabani from the end of the unfinished wall.
His physical appearance was big and terrible. He got no neck and his fingers were as plump as rolled cakes. His body was full of sweat and smell so bad. The scorching sun really shone at him whole-souledly that his expensive shirt looked very shabby and people would think he bought it at a flea market. Sabani was like a storm in broad daylight. The thunder slipped off and struck everyone he met. And there Parjo was, waiting to be struck by the fat lightning god.
“You! Weirdo! Get your ass here!” Sabani pointed at Parjo. Parjo didn’t even realize that it was him Sabani shouted to. Nobody called him a weirdo, ever, until that day. And he wasn’t happy at all about it.
“Me, sir?” replied Parjo in hesitation, wiping both of his hands.
“Oh, no. I was talking to that pile of cement next to you. Of course, you fool!”
“What can I do, Sir?” Parjo asked so innocently.
“So, you’re Wardiman’s favorite, huh?” Sabeni asked back.
The question made Parjo feel proud for his ‘favorite’ label, but the way Sabini asked was making him feel insecure.
“Err.. well… Sir”
“I fired Wardiman because he is a fucking theif! You know that? Now you’re working for me, and now I cut your wages because you took your day-off last Sunday! From now on, you guys can only get your day-off under my permission!” Sabeni kept talking in such an annoying voice.
Parjo’s condition was kind of dilemmatic: the option to resign was not an option at all since September was almost over. He surely couldn’t get back to selling birds food and counting on his dear old mother’s income from the melinjo seeds. To say no words and wait for the right moment were the best option he could pick.
That Saturday Parjo got up early to ask Sabeni permission for a day-off, so the next day, Sunday, he could go home to visit his mother. When he was about to enter Sabeni’s office, he found him on the phone with a serious expression in his face. Actually, Parjo was not the kind of person who liked to mind others business, but what he heard from the beginning that certain moment, was really suspicious.
“Haha fool Wardiman! That hypocrite! He knew already that I am the one who won this project, but that old Rofiq chose him instead!” Sabeni said. He listened to the man at the end of the line for a moment, then replied again. “The bookkeeping? Well yes, that has been taken care of. Finish in no time. The most important thing is Rofiq has lost his trust in him. Hahaha!”His laughter was jarring that the chicken stopped crowing that morning.
“Those guys from Kediri, all of them, soon will come here. So I can press the budget more. I’ll share the profit with you, the both of us. Hahaha” Sabeni laugh, and then he hung up the phone.
That little suspicious conversation surprised Parjo. There was something he did not know about, and Sabeni covered it all up. Maybe, it had something to do with Wardiman and the case. But he decided to let go the things for a moment because his longing for his dear mother, Pariyem, was greater than his suspicion of Sabeni. He entered the room and asked for a day off permission.
“Err, excuse me, Sir. Can I have a…”
“Right. Right. You’ve got my permission.” He replied shortly.
“You haven’t even heard what I am about to ask you yet…”
“A day off, right? To go home to your mother? Go ahead.” Sabeni answered.
The previous conversation indeed made him surprised, but now it was even more strange with that Sabeni’s nice attitude. Parjo, afraid of the chance that the day’s getting odder, left the room.
If it was not for the rain, he thought, his work must had done overnight and he could go home the day after. He was doing his work when Saepul called him.
“Jo! Hey! The boss called you!” said Saepul.
Another strange thing happened that day that the overseer called him. Sabeni sat in an old wicker bench. There were some snacks and cups of coffee neatly laid at his desk.
“Jo, come here! You want some banana?” Sabeni offered. But Parjo didn’t want any.
“What’s the matter, Sir? Something I did wrong yesterday?” he panicked that his work had past deadline. But Sabeni shook his head.
“I just got a call from the village chief.” He said Sabeni. “Your mother, Jo …”
In that instant moment, Parjo couldn’t breathe. His pulse got weak while his heart was beating faster and faster. Quite a sensation that he had never felt before. His throat became dry and his eyes were bleary. Parjo was somehow afraid of what was to come from Sabeni’s tounge. If he could choose the way things went, he wanted it to end at that exact moment, leaving him alone with the unfinished sentence.
“Your mother, she is gone, Jo. A heart attack. People back there have taken care of his funeral.”
It was a full sentence now, and it suddenly made every inch of Parjo’s organs seem like had stopped working. He fainted.
The reservoir was not that exotic to be called as a view. The water was dirty and the road was slippery. Parjo was an
eight-grader the last time he came to the reservoir. He saw it as an impingement object of sullenness and depression of the unemployment. The reservoir had nothing to enjoy. His mother died in the dam on a Sunday. While the villagers made it as a playground for their children, Pariyem saw it as a field of money, while wishing someone or two buy her emping. What Parjo found ironic was that her mother died on the day and place he hated. Parjo was so sad. In his sullenness, someone suddenly approached him. Parjo was aware. The man was wearing a veil on his head that made him even more difficult to be recognized. Parjo’s hands clenched as he was afraid that the man was a bad guy.
“Parjo! This is me!”
“How are you doing, Jo?” asked Wardiman. Parjo hugged him tight. He was speechless and he felt as if he saw his father. “I miss you too, Jo. And I am so sorry for your mother’s death. I did not expect that at all,”
“Thank you, Sir. Where have you been?”
“I was victimized, Jo!” answered Wardiman.
“Victimized? By whom?” Parjo enthusiastically asked.
“That fat ass Sabeni! I was fired because of him!”
“What do you mean…?” Parjo asked.
“He was Rofiq’s left hand. He envied me because Rofiq chose me to manage this project. I was suspected for doing corruption while the project was being done.” Explained Wardiman. “I was left with a bad name.”
“How can, Sir?” Parjo asked.
“The bookkeeping! The outcome was faked. Sabeni was crafty, he faked all of the land legality so that he could take over them and put Rofiq in disadvantage. And in the end the blame was all on me!”
“But weren’t you the one who managed the bookkeeping?”
“I was, but after that I bestowed it to Saepul who apparently was the culprit why I was in defamation. Sabeni had been working with him to fall me down. One by one our project workers would be fired and replaced by the cheaper ones to reduce the outcome. There were always mistakes that could become the excuses to fire the workers.” Explained Wardiman.
“But why weren’t I fired?”
“BECAUSE YOU ARE CHEAP, JO!” answered Wardiman. Parjo smiled foolishly.
“So what do you want now?”
“I always made a note in this sacred journa!” Wardiman took out a small book. “There were small notes about the project that could be my only chance to prove that I am clean! Please pray for me, Jo, Maybe you would not hear from me. Good bye,” Then he left in the rain.
Much had happened and changed in past ten years long. September no longer came as the way she used to. The village offered a lot of entertainment now. The reservoir was adorned with beautiful incandescent lights. This Sunday, was not the Sunday that Parjo often worried about 10 years earlier. He was married to Zul and gifted two loving children. Meanwhile, Sabeni and Saepul ended up in jail for the corruption they committed. Wardiman was fighting for his rights so persistent that the court dared to reverse the sanctions against him. This case also brought other crimes Sabeni committed to the surface. Rofiq, the boss man, had gained his trust back in Wardiman, and got him promoted as the new project manager. Parjo came back to his old life, a seller, but in a way better place. He made his living as a CEO now. Together with his wife, Parjo pioneered a successful business of various flavors melinjo crackers. However, Parjo was still a ‘Parjo’. A simple man who had many dreams to achieve. And one of them was to build what he should’ve built a long time ago, when he was still a low paid laborer: a mosque for his dear mother.
Words count : 2828
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