4 Separation

"I will only take this job for two years," Andrea said that night, squeezing my hands softly.

I nodded. I didn't bother convincing my husband that I couldn't go with him to London. Maybe he thought one day I would change my mind and follow him, just as I would change my mind about having children.

After five years together, he still hadn't realized that I rarely change my mind.

I drove him to the airport that night and took off with a smile. Andrea would stay in a hotel for a month until he found a suitable home to live in. The company paid for everything.

Come to think of it, my husband was indeed an extraordinary person. During these five years, his career had been progressing very rapidly, far beyond other Indonesians I know who were not from a wealthy background or had a strong backup.

I have read on the internet that he was currently the best security expert in Asia Pacific. My father actually wanted Andrea to be his successor in running many of his companies, because my older brother preferred to devote himself as a doctor and, I told you, writing was my calling. We were not interested in business. But Andrea did not like nepotism and refused my father's offer gently.

I was almost back at home when my phone rang, and Andrea's voice was heard on the other end.

"I miss you already," he sighed softly, "I will be boarding soon. I'll call you when I land at Heathrow."

I just brought my laptop and several clothes then left for Indonesia. I couldn't stand living in our apartment on Beach Road where all the memories were scattered about. I also could not go home to my parents and deliver the bad news about our separation. Finally, I decided to go to Sumba where my brother opened a clinic with his best friends.

My eldest brother, Johann decided to become a doctor when my second brother, Wolfgang, died of meningitis when he was 14 years old. We were all devastated when the doctor brought word that the sudden headache that Wolf was experiencing caused by the meningitis virus in his brain, and he died after being in a coma for days. His death was unexpected and devastating to all of us.

My father and mother became more protective of the two of us, but also became more lenient towards us. As children of a conglomerate family, our lives had been decided from birth.

Johann, Wolf, and I were arranged to be married to the children of my father's friends, fellow conglomerates, for business purposes, and our way of life had been set from the beginning: where we would go to school and when we will take over which company.

Wolf's death opened the path of freedom for us because mother and father realized that they did not want to lose either Johann or me because we felt forced to follow the path they set for us.

Johann was given the freedom to study medicine, date the girl he loved. While I could focus on becoming an aspiring writer and later marrying Andrea who came from a humble background.

Ah, thinking of Andrea made me sad. For years, he was in love with a girl whose family thought he was unworthy of her. While my family ... we accepted him unconditionally.

"Hey, why are you coming here all of a sudden, Win?" Johann asked when he picked me up at the airport. "Are you here to find inspiration to write?"

I just nodded. I didn't say much during the trip from the airport to his clinic. Johann opened this clinic 4 years ago after traveling to Sumba and fell in love with the Lakey Peak area. The villagers around the coast were very poor. Also, infant and toddler's mortality rate in the area was so high that it touched his heart.

With the help of our father's money and the support of his friends from university, he set up the clinic and spent half his time there. Another half he was in Jakarta to manage Medicine For The Poor foundation, where he helped channel young doctors who wanted to volunteer for several months in remote areas, which had little to zero access to healthcare.

"There is no air conditioning here, but we have cool breeze from time to time. The beach is walking distance, and the scenery is very nice. You must like it." said Johann, while taking my handbag and placed it in the room. "Seriously, you only carry this one bag? Do you want me to go to Bali for shopping with you?"

"Thanks, but I think I have enough." I shook my head and kissed his cheek, "I'll sleep now... I'm tired after flying with two transits."

My understanding brother left me alone. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. I tend to sleep a lot lately. It felt like my body was exhausted and always demanded me to rest.

When Andrea arrived at Heathrow and called me, I was sleeping. It was only with my strong willpower that I could arrive in Sumba today, but then the stress was unbearable.


I slept for a long time and I hardly left my bedroom. It went on for weeks. Johann then understood that I was depressed and didn't bother me with unnecessary questions. He just made sure that food was always available and I didn't lack anything.

I saw many incoming calls from a UK phone number but I could not pick up the phone. I really didn't want to talk to anyone.

When I finally opened the e-mail, there were several e-mails from Andrea expressing worry.

I imagined how he would be in London. Of course, now he had moved from the hotel to a new home. I wondered if he chose a home that was close to the girl and her child. Maybe, he already spent every weekend with the girl and her child.

I once looked for the girl on Facebook, but just like Andrea, she didn't use social media either. I only knew her name was Adeline Surya and she was the only daughter of the Surya family who controlled the palm-oil plantation industry in Kalimantan. She had been living in London for seven years and now worked as lifestyle editor in a magazine there. I couldn't find much information about her online.


"Hi, Wina. Are you feeling better? Do you want to go to the beach or not?" Johann asked when he saw me coming out of my room carrying my laptop. "It's nice there if you want to write."

Before I replied, he had taken the laptop from my hand and pulled me along to follow him. In only 10 minute walk, we had arrived in the beautiful Lakey Peak Beach. There was a small gazebo with comfortable chairs facing the sea and Johann invited me to sit.

Some white tourists seemed to have fun surfing in the ocean. I saw the children playing on the beach cheerfully and some of them were also carrying surfboards. Strangely, there were some children who have blond hair and mixed appearances.

"Many children here don't know their fathers," Johann explained before I asked. "Lakey Peak Beach is famous for its waves, and many foreign tourists come here to surf. Some are 'dating' the local girls and go home after the surfing season is over. So many children are born as mixed-race bastards, and never know who their fathers are. One or two of them ended up being reunited with their fathers and have a happy life, but those are rare cases. A lot of kids here are good surfers. With surfing, they can improve their lives. In fact, there is one local child who has become a professional surfer and got contracted by R*pcurl from this area."

I watched the children playing on the beach with happy faces. Their smiles and laughter were pure, even though this area was plagued by poverty. Hearing Johann's story, I understood how those bastard mixed children felt.

Andrea was not ashamed of his status as a bastard, but that did not mean his childhood was easy. He had to deal with children his age who could be cruel and kept asking why his skin was not brown like theirs and why his father never came to school.

His naive mother fell in love with an Italian guy when she was working in a hotel in Bali and became pregnant. The man just left when he found out the woman was pregnant and returned to his home country. Andrea was raised by his mother alone. It left a deep mark in his heart that he was determined that he would become a good man. He didn't want to be a jerk like his father.

I know his heart ached when he learned that, without his knowledge, he had abandoned a child out there, and only learned of his existence after 7 years too late. That was why I let him go to London, so he could fulfill his promise to himself to be a good man.

It hurt my heart to think about how difficult it was for me to make that decision. I knew this was my own choice, but I never thought that it would be this painful.

My chest felt tight, my heart was filled with longing, so I refrain from calling Andrea. I was worried that I would be selfish and demanded him to come back to me.



From the author:

Sumba is a really beautiful island, located in the eastern part of Indonesia, near Bali. But contrary to the popular and well developed Bali island, Sumba is quite underdeveloped and some parts are stricken by poverty.

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