Many people believe Bali is a magical island, a paradise, or a place close to heaven. For me as a Balinese, it is as if living in candy land. Everything is pretty, nice to look, hard to resist but I have to control myself to keep myself sane.
Although in modern days the caste system (a form of social stratification) does not really matter anymore, for some it is a crucial factor to determine certain behavior towards issues. Marriage, for example, the caste system would be applied if a couple has different social status. It will not be a problem if it is between Brahmins and Kshatriyas, the two respected status. It will if one having higher status is getting married to the lower status.
For me —who lives in the generation of love is blind, does not care any of it. My family, on the other hand, still takes it seriously. We are Brahmins which means that at least I should be with someone who is Kshatriyas, nothing less than that. So when I introduced my loving boyfriend who is Shudras (a group of laborers) my parents just shared an uncomfortable look. From the very beginning, I doubted it would go somewhere. I knew my family would disallow. My parents..maybe can understand but my extended family? Never.
It was hard to call it to quit with my boyfriend. He was someone who could know what to say and say it well. He was humorous, mature and very confident of himself. I respected his job although it was not a high-paid one. He was an artist that’s why I loved him. He created his own world and drowned people into. I was head over heels for him. Jumping to his world made me paralyzed and dared to do anything to never be apart from him. He built the candy land for me.
We decided to elope. I told him, “I am ready to take the risk and consequences of us getting married.” And there we were against the island. I left my parents, I left my home and everything behind. I did not care about what people said. I did not care that probably my parents got a stroke. One thing I repeated to myself as I just want to stay in the candy land with him. Nothing ever matters.
Not like other Balinese weddings with all bizarre decorations, a long guest list, and golden gifts, our wedding was a total minimal. Luckily, I had a good career with all the benefits so that we could live in our own house after the wedding. A few first months of our marriage though the outsiders kept trying to set us apart, I was living in my dream castle with my dream prince charming. And all was enough.
Slowly the issue of our disapproved marriage disappeared from rumors. My parents got in touch with me again after 3 years. Everything seemed to be back to normal. Well..almost.
One day, I had a project with a community I signed myself up. It was an international community so I had to cross the country for a couple of months. Tagging along with my husband, we met interesting people there and coming back home with one of the members. She is Indonesian, making us consider her as a family. The first time she was on the island with us, she stayed with us at our lovely home. Our house was being renovated at the moment so there was currently no AC in the guest room and water-heater in the bathroom.
After she left, I found there was something strange. My husband often slept on the couch rather than with me. He said it was because of smoking. Almost every day, he slept late and woke up even later. From the bedroom I could hear the TV was on, quite loud. Suddenly, he asked me to change our car, buying a new one with a detailed specification he proposed to me. At the moment, I was not suspicious at all. I thought it would be a great idea as our car was a bit old. Then, we bought a new one.
Six months later I heard she flew back for work. This time, she stayed at our friend’s house. My husband asked me if I was okay he picked her up at the airport and because she was like a sister for me, I was totally okay with that. Never came to my mind that this woman would be the other woman of my marriage.
After months she headed back home, my friend whose house she stayed in asked me out for dinner on Saturday. Over meals, she told me that her cousin caught my husband had sex with the overseas lady. Then, she showed me all chats they had been flashing from the first time (her cousin was in IT so that he could hijack all encrypted messages). I could not believe it. The time we were overseas, he already flirted with her to the time my husband often slept on the couch every night. Evidently, the time difference made him sacrifice the time with me to have some chats with her.
You know what is even ironic? The reason he asked me to buy the new car was to pick her and ride her wherever she wanted. It was she who wanted that specific car. All the money he spent on her special lunch, dinner and all the cost of their travel was under my bill. The reason why she did not want to stay at our house the last time she was here was that the guest room did not have the AC yet, the water heater did not work yet. And my husband guaranteed next time she was here everything would have been ready. NEXT TIME. There would be NEXT TIME for them to screw in our house.
My candy land, my sweet sweet candy land collapsed. No colors anymore. Everything is dull. Everything is black. It was too shocking I could not shed a single tear. I ran home, locked myself at the bathroom and cut myself. I didn’t know what I was thinking. I just wanted to hurt myself as I was feeling so much guilty to my parents and family to choose him over them. But I could not confront him, leave him and divorce him just like that. I could not slam another embarrassing door at my parents. They had suffered enough for the shame I had done.
Until today, I don’t divorce him and don’t tell my family what happens to me. I had revealed what I knew to my husband and he kneeled down, asking for my mercy. He didn’t want me to leave him and promised he would end it forever. Well, I still can’t trust him but I still can’t bear the feeling to once again ruin my parents’ feeling because of my failure. I’m not ready for it so I punish myself to live this hell.
Illustration by @yeluyelu_