Malcolm Moore came to Bali for a long vacation. At Kuta Beach, he
met a dark-skinned girl from Banyuwangi. Sariati, spoke very
little English and hence, intelletual communication between these
two people was kept to a minimum, as Malcolm did not speak
Indonesian at all. However, believe it or not, they managed to
enter into a "serious" love affair using body language.
Their relationship developed steadily. Not even the language
barrier, could stand in the way of their feelings for each other.
As their relationship approached it's second month, Malcolm
decided to go to Banyuwangi to ask for Sariati's hand in
Proposing to a girl in front of her parents is still a customary
practice today, mainly in Moslem families. For this purpose,
Malcolm brought along a Javanese interpreter. To Malcolm's
delight, the parents consented to the union on the conditions
that Malcolm should be circumcized and married according to
Indonesian Islamic law.
The happy groom-to-be agreed willingly, and so festivities were
arranged to cerebrate the wedding and Malcolm's conversion to
Islam. The preparations took ten days altogether, and cost
Malcolm no less than US$5,000. Despite the fact that these
expenses weighed heavily on him, Malcolm comforted himself that
soon, he would be able to take is beautiful wife back to Perth
where he lived.
When the day of departure came, Malcolm told his new
parents-in-law of his intention to leave for Australia with their
daughter. To his great dismay, Sariati's father said: "Oh, no!
You cannot to that. Sariati is the only one among my twelve
children, who is able and willing to support us financially. You
can not take her away from us. You will kill us if you do that!"
Malcolm, in his despair, asked the interpreter to bring up the
matter with the lurah village head. He was told that the whole
question rested on Sariati's decision, since the nikah marriage
was only recognized on a religious level, and not on a civil one.
Then, all that was left was for Sariati to make up her mind, but
she could not do anything, as she was faithul to her poor,old
parents. Again and again Sariati said pitifully: "Malcolm, I
really love you. But....I am the only one who cares for them. Do
not be angry with me!."
Malcolm was at this wit's end. Nevertheless, he decided to go
back to Denpasar. He and Sariati finally came to visit me and ask
"Why don't you undergo a civil marriage here in Denpasar, so that
Sariati will be your legal wife?." I asked Malcolm.
"Of course, that's what we'll do," answered Malcolm excitedly.
"No, it's not," said Sariati firmly.
"What do you want then?" I asked her, growing confused myself.
"I want Malcolm to stay here in Bali, make a living and support
my parents financially, " Sariati explained.
"It is impossible, "Malcolm protested. I don't have a work
permit for here, and besides, I would lose a good job in
Australia if I stayed here."
"So, you are determined not to go to the Kantor Catatan Sipil,
Registry Office to legalize your religious marriage?," I asked
"Yes, Thats right," she answered.
"Okay," I suggested, looking for a solution. "It is sad for you,
Malcolm, as Sariati won't have a civil marriage. Your marital
status is not recognized yet, by your government. Consequently,
it is impossible for you to take her to Australia as your
legitimate wife. Why don't you forget her and your ineffective
certificate of marriage?."
"But, what about the US$ 5,000 I have spent?."
"Ah, that is a different matter. You cannot retrieve it."
"So, you mean to say that my marriage is a fiasco?."
"Yes, it is. But, actually, your case is not that bad. Enjoy the
rest of your vacation here with her, and then leave her in peace.
You still have another 5 weeks. US$ 5,000 is not an expensive
price for a special honeymoon on this Island of the Gods."
They followed my advice and spent their remaining 5-weeks
visiting various parts of Bali and then they said their goodbyes.
Sariati went back to her old life as a street-walker. That was
how this true love story turned out!
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