I Must Marry My Aunt


After the Asr prayer, Ibrahim phoned his family at home, to tell them that next month he would return home. He’d never gone home for many years studying in this Pesantren (Traditional Islamic School in Indonesia). He had finished all the lessons. Actually, not all Islamic knowledge he had completed, but in this Pesantren only beginner and middle-level Islamic subjects were available to be learned. "Go home and get married," said his mother on the line. Ibrahim was 23 years old. For villagers, 23 was mature enough to get married. No need to find a job, he inherited so much wealth, including farmland.

"Yes, Ummi," answered Ibrahim. The term ‘Ummi’ derives from the word ‘umm’, it’s an Arabic word that means ‘mother’, it’s common among the Islamic family to use ‘Ummy’ which means ‘my mother’. Marriage is easy, he thought. Happiness is not having this and that. Happiness is in the heart. Many took a very long time finding the perfect lady, but when they got married, the romantic moment ended so quickly. For Ibrahim, just be positive, get married, and be happy. Everything would be fine.

Ibrahim was the son of Kyai (The Islamic cleric), but his father had died. He was the youngest child. His mum was very old, she suffered from dementia. She used to talk about something nonsensical. Unfortunately, as the kyai's wife, she was still respected by the family and people in the village. His words were still considered sacred. "Have you found any girl?" her mother asked on the phone.

The choice of parents and teachers was a blessing. Ibrahim believed it. He didn't know that his mother had suffered from dementia. "Not yet, Ummy. I prefer you to recommend me one," answered Ibrahim. For Ibrahim, a husband must love his wife despite whatever shortcoming she has. But, he believed his mum would find the best one for him.

"Okay," his mother said. "I'll find one for you."

Ibrahim was very happy. Yes, next month, he thought; he would live with a beautiful girl. He couldn’t imagine living together with a beautiful girl. He had been spending most of his life in Pesantren learning. As the former students, they mostly ended their studies by getting married. Just a month left for Ibrahim.

His mother told his elder sister, Neng Nina (Neng is a word to call respected Kyai’s daughter). “I want Ibrahim to marry Neng Fatma.”

Neng Nina was shocked. “Oh, My God…!!” She was laughing in her mind, didn’t dare to laugh out loud. It was a big mistake. Neng Fatma was a young lady 35 years ago when her uncle, Kyai Siddiq, married her. Her uncle had died now and she was an old lady. Kyai Siddiq was the cousin of Neng Nina’s father. But, she didn’t want to argue with her mum. It would be a big problem.

She went to Neng Fatma’s house, not far from there. She didn’t call her Neng, but Nyai instead. ‘Nyai’ is a word to call respected old Kyai family members. She told her what her mum said. Nyai Fatma laughed out loud. “Then how?” she said. She thought it was funny. But, she thought, it doesn’t matter, just follow what she (Ibrahim mother) wanted, she could manage. It would be a fake marriage. Or she might change her mind sooner.

...to be continued

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