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Once Upon A Time in Selayar...


Selayar

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Once Upon A Time In Selayar...

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This will be the thread where I'm going to post random stories about the life of a common citizen just trying to live their life in Selayar. There might be stories about a guy who is trying to find his son in an amusement park, a kid trying to find his way to the Ferris wheel, a woman who is struggling with her seven kids, and such. You name it.

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Rule Number One

     "On your left, gentlemen, you can see Raraniranga Tower. Standing at 354 metres high, it is currently the highest skyscraper in Selayar. The building's name itself literally means the 'Tower of Heaven'. Don't you think it is quite a fitting name for the tallest building on Selayar?"

     The tourists crowd hummed in approval as Tarana finished his speech. One guy even went as far as writing his explanation words by words, while others are busy capturing selfies with the tower in the background. Nothing unusual, he thought. Not that he wished for unusual things to happen though. Last time it happened, a guy thought it was a good idea to pee on the floor of the Royal Ballroom. It was chaos thereafter, with the Royal Guard immediately tackling the guy to the floor and, well, he got detained for several days. Tourists were barred from visiting the Ballroom for several months following the accident.  His fellow tour guides went into a full five-minutes of endless belly laughter after he managed to recount his story. In short, it wasn't a pleasant experience, though a funny one in retrospect.

     "Ma'am! It is really dangerous to take selfies in the middle of the road!" The sight of two middle-aged women standing in the middle of the road broke his train of thoughts as he ran to guide them back to the sidewalk. Rule number one of being a tour guide, never take your eyes off the tourists. They would do stupid things you never thought a normal functioning human would do. Sighing internally, he proceeded to continue the tour.

     "We will be heading to ʻAvuna ni Taha soon, or more popularly known as the Royal Garden. Any questions before we go?"

     A skinny girl with curly black hair raised her hand.

     "Yes?"

     "Uhm, I read that during the construction of the tower, there are hundreds of workers who lost their life due to non-standard safety equipment. Is it true that their souls still haunt the tower?"

     Rule number two, be prepared for any questions tourists might ask, as weird as the questions might be. Tarana almost laughed out loud. How on Eurth do people still believe in this stupid superstitious stuffs in this modern day? He didn't though because he just remembered the rule of respecting the tourists. It was rule number five or six, he couldn't really remember.

     "Well, I could certainly confirm that the deaths are caused by non-standard safety equipment. There was actually no 'standard' safety equipment back then, in legal terms. No laws regulate the standardisation of safety equipment were present, and it was only after those accidents that the lawmakers decide it was important to have one," he explained. "For the second part of your question, no, unfortunately, I can't answer that. Frankly, I don't believe in ghost and such."

     The girl's face turned visibly into a disappointment.

     "Though of course, there are stories here and there about the dead, so much that some people dubbed the tower as Rara ni ʻAnituen, or the Haunted Tower," he continued. As much as he hated these stuff, he needed to please his crowd. It would be funny for him to lose the job just because some irritated tourist reported his disrespect toward their 'belief'. He could see the glee on the girl's smile. "One of the most famous stories revolves around the 'Wahina Venata', literally means the Splattered Woman. You could go look at the story on the web, as this is really a gory one. We don't want some of your friends to lose their appetite right?" He could sense the growing uneasiness of the crowd as he was speaking about the Women.

     "That won't go well as we're going to have a lavish banquette on the ʻAvuna. Any questions? If there is none, we're going..."

     His words were cut short with a raised hand. "Yes?"

     "Are we going to walk to the Hefoona?" the guy asked, butchering the garden's name in the process. "My legs hurt after walking so far from the hotel. Can't we just take a taxi or something?"

     He sighed yet again and proceeded to call the office for a bus to pick them up.

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  • 1 month later...

"Why, Mom?"

     When i was still a little kid, my mom always hugged me when i went home after school. It was always such a lovely hug. She then whispered to me, while still hugging my little body, "My little Rami, study hard so that you may work with those suited men out in the big cities. Don't end up as a poor farmer, like your mom and dad did. Staying here will get you nowhere." That's the words she whispered to me during my time in school. I didn't really understand what she really meant then, but deep down, i kept her words inside my heart.

     After graduating from high school, i immediately went to look for college in Ratunara, the nearest city from our little village. I had understood her words, and so were others in my village who were looking for the same opportunity in Ratunara. That was when i heard that a group of boy were going to apply for military academy. I went with them, confident that i will be accepted. I was a prodigy in my class, thanks to my mom's harsh lesson during my time in school. At times i complained, but now it all paid off. I didn't told my mother that i applied to a military academy, wanting to give her a pleasant surprise when i got accepted. And surely, i was accepted to the Gen. Mutalita Military Academy, named after the famous general from Selayari Civil War, forty years ago.

     I ran to the house after i got the letter that brought the good news, screaming with joy inside the house. Mom will be proud of me, i thought. And so i went to tell her. Her expression was unreadable while i was telling her the good news. She immediately walked away to her room with somber expression. I was utterly confused. Wasn't she supposed to feel the joy that i was feeling? After all, i was going to fulfill her wishes by moving into the big city.

     Mom cried in her room that night. She didn't sleep at all that night, so did I. I never understand why.

     Thirty-seven years later, and now i'm standing in her room, unoccupied safe for her cat that somehow managed to sneak in. She just died peacefully, three days ago in this very room. The bed is still made, the furniture still looks as if mom just polished it this morning, and there it is, the picture of my graduation night on the nightstand. It is as if she only left for the market, and will come back with food to cook for, like she always do when i still lived here.

     I open her wardrobe, and as expected, i found piles of clothes. But on the bottom of the wardrobe, there are papers. Curious, I take one in my hand and read it, 'To Vaniyara,...' Vaniyara, dad's name. These are letters, addressed to my dad. This is such a surprising find. She never really willing to talk about dad, only that he was a good-hearted man when he was still alive. Something must happened to him, about his death, but i never found out. Mom is always full of mystery and surprise, i think to myself.

     The letter i just took is dated August 19th 1982. The date where i got accepted to the military academy. I open the letter immediately, curiosity taking the better of me.

     "I do not know what should i do, oh my husband. If you were still here, you will know what to do. You always do. You are the wise one. But then if you were still alive, there wouldn't be any complications tonight. I still remember as clear as the day when you said that we would never let our son to become a soldier. You know first hand how difficult a life as a soldier was, especially during the height of the war. After your death in the battlefield just days after our little Rami was born, i took the words to my heart.

     Now, tonight, he brought the news that he is going to the military academy. That damned academy that trained soldiers that killed you years ago. Deep down, i know that he is doing it for me. He is going to live in the city like we dreamed of, before your death. Before the war. But how can i let him turned himself, unknowingly, into a killing machine for the king that we fought against then? My heart breaks into pieces. I don't know what to do. Oh my husband, how i wish you were still here beside me."

     Another is dated a week later, August 26th 1982.

     "Our little Rami finally depart for the city. He doesn't understand why i didn't feel joy that he must've felt. Why i cried at night. I wish i could tell him, but i just couldn't bring myself. How could i share this suffering of mine with him? He is still such a sweet little kid. I let him go to the academy. I could stop him. I would do anything to fulfill your words that our son should never become a soldier. But what i couldn't do is breaking his heart. He is such a happy man, oh Vaniyara. I hope you forgive me, my husband..."

     Tears filled my eyes, so much that i can't read the rest of the letter. Not that i need to. Now i understand why mom was never happy with my military life. Why Mom always wept days after my birthday. It's the date when Dad died. She hid such a burden for years, trying to keep me happy with her best effort, despite the turmoil inside her heart. Part of me hate her for keeping this away from me. I deserve to know this, yet she never shared it with him. But the other part of me love her so much for what she had done to keep me happy, despite her shortcomings. I weep so hard like i never do in my whole life.

     The sound of a book falling down the wardrobe wake me up from my weeping. A non-descript notebook, with yellowing pages inside it. A letter is tucked inside the notebook. I take the letter, and read it. Tears almost wet the letter, if not for my quick reflex.

     "My little Rami, i would've never let you in to the life that I and your dad took in. But you must know, i kept this life of mine from you for your greater good. But if you read this letter, that means i've trusted you enough, or that i've met your dad in the afterlife. You must know, my boy, about the secret organisation that your dad died protecting for. It's what they call 'the Blood Crown' movement this day..."

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