In the Name of Friendship

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Chapter 1: Moving House

“What do you think?” Andra asked for his wife opinion.

Vina stared at the building in front of her. It was a single-storey house with a short flight of steps led up to the front door. The walls were painted yellow that made the house look much fresher. The window frames were gleaming with fresh white paint. And the door was painted brown to match the ceramic floor tiles. At the porch, there were several hanging baskets with plants growing in it. Those plants had beautiful bright red flowers.

“It’s wonderful,” answered Vina in admiration.

“Do you like it?” Andra posed another question.

Vina beamed a warm smile at her husband. “Yeah, I do. Very much.”

Andra returned his wife’s smile.

The couple then turned their attention to their seven-year-old daughter, Shinta Ayunindia. The little girl with short black hair stood leaning against the car door with her arms folded across her chest.

“What about you, Shinta? Do you like our new house?” Andra enquired of his daughter.

“I don’t like this house. It is so small,” Shinta retorted. Her lips were set in a pout of annoyance.

Andra and Vina admitted that this house was much smaller compare with their previous one. It’s not that they couldn’t afford a big house. But it was the best house they could get at such a small village. However, Shinta was still too young to understand the situation.

Vina bent down to her daughter’s level and said softly, “Look, Sweetie! Although our new house is small, but I assure you that this house is very cosy.”

Vina didn’t lie to her daughter. In spite of its size, their new house indeed looked wonderfully comfortable. She herself fell in love with the house at first sight.

“Yes, Honey,” Andra added, “I’m sure you’ll like our new house once you start living here.”

Shinta stamped her foot in anger. “I don’t want to live here. I want to go back to Jakarta.”

Yes, Shinta’s family came from Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. Andra was being transferred from his company’s head office in Jakarta to the company’s branch in Karawang, a regency in West Java, therefore, his family had to move house to this town.

“Sure, Honey. We’re going to return to Jakarta later. But for now, we have to stay in Karawang, because Daddy will start working here,” Andra tried to explain to her daughter, but he couldn’t get her to understand him.

“No, I don’t want to stay here; I want to go back to Jakarta. If Mommy and Daddy don’t want to live in Jakarta anymore, I can live with Uncle Rizwan and Aunty Penny,” Shinta said stubbornly.

Vina felt a sudden pang of jealousy when she heard their only daughter preferred living with his aunt and uncle than living with her own parents. She realized Shinta always showed favouritism to her aunt and uncle because they often spoiled her. But Vina couldn’t blame her brother and sister-in-law for doing so. Showering their niece with lots of love and affection was one of Rizwan and Penny’s ways to recover from the loss of their only child and they also had to face the fact that Penny was no longer able to bear children.

Andra knew exactly how his wife felt, that’s why he tried to give their daughter an understanding. “If you lived with your uncle and aunt, Mommy and Daddy would feel very lonely, Honey. And I’m sure you will miss us terribly too.”

“But I don’t like staying here, Mommy, Daddy,” said Shinta.

Andra and Vina understood why their daughter didn’t like being here. Even though Karawang was only two hours away from Jakarta, but there’s a world of difference between Jakarta and Karawang.

As the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta became the industrial and entertainment centre. They could easily find a lot of shopping malls, movie theaters, and amusement parks in every corner of that metropolitan city. Meanwhile, Karawang was mostly encircled by rice fields. There were only a few shopping malls here. This town didn’t have any amusement parks. And it only had an old movie theater. Thus, Shinta thought that she couldn’t have a lot of fun here.

Andra stroked his daughter’s hair affectionately. “I understand that you don’t like being here, Honey. I promise we are going to return to Jakarta again later. But now, you have to be patient, okay? We have to stay in this town until I finish my work.”

“No, I want to go back to Jakarta now,” Shinta whined.

Shinta was a nice kid. She rarely threw a tantrum. But Andra didn’t know why his daughter was suddenly being difficult like this now. His patience was wearing thin until unintentionally he snapped at his daughter, “Stop whining, Shinta! You haven’t even tried to live here. How could you know if you’re going to like it here or not?”

Getting a scolding from her father, Shinta burst into tears before she gave her mother a hug. “Mommy...” she sobbed.

Detaching herself from her daughter’s embrace, Vina stroked away Shinta’s tears and tried to soothe her, “There, there! It’s all right. Don’t cry! Let’s go inside the house now, shall we? It’s very hot out here today. I don’t want you to get burned by the sun.”

Yes, Karawang was known to have hot weather. And Vina and her family hadn’t gotten used to the climate yet.

Shinta nodded her head in agreement.

Finally, Vina led her daughter into the house. Her husband followed closely behind them.

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