"Well, it depends on how you think of me, and about this I am dead serious. I will name our first child Gde Suryadarma if it is a boy; and Luh Putu Suryatini if it is a girl."
"Kok?" Aryawati seemed indifferent, as if it were only wishful thinking.
A young man, Made Sucita, who owns a Photo Studio in Bali, was having dinner at a nearby food stall. He had been frequenting this shop for quite some time, as the food almost always satisfied his appetite.
No sooner had he started to eat his meal when an old woman in her early 60s entered, taking no interest in his presence.
Jero Nyoman Rai, the owner of the shop, greeted her and asked, "Napi kayunang, Tu?"
"Oh, nothing, Man. I've just dropped in to tell you how sad I am," the woman answered, gesturing a feeling of strong discontent and unhappiness.
"What's the matter, Tu?" asked Nyoman Rai curiously.
The lady began pouring out her emotions. "Huh,... how I am terribly upset by the unbecoming conduct of Aryawati, my grand-daughter. Her parents spent a fortune to sent her to Java to study; and it took her three years to finish schooling.
"Just imagine, Man, she married a Javanese. I don't know what sort of man this Javanese guy is. But, isn't it an act of betrayal?
"Man, we, a family of noble caste, should maintain our nobility, and respect from society. I wish I could stop her from marrying a foreigner, and marry only a man from a noble family. But, Man, after all, I'm glad she married a Javanese. It's better than marrying a Balinese from the low "sudra caste," the grand-mother said at last.
With that last remark, and the fact that Made Sucita himself belonged to the sudra caste, Made couldn't help react by saying politely: "Nas lugra, wait a minute! I happen to belong to the sudra caste. What do you think is wrong with a sudra?
"Certainly I'm proud of who and what I am. I strongly believe that it is one's right to marry whomever ones loves, regardless of caste or whatever. A sudra is a human being, and should be treated and respected as such."
"If your daughter marries a Javanese, and not a sudra Balinese, it's her right to do so. Love knows no barriers, you know! I'm sorry to say this, but a sudra should not be looked upon as inferior to anybody." Made Sucita paid for his meal and left the shop, leaving the two ladies looking at each other in bewilderment.
Dedy Susilo did not have to wait for a year when his wife gave birth to their first child -- a boy. To Aryawati's great surprise, Susilo named their son Putu Suryadarma. They lovedtheir beautiful son, feeling as if he was a gift from God.
"So, my dear wife, I meant what I said," Dedy Susilo confirmed. "Do you really like that name?"
"Why shouldn't I? I really thank you for that. After all, what's in a name?" Aryawati said, unreservedly giving her approval.
"But don't you feel irritated that our son does not give any indication that he has noble blood hailing from his mother, however faint it might be?" Susilo teased.
"Mas Dedy, I'm not the type of woman you may have thought to be. My heart and conscience have overruled all doubts and prejudices that might originate from a superiority complex and think only of human values above all other worldly values and considerations," Aryawati philosophized.
"I'm glad you have such noble wisdom." Susilo said. "By the way, what about the statue of the man playing the bamboo flute. It's a typical Balinese flute, big and long, to accompany a certain ancient gamelan ensemble?"
"I'm too young to know about ancient Balinese art and culture, but the man looks funny with such a big flute. The player must be breathless, simply to produce any sound at all, let alone a melody," Aryawati said, acknowledging her naivety and ignorance of anything ancient.
"Mas Dedy, how come you have a good collection of Balinese artifacts and some beautiful paintings ?" Wati asked lightly.
"The answer is very simple; because I love you, Balinese girl, Gusti Ayu Aryawati!" Susilo laughed.
"I was told that my ancestors were very good at making statues and painting. But at home in Bali most works of art are not well cared for. Dirt covers them all and they look unattractive."
"That's not the point, dear. Something that looks ancient -- usually covered with dirt -- sells well," Susilo tried to give a good explanation. "The thing is, your forefathers did not work for money."
Putu Suryadarma was barely one year old when Susilo's family made its first trip to Bali. For Gusti Ayu Aryawati, it was a homeward visit. But she had been outcast from her family for marrying a Javanese immediately after she had finished her undergraduate studies.
In the 50s Bali was very calm and peaceful. Kuta Beach was the favorite site for foreign as well as domestic tourists. Susilo talked a lot about tourist destinations and old traditions of the Balinese people. Every Thursday night there was a dance show at Bali Hotel, featuring young and famous dancers.
"Mas, you know more about Bali than I do. I'm really ashamed of myself", said Aryawati, honestly admitting her ignorance.
"You have nothing to be ashamed of; if you knew my past personal history everything would become as clear as water."
"What are you talking about?" Aryawati felt confused.
"What secrets are you keeping from me. Up until now I thought you were honest and had a gentlemanly attitude. But why have you kept me in the dark?"
"Wati, please don't go too far! But it is a long, long story and no part of it will harm our existence. On the other hand, it should enliven our marriage with the blessed Putu in our family."
Susilo had to sip his coffee before he could say anything further. "Wati", he said solemnly, "Wati ... your husband, with the present name of Dedy Susilo is really and naturally, a Balinese.
"I went to Java before I finished senior high school following a family feud. And during my wild adventure in Java I found a good man who adopted me under my present name instead of my real Balinese name, Gde Susila.
Indeed, I belong to the sudra caste, a caste that will be inherited by our children, generation after generation."
"Oh, Beli Gde, I feel like I'm dreaming ...," Aryawati said, instantly embracing her new husband as tightly as possible. "What a great mystery, Beli Susila!"
Notes: Mas : Javanese for "brother" Kok : short interjection showing curiosity Jero: title of caste, higher than sudra sudra: the lowest caste Napi kayunang, Tu? : What do you want, madam? Tu: short for Ratu when addressing a person of higher caste Man: short for Nyoman Nas lugra: excuse me