Rensi could recall the exact date; it was August 25, 2010. That was the first day of the Kasada’s two-day ceremony of Tengger mountains. Sipping warm lemon-tea at Hotel Yoschi’s veranda, she stared at the late afternoon fog embracing the hill across the hotel. The cold wind pushed deep through her jacket.
Just in front of the hotel, some foreign tourists got off a minibus, one of them had an Asian face. Rensi took a good look at the Asian tourist and waited for her mobile phone to ring. Half a minute later, the Asian tourist reached a mobile from his pocket and made a call. Rensi’s mobile phone rang.
”I’m there at Hotel Yoschi. Where are you?” the Asian tourist voice in English was just exactly the same as what Rensi heard from her mobile.
”Not very far from you. Look at the position of nine o’clock,” answered Rensi. The Asian man turned to where Rensi was sitting. She waved her hand.
”Welcome to Bromo on the Tengger Mountains, Wittaya! I’m Rensi, your tour guide,” Rensi gave her hand.
“Rensi? Wow, you’re much younger than I thought,” said Wittaya in a very friendly tone.
“And I was expecting you were some kind of middle-aged,” Rensi chuckled, having a prolonged look at this fair-skinned good-looking Thai guy.
Rensi and Wittaya soon had a coffee at Hotel Yoschi’s restaurant.
“Later on at 10 this evening we are riding the jeep to the foot of Mount Bromo where we can enjoy the Kasada ceremony procession at the sand sea. We will return to the hotel at 8 in the morning tomorrow. Don’t forget to take a warm jacket with you. Temperature at the sand sea may drop to 5 degree centigrade,” said Rensi. Wittaya looked at Rensi’s eyes nearly without a blink. This pretty guide’s facial gestures were just perfect amusement; with her freshly looking lips, thick eyebrows and long straight hair.
”Are all Indonesian female tourist guides as gorgeous as you are?” said Wittaya.
”Are all Thai male tourists as handsome as you are?” said Rensi in a sweet eyes movement in reply to Wttaya’s compliment.
And since then, they knew they were attracted to each other, while the bits of love soon grew enormously once they learn that neither had a special friend.
The Tengger sand sea that night was turning into a bustling freezing spot with local and foreign tourists , being there for the enjoyment Kasada ceremony. All the Tenggerese Hindhu embracers were there. The Tenggerese shamans looked busy serving people who came before them to have their offerings blessed; the offerings they would take to offer to god Bromo later at dawn. Smoke coming from burning aromathic incense was bellowing in the chilly air.
”That is an ongkek,” Rensi pointed at an arrangement of fruits and vegetables neatly hung from and attached to bamboo stands. ”The Ongkek will be taken up to the top of Bromo Mount and offered to Sang Hyang Bromo, the god of Bromo, the crater of Bromo mount,” explained Rensi.
”Any legend behind this ceremony?” asked Wittaya, suddenly grabbed Rensi shoulder and pulled her near him. Rensi failed to resist the hold as it turned out to be more than a way of warming up in the freezing night.
”Once upon a time..,” Rensi started, ”there was a couple of husband and wife residing on the mountains. Their names were Roro Anteng and Joko Seger……,” Rensi pushed her face close to Wittaya’s. Wittaya put his point finger on Rensi’s lips.
”Sst! No need to tell me now. I still have a lot of time to listen to the whole story from you”
”You know what has made you wonderful tonight?” asked Wittaya.
”The full moon above and your sweet smile,” said Wittaya. Rensi smiled. But the smile was interrupted. Wittaya lips smoothly landed on hers unexpectedly, the one she could not possible resist. The pale silvery moonlight and the early morning breeze just gave enough reason for the newly courting couple to be closely attached to each other.
The eastern horizon sent out a mixture of fascinating colours of dawn. Some tourists held thair breaths as not to miss a single second of the moment of sunrise. Rensi leaned against Wittaya’s broad chest. Both of them were staring a the sunrise among other hundreds of tourists crowding the rim of Bromo crater. In front of them was the wide spread of sand sea and behind them was the crater of Bromo.
A moment later, the local people and the shamans started climbing the 245 concrete steps from the foot to the top of Mount Bromo, carrying some ongkeks. The rim was soon packed with people. Rensi and Wittaya, who were sitting a bit too far from the edge of the rim started to notice the push from the crowd. They were accidently driven forwards. Sensing the danger, Wittaya stood at once, trying to prevent Rensi from sliding down, that could possible make her fall 500 meters down the outer wall of Bromo mount. Rensi took a good hold on Wittaya. But the soil where Wittaya had been standing was away too loose. Wittaya lost control; he toppled over, and started falling down.
”Wittaya!” Rensi shouted in panic. Wittaya was rolling down fast along the 60 degree steep rough wall of the mount. Tourists standing at the rim could see the poor man bump over and over against the steepy and rocky surface.
Rensi was about to make her way down for Wittaya, but she was securely held by the worried tourists. That was too dangerous. Rensi burst into big tears. She broke the crowd of tourists at the narrow rim of the mount top and found her way down the steps. ”Wittaya!” she shouted histerically.
The accident attracted people’s attention. Some began searching for Wittaya, taking a safe way down the outer wall of the mount. Rensi was asked to stay and wait at the foot of the mount. She just could not believe Wittaya had suddenly disappeared.
Rensi was looking in a huge worry to people making their way in search of Wittaya. They had gone for an hour and no good news was available.
”Hey, looking for me?” Rensi was suddenly surprised by a voice coming from behind. She turned around. Wittaya was standing there with greyish mount dirt on his jacket, pants and hair.
”Wittaya!” Rensi gave him a hug of relief. ”Are you alright? How could you be here?” Rensi examined Wittaya’s body. No serious injury was seen other than light scratches on his face, plus an empty eye sight; Rensi figured it was the result of the shock from the fall.
”I was falling down, bumping along the rough surface down. Luckily l landed securely down there, and made safely my way up here,” said Wittaya, with no trace of feeling how lethal the fall could have been.
”People are out looking for you, trying to search and rescue you,” said Rensi.
”They could have taken the wrong way,” said Wittaya ”Now, why don’t we just go back to the hotel? I need a good wash and treatment for the scratches”
When they got off the jeep in front of the hotel, Rensi had to help Wittaya walk as he could not walk straight.
”You need a doctor. We should go straight to Probolinggo and get a hospital,” urged Rensi.
”I’m fine. I was just shocked and I am dusty, that’s all. Now help me wash up,” said Wittaya.
Rensi took off all Wittaya’s clothes in his hotel room. No bruises, no cuts, no wounds. That was a miracle. Rensi could not stop thinking how lucky this Thai guy had been. He could have ended down there with a broken neck and severe cuts.
Rensi showered him with warm water soon toweled him to dry. She had to admire that this man was phyisically perfect without a single strip of yarn on his skin. Rensi could not just turn her eyes around.
”Now make it even,” said Wittaya. ”Stand in front of me wearing nothing,”
Rensi did not refuse the proposal. Slowly she removed everything she was wearing. Wittaya held her tightly in his arms and led Rensi to the bed nearby. The room was still cold. But the wave of heat melted in that room. The beautiful lusty morning entirely belonged to them.
Rensi opened her eyes. The room was warming up. She reached for her watch on the table. It was twelve o’clock at noon. Wittaya was not beside her. Rensi pushed the blanket away and tried to find Wittaya in the bathroom. He was not there either. Rensi got dressed and opened the door, looking around. Wittaya was not there. She rushed to the reception and asked if anyone had seen Wittaya.
”Mr Wittaya checked-out half an hour ago, then took a minibus to Probolinggo. He has settled all the bills, including the guide’s fee,” explained the front-office personnel, handing her a piece of paper with a handwriting on it saying “I’m so sorry”. That was Wittaya’s handwriting.
Rensi remained frozen for a while. Why did Wittaya leave her?
Rensi got a motor-taxi that took her to Probolinggo, checking almost all hospitals in the city. But Wittaya could not be found; no trace of Wittaya. She caught a bus to Surabaya and again took a careful check with big hospitals in Surabaya. And still no news of Wittaya.
It was later on that night that she got an e-mail message from Wittaya. “I am sorry, my love. I didn’t run away from you. I just had to go. I will surely call you as soon as I can,” that was what Wittaya had written in his e-mail.
And Rensi did not hear anything from Wittaya since then. Her unbearable longing for Wittaya was killing Rensi until she got another e-mail message from Wittaya asking her to come and see him in Bangkok on April 12, 2011.
”Welcome to Thailand, Miss! You have come to Bangkok on a perfect time. This week we are celebrating Songkran, starting tomorrow,” said the taxi driver on the way from Suvarnabhumi airport to Wittaya’s address.
Rensi had never been to Thailand before, but she knew that Songkran was a festival of purification in Thailand Buddhists’ belief where people seek to purify each other by splashing water and by getting themselves soaked.
Wittaya was standing in front of his house, waiting for Rensi in a pale smile, yet with face that could not hide his desperate longing. Rensi gave him a warm big hug. “Chan kitteung khun! I miss you!. How dare you just left me the way you did in Bromo?” Rensi burst into tears.
“I’m so sorry, Rensi,” Wittaya held Rensi tight.
And that night, at Wittaya’s Rensi was either happy and despondent; despondent as Wittaya did not give her a hint that he would warm the bed with her. Wittaya fell asleep after giving Rensi a peck of kiss on Rensi’s lips. Rensi was waiting all night beside Wittaya, wearing nothing, heartedly expecting Wittaya to make a wild and lusty love with her. That did not happen, and nothing happened till the morning came, the time when Songkran started.
The joy, noisy and soaky Songkran outside the house amused Rensi a bit. People were splashing water to each other no matter you knew who you were splashing or not.
”Ready to get soaked?” asked Wittaya. ”We will be out there in a moment”
Rensi nodded. She could notice that Wittaya got paler and paler. That physical condition explained why Wittaya had no gusto nor passion to make love the night before.
”I should say that this Songkran will be the most frightening Songkran to me,” Wittaya said.
”How so? Shouldn’t everybody be happy with that?” Rensi said.
”Not this one,” answered Wittaya, reaching Rensi’s hand in a gloomy face.
Just in front of the house, some people with pails full of water splashed Rensi and Wittaya with water. Rensi screamed in astonishment. Another group of people happily gave them more soak with more water, making Rensi’s first Songkran soak a perfect experience. She could see she was all wet. She turned around to Wittaya. To her surprise, not a single drop of water came into Wittaya’s clothes and skin..
”How come you stay dry?” asked Rensi. Wittaya didn’t answer. He just gave Rensi a smile with a face that was rapidly changing from pale to brightly fresh. His face got brighter and brighter when another group of people gave him more splashes.
Rensi was enormously puzzled. She was all wet but it seemed that splashes of water just passed through Wittaya and the more he got splashed the brighter and the more invisible he became.
”Wittaya?” Rensi cried and tried to touch the bright image of Wittaya.
”Now it’s time for me to go, Rensi. I actually died instantly at the foot of mount Bromo from the fall that day. They found my body just before midday. But, although I am dead, my soul has been always with you because I have been loving you and I always miss you since the minute I met you,” said Wittaya in a very soft voice.
”Now get a pail of water and give me a good splash. That will make my departure a perfect one,” said Wittaya. Rensi refused to believe what Wittaya had just said.
With tears rolling down on her face, Ransi took a pail of water from a passing kid and gave Wittaya a splash as he had wished. Rensi could she Wittaya smile in the splash, the smile that led to the fading away of his image which then came to complete invisibility.
Rensi fell down on her knees crying on the street side. A passing by tourist helped her up.
”What’s wrong with you, Miss? I saw you talk to yourself and splash water to an empty space. Cheer up! This is songkran. Thai people say this is the time for splashing to each other and help purify one another”
Bromo Mount is in East Java, Indonesia, where Hindhu believers have resided for hundred of years. Bromo mount is an active volcano. It is one of many tourist destinations in Indonesia