The story happens on the fictitious island of Asiana, located between East Malaysia and the Philippine. It’s a beautiful island with little economic development, which is largely due to the political situation. During the waning days of the British Empire after WWII, a political manipulation was executed so that Asiana would not be fallen under the influence of the newly independent Indonesia, which was undesirably left-leaning at the time. The result is that Asiana has always been left in a kind of economic and political twilight zone–It can’t go to the family it belongs; and it belongs to the family that doesn’t care about it.
There are a mixture of people of different ethnicity on this large island, Bumiputera of Philippine, Malay, or Indonesia descent, Tamil, Chinese, and people of mix ancestries. Lana’s family belongs to the last group. They own the coconut and durian farms on the island.
Lana is 20 years old and she can’t wait to leave her father’s house. Her father has plenty of business acumen but very little will, skill or imagination beyond that. Lana loves Mon who’s one of his father’s assistants. He’s from a very poor family from the same village and it is very unlikely her parents will bless the relationship. Lana has thought and thought, but she couldn’t come up with a way to get her parents to agree to this marriage. She wonders if she should take drastic measures, but being a good girl all her life, she doesn’t know how to do it. Running away with Mon seems too unrealistic since it will be hard to start a family without any financial support.
Just at this juncture, a family crisis happens–her little brother is kidnapped and the family receives the letter of blackmail the next day.
A search party is organized and extensive search goes on for two days without producing any result. In the meantime, Lana’s father Dangu announces that he is going to give an award of considerable sum to anybody who gives credible clue leading to the discovery of his little boy.
It’s after two days that Lana gets to read the ransom note, and she recognizes the grammar mistakes as soon as she reads it. When she was still in school, she’s the teacher’s helper and she distinctly remembers her classmate Juji’s strange way of constructing phrases that’s quite distinct. The teacher corrected him every time but Juji continued with his mistakes in his idle way.
She instantly forms a plan. She talks with Mon and they go to see her father Dangu.
“I think I know how to find the boy.” Mon says to Dangu according to what was planned.
“Thank you, Mon. I will give you such a big award, just to thank you.” Dangu says.
“I also want to marry your daughter,” Mon says.
Dangu is a little taken aback, but the urgency of rescuing the boy forces him to agree to this. The young lovers are jubilant. They set out with a team, meet Juji, and are led to the boy immediately who has been living with Juji’s grandmother in a mountain village twenty miles away.
The boy comes back and a celebration party is held to thank everybody. However the young lovers receive grave news–the award will not be given to Mon. Not only that, Lana’s father Dangu is very angry that Mon dares to think of marrying his daughter–the marriage is off. The wedding that seemed so close just 24 hours ago is no more.
Lana can’t believe her ears. She has to act quickly since her father is dismissing Mon. He even threatens to drive Mon’s poor family from the village. In the meantime, her father is trying to get her married to his own business partner Nantu, who’s 30 years her senior. What to do?
(To be continued. I have an ending–a happy ending. And it will be in tomorrow’s post)