The warung was in the southern side of Yogyakarta, where the city met the southbound highway, far from the bright lights of Malioboro Street and the neon pink cars full of tourists patrolling the palace. The stall was surrounded by an array of plastic chairs and wooden stools, as disheveled as the vendor’s hair.
It was nine in the evening. Mother wished they had kept driving. It was Kliwon, the day on which the South Sea Goddess was most aligned with the minds of mortals. It didn’t matter when you prayed, whether it was six in the morning or a minute before midnight, as long as the prayer was genuine. But as the day wore on, the sea grew wilder and wilder. She had wanted to go earlier, but thanks to the pandemic Father had been forced to work overtime. At least he could come home at all, and was willing to indulge Mother’s need to pray. Nevertheless, during the drive Father’s exhaustion showed. His stomach growled loudly, and she remembered that she had been in such a rush to leave that she had forgotten to feed him dinner.