The Sunans


Sequel article of Bali to Java: The Quest Continues


“Our first destination is the shrine of Sunan Ampel, one of the eldest among them. Most of the rest of the Sunans we’re going to visit were related to him,” Ahmed said, looking at Kendrick.
“Related as in a family?”
“Yes. He was also the guru for some of them.”
“It’s like a big clan, then?”
Ahmed beckoned Kendrick on. “Yes, it’s something like that.”
“So, how many times have you been doing this pilgrimage?”
“This trip will be my third one. Every time I come to Indonesia, I always try to visit at least one of the shrines whichever I’m close to at the time.”
“What drives you to visit those places, Ahmed?”
“The spiritual aura, my friend. The strong sensation you feel whenever you are there. Rather hard to explain but it makes me feel closer to God.” Ahmed stroked his chin slowly, smiling. His mind drifted.
Kendrick made a reflection. This should be a new experience for me. I must be able to feel the superpower engulfing me too, then.
He pulled out his diary, attempting to write on it despite of the shaking motion of the ferry in the rippled ocean.
“You keep a journal, huh?” Ahmed regained his consciousness from his daydream, paying attention to Kendrick again.
“Hum, yes. After I’m back to DC, I want to have good recollection of my journey, you know.”
“All right, then.” Ahmed glanced at his neat diary, grinning in full understanding. “You are a professor, aren’t you?”
“Yes.” He gave a secretive teasing smile while knowing his friend was curious about his diary. “Back to the subject, what do people usually aim by going to the shrines? I mean I assume there must be other reasons beside yours.”
“Yeah. Some people come to seek for blessing, others for solutions of their problems, businesses, or households. Yet, some people even ask to have their rivals cursed.”
Kendrick was surprised. “Cursing?”
Ahmed chuckled to see his friend’s face. “Well, I knew that from people’s stories.”
“Does the pray work?”
Ahmed shrugged his shoulders. “I never ask anything when I’m in front of the grave. I just want to feel the aroma of the power, you know. It strengthens me.”
“Yeah. You’ve mentioned that,” Kendrick beckoned.
“Speaking of belief, I’m in favor of Sufism teachings. They stressed on finding the inner truth within one’s heart. I don’t really believe in those boundaries people made.”
“Are you referring to the institutions?” Kendrick asked.
Ahmed creased his eyebrows. “I’m talking about everything, in general, blocking people’s view to see the truth. Sometimes, we are carried away with the package we forget about what the essence is.”
“I think that it’s all about mind. To some extent, I agree with the restrictions because what you are talking is hard-chewed stuff. You know that not everybody can take in the same weighty consideration as you. At the end, not everything can be applied to everyone, can it?”
Ahmed pondered for a moment before continuing the conversation. “So, tell me, what you think about the sayings that they could lock you up but couldn’t lock your mind? Fill me in a little here, Kendrick!”
“I believe in the system as long as there is freedom in it. As simple as that.”
“Hmm….” Ahmed was silent and took his time to muse over their conversation until their ferryboat landed on the east tip of Java Island.

Driving for plenty hours, the car passed some big stores selling many souvenirs such as Koran, Islamic clothing, praying beads, and talismans.
“We are close to the grave,” Ahmed informed. He reached his pocket, pulled out his string of beads, and began to spell it slowly. His lips moved in repetition, uttering soft voice Kendrick did not understand.
Their car stopped in front of a big mosque.
“I’ll do my maghrib prayer first. Could you wait for me?” Ahmed pushed his door open.
“Sure. I’ll wait here,” Kendrick replied.
He was standing by their car thinking. Now, I understand what Ahmed was saying previously. Yes, I do feel a strong aura around here.
After praying, Ahmed strode inside the graveyard complex. Kendrick walked beside him. They found a huge tomb fenced in with around five-feet-tall stainless steel.
Ahmed bent his head down for a whiff and prayed in deep devotion and reverence. Kendrick stood still near him. He relished the serene feeling of being there with his friend. Kendrick could not understand Ahmed’s words but he noticed that after finishing the pray his face turned to be radiant as if he had been recharged. God, I want to have that kind of serenity either. He seemed so relaxed and joyful.
Ahmed stroked his face with both of his palms taking a deep breath. “Come, let’s go, Kendrick.”
His voice startled him. “Okay. Shall we find a place to sleep?”
“All right, let’s find one.”