The Secret of the Worn-out Cap

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The shouts had ended months ago, but their echoes still filled Dzul’s ears. There was no hint of shame on his face. In fact, his chest swelled, blossoming. When someone asked where he got that cap from, still, no one knew the answer.

Many guessed it was a gift from someone special. So much so that Dzul didn’t want to replace it after all this time. Many tried to give him a more suitable cap. Yet, Dzul always politely refused, causing those who offered to retreat without hard feelings.

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“I am very grateful to Uncle, my heart even blossoms more than being liked by someone I like. But I can’t just take off this cap,” Dzul’s rejection to Uncle Pandu. He was one of the elders of the village and also a relative of Pondok Jauhar. One of the most famous Islamic boarding schools in the neighboring district. In his village, Uncle Pandu was also recognized as the village advisor. Many people came to him for enlightenment. From marital problems, religion, to even asking for names for their newborns.

Some of his livestock was also taken care of by Dzul. He already considered the teenager as his own family. Dzul’s mother was a classmate of Uncle Pandu. While Dzul himself was good friends with Zainuddin, Uncle Pandu’s son. They usually went to school and Quran recitation together.

“Dzul, we have a class meeting at high school tomorrow, right?” Zainuddin asked during break time.

“Yeah, why?”

“Well, I’m relaxed then. At least our volleyball team is in your hands,” he joked.

Dzul was not a clever kid when it came to academics. He might even be below average compared to other kids. But there was one thing that made him stand out to the teachers: he never refused when asked for help. He would leave all his own affairs for others. Except for one thing, regarding his father, his only puppet, that’s all he had now, and the only one.

Years later, Dzul finally graduated. Armed with goats from the sharing with Uncle Pandu, he wanted to start a business. After the celebration at school, he quickly brought his father home with their old bicycle. He knew his duty, he had to take care of the livestock in the pen. Even though it was a celebration day for him.

“This is your happy day, rest. I’ll find feed for the animals,” his father said.

“Because this is my happy day, I want the ones I love to feel a little relieved. Moreover, this is my duty, and you taught it. How could I forget,” he said with a smile before fulfilling his duty and not forgetting to wear his cap.

A sack full of fresh grass was carried by Dzul to the pen. He dried the sweat from his body with his cap, waving it. From behind the house, Zainuddin came, just to greet his close friend.

“After this, where are you going, Din?”

“Maybe to Yogyakarta, to college. That’s what Dad wants.”

“Just like my sister, how is she doing?”

“She’s fine, we talked on the phone yesterday.”

“Dad is still curious about your cap,” Zainuddin said with a little joke.

“Let it be, this will be our secret. And I hope forever.”

Not long after, they heard a call from the house. Dzul went to the bathroom near the pen first, to clean up. After finishing, he faced Uncle Pandu. There was a gift prepared by Uncle for his graduation. Moreover, he was in a satisfactory position.

However, with one condition, and Dzul had guessed it. He wanted to know what was so special about the cap Dzul had kept for so long. But, the young man still stuck to his decision. And also to his polite rejection. He intended to leave because it was already time for Asr prayer, while the sun was shining brightly.

On his way, he accidentally met the hoodlums. But Dzul just wanted to pass by without caring. One of them tried to stop him by grabbing his cap. The young man’s eyes darkened instantly. His body, which was used to hard work, revealed veins of anger. A punch was delivered directly towards one of them. In an instant, that hoodlum fainted.

His friends who didn’t agree with Dzul joined in. But still, no one could contain the anger of the lion. Because of his beloved cap and the lost Asr prayer time. From behind, one of the hoodlums sneaked up. He hit Dzul’s neck until his vision completely blurred, and then his body collapsed.

After some time, the young man woke up. His body felt heavy and he didn’t know where he was. Many bruises covered his body. Some even turned blue and made it hard for him to move. Beside him, his father was asleep in his chair. And turns out, he wasn’t alone, Zainuddin was also there. He knew that surely Uncle and Aunt were also there. When he tried to sit up with difficulty, they opened the door.

“Hey, don’t move yet, you’re not fully healed,” Aunt Syikha tried to adjust the pillow behind Dzul’s back.

“Uncle, can you please get my cap?” with a little surprise, he followed Dzul’s request.

His father and Zainuddin quickly woke up upon hearing a conversation. His father couldn’t hold back his tears. And Dzul quickly apologized to him. For him, that cap was very precious, and his father also knew the reason. Meanwhile, Zainuddin, who also knew a little anger, could have died facing those thugs. Just for that reason, Uncle Pandu, who began to be annoyed, immediately wanted to know what they were hiding.

“I’m sorry, this has made Uncle worried. Forgive me.”

Dzul finally revealed that the cap was the last gift from his late mother. But there was one more reason he hid from his Uncle. Finally, Dzul asked Uncle to open one of the compartments beside the cap.

“Sorry, I’ve kept this secret for years.”

There was a photo tucked inside. At first, Uncle was also confused. But after a while, he started smiling. Finally, he knew why Dzul kept his daughter’s photo in that worn-out cap compartment after all these years.

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