In Cigarette Girl, Lebas searches for a woman named Jeng Yah after hearing her name from his dying father’s mouth. What he unravels is a tragic tale from his father’s past. The series is now streaming on Netflix.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
Raja, the owner of Kretek DR, a Kretek-selling company, is suffering from cancer and is on the verge of dying. He longs for a woman named Jeng Yah and asks his youngest son, Lebas, to look for her.
Ignoring his family’s concerns, Lebas takes this request seriously and begins looking for Jeng Yah for real. He goes through his father’s belongings and discovers a letter and a picture from 1960 that helps him a bit.
He next heads to the Kretek Museum in M City, where he meets a donor, Dr. Arum, who is revealed to be the daughter of Jeng Yah’s sister, Rukayah.
Arum and Lebas come across some letters donated by Arum that have the same handwriting as the letter that Lebas has found in his father’s belongings. Together, they dive into the past that connects both of their families.
In 1960, in M City, a woman named Dasiyah dreams of running a Kretek-selling business just like her father, Mr. Idroes. She aspires to be a flavor creator.
However, in the world of Kretek cigarettes, women are only permitted to work as hand-rollers. They are not even allowed to enter the room where flavors for Kretek cigarettes are created.
Even though Dasiyah is highly ambitious, her family wants her to learn household work, which was usually expected by society from a woman back then.
Anyhow, Mr. Idroes used to let Dasiyah help him in his business. For the first time in her life, Dasiyah meets a man who doesn’t look at her like society does in the form of Soeraja, also known as Raja, whom she sees getting beaten up in the market.
Dasiyah requests her father to give Raja a chance to work at their factory. Mr. Idroes hires Raja, who proves to be a great addition to their factory. He is a little educated and knows how to run a business.
Unlike other men, Raja respects Dasiyah, encourages her to make decisions of her own, and supports her when she confesses that she wants to make a flavor of her own.
Welcoming Raja backfires on Dasiyah as her father begins to think that he doesn’t need Dasiyah anymore. She can now get married. Raja is perfect to take her place.
Raja assures Dasiyah that he is not plotting against her and that whatever he is doing is for her. She is different than others, and he likes it. He wants to give her the life she desires.
Unfortunately, Dasiyah gets engaged to Seno Aji, the son of Boekit Klapa Kretek’s owner. She is now called Jeng Yah.
Jeng Yah continues to feel for Raja, and hence, she calls off her marriage with Seno, who respects her wishes. When Raja and Jeng Yah come clean to Jeng Yah’s parents, Raja is kicked out of the factory.
Raja spends time working for the Red Party, a political party. He provides tobacco to them too. Raja crosses paths with Mr. Idroes again and convinces him that his daughter is an artist.
Mr. Idroes finally accepts that his daughter is a great flavor maker after smoking a Kretek made by her. He also approves of Raja and Jeng Yah’s relationship.
Raja’s involvement in the Red Party hurts Jeng Yah’s family. The soldiers raid the place, looking for Raja, and end up taking away Mr. Idroes and Jeng Yah.
Raja does come to their rescue, but he runs away at Jeng Yah’s command. He needed to stay alive so that he could rescue Jeng Yah.
Mr. Idroes’ competitor, Djagad, saves Raja. Djagad removed Raja’s name from the list of people who were to be arrested. Djagad asks Raja to create a Kretek that can compete with the one he and Jeng Yah created together.
Djagad is close with the general. There is a chance that Raja can find out about the whereabouts of Jeng Yah with his help and ensure her safety. Hence, Raja does his best to please Djagad, even if it means giving him Jeng Yah’s recipe and marrying Djagad’s daughter, Purwanti.
Jeng Yah returns from prison after two long years. By then, Raja had built a business empire with Djagad. However, he learns that Djagad never made efforts to ensure Jeng Yah’s safety. Raja comes across Jeng Yah and attempts to explain himself, but Jeng Yah finds solace in Seno.
Cigarette Girl ending explained in detail:
Is Arum Jeng Yah’s daughter?
In a box handed to her, Arum discovers a picture of her as a baby with Jeng Yah. She searches her house and finds more such pictures, and she comes to learn that she is Jeng Yah’s daughter, not her sister Rukayah’s.
Rukayah tells Arum and Lebas all that she remembers. She reveals how Seno took care of them after Jeng Yah’s release.
Then, after their mother’s death, Rukayah convinced Jeng Yah to marry Seno, who took the risk knowing that Jeng Yah’s name is on the blacklist. He even gets her a job. Unfortunately, Seno passes away on duty as a soldier.
Jeng Yah keeps working with Eko, who was introduced to her by Seno. Eko starts a small-time Kretek-selling business with her help. Jeng Yah later gives birth to her and Seno’s daughter, Arum.
What happened the last time Raja and Jeng Yah met?
In 1973, Raja made efforts to explain himself to Jeng Yah by sending her letters through Seno’s hands. From Seno, Raja learns that his name wasn’t present on the list of people to be arrested, but Mr. Idroes’ name was there.
Raja realizes that Djagad plotted all of this after learning that Raja is involved in the Red Party. If Raja hadn’t gotten involved in that, maybe Idroes wouldn’t have been arrested and killed.
Djagad warns Raja not to mess with the past now because the rest of the Idroes family members will suffer more, not them.
Raja confesses to Lebas that he did get a chance to explain himself to Jeng Yah again in 1975. Their family was traveling, and their train stopped at M City station.
Raja spotted Jeng Yah at the station. He met her, apologized to her, and told her about the letters he had sent to her. Raja promises to fix everything.
Jeng Yah forgives him and agrees to run away with him the next Sunday he visits her. Raja comes to meet her the next Sunday, but she doesn’t show up.
What happened to Jeng Yah?
Raja desperately searched for Jeng Yah. He failed to find her, but he fixed everything by paying all of Mr. Idroes’ employees enough after Djagad’s death. Raja also made significant changes to the company.
Arum comes to meet Lebas and Raja’s family at Mr. Idroes’ former residence. She lets Raja know what happened to her mother. It turns out that Rukayah and Jeng Yah argued about whether Raja would accept Seno and Jeng Yah’s daughter.
The day before Raja and Jeng Yah were supposed to meet, Jeng Yah learned that she had caught a virus and that her tormented body is not in the condition to battle this virus. It ends up taking her life.
Arum fulfills Raja’s wishes by taking him to Jeng Yah’s grave. Soon, Raja passes away too. Rukayah meets her childhood best friend, Purwanti, and they reconcile.
Arum and Lebas continue to be friends and prepare to embark on another adventure. Arum, especially, shows interest in knowing more about her father’s family.
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