Slowly the living in Bali gets a structure and that doesn’t go for the house I’m building only, although that’s going very fast now. Africa becomes, for the first time in more than ten years, also a place that’s far away. My love, worries and commitment are still alive, they do (fortunately) not leave me. The knowledge of great richness because I was able to see it all, sometimes accompanied by feelings, as silly as persistent, of having them left behind and not being able to do anything being this far away, stays. Real love doesn’t become less because of distance, maybe on the contrary. But the positioning of everything becomes different, only now the times there seem to become the past. And that what, during enthusiastic or walking on in despair, was put aside ‘for the moment’ turns out to be still there and asks for a final place. Nights of travels in the past; sweaty, uncomfortable undertakings.
Building a house in Bali. All goes well even though sometimes there is no material to carry on and things have to be redone now and then. Just keep on going and all will be fine. The physical house should be ready in the first half of December; shelter provided by my own roof. For most of us – readers of this letter – a normal thing, for many of us – people – something they can only dream of. In the meantime it keeps me busy; moaning about a washbasin, nagging about a plank that’s not fitted tight enough and an endless search for the appropriate tiles for the floors. On moments it all seems extremely important but if I think a bit further I can see the micro dimensions of it all again. It’s part of it all but life is something different.
‘Some people care too much, I think it’s called love’. That sentence from Winnie the Pooh, a friend quoted it in a letter, doesn’t want to leave my thoughts. Funny irony that surely has a few layers beneath. There is so much to care about. In the Congo they walk again, or still. Tens of thousands of people fleeing a violence, impossible to describe, children that don’t look up when dead, rotting bodies lie along the roadside, criminals that call themselves soldiers, all because of mineral resources without we also cannot live anymore. Decades of decline, among others described in ‘Congo, a history’ of David van Reybrouck*. Reading the newspapers, in the morning on the internet… often I don’t feel like it, sometimes supported by Telkomsel, the telephone company, that doesn’t connect me to the net for days in a row. And if the newspapers come in; pages full of irrelevance – politicians seem to have lots of time – and a view towards the disasters of this world, usually only when those disasters are still fresh. Sport and showbiz as well of course but I don’t want to read about business. Your newspaper sir, good morning! It doesn’t take long before I can only read hopeless. ‘Der Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt” says a German, “hope is the last to die”. It implies that if there is no hope left… Nothing. I shouldn’t go there.
‘Some people care too much, I think it’s called love’. It can never be too much. Work on your own square meter is what a friend used to say and that, of course, is true. The plan to change the world – my generation was planning on it – didn’t change. The method did though.
There is a dutch song about a little keeper that cried his heart out after being beaten by the opponent that scored ten goals. Today wasn’t like that. Surely, they were beaten, with more than ten goals in fact, much more I think. The juni-juniors were playing on the big field in Ubud. They were dispelled to the side of the court, the bigger boys were playing in the middle where the ground was dry. Their part was a muddy, wet part with the grass hardly visible. The little keeper put on his ‘keeper gloves’; let them come! And they came. No, he didn’t keep one ball out, maybe also because it often seemed more fun to stamp his feet in the water, thus splashing water on his opponents. Before the game was over they all looked like bags of mud. Happy bags of mud. And when an attempt to move the goals to dryer grounds failed because the big boys didn’t allow it, and the goals made of metal pipes fell apart in the process anyway, they left the court exultant.
On my way to the supermarket I meet a father with his daughter, about a year and a half, on his arm. She waves and smiles the smile little children know the secret of. What’s her name I ask. ‘Wayan’ the father answers. About a quarter of all Balinese is called Wayan. Every first child gets that name, and number five, and number nine and in those cases it comes that far, number thirteen as well. Words like ‘what a beautiful name’ I don’t have in stock. Instead I say that she has such a lovely smile. ‘She always smiles, she’s always happy’ says the father and his face, all of a sudden, resembles his daughters very much. Only that row of white teeth…
How come, no hope?
* Congo, a history. Publishing house HarperCollins.