Ibu Putu, the owner of the warung (small restaurant) a bit further down the road, she herself in the winter of her life, heard about the passing away of my mother. ‘So she was very old indeed’ she says, ‘then all is good’. It’s certainly not untrue but I think her reaction a bit gaunt and I tell her that there is sadness as well of course. Ibu Putu looks very worried when she answers; ‘don’t be sad too long now, otherwise the dead will stay with you’.
T. sends an email from Africa. He is sad and upset because he is not invited for a ritual with his family to make contact with his ancestors. Sad because his family left him out, upset because he doesn’t know how to make that contact that is so important to him.
Would it really be possible that your ancestors leave you? Would you really need to go to a grave to find them? It sounds to me as having to go to a church in order to find God. Ibu Putu I do understand, a Hindu believes that the soul will go astray if it doesn’t feel free to go. For T. it’s his tradition that makes it easier for him to find that connection at a graveside but, I think, he could find it all in himself.
The encounter between our roots and that what we experience now and here.
Herly Setiawan, the painter about whom I’ve written earlier, manages to do something beautiful with it. He has a wife and a child, some small jobs to make a living and he is a member of a dance-company that wants to preserve old traditions in a contemporary setting. And for the rest; painting, painting and painting, with the same theme, to connect his roots to his own present. Full of passion he shares his thoughts with the world, focuses on making the invisible visible, on underlining values that may not be lost. It’s great if someone does just that, for those that may look at it and even more so for himself. Passion.
(Later on Facebook I will show some pictures of his newest work. Gives the guys from Prism something nice to look at too.)
Passion. When a newspaper with a Protestant Christian background wrote about the follies and splurges of the new pope, I knew it’s going the right direction. Those cardinals maybe did a good job; in choosing a pope I mean. A fancy concert and the complete management, clad in red dresses, sits on a sort of stage in front, being VIP. Only the chair of the CEO stays empty. He has important things to work on. Slightly offended the newspaper concluded that he preaches ad lib, washes the feet of prisoners instead of cardinals and takes a boy with the syndrome of down for a ride in his white pope-cart. And he doesn’t wear that ermine cape either. Well, if one speaks from the heart one doesn’t always need it in writing and the rest seems in line with what that other guy would have done 2000 years ago. I he would have had a white pope-cart I think he would have taken that boy for a ride too. Just for the fun of it, on two wheels through the curbs, all the way through Jerusalem. But granted, on a donkey it works less spectacular indeed. A pope with passion, I hope so.
Had a haircut in the Mall (US$ 3.–) – yes Mum, it’s short and fresh again – and had lunch there too. A small, skinny boy, on the edge of child labour, had the humble task to wait in front of the outside terrace. Dispirited he was so lost in his dreams that he didn’t notice me for a long while although I was the only guest at the time. Then he brought on the menu, someone else came to write down my order. The boy came back to attach a copy of my order to my table, the roll of tape gave him the trouble rolls of tape always give. One of those inexplicable jobs that bring little money and a lot of disillusion. Found a job and now.., now nothing. The dichotomy of society, on which the west is working so hard, is here a long completed project. I wonder if that boy ever thinks about the perspective of his life and I’m, at the same time, not sure I should hope he does. It seems to me that initiative is not his forte and he’s way too young to be out of school. Well, school… It seems improbable but schooling here is, in general, even worse than in Africa. To think for yourself and to be creative is discouraged, feudal situations are everywhere, the harness that’s called adat (the sum of religion, custom and culture) keeps things in place. For now. For passion, apart from a passion for a material gluttony, there is hardly room.
Superstition makes it all a bit shadier. The son and the dog of Ibu Par are both sick. ‘What’s wrong with them?’ I ask. ‘They encountered a black African late at night. Right at the crossroads!’ With that all is said her face tells me.
Examples how it could be done in a better way are hardly there. Sometimes I think that keeping people stupid is part of a plan. To serve is not the style of most politicians; the passion to search for ways and to connect not either. We should be much more suspicious about the reasons a guy wants to become politician but, cursed with the same shortsightedness and an eye for self-interest as the candidates, we often choose wrong. The examples of the ‘elite of the society’, they come to us through the media and it’s usually extravagance, expensive and more, makes one fear what will happen if things get better financially. Indonesia is not that far away, people with (com)passion are scarce anywhere.
In the Mail & Guardian Nic Dawes, the editor in chief, argues that we should cherish the image of Mandela, that we should make his passion and inspiration our own.
“The truth is that Nelson Mandela has been absent not just from banquets, front pages, and the high councils of the ANC, for close to a decade. He has too often been absent from our conception of ourselves, and the messy, joyous work of building a democracy in which the full realization of our individual and collective humanity is possible.
Memory, Madiba said, is the fabric of identity.
With his memory woven into it, our national fabric is immeasurably stronger. Mayibuye.”
I quite agree, we can’t have examples enough to make that passion within us bloom, it’s the soil for beautiful flowers to grow.