The calendar in that big office in the sky must still show March or April, they didn’t turn the pages I’m sure. Is the clerk sick or something, aren’t they working because of ramadhan? Bad organization and we are stuck with an extended rainy season. I’m not the only one, it affects the animals as well and they don’t have a proper roof over their head. Two rats found a solution; my bedroom. Nice and dry and all sorts of fluff, fabrics and what have you to make a little nest. I can’t condone their actions but it seems this is the way things go. The harvest is done and till the rice is planted again, they move to other places. As far as I’m concerned they are in for a permanent change. I bought little ‘snacks’, they already ate a lot of it and a final move is coming for them soon. Maybe not nice but hey, it runs in the family. My grandfather was responsible for the rats control in the harbor of Amsterdam. With tokeh’s (gecko’s) I can live – the moment I’m writing this from the ceiling one is looking with an exploratory stare ate me – but rats, no.
My mother used to say, when one gets older, time goes faster. ‘Sweet lady but a bit crazy’ is what I thought then. But she was right, again. It’s the end of July and it seems like yesterday but that I’ve left Africa is already a year ago. To love in combination with letting go is not my forte. And it doesn’t have to be I think, although connectedness does have its price. Quite some of the information that reaches me makes me worry.
T. had to go to the Eastern Cape for the funeral of a niece with whom he went to school. She is murdered. It’s a simple note in an email but what sort of world lies behind? C. is still sick in his little house in Alex. The treatment of his illness is just enough to keep him alive, more than that is not in it. To enforce a proper treatment is a full-time job and even then. There is no money for a decent healthcare, in the meantime the taking and grabbing of a small elite – the family of Mandela included – takes on grotesque dimensions. The idea that success and fulfillment of life are measured in money and power, is that exported from the West or is it in our genes? Or are we just too plain stupid to see the misery that comes from it?
It’s often that my thinking goes towards thoughts of prayer; that things may go better. The possibilities are there, with no guarantee to success. It’s only small rays of light that keep the hope alive. On Mandela’s birthday there was, again, a campaign to voluntarily devote 67 minutes of your time to do something for the good of others. 67 minutes for Madiba, that is not a lot. If a human life is just a flash in eternity, what is 67 minutes? Living up to the standards of our believes would, at least for most of us, result in considerably more than 67 minutes. Still, it’s a beginning.
In the meantime Bali is an oasis of (relative) quiet and peace. The work on the pool continues and although it creates a lot of noise, it’s a privilege to see with how much pleasure and pride the workers work. Happy conversations in which they tell me how beautiful it will be. The expression ‘the most beautiful pool in Bali’ seems a bit over the top to me but then, when I look in their eyes… In their eyes it is. And that’s correct if you made it yourself. The fact that there is also an element of small revenge towards the not so well executed small pool from the neighbor for whom they are not allowed to work anymore… Hey, they’re human.
Also in another way that thought came along this week. There was a problem; money was gone every day. No big amounts but still. In fact it was already a while that I more or less knew but I wanted to be careful not to accuse before I was absolutely certain. When the unanswerable proof was there I still had trouble believing it really happened. It was clear who had done it but… Little amounts, every day a bit – going on without action was not an option. Not an easy thing in a surrounding where I am guest and everybody and everything is connected or related. Because that’s the way it will stay, I’m a guest. A non-Indonesian can live in this country for 30 plus years, he’s still a tamu, a guest. Unlike in Africa, where the population is really multi-cultural, color of skin or an accent give away one is an outsider and outsiders – I wrote about it in another blog – usually ‘did it’. In a situation where hard words may be necessary, it seemed tricky to me. Thinking about pro’s and con’s.
For another, much more important reason, I’ve put those thoughts aside. We are human. I live a simple life. A budget that in Holland would keep me going for less than a week is enough for a whole month in Bali if I’m careful. Poverty and richness are relative. Everybody in my street has no means of transport at all and I have a bike. I’m rich. Now I still have the bike and they all have a car. I’m poor. In Bali I have a nice house with a garden, a pool is on its way (a present but still), my bike is paid for in full. For most Balinese I’m a rich man. And then there is a wallet on the table with, converted, more than 100 euro’s, lots of 100.000 rupiah notes. How about temptation? We are human.
Stealing is not okay, it is unacceptable. That’s my sentiment too. But another chance, to try it one more time, that should be possible I’d say. Therefor, a concealed warning – lot’s of things here a written and read between the lines – and hope for the best. A critical look at my own history will diminish my disappointment about broken trust. The pile of new chances I’ve got in my life is too high to look over.
Sometimes facts are so bizarre that they almost cannot be true. In Zimbabwe is a hospital in which women giving birth have to pay a fine of $ 5.—for every time they scream. (Source; Transparency International.)
With love, Frank