Dream or reality 2
by Hans Smeekes
At midnight we hear the tokeh making his remarkable sound again. Just like yesterday he is doing it eleven times. My first thinking is: why not 12 times? That should be more appropriate. But the tokeh confirms another thinking that it is always an odd number. So he stops at eleven, consistent as he is.
Suddenly and miraculously the two animals of yesterday are there again on the rim of the window in our dream room in the palace. Same spot, same time. Scarcely illuminated by a glimpse of the light of the full moon in the magical setting of the paintings and art deco.
Part of that decorum Tu Tokeh, the gecko and Tu Kodok, the frog.
Sitting next to each other on the big bed Fifi and me are wondering how we must qualify what is happening: magic, dream or whatever, but what does it matter, it is our reality for the moment.
‘Yes I see you wondering,’ starts Tu Kodok the conversation with a creaky voice, ‘what is happening is created by yourself, yóu are calling us and here we are: brother Tu Tokeh and me, the guards of the palace, the puri.’
‘Yes we take care that everything in the puri goes according the old tradition. If not then we report this to the king. But that happens not much because this king is very wise and knows the tradition.’
‘And we are also here for helping the guests if they at least are open for it and apparently you are. So if you have any question you ask,’ Tu Tokeh adds, with a low and slow voice.
‘Can you tell us about the puri?’
‘A puri is built according strict rules,’ is Tu Kodok taking over again. ‘If it is not complied with these conditions, you cannot call it a puri. That’s why we annoy us when nowadays restaurants or hotels have in their name: puri. And there is even a puri now which is modernised in that way, that cars can go inside. Here the cars stay outside, under the so called bale kembar. I will not tire you with all the names of the sections, but the section where you are staying now is called the tandakan. The part where the guests are being welcomed. Where you can meet the servant to ask for the king. That is the traditional way. Tandak or mendak means: stop ... stop here.’
‘Yes so we stopped also, but knowing that it is full moon, do you have advice for that?’
Tu Tokeh, very slow: ‘It is always good to go to the beach ... specially with such an occasion ... it is not far from here. There you can see the Balinese people do their offering and praying. The full moon day we call purnama. It is the day that the God decends to the earth to give his blessing. People go in the ocean to cleanse themselves.’
Looking at a painting of the royal artist, showing the temple of Tanah Lot, I say: ‘To celebrate our first full moon ever on Bali, this is some years ago, we went to Tanah Lot. Priests told me to go into the water to reach the rock on which the temple is built.’
‘You know that tanah means land and lot is derived from laut meaning sea?’ Tu Kodok reacts.
‘Yes and it focus us once more on the tension between these two elements, the energy, fascinating in fact ...’
‘But I continue: the water came already until my waist went I made the crossing and on the way back I had to hurry because the water was rising quickly. Under the rock, being aware to be on a very holy place, I was blessed with the holy water for the first time and they put some grains of rice on my forehead, the finishing touch of the blessing. I was impressed in such a way that I was not even afraid of the snakes, which are supposed to be there underneath somewhere in the cave, to guard the holy place, but I did not see any. It felt like a rebirth, coming home, back to the source.’
‘I took a picture of Hans with the rice on his forehead, he looked indeed very holy and very alive,’ Fifi jumps in.
‘Rice is the symbol of life, isn’t it?’ I ask.
‘Oh yes,’ is Tu Tokehs reaction, his low voice going higher now of excitement, ‘but I just heard a few days ago a funny and at the same time sad story regarding the rice, the king was telling it to a guest. That the tourist guides are not the same as before. They have the quality to know some languages, but their origin is from an other island and so they have not been raised within the Balinese tradition. So now it happened that one tourist was asking: what is the meaning of putting the rice on the forehead? And then the guide seemed to have answered: because they have headache ...’
‘Ah so the guide thought the Balinese people get headache from praying ... I hope they don’t put it in a guidebook somewhere.’
‘Story becoming history, the way it goes sometimes.’
‘But to go back to the temple story, after that we visited many other temples on Bali. First the most important ones ...’
‘Ah ah stop stop, now you are mistaking,’ now it is Tu Kodoks turn te be excited, ‘there is no such thing as the most important temple, because each temple is important ... they all have the same god ...’
‘Oh yes, I remember our driver talks in the same way, I forgot ...’
‘No problem, you are learning and for the day coming: meditate at sunset time inside a temple and when the full moon is appearing, when you are open for it you will feel ...’
‘But now it’s time: we have to go, until tomorrow, same spot, same time.’ And as suddenly as they were there, the two animals are gone leaving an empty spot at the window.
Dream or reality? We don’t mind.
Published in "Ubud Community" November 2011.