Dream or Reality (25 )Spirits?
text and image by Hans Smeekes
“We have a question for you,” is the first phrase coming out of the mouth of Tu Kodok, the frog, sitting together with his friend Tu Tokeh, the gecko, who just made the announcement of their nighttime appearance with his remarkable sound, on the edge of the window in front of us in our dream room of the palace.
Already so many nights we have this meeting with our magical animal friends. Of which you can wonder is this just imagination, are we dreaming or is it reality? But whatever, it is in the middle of the night and then magical things can happen. Specially on Bali.
I answered: “Yes please, ask.”
“Why is alcohol called spirit in the west, because here on Bali the meaning of spirit has nothing to do with alcohol?”
We are surprised by this question, we never had any thoughts about this, it is astonishing indeed.
“Our knowledge of English is not enough to give you an answer right now, we will ask around, but it brings us to to the subject of spirits. Balinese spirits,” I say.
“Because today,” I continue, “we might have had our experiences with spirits.
We had a stroll in the evening outside the palace and on a certain part it was very dark.
It has been told to us many times by our Balinese friends to be careful in the night and to avoid dark places. Specially near water and bridges. The beloved places for the spirits to roam around.
Suddenly I stepped in some ditch and fell down. On the bottom there was a little bit of water. Because we were also near a small bridge I had immediately some thinking in the direction of spirits. I had the feeling I was pushed, while we, Fifi and I, were happily chatting with each other.
“It can also be that you were distracted by that,” Tu Tokeh supposes.
“Yes that can also be the case, but remarkable was that in a few seconds we were surrounded by maybe ten worried people. And I was thinking: Where do they come from? I did not see them before along the road. Considering that spirits can take the features of normal human beings.
But I have to say they were very caring and the most important thing was that I was not hurt very much, only a painful right foot, but that is almost finished now. But after that I had my thinking about the experience. Spirits?
We heard so many stories about spirits that we influenced by that we also see spirits everywhere.
“Yes Balinese people might interprete your experience in this way. It is called ‘sekala’ and ‘niskala’, what can be seen and the unseen,” Tu Kodok remarks.
“Fifi had also a special experience,” I continue to tell .
”Returning from a visit to a temple, where an ‘odalan’ was going on, Fifi noticed she lost her golden earring, once belonging to her mother. So she was really not happy. Not for the value but more for the emotial thing.
But where and when she lost it? That was the question.
I went through the pictures on the screen of my photocamera to see when she still was wearing it.
With the result that it was clear that two days ago she was still wearing her precious ring. Yesterday we visited some people in the villages and today we went to the temple.
The prince advised to visit a ‘dukun’ about this, not far from the palace. We brought an offering with us and put it on the shrine in the family temple of the compound of the ‘dukun’. A skinny man without specific features. But very friendly.
Fifi put her question regarding where and when she might have lost it.
Coming out of the trance he uttered: ‘I see steps.’
This was the only thing he could say about it.”
“But there are steps everywhere on Bali,” Fifi reacts. “It might be the entrance of a temple but can also be the entrance of a housecompound. Steps are everywhere ...”
“With this experience we came back in the palace,” I continue “and then the old father of the prince, the head of the family, told us that sometimes you are not allowed to enter a temple with gold or any jewelry. And told us the story that also he once had to take off his golden watch and even his sandals (it was considered as too modern) before he could enter the temple.
So also this can be interpreted as an experience with spirits. They can have taken it, when we were going up the many steps, surrounded by many people.”
“It is also possible you gave it back to the earth,” Tu Kodok suggests.
On which Tu Tokeh adds: “Do you know that probably Bali is the only place on earth, where the people bury gold inside the ground, instead of digging it?”
“It is called the ‘panca datu’. The five metals, of which one is gold. The Balinese put it into the ground as offering and blessing before they start building a house.”
Before we can react on this, the only small light near the art deco mirror in the corner goes off.
In a kind of impulse I search for the light switch, push on it and ... there it is light again. But who pushed it off? A spirit?
Our two friends cannot give the answer, they are gone.
The only sound we hear is that of a bullfrog.
Dream or reality?