“My daughter looks like a Japanese” screams the proud mother-in-law across the courtyard. The house garden is glistening with morning light, and alive with a tribunal of leathery aunties and sweet, bleating men sitting on the pavilion bases. The groom, Kadek, sits with his very pregnant wife on white plastic chairs, ignoring her; his white socks and sandals jig to the disco beat coming from the backyard bamboo forest where tougher uncles are roasting a pig. The bride and groom are styled as a princely Majapahit couple.
Kadek is the eldest son of Ketut Komplit, the eldest son of Pan Riki who built most of the Taman Bebek but is now deceased. His widow, the saintly Men Riki is now blind: she sits serenely, stage centre, in a cloud of incense smoke and pork smells:
“You are fat now,” she says archly when I sit down and take her hands lovingly.
“Did you not invite Pandhi?” I ask Ketut (Pandhi is the Banyuwangi boy once attached to this writer who for the last fifteen years has attached himself, as a Muslim mate, to this family.
“He’s still asleep,” Ketut answers, “he was here till 3 a.m. making pork satay. He provided the jack fruit (stolen from my hotel I think!).
In Bali the spirit of gotong-royong and suka-duka goes across class and religious lines.
Out the back of the compound, I find a veritable factory of 50 men at book-keeping section various posts preparing the feast foods. Two musclemen are placed in the best light at the satay-poking corner. A dog keeps his master company.
I ask Pak Rumi, the groom’s uncle and a village priest, “Why the big show?" (Weddings can be less extravagant for poor families).
"It’s because his mother is deceased, and so she does not feel that her son is not being looked after properly....that's the Hindu way,” he explains gently.