a column by I Wayan Juniartha
Translated by Putu Semiada
S T O R I E S
Many people are worried about what happen to Balinese stories.
When the Balinese language is not popular among the Balinese themselves anymore, how do you expect the Balinese stories can survive?
“I really can not understand, the children now do not like listening to stories,” says I Made Tua Cakluk (I Made Very Old).
“They just like watching television all day or playing with their mobiles (doing sms).”
I Made is a kind of a naïve person. He thinks that he understands about stories. In fact, he doesn’t. He is just the same as other Ibu-Ibu PKK (housewife); they like watching cinetrons such as Cinta Fitri, Melati Untuk Marvel and Tersanjung 100.
The other thing is that he likes ‘porn stories’.
“I think the children now do not like stories not because they don’t like them, it is just that there are no good stories to tell anymore,” says I Ketut Pupuk Bawang (I Ketut Fertilizer for Onions).
I Ketut is the youngest member of the local drinking club. He used to go to the cafés in Kuta. However, as they have become ‘houses’ for more and more ‘criminals’, he decided to go to cafés in the rice fields to visit the ‘girls’. But he then found that even there, he didn’t feel comfortable as he could not enjoy himself drinking. The café girls keep seducing and touching him all the time. That’s why he then started joining the drinking club until now. There he finds no criminals, nor naughty girls.
“Our parents used to tell us stories for our guidance to be good people.”
Therefore we have stories such as Pedanda Baka, which tells us how to escape from dangerous things or criminals; Siap Selem, how to cheat your enemies; Durma, how to be good children and obey your parents; Mayadenawa tells us not to complain when you have to do something for religious things.
“Nowadays parents are just busy telling ‘stories’ about their success to their children.”
The ‘characters’ on the stories are themselves. The parents tell their children that they are success people and have done a lot of things.
“They think that they have rendered their country many services, very democratic. They also think that this country would be nothing without them.”
If the right is person telling the right thing, many people will listen. But if we notice, there are more people talking but doing nothing. They just talk, talk and talk.
“The children are not willing to listen to stories anymore as the stories do not match the current situation,” says I Ketut.
As comparison, old Balinese stories tell us that in old time when there was a poor person but dedicated himself to do good things, he would finally find himself a happy and prosperous person.
But today, if you are poor or have nothing, you will remain poor; no matter how many times you do ‘melukat’ (cleansing oneself) ceremonies. Your dedication to religious things won’t buy you coffee, pay your hospital bill, nor pay your children school fees.
Old Balinese stories also tell that, if a person is given divine powers but use his powers for evil things, the gods will come down to earth to destroy him.
But now, no matter how bad (corrupt) the people are, many of them still can go overseas for holidays and nobody punishes them, not even confine them with home detention. And as we can see some fundamentalists still can ruin the situation with bomb explosions.
So if you want your children to listen to your ‘stories’, tell them the good ones, which match the current situation, and the stories are supposed to be told by good people.