Translated by Putu Semiada
TRADITIONAL BALINESE OPERA
I Nyoman Kocong comes to his father to tell him about his problem.
“You know, Dad! They have cancelled the ‘drama’ (Balinese opera) contest from the ‘Teenager Art Festival’ although we have practicing for three months,” he says.
His father has just woken up from his sleep when he comes. His father is still dizzy as he has not been sleeping well for three days. In the morning he has to join the banjar members preparing things for ceremonies, and during the night he is playing Chinese cards.
‘Teenager Art Festival’ is considered as an event where teenagers can express their talents. The mayor of Denpasar has an obsession to make the city known as a city of culture where there will lots of young artists.
“I have bought new costumes, I take a bath more often than I usually do just to make myself looks better as I will play the most important role for the ‘drama’,” I Nyoman further says.
I Nyoman is really upset. The ‘drama’ group where he belongs to has practiced very hard for the contest. They have combined the art of arja, cinetron, and cartoon. I Nyoman will be playing as a ‘young boy’.
I Nyoman’s father can not accept this situation. He knows that his son has never got any qualifications ever since. He is not qualified enough to be smart student in the class as he is quite dump. He never becomes a class leader because his teachers never really like him. I Nyoman is known for his habit of saying whatever he wants to say. He never will be able to join fashion show contest as he is not a good-looking boy. Now when he is appointed main player, the contest has been cancelled. Poor I Nyoman!
The next morning, I Nyoman’s father is going to the festival committee’s office. He is going to protest them. He never realizes how difficult to meet the committee. First, he has to pass the security first. He has to fill out the guest book and leave his identity card. Once he arrive to desk 1, he is told to go to desk 3, from desk 3 to desk 4.
When he is at desk 4, he finds nobody there. After waiting for two hours, the man shows up. The man says he’s just come back from a meeting. But Nyoman knows he is lying. He can see that the man just came back from lunch because he sees some meat left on his teeth. The man says that he is not in charge for the festival and then asks Nyoman’s father to go to desk 21.
“I am not in charge for building permission letter, permission letter for establishing bar and restaurant, hostel or café in the rice field,” says the man.
Nyoman’s father thinks that it is this kind of civil servant has made this country in ‘business as usual’ situation when is looking for desk 21. He has already been angry when he gets there. He has no energy anymore to express his protest.
“The supporters of the contestants often fight each other during the contest,” that’s what the man says why the ‘drama’ contest has been cancelled.
I Nyoman’s father just nods. It makes sense, he thinks. He ‘hope’ that the committee will soon delete the gamelan contest, football competition, cock-fighting and ‘general election’ as these events often bring riots.
He also ‘hope’ that cars and motor bikes will be also forbidden as they often bring accidents on the streets.
“And it runs until late that many schools protest,” comes another reason.
I Nyoman’s father nods again. It makes sense, he thinks. The committee has difficult job that they have to change the schedule of the contest. He can understand that civil servants are ‘very busy’ with their jobs. In the morning they have to read newspapers, they ‘should have lunch’ at noon, chatting in the afternoon, they have to do exercise Friday morning, on weekends they have to spend their time with their families. So they don really ‘have time’ to change the schedule.
As I Nyoman’s father just nods to whatever they say, they think that he is stupid.
They are all laughing when they clarify the reasons behind the cancellation, and unexpectedly, they give the ‘off the record’ reason.
“The juries never follow the committee’s request currently. It happens that the winner is not the committee’s choice.
It is also a good reason, he thinks. He knows that the committee has been bribed by a certain party in which the juries do not like this situation. It will be a shame for the committee if they do not choose a certain contestant in spite of the bribe that they have received.
“Besides, students who are the members of the ‘drama’ group known for their vocal critics. Every time we forget giving the prizes and certificates of appreciation, they will straightly protest us,” that’s the fourth reason from them.
Maybe they are right, I Nyoman’s father thinks. He knows that the committee has worked very hard in preparing the contest. He also understands that the civil servants don’t get paid well. However, it shouldn’t be an excuse for them to take the prizes for themselves and get ‘extra income’ from this kind of event.