Friday, 14 May 2010

Bungklang Bungkling: Rematik (Rheumatism)

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Rematik’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, as published in Bali Post, Sunday 9th May 2010. Translated by Putu Semiada.

Rematik (Rheumatism)

The local election has just finished. The winner is obvious as is the loser. The drinking association members have been waiting for the winner to come to visit them. They remember that the candidates promised them that if they won they would thank the association members. They have been given 10 million Rupiah already, and now they expect double from the winner.

But as the sun sets nobody comes. “The one with moustache hasn’t showed up nor the one with no moustache. It’s a kind of bad sign. They forget their voters once they win,” says I Made Golput Bukan Dosa (I Made Abstaining is not a Sin).

Everyone laughs. They all know that Made didn’t vote for any candidate but now he expects something.

“That’s why we called them ‘Kepala Kadal’ (Leader of Lizards)”, they will forget us if they win. All they have on their mind now is how to get back the money they have spent during their campaign. That’s why we should have asked them for some ‘deposit’ when they had asked us to vote for them,” says I Putu Coblos Kanan Coblos Kiri (I Putu Give Your Votes For All Candidates).

No ‘Kepala Kadal’ shows up. Unexpectedly, it is I Wayan Sing Man Apa (I Wayan Got Nothing), a teacher of elementary school next to the soccer field who does. Everyone is surprised. Everyone knows that Wayan is a very honest teacher. He is very religious and has good manners. He has never been to the palm toddy warung, he just likes Coca Cola. He never has a love affair (he is afraid of his wife), and when wants to play ceki (Chinese cards), he never tells her.

Without greeting them, Wayan grabs a bottle of palm toddy and sips it. “Bapak is stressed,” he says. He always refers himself as ‘Bapak’ (Mister). It might be because his students always call him “Bapak Guru” (Mister Teacher). He likes people to call him ‘Bapak’. Once his father almost hit his head because I Wayan called himself ‘Bapak’ during a discussion with a priest.

Everyone laughs. Hearing somebody say that they are stressed is not a new thing for them, because who isn’t under the current situation. Job opportunities are rare, and big celebrations are about to happen. And they don’t really have money in their wallets. They also think that the gods may ‘get stressed’ too as everyday devotees pray and ‘ask’ for big things. The devotees dedicate ‘canang’ (offerings) which cost only Rp. 200 each but ask for big things, like a new car e.t.c.. How will the gods deal with their requests?

“I really don’t understand what our government wants: do I have to join a ‘certification’. It is said that if I pass the certification, they will increase my salaries. You know the raise makes no different for me, I am about to be retired. Should I use the raise for my cremation ceremony when I die?” asks Wayan.

Everyone nods. It is understood that an old teacher like Wayan is not really interested in continuing his studies when he feels ‘experienced’ enough as a teacher; also it is difficult for him to do a test when he is used to testing students, and as a teacher, he cannot accept being ‘taught’.

“And I have to make a scholarly paper too. I have rheumatism, especially in my hands. How do you expect me to be able to type? My fingers really hurt when I type. Don’t they know that I have been teaching students for years, and now they ask me to join special training (certification) for teachers?”

Everyone nods. No one wants to comment on what Wayan says. It is said ‘never argue with a guru (teacher)’, let alone ‘guru penggajian’ (guru who gets paid (gaji)).

“I suggest that not only teachers should join ‘certification’, but also legislative members, ‘Kepala Kadal’ (mayors) and high ranking officials as well. Most of them obtain their current positions just because they have a lot of money, financial assistance and physical strength, says Made.

Everyone nods. All of them are half-drunk, and they don’t really understand the topic of their discussion. “Galungan and Kuningan” holidays are about to come. Nobody cares about Wayan’s problem anymore. Everyone thinks about getting money to celebrate ‘Galungan’.

“Mr. Teacher, is the teacher certificate to be used as a guarantee to borrow money? If so, I want one. I will bring it with me to the village bank to borrow some money to buy some fruits for (banten) offering.

I Wayan says nothing. He feels that he is a poor guy being a teacher. He thinks that if he had known that he would be like this, he would have grown bold moustache and trained himself to smile, and to be able to be a ‘Kepala Kadal’.