Thursday, 8 December 2011

Bungklang Bungkling: Tapel (Mask) by Wayan Juniartha

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Tapel, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, published in Bali Post, Sunday 21st November 2011. Translated by Putu Semiada.

Tapel (Mask)

The meeting of the palm toddy association members has been delayed. It was scheduled for 6 o clock, but it’s already 9 o’clock and only 3 of them have arrived at the meeting place.

The chairman is wondering where everybody is; usually when there is free palm toddy, most of them come.

“I guess they are tired of drinking tuak,” says I Wayan Emplegan SBY (Sing Bani Ngudiang) or Slow in Making Decisions.

“It’s not quiet right, chief. Most of them are late due to the ASEAN Summit,” says I Made Kuli Mapi-Mapi (I Made Pretends to Know Everything).

“What is really the connection between our members and the Summit? None of our members are high ranking officials,” the chief argues.

The chief may have forgotten that when high ranking officials gather, the first to suffer is common people.

When a minister pays a visit, lots of cars and police are involved to block the road.

What would happen if 15 presidents visited the island? All the roads would probably be blocked. It might even look busier than a karya (big festival ceremony; and everybody knows what happens when the president of the United States visits the island.

“I couldn’t go anywhere. Any direction I wanted to go to was blocked and they asked me for some identification. That’s why I came late,” says I Made.

I Made might be luckier than I Ketut Nyamprut whose house is in Nusa Dua. Just when he went out, a police sworn at him as he carried a sickle in his waist.

“He was going to cut the grass before attending the meeting. He had been interrogated for 3 hours in the security post. They might think that a sickle might endanger a plane.”

The police and the army seem to be scared of an old man carrying a sickle. It reminds us of Pak Minta, the gardener who was passing and carrying a sickle in front of the president.

After his interrogation, I Ketut can’t go anywhere; the roads around Nusa Dua are blocked due to the visit of President Obama. The people who live there and can go nowhere while Americans can go anywhere there and block the roads.

“Under these circumstances, I find myself watching ‘mask’ dances for hours,” adds I Ketut.

Everybody is surprised to hear this. As far as they know, no mask dance is performed at Nusa Dua during Obama’s visit.

“Everywhere there is a ‘mask dance’. The police and the army are wearing ‘masks’; they pretend to be strong and tough. As a matter of fact, they are so upset that they have to stand by day and night without any chance to see their wives and children. They want to go home actually.”

President Obama is also wearing a ‘mask’. He smiles and pretends to be a good friend of Indonesia. Actually he wants our oil, coal, timber and our other natural resources. On the other hand, Freeport, KFC, etc have all ‘occupied’ us.

“Our high ranking officials are also wearing ‘masks’. They say that they hold the summit in the name and for the people’s sake.”

“As a matter of fact, they are all happy being able to hold the summit using people’s money. The summit is more like a ‘project’ that in some cases they ‘share’ the money and we don’t quiet know where the money goes.”

“And they are happy too because they can use people’s money for ‘holiday’, guarded by the police.”

“In addition, when dealing with Americans, everyone seems to be happy to be ‘slaves’; as if they are ready to ‘lick ass’; for them. Shares and commission seem to be much more important than the people.”

“They think that the people are stupid. We too often see people wearing ‘masks we know what they are like behind the mask.”