Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Buku’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, published in Bali Post, Sunday 27th March 2011. Translated by Putu Semiada.
I Made Pawah Layah (Have No Teeth) is very surprised having heard what his son wants to be if he finishes his school.
“I really would like to be a poet, and learn about arts. That’s why I would like to register at Balinese Arts Department, Faculty of Arts and Language, University of Udayana,” says I Putu Polos Alep (Humble Man).
I Made feel as if his teeth were dropping for his surprise. I Putu doesn’t want to be a doctor, lawyer, policeman/soldier, nor high ranking official/politician.
“Choosing the Faculty of Arts is already a really disaster, let alone, Balinese Arts Department, my son must be crazy,” says I Made quietly to his palm toddy association fellows who loves palm toddy, palm wine and chopped steamed eel.
The others just shake their head. They all can not understand why in this globalization-commercialism-modification-brokering era, one wants to be a poet. If one is not crazy, he will join the Faculty of Economy so when he graduates he will apply to be a civil servant at tax office like Gayus.
My son says that there are a lot of bright people, rich people, people with political power and also people who pretend to be in power and rich. The rare ones are ones who love arts and have commitment to promote teaching on goodness and telling people about good behavior to make the world be a peaceful place as well as to “cure” the “sick” world.
Everyone can not believe what they hear. Some because how a first grade senior high school student has such a very different perspective. Generally, most senior high school students just think about Saturday night, new motor bike, new mobile phone, how to flirt their girl friends and how to get condoms in drugstore.
Some are sorry for I Made. They guess that he must be upset for what happens to his son.
“It has never happened in history that a poet could make the world better, or make a change. Only the rich and powerful can change the world, or investors and politicians as well. The only thing that can “cure” the world is money. How can one help the poor if he doesn’t have any money? Can a book, hymn (kidung) or a poem save one from hunger?” comments I Nyoman Pragmatis Melengis. (Pragmatic Man)
Everyone nods. Everyone agrees that money is much more important than poems, or, one with lots of money is more important than a poet.
“So how can a poet give his contribution to the world, to the community? What he probably can give just a book which only tells about stories and his opinion; that’s if he might be lucky enough if a publisher is willing to publish his book. If not? There will no contribution at all,” adds I Nyoman.
Everyone agrees. I Made feels unhappy having heard that his son will not be able to make any fortune, buy car, decorate his house temple with gold leaf, build east pavilion (bale dangin) with teak post, hold big ceremonies (ngenteg linggih). He knows his son will give no contribution at all.
I Made is suddenly unconscious, in spite of no drinking at all.