Our stay in Bali has only been a few hours sort of 3 days and already the impression that was left is, if you do not have the moeny to lavish on the island, not only will you not get the time of day, but you will also get extorted. You hear people complain about coming here and being treated like Dollar signs, but it can get more severe than just being perceived as a walking piggy bank.
This morning Clément and I were at the front courtyard, piecing together the frames of our chicken coop (it is looking prety cosy). Ayu, Kelly’s Indonesian helper, came in through the front gate and her eyes were looking timid and nervous. The gate was a solid gate so we couldnt see what was happening on the other side before that. She was followed by a number of Indonesian men, hey weere in khaki uniform like those you see in Bollywood movies made in the 90’s/2000s. One man stood out first for 3 reasons;
1. he was he only one wearing a blue, short-sleeved collared shirt with white batik designs
2. He had his eyes shifting around as he walked and seemed to have this idea he had authority over every cubicsquare of space he stepped in
3. He spoke first
He asked me in Indonesian what we were doing to which Ayu and I cheerfully replied, “rumah ayam”. He said he wanted to perform a check in the house. Ayu was quiet and Clem could only speak in English to them. The man said he couldn’t speak English (he said that in English). He seemed to have practiced that sentenced so many times that he could say it abruptly and without prompt. So I continued to speak in Malay (it was close enough). I told them to wait at the front and went to search for Kelly.
It didnt take long to find her. When I told her there were people who claimed to be officers, she let out a sigh signifiying exhaustion and annoyance. She asked Ayu to say she wasn’t around but Ayu was too shaken to perform a face to face fib. Kelly came out to the courtyard and immediately asked them to leave, that they were not invited in the house and were trespasing on private property. I translated.
The man replied saying he was an officer and was here to perform a check for official business to draft a report. I translated.
Kelly stood her ground and repeated they had to leave. I translated this and this seemed to annoy him. He stood his ground too.
I asked him for his official letters/notice/papers acknowledging this “check” or “report” that he spoke of. This seemed to offend him and he replied rudely and loudly “surat apa?” (What letter?) “I am a government official and i want to go inside and check the house.” I translated.
He tried to push past us ladies to get through the door.
Kelly raised her voice back and told them to leave immediately. She shut the door behind her. Her adopted street dog was barking on the other side. He threatened to call immigration to which we all laughed back at him and told him we were all here legally on tourist visas and were on holidays. This seemed to anger him even more seeing that he was losing his self assumed authority. He pretended to shift through some raty papers in his had and again pressed to enter the house. I asked him again for his papers that authorised him to do so and also added that it was strange that he neither had papers, nor did he know the simple fact that he needed permission of a private land owner to step foot on the property.
At his point i was practically shouting at him as he kept talking back over me louder and louder and lacking professionalism. He claimed to be a good man with good intenions to which i responded that he would not be so forceful and be shouting at me and Kelly in this way. This really pissed him off and the rain had started to come down heavier. He retreated to his men who were on the otherside of the courtyard underneath the shade. They seemed to be afraid of getting their uniforms wet. After a few minutes, the chief or whatever deemed his title to be, came to terms that he wasnt getting into the house and showed his self to the door along with his men. All except one.
This man was standing on my right the whole time. Ayu was between us. He didn’t follow the rest of his group. I hand signaled to him to the door to which he suddenly stepped forward and raised the palm of his righ hand ready to hit me, his eyes were so wide open I recalled seeing the full white of his eyes around the iris. Kelly immediately started shouting at him to not touch me (in Englis) and poor, little Ayu (she must have been only 4’10, she was tiny) was begging him to not hurt me (in Indonesian). I screamed at him in Malay to get out! That we did not want him here. My heart was beating so fast.
He then with the same hand he raised, grabbed my face from underneath. I felt the cold palm of his hand under my chin and his fingers around my throat. He yanked my face to his and growled at me asking me who was I, where was I from and who my father was to raise a daughter who could talk back to a man like that. I was so angry at his actions. Angry because what he was doing was ego driven rather than necessary, and also angry with how he seems to believe he could treat women. Heart beating out of my chest, I pulled his wrist off my throat and slapped his hand back to him. I screamed out for Clem, “Darling!” as loudly as my throat could handle without burning. I quickly looked around and to my dismay, realised Clement was no where in sight. I was close to tears.
Kelly was shouting at the man who laid his hand on me, hrstarted speaking too loudly, too angrily and too quickly in Indonesian for me to understand what he was saying but I didn’t care. I screamed again for him to GET OUT!! He seemed satisfied that he had instilled fear into me and walked out the door of the gate with a smirk. Good men do not find satisfaction in causing misery.
The moment the door closed behind him I couldn’t stop mself from bursting into tears. I was angry, I was frightened, i was appalled at the extreme lack of respect these men had for women. I quickly realised if Clem had been around then, he wouldn’t have dared to touch the hair that fell off my head. But he took advantage of the situation knowing there were only 3 women, one elderly, one extremely petite and me.
My darling came back just as the man left. He had gone to tell the others in he house to lock all the gates as Kelly had asked him to. He held me and I sobbed in his arms.
Kelly said she had never seen these men before but had been visited by the Pegawai Desa (village peace keepers, the irony) before and they had tried to extort money out of her by interrogating her daily life and trying to find faults with what she was doing. She thinks they may be of the same status but different groups.
It was much later when we were talking to Eddy, her male helper about them that he said they were not Desa officers but Jabatan officers (District officers), they were a rank higher than Desa. He confirmed Kelly’s suspicion that they were also hear to find faults and to try to “fine” her and extort money from her where possible. To do that however, they needed proof and to obtain proof they needed to get in, and to get in they needed permission. The only flaw in their plan.
We don’t know who told them to come here. Eddy says they normaly perform rounds around the district between 10am and 1pm. Ayu had never seen them before as she lives in a different village. Kelly thinks someone in the village may have gotten jealous or just unsatisfied that they had a caucasian in the area living on such big land with such a nice house. She thinks someone may have made a call to those men and upon hearing she was a woman of wealth, decided to come and harrass her.
The whole day I couldn’t stop thinking of how that man spoke to me and physically handled me. My mind was constantly in flashback to what I could have said back to him or what I could have done different to have avoided the unpleasantness.
My darling took me for a ride on the motorbike to clear my mind. We had also rented it for 210,000IDR a week so we wanted to get pur $22AUD use out of it. We rode along Jalan Goa Gong and each time we came to a fork or intersection or split, we would take turns deciding a direction. Left, straight, right, backtrack, right, straight and our last right brought us to Pandawan Beach. We sat overlooking the sea and just chatted, joked around, laughed, kissed and endlessly traded “I love yous” and compliments to each other.
We rode back, he was driving our scooter on the sidewalk in an attempt to overtake tour buses in traffic, and a successful one too. Although he made me so nervous as his passenger. He seemed reckless but he was completely in control and kept gently taking my hand to kiss the back of it as he drove. He had all these skills and experiences that made him a fearless, independent man. I had to know why he loved me.
To which he replied, “because you’re amazing” he replied.
Before I met him, I was working in an office, I didn’t know how to swim (I was even too scared to put my head underwater), and i had never even been on a motorbike.
“I don’t understand what makes me amazing. There are so many like me (definitely some better, but I didnt want to say that).”
“That’s just the way it is. Of course there are so many like you, and there maybe even better.” (He was unafraid to say it). “There are so many like me too.” (I have never met anyone like you). “There are people who are better than us, and there may be people who we might get along more with. There are people (couples) who never argue. But we met, and we fell in love, and we are still together”
“And we are still in love”, I continued.
“And we are still in love”, he repeated.
And he was right. There will always be someone better looking, better dressed, better off than ourselves. But that’s not the factors of love. Love is when a + b = x, x being the resulting happiness of the union, then the other unknowns will never have relevance, nor will they have a place in the equation.