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Fiction: Good Night, Monkey!
Even though the family base was the island of Bali, they moved around the world a lot, when Ketut was a preschooler they spent 3 years in Thailand. He and Komang loved visiting the temples, In Bangkok and Phuket. Ketut especially liked the Wats (Buddhist temples) but Komang preferred the Chinese shrines.
Whenever they visited a Wat or shrine, they got a little memento to keep. Dewi gave them a little Balinese basket to put them in. Once in a while they would look through and remember all the Buddha statues they had seen and all the Chinese gods and demons they had burned incense to.
Some of their amulets were simple medallions; others were white plaster trinkets in plastic boxes with plush pillow beds. A couple were tiny metal statues encrusted with little shiny rocks, one of them was actually an antique amulet that had lost it’s shape and was inside a waterproof and sealed plastic casing.
One night towards the end of their stint in Phuket, Ketut took the basket off the shelf and called Komang for his favorite bedtime routine. All three of his sisters came into his room and he was pleasantly surprised, Wayan and Made were not usually home so early. He stood up on his bed and smiled at them opening his arms for hugs.
“Hola Ketut! Made and I can tell you a bedtime story tonight that we got off work early and Komang can take a break for once. What do you think?” Said Wayan picking up her brother to give him a great big bear hug.
“I don’t mind telling him stories, it’s fun!” answered Komang a little defensive. “We have a routine. Don’t we monkey?”
“Esta bien Komang, all three of you can tell me a story!”
Made started looking through the little basket and found the amulet from the Wat Prathong in Phuket. “Why does this Buddha only have a head and not a body? No wait, he has shoulders too. That´s bizarre, where is the rest of him? “
“That’s because the Buddha statue from that Wat is really a full body Buddha buried standing up! The amulet shows him from the shoulders up because that’s what the statue is like, isn’t that cool? “
Ketut´s sisters all got comfortable on the bed while he put the amulet on his neck, that particular one had a long red string through it. It was after all, Ketut’s favorite.
“So a long time ago, like hundreds of years ago a boy was out with his water buffalo and tied him to a bit of wood that was sticking out of the ground. That night the boy had bad nightmares and he and his buffalo got very sick and died. The boy’s papá went to the place where the wood stuck out of the ground and after digging realized it was the pointy thing that is always on the top of buddha’s head. All the villagers that tried to dig out the statue were stung by hornets and died. Then again, lots of years later when the Burmese came to invade Phuket, they tried digging out the statue too and they got attacked by ants and also died!”
“Wow, freaky!” said Made smiling at her cute overexcited brother. Everyone laughed together as Ketut started jumping on the bed.
“Pero, now the Buddha statue is covered up with a copy of it so that people can visit it. One monk decided it would be a good idea to build a temple around it; he was smart don’t you think? I like putting gold leaf on the other Buddha statues in the Wat, there is one for each day of the week, did you know?”
Wayan looked at Komang while Ketut finally wound down and relaxed, and said “Looks like he’s the one telling the story tonight.”
“It’s actually almost always like that.” Komang winked at her sisters and gave her little brother a kiss as he curled up with his amulet and favorite pillow. “Good night monkey.”