By Nicholas Rety
For The Bali Times
JIMBARAN ~ Ferocious rain wakes me from my sleep. Surely the ocean has turned upside down, its contents dumped on the thatch roof above! A solid mass of water, the roll of a thousand drums, beats down on everything around me, the palms, the grass, the flowers. The pool in my garden boils white in the clash of water with water.
Maybe the sky is acting in anger and will not tolerate anyone, or anything, in the path of its mood. The thunder of crashing water drowns out all sound. The limits of my world are now defined by this wild river falling from the sky, for the moment putting everyone and everything out of reach. I am captive in a prison of water.
Then as quickly as it began, the rain stops. A few errant drops fall in its wake and, almost apologetically, late streams of water from the roof vanish into the ground. All is still once more.
I step out into the night. The raincloud is gone. Above, the sky is littered with stars, like diamonds carelessly strewn about the vault, their position constant, never changing. I am gazing at an infinity I cannot fathom, at an eternity I cannot comprehend. The surf, itself eternal, is the only sound I hear, its rhythm the only reminder of time. In all this endless mystery I am the one finite entity, unnoticed by the tireless surf, ignored by the haughty galaxies above. A magnificent solitude.
A hesitant rooster calls, receives no answer. The “town crier” of this lonely place, he assures me that all is well. The music of silence again envelopes the world, lulls it to sleep.
The darkness, the night promise to last forever. There is no moon, no breeze, no evidence of Man. No creature stirs. Time seems to stand still, marked only by the relentless beat of the surf washing the shore, a tempo so constant, so unending that to keep count is pointless. Time, after all, is relevant only to those who are passing figures on the scene, to whom eternity carries only wonder but no meaning. Dwarfed by the vastness of the ocean, the distance to a star, the infinity of Time, the limits of our understanding bid us to put aside our daily quest and seek solace in sleep, itself a mystery understood by few. I try to sleep but sleep eludes me.
And then the rooster crows again, the same four notes, this time a tremolo in the third. Almost imperceptibly, a grey light visits the eastern horizon. Silhouettes of palms emerge from their cloak of the night like images coming alive in a photographer’s tray. A distant rooster now answers the call. Little birds, hidden in the trees, break into hesitant song. The light intensifies, shapes, concealed till now, fill the scene. Stars begin to fade at the approach of dawn.
A host of birds now joins in the chorus. Now and then one breaks into a delicate solo of exquisite but fleeting beauty. The sky in the east blushes with a hue of pink. Hitherto grey clouds turn to yellow, then burn into a deep orange. Birdsong intensifies. Doves, silent till now, join the chant.
And now the sky turns to gold; the sun is on its way. Billowing clouds dress in gleaming, festive white on its approach. A faint smell of smoke drifts on the air. Sounds of the awakening world visit the senses, the crescendo of a motorbike, a human voice, a baby’s cry. Where before silence ruled, the hum of traffic now forms the backdrop to the new day, a thousand lives heading for unseen destinations, all intertwined for a moment in a symphony of sound. Birds now chatter in endless discourse, dart this way and that, driven by a purpose they alone know. A mother hen bids her brood to follow with a “bok-bok-bok-bok – today!” Dogs bark and a nearby cow bellows time and again, its resonant baritone forfeited on a single note.
Warm air embraces the landscape. A light breeze tempts the palms to a lazy, swaying dance. The stillness of the night is no more; there is movement all around.
At last the sun arrives in triumph. Flowers celebrate the coming of light, their reason for being, in an ecstasy of colour. Volcanoes of the island strut their proud profiles before retreating into their mantles of cloud. The stars, the darkness, the silence withdraw – let the sun rule the day. They know the ways of the sun, its flight across the sky. They bow to its role as the giver of life. They know its visit is passing. They know it will retire into the sea when its work is done.
And then the eternal ritual begins again.Filed under: Perspective