Sunday Craze Vs. Balinese Calm
By Hannah Black
The Bali Times
SILAKARANG ~ Not much happened in my compound this week. Usually there is something of interest going on, but I think the most noteworthy event was my husband, Ongky, spraining his ankle playing volleyball last Friday night. There was a small commotion when he hobbled home bleeding, everyone assuming he had been in a motorbike accident.
The injury was pretty nasty and Ongky’s ankle swelled up like a balloon, leaving him pretty much unable to walk for two days, which meant his lovely wife taking up quite a bit of baby Lola-watching and house-tending slack, in turn leading to a semi-meltdown on Sunday.
I must interrupt myself here to explain that Sundays in my family are not usually the relaxing day of rest they should be. Most Sundays back in my parent’s house are a day to graciously excuse yourself and get the hell outta dodge while my mother whips around the house with the vacuum and freaks out about items left in places they shouldn’t be (Sorry, Momma).
My sister tells me with dismay that since she moved in with her husband a few years ago, she discovered she has inherited the dreaded Sunday freak-out gene she thought she had avoided.
I too thought the gene had bypassed me, but it seems I was sadly mistaken. Over the past year or so I have awoken most Sundays with the urge to organize. It is a terrible affliction and I think poor Ongky, and the rest of the family who witness my day of crazy, are baffled by the change in my demeanour.
Last Sunday began with Ongky laying with his tree trunk-esque foot in the air and me pretending I was fine with the mess because of the extenuating circumstances; but in the end I couldn’t contain it and smashed a glass pot top while frantically washing dishes.
The smash and resulting screamed expletive caused quite a stir in the compound, where people don’t shout or seem to get annoyed about anything. Later in the day, when the crazy had left for another week, chuckling family members dared to ask me about the incident.
Here in Bali I’ve never seen a woman in a frenzy sweeping, dripping with sweat from scrubbing the bathroom or giving her husband a telling off for leaving his clothes strewn about the house. It’s just not done because it is a woman’s job to look after the house and her husband without complaint.
I can’t remember a time I’ve seen my sister-in-law Kadek in a bad mood or even giving her husband, Wayan, the customary cold shoulder often used in Western relationships. Ongky and I don’t fight, really, but I’ll fully admit to having a good wifely nag once in a while.
So how do Balinese women stay so calm? I so often see them in situations that would make my blood boil that I can’t help feeling like they are sometimes too submissive. I know they are masters of emotional control, but there must be times when they are pushed that teeny little bit too far.
Trying to cook a meal with a screaming child clinging to you while your husband lazes in front of the TV must be at least a bit annoying, but apparently around here it’s only me that ends up in a rage followed by floods of tears in these situations.
I don’t think I’ll ever really understand how the women here stay so passive, and I know I will never achieve their level of calm, but I’m not sure I would really want to either.
A good emotional explosion seems healthy and cleansing to me; in fact I think I’d be quite scared of the results of holding everything in.
Saying that, although I’m happy to pass down my weekday calm, I’m praying to the generally mild-tempered Balinese gods that for my 15-month-old Lola, not to mention her future husband, the Balinese calm will win out over my crazy-on-Sundays bloodline.
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