Daddy’s Little Girls
By Hannah Black
The Bali Times
SILAKARANG ~ This week my darling daddy arrived for a month-long visit, an event I’d been counting down to since he booked his tickets about a month ago. I admit I’m a bit of a daddy’s girl and even though I’m now married and have my own daughter, I still need big daddy bear hugs once in a while. My mum, who I am also very close to, couldn’t make it because of work, but she plans to come later in the year, which, she points out, means two visits in one year.
My dad arriving in the compound is a big event, especially now he has a granddaughter to be reintroduced to. It’s his fourth visit to Bali and third to the compound; so the whole family, including the kids, are pretty much used to him. They also know he always comes baring some kind of gifts, usually a whole load of stickers or something equally fantastic. Of course it doesn’t really matter to them what it is as long as it has come from somewhere outside Bali.
He arrived late at night this time, and no one saw him until the morning, but my husband Ongky’s mother brought the works down for breakfast: jaja (Balinese sticky rice cakes) and enough fruit to feed an army. Ongky’s father, who once held my dad’s hand walking up through the compound, making me well up with tears, came down to sit and “chat.” He speaks Balinese or Indonesian while my dad speaks English; but somehow they convey a feeling of happiness and gratitude to each other.
We had a very relaxing first day. He did a bit of Tai Chi on the back balcony and Lola, 15 months, got used to Kak Inggris (English Grandpa) being around. My dad is generally very easygoing, and a hammock and a book are about all he needs to keep him occupied if I have things to do. A nice Storm beer in the evening also goes down pretty well.
In the evening, after a very relaxing day with only quick trips to the moneychanger and lunch out, all the kids gathered round and asked Kak Inggris to read a book to them. They sat close and jostled to look at the pictures. I don’t know if I’d ever seen them so concentrated for such a period of time. I may have welled up with tears again.
One of the great things about parents visiting is a little bit of spoiling, lunch and dinners out and trips to the supermarket being paid for. Sometimes it reminds me of my student days, when my parents would come down to London and treat me to all the things I couldn’t afford myself. Perhaps this time should be over, but I’m pretty happy it isn’t.
I also love long chats with my dad about life and work and future plans. I get to catch up on all the little things going on in the Isle of Man that everyone forgets to tell me. Although I do have long chats with Ongky or my friends here, they have only known me for three or four years. My dad has known me my whole life and knows me better than pretty much anyone. I am also so much like him and my mother that he’s really great at giving me advice.
My Balinese family is extremely supportive and takes great care of Lola and I, but we haven’t been a part of their lives for very long really, so we’re all still getting to know each other. Anyone who lives in Bali, or anywhere else where they are thousands of miles from their family, knows that a visit is a very special time and you have to savour every moment of it.
My two worlds really meet when someone like my dad visits. He’s been here before so I don’t have to ferry him around doing tourist things and he is very willing to just hang out in the village filling the day with things around the house. Apart from a little jetlag/Bali coffee overindulgence-induced psychosis, the holiday has gotten off to a perfect start.