The Bali Cycle of Life

Babies, babies everywhere! Is there something in the air at the    moment or is everyone really dropping sprogs left and right?

It is of course a wonderful thing, having babies, but it seems the universe (and all the ladies in the village) are determined to push me into having my second. I’m sure it’s just because Lola, my almost 2-year-old, is the most fantastic little person ever, but there have been a few too many mentions of “bikin kedua” (have a second one) lately for my liking.

I popped by a cousin’s baby’s 42-day ceremony the other morning before work and there seemed to be a plethora of babies, the youngest one only 14 days old but with the most fantastic head of hair I’d ever seen on someone so tiny.

I suppose it’s just the age that my friends and I are at that everyone seems to talk about nothing but marriage and babies, added to the fact that in the village there is always a steady stream of babies being born.

There is no great buzz around being pregnant in the village; you just are. There tend to be so many other pregnant ladies around, it just isn’t a big deal.

Actually it’s quite nice to go home to the village where no one bats an eyelash at a pregnant belly. People seem to talk about nothing else, so to have it ignored once in a while is nice.

It’s amazing how the circle of life is so blatantly apparent in a village. Babies are celebrated at 42 days, three months and six months and then ceremonies continue on throughout life at numerous stages until the biggest one of all, the ngaben or cremation.

I can’t really remember ever thinking about life in the same sort of cyclical way until I moved to Bali. Perhaps that had something to do with not having many old people around at any point in my life.

In the West we tend to celebrate birth and everything up until marriage and more birth. But after that, celebrations tend to go downhill.

In the village we seem to have as many old people around as we do young, and everyone is generally treated equally, which to me is a great thing and one of the beautiful things about living in Bali.

My husband, Ongky, told me when he was in high school he slept in the same room as his grandmother and was there when she passed away. I saw my grandparents a couple of times a year, but we lived so far away from them I didn’t really know them.

Ongky loved his grandmother so much he wanted to be around her all the time and saw no difference sleeping in a room with his brothers or sisters or his grandmother.

He often says he wishes she had been alive to meet me and Lola, and I would love to have met her as well.

But back to the beginnings of life: It’s not just in the village – pregnancy seems to be going around at work as well. There won’t be any teachers left soon. Not to mention my older sister back in the Isle of Man is now officially on maternity leave and is preparing for a Christmas baby.

I’m sad I can’t be there to see my first niece or nephew born, but that’s just one of the downsides to being so far away. We’ll be awaiting the phone call just like my sister did when Lola was born.

As for my next one, I’ve decided for now I’ll just sit back and let everyone else do the hard work while I enjoy the sweet nights of sleep that I’ve only recently claimed back from my darling daughter.

Filed under: My Compound Life

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