the Old Life Ends a New Life Must Begin
Copyright 2018 by Patricia Pedross
o'clock in the morning and I found myself to be wide awake, even
after a 25 hour journey during which I had hardly slept, choosing to
indulge in watching one movie after another instead. The city was
still bustling even at this hour and I craned my neck trying to get a
look at the enormous statues which hovered above us. They were at the
centre of the many roundabouts we navigated and my head spun left and
right as my attention was caught by what I was later to realize were
the many shrines along the way.
had felt little curiosity about my trip to Bali. The devastating
events of the early part of the year had left me bruised and battered
and I survived, as many others have done, by taking 'just one day at
a time'. We had retired to Nova Scotia, built a new home and found
ourselves living in a warm and welcoming community. Life was perfect.
We were living our dream.
few months earlier, when my middle son suggested I spend the whole of
August with him and his family. I was only too happy to accept and
was whisked off to Mexico for two weeks and then on to Innsbruck in
Austria, where they lived and where I had spent most of my life and
still have family and friends.
grandchildren were just the distraction I needed as we spent the
first week relaxing in a beautiful hotel on the beach. Then we spend
several days touring the Yukatan where we stayed in the most
beautiful haciendas, visited Chichen Itzu, climbed pyramids and
learnt much about the Maya Civilization. I soon realized that the
children's presence happily saved us from hearing the more gruesome
crossed by ferry to the idyllic island of Holbox. Very few cars are
to be seen, instead golf carts are the preferred method of travel
around this quiet and beautiful island.
swam with dolphins and more adventurously, far out in the ocean, with
a whale shark. Our skipper bargained with local fisherman and
obtained just caught fish which he later cooked for us while we
strolled along the pure white sand beach of the lagoon and gazed in
awe at the hosts of flamingoes and large beaked pelicans surrounding
our boat waiting for leftovers.
heading off for early morning walks on the beach or occasionally
opting to stay at the swimming pool when the rest of the family were
on the beach, I managed to gain some alone time, essential for my
frame of mind. I knew enough to realise that grieving has to be dealt
with and that keeping busy and pushing sad thoughts away would only
bring more upset down the line.
undoing almost came when my beautiful, blue eyed, blonde, three year
old grandson gently stroked my face and gazing into my eyes said
"Stimmt es Nana dass Opa gestorben ist und du bist sehr
could feel my son's anxious gaze upon me. I was aware that he must
have spoken to James about his much loved grandfather otherwise the
questions would already have come fast and furious. "Yes,
sweetie', I said.' And we are all sad, aren't we?"
were all relieved that the moment had arrived and been safely dealt
now, three months later I was on the other side of the world. My
youngest son had relocated there and was anxious that I should visit.
arrived at Rob's house and as late as it was we sat in the kitchen
with a glass of wine, catching up. I could have gone on all night but
he had to work the next day. He carried my bag up to my room and said
a firm goodnight.
seemed that no sooner had my head hit the pillow that I was asleep.
It wasn't to last long though. I jolted awake.
A rooster! Really?
In the suburbs of Denpasar?
And what was that?
It took me a while to recognise the call to prayer, the adzan. The
loudspeakers made it sound as if it was coming from next door but
even hearing it four or five times a day I wasn't able to find its
was up with the sun, peering over the balcony. Beyond the courtyard I
could see a long narrow road with houses lining both sides. The
design was clever: no house was overlooked and everybody had their
privacy. Cooking smells, which I didn't recognise, already filled the
air. People were on the move, scooters and just a few cars, the
drivers struggling to turn in the limited space.
and cats, lots of dogs and cats roaming around freely, with hens
busily clucking away and looking for scraps: strange to western eyes.
With the start of the school holidays an amazing number of young
children joined the throng. It was a joy to watch as kids circled
playing dogs on their bikes, cats sauntered around showing no fear,
even getting into play fights with the dogs occasionally and
grandmothers strolling up and down with tiny babies in their arms, a
hive of activity from morning to night.
own dog, Tzumi, a smallish white Balinese dog, happily joined in. Rob
had brought her home one evening about two months earlier after she
had been pressed upon him at the grocery store. At first he had tried
to keep her in the house and courtyard, taking her for regular walks
just as we had always done with our dogs. But Tzumi had other ideas.
She chewed up everything she could find, dug up the garden and every
time somebody opened the gate made a mad dash for freedom and would
disappear for hours. Eventually he had to accept that she was indeed
a Balinese dog and needed her freedom. From that day on she chose to
stay mostly on the right side of the open gate, darting out only when
her friends came out to play. Dog and owner were a lot less
frustrated under the new order.
only took me a day or two to realise how much danger she was actually
in and no, my son had not given a thought to the fact that she was at
an age where she could have puppies. We called the vet who arrived
next day to collect her. He returned a sleepy Tzsumi 24 hours later
with a supply of antibiotics, painkillers and cream. She loved the
attention we showered on her. Normally she slept in the covered
courtyard outside as was the custom, but I grabbed the opportunity to
keep her in the house while she was convalescing.
"No babies!' I
tried to explain to the clearly disapproving Balinese lady who came
in to clean ever day, pointing to the wound on Tzsumi's stomach. She
shook her head, pointing at the muddy pawmarks that our little
invalid had just left all over the newly washed marble floor.
few days later it was my turn. I needed some dental work done and had
decided to take advantage of the much cheaper prices on offer in
Bali. I took a taxi to the clinic and sat in the dental chair,
this really a good idea? I had expected an examination and then to
come in at a later date. But no they said, treatment would be carried
out there and then. Within an hour and a half the work was complete
and I hadn't felt the tiniest twinge. Like Tszumi, I was sent home
with antibiotics, painkillers and cream and my recovery was just as
rapid as hers.
knew that Rob lived some distance from the beach and the shops and
had wondered how I would get around. He had no car, just a scooter.
He'd mentioned that taxis were cheap and I'd told him in no uncertain
terms that I no intention of riding on the back of his scooter.
morning on my first day he suggested we go to Starbucks for a coffee.
I was happy to agree and walked outside to see if the taxi had
He handed me a crash
I climbed inelegantly onto the back of the bike. I had never been on
was truly horrifying. I kept my eyes tightly shut and clung on for
dear life. Scooters came from all directions, swerving and weaving in
and out of the lanes, overtaking cars on the left and on the right,
wherever there was a space to squeeze through.
a couple of days I began to feel slightly more confident, enough to
open my eyes at the traffic lights on the large intersections. The
bike next to us was carrying, Mom, Dad, newborn and toddler, all of
whom seemed to take it completely for granted.
began to look around. If there are laws about wearing crash helmets
or speeding they do not appear to be enforced and as we stopped for
each red light, the lines of scooter drivers would whip out their
cell phones and text until the second the lights changed to green,
when off we would all roar again.
one such stop, I smiled at the two young women on the bike next to
us. One, two, three, four five, I counted, much to their amusement.
Yes, they had three small children with them. Dogs, and even
chickens, were often to be seen perched on the running boards.
is mostly Hindu and I was enthralled to see the many statues, temples
and shrines everywhere you cared to look , many built from marble for
which Bali is famous. It is the custom to make offerings to the Gods
every single day and these are placed outside, on the pavement, of
every stall or shop front and on the shrines at every home.
Offerings, consisting of food, cigarettes and money are placed in
small, yellow cardboard containers. At the end of the day, they are
collected and dumped. I was not surprised to hear that poorer people
sift through to find anything of value.
choice I spent my days alone. I wasn't in Bali as a tourist, indeed,
I probably wouldn't be there at all if I hadn't suffered such a
devastating loss. But I was determined to make the most of this trip.
I needed to come to terms with the fact that life as I had known it
was no more. That my dreams of the future were gone, never to be
realised and above all to accept the fact that the love of my life
was never coming back and I would live my life alone.
soon developed a routine. Always an early riser, I would take my
coffee and sit outside facing the biggest stone Buddha I had ever
seen and enjoy the comparatively cool morning air. Too soon the
encroaching heat would drive me indoors again to the comfort of the
air conditioned living room.
days I took a taxi to a nearby hotel complex where I could enjoy the
beautifully landscaped gardens and the many shrines with generous
offerings placed at their feet, fresh every day. Although it was the
Christmas period and normally a busy time in Bali, the threatened
eruption of the volcano on Mount Agung had caused bookings to fall
off drastically, leaving the beaches and hotels almost empty. A sad
situation for the local people who depend almost solely on
had decided not to do anything special on Christmas Day so I made my
way to my usual location, had a swim and then ordered lunch. An
Australian band had set up and began playing Christmas carols. It
felt a little strange as I looked around at the couples and families
who had gathered there. I was the only person sitting alone but I
decided I would not let that faze me. The music was good so I ordered
a glass of wine and sang along. Later Rob joined me and we enjoyed an
excellent seafood meal on the beach as the sun went down. A very
different Christmas we agreed, but certainly not as sad as we had
expected it to be. We ordered another bottle of wine as the dreaded
motor bike had been left at home and we could take a taxi home.
was just a taste of Bali for me but certainly, when I return in a few
months I know will be in a more robust frame of mind and will
thoroughly enjoy a more detailed exploration of this beautiful place.
I am Patricia Pedross. I am mother to three sons
and grandmother to seven aging from four to 16. I have retired to a
small rural community in Nova Scotia where I spend my time walking my
three dogs and volunteering with the local Fire Department. I am an
avid reader and also enjoy writing.
Welsh born, I left my home town of Cardiff to move
to Bristol and when my youngest son was about seven we moved to a small
village in the Tirol in Austria where my sons concentrated on school
and their skiing careers and I worked in tourism. I was later to work
as a teacher of English as a second language, which I enjoyed very much.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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