David was home for our last night in Bali. We walked across the rutted, bumpy, many peopled square to our hotel. Kites flew high in the sky and all the children from round about and the kampong behind, were out to watch the giant, gaudy birds and the great winged bats that hover magically at sundown. Kite time is a special time, the loving time in Bali. Children watch the wonders in the sky and at home mother and father are together.
We were together and watched that last night through our hotel window. David was frail but the stars shone brightly and outside in the bamboo clump the hotel boys got a bumper catch of tiny birds for the morning stew.
In the morning David insisted he would accompany me to Tabanan and the mystic Kim Tin. In the colt on the road to Tabanan, I swivelled for a look at a larger-than-life size, silver frosted Balinese Buddha. He sat and smiled and so did I. The sight of him and his three clownish companions meant we are close to Tabanan.
Kay It, our friend, interpreter and third cousin to Kim Tin was at home. He sat unhappily regarding his huge new painting. Three metres by one and a half, it dazzled; all red, black and white. `I hang it here to study the next step’, he said. `I look at the canvas as a field. Complicated but simple. The fight. Very funny.’ He smiled, chuckled, and turned to us. `It’s always the same.’
Obligingly he left the scene of combat. We piled into his small car and soon arrived at Kim Tin’s ice block works. The machinery chugged and churned but not fast enough it seemed. Kay It was worried as he pointed to part of the house. Ice blocks failed to support the family and Kim Tin was reduced to selling part of their home.
We sat in a circle in a small bare room. Near the ceiling was a window to the sky and on its ledge a bronze cross stood out in silhouette. A tethered monkey cavorted and dived from branch to branch in the tree outside. Kim Tin, remarkably serene and composed, gave us his time and advice. He spoke of past events in my life unknown even to David. He said if I were willing he would help me. He told me to go to his garden and pick three green roses, then he would instruct me in a method of meditation which would bring me peace and tranquillity.
I went, but hardly hoped to find green roses. I lingered and Kay It pointed out a bush with three green buds. I returned to the room and David. Kim Tin was about other business, but soon I noticed him, near a temple in his garden. He made an offering and placed a sweet smelling stick of incense near the shrine. Kim Tin returned and began to pray, with his hands too, in deft and graceful mudras. He took the green buds and showed me how to wear them. One in my hair on top of my head, one at my breast and the other held between the first and second fingers, as the Balinese do in offerings and prayer.
The green buds were symbolic of the Trinity, he said, and this should be the subject of my meditation. Kim Tin then gave me a small brown stone, round and smooth and hard like glass. `If, on return to your home’, he said and Kay It translated, `you will sit alone and wear the roses as I have told you and swallow the stone I have given you, then, when you meditate and look into a clear glass of water you will see me. Then I will instruct you further. I will continue to teach you in this way’.
I murmured my thanks apprehensively. I was not sure I could handle tuition of this kind. Kim Tin said it was entirely up to me and passed me a plastic bag for the green buds, in the largest of which he had put the small brown stone. As an afterthought, he told me that should I give the stone to anyone else, it would simply melt away.
I put the plastic bag in my purse and there it lay – all through that day, all through the night of our travel to Australia, all through the Saturday and Sunday in Sydney until our return to Brisbane; but I had it in my mind. When I got home the green buds were fresh, just as they were when I’d picked them. I put them and the stone in a clear glass of water and postponed making contact with Kim Tin.
All week the buds remained fresh and the stone glistened in the glass. I often watched them. One week later, my daughter, Rebecca, called me. `There’s a jewel in the glass with the roses’, she said. Before I could stop her she had the stone in her hand. As she gave it to me it broke in three pieces. It was gone. It was all over.
That was the final page of Spice and Magic. Next week David will begin his blog about the making ofchildren’s books.