Saturday

Earthquake: Happy New Year

Well, the New Year didn't start off with a bang, but rather, an almighty shaking.

I woke at 5am. on January 2 to feel the bed moving and the windows rattling. I know the signs so well but this was the most frightening earthquake I have experienced in Ubud over the last twenty years. I shrieked, catapulted out of bed and ran for the children.

Krishna was still in the land of sweet mimpis (dreams) and we almost had to break the door down to get him out of his room. He locks his door to keep the evil spirits out but maybe they were locked in with him! Dewi was easier to wake and, together, we ran downstairs. Laksmi and Arjuna were already outside sitting on the pavilion steps with the nannies, looking sleepy-eyed and confused.

By then, the earth had stopped rumbling, so, in the quiet stillness of our shady courtyard, we watched a watercolour sunrise of every shade of pink. We should do this more often, I thought.

Ketut was still looking a little disappointed with today's generation. "When I was young", he said," I never had to be woken up when there was an earthquake. We'd jump out of bed with the first quiver of movement. Imagine sleeping through an earthquake, what's wrong with kids these days!" "Yes, dear," I tried to persuade him, "but you slept on a woven bamboo mat on a dirt floor then, not a lovely polished marble floor. So, of course you felt every movement".

Ketut still looked a trifle worried. He has provided the children with a beautiful home and a life he could have only dreamed about when he was little. But, in some ways, it was a sweeter existence then. I always recognize the wistful look on his face, when he drifts down Balinese memory lane and could only imagine he was thinking about the seventies and the last major earthquake in East Bali, when he was a skinny little boy and his mother and father were still alive.

Later the next day, we heard the news that the earthquake measured 6.1. I wondered what sort of omen this might be but my sister reassured me that it means the earth is moving to the beat of the New Year. Nothing more! If it doesn't perform the dance of the giants, then something is wrong. Couldn't get worse, I suppose.

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