Hopelessly in Love – Bada Bing Bada Boom

I am. There’s no way around it. Deeply, irrevocably, and hopelessly.

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Dewa and his wife, Trina

When I first came to Bali I met Dewa, the proprietor of Jati Homestay where I spent two, delicious, delirious months. Dewa was my introduction to Balinese men. Every morning he greeted me with a gorgeous smile. He patiently answered my questions. I often took my notebook to a table in the breakfast area to write. One day he found me there and asked what I was writing about. “My issues with men,” I said. He put his hand on his chest, utterly crestfallen, and asked, “Me?”

I laughed. “No, not you, Dewa. Just other men!”

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My ‘issues’ bouquet

That brought the smile I loved. He disappeared. About fifteen minutes later he returned with a bouquet of flowers in a clay vase. He set them in front of me. “Here. Look at these while you write about your issues with men,” he said.

Bada bing bada boom.

My next residence was Rumah Kita. Enter Ketut.

I arrived from the thirty-hour flight at 2:00 a.m. My driver pulled to a stop in the deserted street. A hooded figure jumped off a bench in front of the convenience store and hurried over. “Good morning!” he said. “You Zely?” In my benumbed state I realized he was saying my name and answered in the affirmative. “I take you Rumah Kita.” With that he hoisted my overweight luggage on his shoulder and started down the path. I paid the driver and hurried after him.

Let me explain that the journey leaves me, not exhausted, that sets in later, just buzzed. So at 6 a.m. when I was still poking around my new house, unpacking, settling in, there was a knock at the door. The hooded figure from the night before stood in front of me, hoodless, beaming.

“Good morning!” he said for the second time in 4 hours. “You want kopi?”

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You want kopi?

“Okay,” I said, wondering why he was here at my door at 6 a.m. Moments later he reappeared with a tray. There was a pot of coffee, a cup and saucer, sugar, cream, and a profusion of flowers: red hibiscus, yellow frangipani, and something periwinkle.

“On terrace?” he asked.

“Okay,” I said again and pattered after him to the broad balcony overlooking rooftops and gardens. The sun was just coming up. “What’s your name,” I asked as he transferred the contents of the tray to the low table and arranged the flowers.

“Ketut,” he said.

“The flowers are beautiful!” I was overwhelmed. “Thank you!”

That was the beginning. Each morning Ketut brought coffee, flowers, and breakfast. He was on hand to take me by motorbike wherever I wanted to go. And as if that weren’t enough, he appeared shortly after noon, daily, to clean my house.  You could eat off the floor. There was never a crumb. Spotless. And after each cleaning flowers appeared everywhere, a frangipani blossom on the vanity, one on my laptop, the bedside table, the statue of Buddha, the incense holder, and a couple on the toilet tank. They were replaced fresh every day, and positioned in new and ingenious places that made me laugh.

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Yes, the toilet tank…really.

I wondered about Ketut. Who had trained him to provide this level of service? Was this the norm in Bali? By the end of four months he knew my routines. On many occasions he appeared seconds after I’d thought, “I’m hungry,” with a snack or a smoothie. “Did you read my mind?” I’d ask him.

“Possible,” he’d reply.

My time was up at Rumah Kita. I returned to the U.S. and Ketut e-mailed. “Apa kabar? How are you?”

“I miss Bali,” I told him. “I’m coming back soon.”

When I returned, I rented the house next door and soon discovered all Balinese house staff are not created equal. Ibu, my new helper, was moody. On a good day she might smile. On a bad day she was a looming thundercloud. The whole neighborhood tip-toed around Ibu. I heard it whispered that she practiced black magic. I really didn’t care, I just wanted her gone.

Each day after Ibu left Ketut stopped by. “You want eat?” he’d ask. I wasn’t his responsibility anymore, so I declined and thanked him. He wasn’t deterred. “Ya, I cook,” he’d say, and so he did, and wouldn’t take payment. Not ever.

That answered one question about Ketut. He wasn’t just staff. We were friends.

I finally summoned the courage to let Ibu know I wouldn’t need her anymore and arranged with Ketut to work for me part-time. I named a figure and asked if that was acceptable. He shook his head. “No pay, it’s okay.”

This time I wouldn’t hear of it. I wrote a contract spelling out what I wanted him to do and how much I would pay him to do it.

Now my life is once again managed by Ketut. I didn’t request them, but every day he fills my house with flowers, and my heart with joy. He cooks. When my supplies are low, he replenishes them. He brings me treats, Balinese sweets and fresh fish from Lake Batur. I asked for cleaning twice a week. He seems to be unconscious of time and my house gets the once-over daily.  He made a lotus pond for me, and manicures the lawns and gardens. No amount of money can buy such selfless giving.

And he reads my mind.

I have papaya for breakfast. Always. At 6:30 a.m. this morning, in the middle of an inverted yoga pose, I remembered I’d eaten the last of it the night before. There were eggs and bread in the fridge. I was recalibrating my taste buds to accept the change when a voice said, “Hallo?” It was Ketut, in my doorway, holding a papaya.

My friend is thoughtful, helpful, generous, and kind and has single handedly ruined me for anyone else. I am deeply, irrevocably, and hopelessly fond of this special man who asks so little and gives so much. Terima kasih, Ketut. Thank you. You healed my heart.

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Ketut, his wife Komang, and their daughter Nengah

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mary santiago
    Nov 21, 2013 @ 09:07:06

    Sherry, when I read the last sentence I gasped and tears flooded my eyes! Thank God, My heart has also been healed through knowing my wonderful new husband. Every day I have the privilege of delighting in his patient, joyful, soothing presence! Thrilled for you, Sherry!

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  2. Nanci Froemming
    Nov 21, 2013 @ 10:30:25

    Sherry, you are one lucky gal to have found Ketut. He’s one of a kind!

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Nov 22, 2013 @ 01:57:37

      Yes he is. I hate to admit this, but I keep waiting for him to disappoint me in some way. It just doesn’t happen. If anything, he just becomes more tuned in, more generous, more thoughtful as time goes by. Pinch me!

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  3. Diane Struble
    Nov 21, 2013 @ 20:44:37

    Ever since you started writing about the men in Bali, it was obvious that they are special. How fortunate for our world that they exist.

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  4. lyonsharon1@msn.com
    Nov 23, 2013 @ 12:20:20

    I so remember the day reflected in the photo of Dewa and his wife. Yes, the men are sooooo amazing in Bali. Open, giving, loving. No expectations. I can’t wait to experience more this winter.

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  5. lyonsharon1@msn.com
    Nov 23, 2013 @ 12:20:51

    ……..and FINALLY meet Ketut!

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    Reply

  6. heysherrifaye
    Nov 27, 2013 @ 10:19:23

    How wonderful, you have something to be so thankful for as we sit on the cusp of Thanksgiving Day… (Why save gratefulness for only one day a year?)

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