The Bali Blue Bed

Indonesians make amazing beds. Historically they used them for sleeping, but Westerners have adopted these exquisite creations to serve as sofas where several people can curl up and have a cozy conversation.
 *

For months, Ketut has been hauling me to and fro through surrounding villages stopping at every shop with a daybed for sale. I’ve seen them all, from heart-stopping gorgeous ones to those with manure and pig-smell hanging about them. Even though the choices were endless to the point of customizing something to my specifications, I was ambivalent.

 *
Then last week at Ketut’s home in Kintamani, I toured the family compound and caught up on the latest happenings. As we passed through the wood shop, a flash of blue in the corner caught my eye. It was heaped full of stumps and chunks awaiting the skillful knives that would reveal the images within. Upon closer inspection, my eyes nearly popped their sockets. It was a DAYBED, carved in the old style and painted Bali blue. In disbelief I turned to my host.
*
“Ketuuuuut…what’s this?”
*
“Oh, old bed. My father make.”
*
“Your father made this?”
*
“Ya, very old.”
*
“Ketut, this is a daybed.”
*
“Ya.”
*
“Remember, you have been taking me all over Bali looking at daybeds.”
*
“Ya.”
*
“You didn’t tell me about THIS daybed!”
*
“Oh no. Very old. I forget.”
*
I took a few deep cleansing breaths and studied the lines, the detail, and checked the sturdiness. It appeared to be strong and fully intact.
*
“You like?” he asked.
*
“Ketut, it’s amazing! It is exactly what I’ve been looking for. And your father made it! Do you know how special this is to me because your father made it? Do you think your mother would sell it?”
*
I was speaking too fast about abstract feelings, most of which, I knew, would be lost in translation. But he caught the gist of the last question.
*
“I ask,” he said.
*
He disappeared for a few minutes and returned with a tape measure. He knows the size I want and he stretched the tape for the length, width, and height calling out the numbers to me. It was perfect.
*
“Will your mother sell it?”
*
“Ya, you can have. Very old, nobody want.”
*
“Ketut, I need a daybed. I am going to buy one somewhere but this one is so special and I want to pay for it. Is that okay?”
*
“Ya, up to you.”
*
I left in a state that can only be described as bliss. He said he would arrange to rent a truck and bring it to me. It arrived two nights later around 8:30 pm  with Ketut and five family members. They carried the pieces from the street along with four big new trees for my garden and a pair of giant carved mushrooms, also for my garden!
*
Over the next two days I scrubbed years of use from the frame and Ketut sanded and applied new varnish to the side panels. Yesterday afternoon he assembled it.
P1070823
 Ketut in assembly mode.
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The beautiful Bali blue bed in all its splendor!
P1070835No mattress yet. I’ll order one made to fit. Pillows are enough for now!
 *
This daybed embraces me and it will do the same to all who join me here for future conversations. Ketut’s family is extraordinary. His father passed away six months ago. He  was a very special man, and now I have something that was not only made with his hands, but used by the family until they bought a new, modern one three years ago.
P1070832
 There are unfinished areas on the sides that were always against a wall in the room in Kintamani. As we discussed paint possibilities I mentioned the white ridged detail along the canopy.
*
“Maybe a new color there?”
 *
“Not possible,” said Ketut in the voice that means it really IS NOT POSSIBLE.
 *
“Why?”
 *
“This Barong Gigi, not possible change.”
*

“Oh, the Barong’s teeth? Really? Is that right?”

*
“Ya, long time ago all Bali house have this. Now make with machine but my father make this.”
 *
 I look at the hundreds of half-cylinder shaped wood pieces and my awe deepens. Not only do I have a family heirloom, but it is infused with the rich, protective magic of the Barong. I know the Barong. He’s the physical manifestation of the king of all protective spirits. In the ceremonial dances he’s huge with a hairy body and lion-like masked head full of large, white teeth.
P1030313
I feel myself choking up, a common occurrence in my life here. That feeling always accompanies the intense gratitude for what seems to fall effortlessly from the gods into my lap.
*
“Thank you for telling me, Ketut. I love this bed so much!”
*
“Ya.” There’s silence for a moment while he applies varnish to the bamboo slats that hold the mattress. “You have more question?” I laugh. He loves to tell me about Balinese beliefs and wants me to write a story about Bali. Maybe I will. I’ll call it The Bali Blue Bed!
*
Oh, and speaking of blue, Bali blue is a color I NEVER would have incorporated into my decor. So bold, so very very BLUE! Now I’m rethinking my whole design scheme to highlight that color. It gives my heart a joyful bounce every time I look at it.
*
On all those daybed outings I told myself, I’ll know it when I see it. There were many stunning options, ornate and delicately carved, but my mind never said, Yes! This is it! until the woodshed. I’ve learned this about myself: I need to wait with decisions until my heart leaps out and grabs onto something. Until then it’s just stuff. But after the heart takes hold it becomes a treasured part of me, its presence an intrinsic piece of my happiness.
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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. healingpilgrim
    Oct 25, 2014 @ 01:59:56

    So glad to see that Ketut transformed his family’s heirloom into your beloved Bali Blue Bed (looks even more exquisite in person!)… I look forward to sharing ginger tea with you on it one day 😉

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  2. Alexsandra
    Oct 25, 2014 @ 08:48:17

    So great that you found the one you wanted and it was a family heirloom from Ketut’s family. What could be better then that?

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  3. Jan Borchers
    Oct 25, 2014 @ 10:40:19

    I love the joyous, serendipitous irony of this story. What a marvelous history! I see you’re still using the little nightstand for your computer desk…..reminds me of our times out on the daybed on your front porch :-). Enjoy your blessed, blue, “new” daybed!

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  4. Diane Struble
    Oct 25, 2014 @ 14:46:18

    Love this bed. Discovered treasures are always the best.

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  5. Susan Davies
    Oct 25, 2014 @ 15:32:15

    What a lovely piece of furniture. And to think a friends’ dad made it is so special!!!

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  6. sageblessings
    Oct 26, 2014 @ 08:21:00

    Love the story, love the bed. It incorporates tradition, Ketut’s father, ketut himself and all your wishes and dreams. It’s even ok if it ends up being the only blue thing in your home as then it will always stand out. I’m so pleased you found your treasure and that it holds so much meaning, joy and brightness. I especially love the Barong teeth. Today I drive to Mother Superior!!

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  7. Angela
    May 18, 2016 @ 09:23:57

    I vividly remember that day bed, and remember asking you about it. Your face lit up telling our group the story. I enjoyed reading this…it transported me back to that place and time in March 2016 during our visit. I LOVE how your dreams just keep manifesting themselves for you.

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  8. Trackback: SPIRIT GUIDE, TOTEM ANIMAL, OR JUST A PRETTY BIRD? | writing for self-discovery

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