TV, Vampires, and the Lost Baby

It’s early. I’ve just finished breakfast and I’m sitting on my balcony in that semi-dream state induced by a full tummy and tropical warmth. I’m startled out of my reverie by a distinctly surprised British accent echoing up from below. “What’s this black thing on the sidewalk?!” My curiosity piqued, I peer down and see my neighbor bent over looking at a small dark spot. Ketut joins her. In the next breath I hear the proclamation, “It’s a baby bat!” I race out my door, down the steps and, sure enough, the little guy is too young to fly but he is flopping about on the walk surrounded by enormous humans.

As we tower over the infant a discussion ensues. Where did he come from? I suddenly remember this morning seeing a woman with a knife enter the thick growth three feet from the path. An intense rustling and shaking of leaves ensued and I saw her exit the thicket with several large banana leaves. I report these facts to my friends. Now it makes sense to Ketut who explains that bats live and nest in the deep conical recesses formed by the huge leaves. “Woman cut banana leaf for ceremony, bat fall out,” he says.

We continue to fawn over the grotesque creature. What is it about babies? I hate bats. I don’t know if its tales of vampires or having my head dive-bombed by those shadowy specters after dark, but I have an extreme illogical fear of them. And yet, looking at that tiny, defenseless blob, struggling to fly on immature wings, terrified, I feel something almost like love. Perhaps it’s a semi-dormant maternal instinct kicking in. Ketut evidently feels it too. He disappears for a moment and returns with a piece of banana. Scooping up the struggling creature on a leaf, he offers the treat to a mouth that, for a baby, already displays an impressive array of razor sharp fangs. The bat doesn’t eat and eventually our interest wanes, but not before he is secured on a vine-covered rock under a makeshift banana leaf shelter.

Imagine a place where the business of living each day provides more entertainment than hours of canned programming. Imagine if you will, actually being involved in the unfolding stories, not as an observer, but as a participant. Imagine a setting where drama is played out without cameras rolling or sound bites recorded, where you don’t need to tune in to experience the pathos of daily existence unfolding before your eyes, where the news is mostly good, but when there is tragedy it is personal and people rally around those who are suffering. Welcome to my world where living requires 100% participation and there’s no time left for TV.

%d bloggers like this: