Saturday, January 8, 2011

Christmas in Sanur, 4

It is all a mistake after all, an imagined affront. How embarrassing for the man who mistook Santa Claus for the son of God. Or then again, maybe it’s just simpler that way.

Toyland, toyland
Little girl and boy land
When you dwell within it
You are ever happy there

But we must not leave the Hindus out of the mix--that 95 percent aforementioned--nor do we wish our objections to suffer a narrowing effect such that we may be thereby misconstrued as betraying a will toward hurting the feelings of one particular group or another. For the fact is that the better part of the Hindu population possesses no more of an informed appreciation of what Christmas is really about than does the Muslim, or for that matter the Christian himself in his modern days. So, as you see, my will is to hurt all feelings, not just some.

I have a particular friend with whom I exchange a knowledge of language--I, being an American, of English, she, being Indonesian, of bahasa Indonesia. We meet two and three times a week, generally at the table outside my wife’s salon, and simply talk by turns, each in that language which he does not know, in the hope, I suppose, whether admitted to or not, that one day a miraculous breakthrough will occur, and that we will, perhaps at one and the same time, find ourselves suddenly fluent. Miracles, after all--and unlike Santa Claus--are a part of faith, and faith itself is the evidence of things not seen. Ours, therefore, is a religious exercise.

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