An Invitation

Wayan was a little late for our massage today. It doesn’t matter because Tuesday afternoon is always set aside for this indulgence. But she is a dear friend (her skill at kneading and pummeling is a bonus) and when she arrived, something was bothering her.

She leaned against the door jamb, her eyes welling. ‘I have news,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know if it will be good or bad for you.’ My first thought was that she was ill and needed to leave her massage business. But then she added: ‘It’s about my daughter’, and the penny dropped. She was going to become a grandmother and her daughter would be getting married. Soon.

More ceremonies. More expense. After the exhaustion of two months of community cremation and tooth filing, now comes that most intimate of family celebrations, a wedding. In two weeks time.

Many Balinese brides are pregnant when they marry – it’s almost expected as proof of fertility, so no surprises there. But Wayan herself is younger than any of our children so she will be a particularly young grandmother. ‘My friends are already calling me ‘nenek gaul‘, she laughed between tears. Nenek I know, I’m one myself, but gaul was a new word, so I consulted the ever-to-hand dictionary. Ahh. ‘Trendy’. Wayan will be a trendy grandmother. She will too.

The news came just a few days ago and already the timeline has been worked out. Pre-wedding photographs (big business in Indonesia) were taken yesterday. We saw a few that had been sent to her on her phone because she couldn’t get out of work, with the bride-to-be looking beautiful in elaborate costume. Wayan was a bit disconcerted by the presence of monkeys in one of the pictures – the chosen setting was Sangeh Monkey Forest.

There is a tooth filing to be organised in the groom’s compound too, but busiest time will be the weekend immediately before the main ceremony with all manner of blessings, ring and gift exchanges, and visits to and from both family compounds. Iluh will leave her parents behind and take on the family responsibilities of her new husband, and it was this thought that saddens Wayan most. There has been no time to get used to the idea that she will no longer greet her daughter when she comes home from work. The absence in the household will be keenly felt.

But weddings mean a new kebaya – a matching colour for all the women involved. Wayan’s has already been ordered and paid for by the groom’s family. I’d better go tomorrow and be measured up myself – our invitation is coming. After all, a girl can never have too many kebayas. Stock image of a kebaya (blouse) below; always worn with a sarong and sash. I’m thinking silver. I’ll see what lace Made Kebaya has in stock tomorrow.

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