Monday, 14 January 2013


My friend called me up the other day sounding distressed.  Something happened to her and she needed to talk.  Lately she had been unable to sleep and was prone to very bad headaches.  Moreover, she felt that at times her energy would be drained from her until she was completely exhausted.  While at other times, her energy level would shoot up so much it caused glitches to her electronic gadgets.

Clearly something was wrong.  I did notice from our last meeting that her face had broken up into uncontrollable spots which she thought was hormonal.  I told her to take a break from her stressful work.  Perhaps things were getting on top of her?  Certainly she looked pressured.  It’s normal with ambitious, young women trying to carve a career for themselves.  They keep long hours and don’t stop until suddenly they find themselves unwell.  So she took off to Bali.

I did not see her until a week after she returned.  Instead of feeling better, her condition worsened and she needed my advice.  Apparently when she was in Bali she went to have a massage at a place near the hotel where she was staying.  To cut a long story short, the woman told her what her problem was.  She had lots of negative energy inside her which she needed to clear out.  It was put there by people who were not happy with her.
The woman helped cleanse her of some of the negative energy and gave her some oil and incense to take home and tied a piece of string around her wrist for protection.  My friend was not to worry, because other than the bunch of negative energy she had swirling about inside her, Shiva is also residing within her.   

At this, I paused.  Now, I’m all for keeping an open mind to all sorts of peculiar things happening in the world.  As a matter of fact, I often wish I could see things like ghosts and beings from different dimensions, and go astral travelling whenever I feel like it.  Not because I doubt them.  But because I feel I’m missing out on a lot of exciting things.  Myself, I find it hard just remembering my dreams.  I am doomed as it were, to be a prisoner of my three dimensionality.  My eyes cannot see more than the images bounced off the back off my retina and my ears cannot hear more than what tickles the eardrums.

Which doesn’t mean that everyone else is the same way. 

‘So, the massage lady says Shiva is inside you?‘

‘Yes.  Isn’t that the craziest thing?  I don’t know what to make of it!’

I was careful not to cast judgment, however.  Just in case.  Shiva after all, is a Hindu deity.  He is also The Destroyer.  My friend showed me on her iPad the photos of the place where the woman gave her the massage.  The room was full of old bottles of unguents and other oily stuff.  The place spelled out the heebie-jeebies.  I noted the three Rangdas, the Balinese child-eating demon queens, in the background, covered in black and white check cloths.  She insisted they were ‘barongs,‘ the lion-like creature, the good guy who fought Rangda.   

I pointed out the long tongues, the bulging eyes, the long hair and the upward-turned fangs.  A quick google on the iPad proved I was right.  The woman who gave her the oil was a devotee of the demon leyak queen, which in the fight between the good and evil, was very much on the evil side.  I told her I hoped she hadn’t used the oil on herself?

Apparently, that was not the end of it.  A week after her Bali trip, my friend was sitting at the balcony of her apartment looking at the bright lights of Jakarta, when suddenly she heard a voice telling her to go inside, put the oil on her face, burn the incense and seat herself in a lotus position. 

And then for the next few hours she swore she could feel that her body was possessed by an entity.  She even engaged in hours of conversations with this being whom by then, she was convinced was Shiva.  She was also convinced it was because of him that she could never keep a boyfriend for long.  Shiva had gotten quite possessive.

I could see that her mind was finding it hard to grapple with all of the weird things happening to her.  I advised her to exercise caution and to stay away from the oil and the incense.  At least, until she knew what was going on.  More importantly, she was to get other opinions.  Meanwhile, I gave her the number of my facial therapist.  He might be able to get rid of her break outs.  Moreover, he is a mine of knowledge, from the history of Hinduism in Java to the theory of Quantum physics and to why it is that planes always crash in Mt Salak, Bogor.  Who knows, he might be able to put things in a more rational perspective.  Plus, he makes house calls.

A few days later my friend called me up.  She had met my therapist who came to her apartment.

‘And?’ I asked, all agog.

‘He wondered what Shiva was doing in the corner of the room.’
(Desi Anwar:  First Published in The Jakarta Globe)

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