Monday, December 03, 2007


Here is Ketut Liyer's life story pretty much as he tells it: It is nine generations that my family is a medicine man. My father, my grandfather, my great-grandfather, all of them is a medicine man. They all want me to be medicine man because they see I have light. They see I hve beautiful and I have intelligent. But I do not want to be medicine man. Too much study! Too much information! And I don't believe in medicine man! I want to be painter! I want to be aritst! I have good talent with this.

When I was still young man, I meet an American man, very rich, maybe even New York City person like you. He like my painting. He wants to buy big painting form me, may be one meter big, for lot of money. Enough money to be rich. So I start to painting this picture for him. Every day I painting, painting, painting. Even in night I painting. In this day, long time ago, no electric lightbulb like today, so I have lamp. Oil lamp, you understand! Pump lamp, have to pump it to make oil come. And I always make painting every night with oil lamp.

One night, oil lamp is dark, so I pumping, pumping, pumping and it explode! Makes my arm on fire! I go to hospital for one month with burned arm, it make infection. Infection goes all the way to my heart. The doctor say I must to go to Singapore for cut off my arm, for amputation. This is not my cup of tea. But says I must go to singapore, have operation to cut arm off. I tell doctor -- first I go home to my village.

That night in village, I got dream. Father, grandfather, great grandfather -- all they come in my dream to my house together and tell me how to heal my burned arm. They tell me make juice from saffron and sandalwood. Put this juice on burn. Then make powder from saffron and sandalwood. Rub this powder on burn. They tell me I must do this, then I not lose my arm. So real this dream, like they in house with me, all of they together.

I wake up. I don't know what to do, because sometimes dreams are just joking, you understand? But I make back to my home and I put this saffron and sandalwood juice on my arm. And then I put this saffron and sandalwood powder on my arm. My arm very infected, very ache, made big, very swell. But after juice and powder become very cool. Became very cold. Start to feel better. In ten days, my arm is good. All heal.

For that I start to believe. Now I have dream again, with father, grandfather, great-grandfather. Theyt tell me now I must be medicine man. My soul, I must give it to God. For do this, I must make fast for six days. Understand? No food, no water. No drink. No breakfast. Not easy. I so thirsty from fast. I go to rice field in morning, before sun. I sit in rice field with mouth open and take water from air. How you call this, the water in air in rice field in morning? Dew? Yes. Dew. Only this dew I eat for six days. No other food, only this dew. On number five day, I get unconscious. I see all yellow color everywhere. No, not yellow color – GOLD, I see gold color everywhere, even inside me. Very happy. I understand
now. This gold color is God, also inside me. Same thing that God is same thing inside me. Same-same.

So now I must be medicine man. Now I have to learn medical books from great-grandfather. These books not made on paper, made on palm leaves. Called LONTARS. This is Balenese medical encyclopedia. I must learn all different plants on Bali. Not easy. One by one, I learn everything. I learn to take care of people with many problems. One problem is when someone is sick from physical, I help this physical sick with herbs. Other problem is when family is sick, when family always fighting, I help this with harmony, with special magic drawing, also with talking for helping. Put magic drawing in house, no more fighting. Sometimes people sick in love, not find right match. For Balinese and Western, too, always a lot of trouble with love, difficult to find right match. I fix love problem with mantra and with magic drawing, bring love to you. Also, I learn black magic, to help people if bad black magic spell on them. My magic drawing, you put in your house, bring you good energy.

I still like to be artist./ I like make painting when I have time, sell to gallery. My painting, always the same painting --when Bali was paradise, maybe one thousand years ago. Painting of jungle, animals, women with --what is word? Breast. Women with breast. Difficult for me to find time to make painting because of medicine man, but I must be medicine man. It is my profession. It is my hobby. Must help people or God is angry with me. Must deliver baby sometimes, do ceremony for dead man, or do ceremony for tooth-filing or wedding. Sometimes I wake up, three in morning, make painting by electric lightbulb --only time I can make painting for me. I like alone this time of day, good for making painting.

I do true magic, not joking. Always I tell true, even if bad news. I must do good character always in my life, or I will be in hell. I speak Balinese, Indonesian, little bit Japanese, little English, little bit Dutch. During war, manmy Japanese here. Not so bad for me--I read palms for Japanese, make friendly. Before war, many Dutch here. Now many Western here, all speakEnglish. My dutch is -- what you say? What that word you teach me yesterday? Rusty? Yes -- rusty. My dutch is rusty. Ha!

I am in fourth caste in Bali, in very low caste like farmer. But I see many people in first caste not so intellient as me. My name is Ketut Liyer. Liyer is name my grandfather gave me when I was little boy. This is me.


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At 9:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read this exact account of Ketut Liyer's life in the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Shouln't you accknowledge the author?

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