- Published: Wednesday, 15 August 2007 00:00
Screams came from the beach maybe fifty yards to the right front. Horrible screams. Someone was dying. I know those screams. Someone was dying or being killed and more people began screaming and there was loud wailing and the sounds of pleading but I did not understand the language, only the volume and intensity and rhythm and tone. Someone surely was dying. My feet ran that way seemingly without being told and Balinese people began to run that way, and I wondered if there was a fight and if someone was being stabbed to death. A small circle of Balinese formed but the circle seemed too tight for it to be a fight. The screaming was intense, very intense. A woman and a man screaming in Balinese. The woman was screaming, “Komang! Komang! Komang!” And the man was screaming, “Komang! Komang! Komang!” I know only a few local words such as “Hati!” which I think means “careful” because I keep using the word “Hati!” with my driver, and he slows down for a few minutes each time. The woman and the man are shouting “Komang! Kooooommmaaaannnnnggggg!”
Komang can mean the number three child. The first child is called Putu; second is Made; third is Komang; fourth is Ketut. The fifth child reverts back to the name Putu; sixth is Made again; seventh and eighth are Komang and Ketut. The ninth child would be Putu again. In a family with nine children, three of the children would be named Putu. This Komang was perhaps the number three child, or perhaps he was number seven, or even number eleven or more.
Komang was limp. The woman cried and wailed as if she must have been Komang’s mother. He was naked and young. There was enough light that his dark, wet skin shined slightly, and there was sand on part of his body. The man and woman were screaming Komang, and words I did not understand. They cried like I see parents in Iraq cry, and they kept frantically passing Komang’s limp body back and forth as if suddenly someone could bring him to life. His head fell back on his limp neck and his face pointed toward the stars and the man and woman kept screaming “Komang! Komang!” as if trying to pull him back into his body. Cell phones came out.
My hand automatically went over my heart and I walked with hand over heart into the darkness and sat back down and the police arrived. By now there were perhaps two dozen Balinese people—I think they were Balinese—and they escorted the screaming man and woman and the limp Komang. Parents in Iraq often carry their children in the same way. Screaming the child’s name, calling him back. The child is already gone. It is the parents who are dying. The police calmly loaded Komang into the back of the truck. They turned on their blue lights and quietly drove away. The people quickly dispersed and the man and the woman were still crying Komang and a few people stayed with them.
I was sitting in the dark still with my hand over my heart for the life of Komang and the grief of his parents.
A Balinese man saw me and asked, “What is your name?”
“Michael? My name is Putu.”
I asked Putu what happened, and he explained in broken English that there had been some kind of festival. When the sea is out the water is safe for the children to swim, but the tide was in and the boy went swimming.
“How old was Komang?” I asked.
“Seven, I think at least seven,” answered Putu.
“Very terrible,” I said, “I am sad.”
“Yes,” he said.
I stood and walked back to my room.
A friend had been killed in the massive bombing here. Over 200 people died and I came to visit the monument and see her name. Beata Pawlak was a Polish writer. A good and peaceful person. Murdered at random. Her name was on the wall. After Beata was murdered, authorities found my contact information in her room. Komang and his parents were on my mind. Beata was on my mind, and the war. Back at the war, at nearly exactly the same time, a massive attack had begun on the Yezidi people. More than 200 people [perhaps 500] were murdered by suicide bombers. Like they had done in New York. Like they had done in London. Like they had done in Bali. Mass murder. I had visited a couple of Yezidi villages in Iraq in 2005, and written about them, and now was their turn to suffer again. Today while Komang’s parents suffer in Bali, there are probably Yezidi children with no parents. Children who are injured and afraid and suddenly alone. All for nothing. All because of savages.
Please click here for photos of the Yezidi people in Iraq. Today they suffer: http://www.michaelyon-online.com/wp/lost-in-translation.htm/
To read about Beata, please click: http://www.michaelyon-online.com/wp/the-greedy-ones.htm