Some months ago, I was sitting by the road side in Bali waiting for my turn to get a haircut. A beautiful little girl came up to me, put her hands out and asked, “minta uang”, meaning, “please give me some money?” I kept looking at her and thought, “where are her parents?”.
A few seconds later, her mother walked up balancing a basket of assorted local knives on her head. Brushing her daughter roughly aside, she asked me to buy some knives. I said, ‘no thank you’. She pleaded and I replied, ‘No’. Then she said, “I’m hungry and my daughter is hungry. Please buy one knife?” At that moment, the grandmother walked up. She stood back and watched, hoping.
These ladies are Balinese from the region of Karangasam, a poorer, drier district up in the north-east side of the island. I looked at the little girl in front of me and said, “what would you like to eat?” A little bit surprised and somewhat embarrassed, she looked away towards her mom and whispered, “ayam goreng (fried chicken)”.
“Her eyes sparkled and her face broke out into the most beautiful smile.”
I finished my haircut and went to look for food. I found them about a kilometer away, sitting by the road side, obviously tired, thirsty and hungry. I walked up to them, faced the little girl and said, “I have ‘ayam goreng’ for you!” Her eyes sparkled and her face broke out into the most beautiful smile. I handed the big bag of lunch, filled with fried chicken, fish, eggs, vegetables and more to the mother. She peered inside the bag but didn’t say anything. Looking straight at me, her eyes watered.
She began to reach for a handful of knives and offered them to me. I didn’t want any knives so I did not take them. The old grandmother kept saying “terima kasih pak” meaning, “thank you mister”. By this time, I was beginning to feel uncomfortable. So I left them and rode home on my motor cycle.
“If you see what I see, you will love what I love and you will do what I would do!”
Riding home, thinking about this family, I remembered what the Lord said to me some time back. “Alan, if you see what I see, you will love what I love and you will do what I would do!”
Written by: Alan L. Base Director of University of the Nations Bali