Rina’s New Year wish – silent fireworks.

This war has raged for the past three weeks. There’s been shelling every night during Galungan, Kuningan, Christmas and now New Year’s Eve. What happened to ‘Silent nights, holy nights’?

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The conflict comes to our door and then recedes, but peace lasts for only minutes. My nerves tingle and heart races as I stand on the end of the bed, watching our door, waiting for the enemy’s final assault. Steve remains calm; I don’t understand him and suspect his hearing is going.

The bombs start again; distant bangs and flashes of light through the curtains. They move closer, the booms intensify. I start to shiver and shake all over and run to Steve. He strokes and pats me, whispering, “It’s alright, don’t worry, just fire works.” He hugs me and I feel a little safer.

Boom! Bang! Kazoom!

I run to the end of the bed and again watch the door. Steve stands, picks me up and holds me to his chest. His heart is calm, mine races. The explosions continue as we walk out of the house into our little lane-way. Street dogs dash by, confused by the noise, seeking refuge. There is little comfort in knowing I’m not the only scaredy-cat. I push against Steve and he lowers me. I watch the escaping dogs and wonder where they will go to hide, who will look after them? Steve is my safety, protector, so I’m not going far. I have a quick wee in a moment of calm.

Kebang! Zeboom!

I race to Steve and paw his legs as he watches the coloured lights in the sky. “Spectacular,” he says as he lifts me up and walks us back inside. The conflict continues outside with the ‘fireworks’ exploding and this conflict transfers to me and addles my thoughts. I send Steve a confusion of messages over the hours before midnight.

Pick me up… Put me down… Hold me tight… Leave me alone… Stroke me… Don’t touch me… Put me on the floor… Bring me to bed… Cover my ears… Get your hands off me…  He hears them all and whispers, “I love you. Stay calm. It will be over soon.”

Midnight comes and they carpet-bomb Ubud. The sky glows through our bedroom curtains. Steve and I hide under the blankets. He cradles me against his belly and holds my shaking head. “Happy New Year,” he says. “It’s 2015. The fireworks will stop soon.” We stay put under the covers. The booms fade and stop as he continues to stroke my back and stomach. My racing heart slows to a trot and finally a walk, long minutes after the last distant bang has faded.

“No more fireworks until Nyepi in March,” Steve says, as if these words are meant to comfort. “Do you want to sleep on your pillow?” he asks. I don’t move, it feels safe here, resting against him. He turns off the light and says his ritual, “Good night my darling.” I lick his belly and we sleep through what’s left of the now silent night.

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