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Oliver Benjamin                            
3. Java Men
Yak was going to leave Roy to his own devices after that, but having
found his deliverance, Roy would not let go of the deliveryman. After
so many years of living in Solo, Yak had grown unaccustomed to
Westerners—that hemisphere was so far away from him now. But
Roy needed help in kicking his addiction and so Yak agreed to assist
him, bringing him back to town and arranging for medical attention
and various spiritual ministrations.
During this period they regularly drank tea and ate sate jamu
together in a small restaurant near the guest house in which they
lodged. Around them the beautiful patterned chaos of the Indonesian
night swirled like designs on a batiktapestry: Bicycle rickshaws,
stray dogs, dancing children, the grey curlicues of clove cigarette
smoke. Never bothersome, it all spun together like some orgiastic
open-air ballet.
Roy was finding it difficult to stop talking. He had spoken little
during the months of his long descent and now his heart coughed and
sputtered back to life just as his lungs did on the beach.
“After water, tea is the most consumed beverage on earth,” he
informed Yak one night. “Most of the world calls it cha orchai,
though. That’s where China got its name from.”
“That’s not true,” Yak replied.
“It should be. Hey! Check out those little kids!” he exclaimed,
pointing to a troop of girls walking together wearing Muslim hoods,
giggling and chirping as they walked past. “They look like the jawas
from Star Wars.”
Jawais how the Javanese pronounce Java.”
“No shit!” he exclaimed, slapping the rickety table, “That’s where
they got the idea!”
Yak was quickly learning the extent to which Roy tried to read
poetry into the world—coincidences in words, profound structures in
random patterns. Like personalities in the constellations or Jesus in
a tortilla. He himself had once been like that. Now he knew the world
was merely eccentric, its patterns illusions of our own composing.
We are all of us poets, weaving epic verse from the literature of our
lives. And as we inflict our poetry on the world, it is incarnated. Our
hallucinations become real.
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