Saturday, August 13, 2005

The powers that be

It is a new world.

Green from trees is now visible.
Colour is visible.
The atmosphere, which a mere 24 hours ago was ash gone airborne, can now support human life again.
The city re-animated itself and drew its first clean breath in more than a week, exhaling a sigh of relief.

And we have the department upstairs to thank for it, apparently.
The Prime Minister called on the country to pray for divine intervention and the front page of the papers shows devotees from every race – almost a caricature of national unity – appealing to their higher power.

And whaddya know, someone answered.

There is blue sky.
Sunlight is strong enough to cast shadows.
Birds no longer swarm aimlessly above buildings. Whatever it was about the haze that screwed up their radar, it seems to have gone.

Most days, I laugh at this shit.
I believe in will and action and getting off your fucking ass to solve problems.
But I also believe my eyes.

About four years ago, I was at the Sepang International Circuit covering the F1 for the magazine. My photographer was delayed by heavy rains though he was calling a mere five minutes from the circuit. The rains were bad enough to cause a gridlock several kilometres long.

But up above the racetrack, was a perfect circle of clear blue sky.
You can see the circle because the blue ended sharply, bordered by storm clouds. It was like someone had cut a hole in the storm and let the sun in.

A few days before, there were reports in the papers the race might be suspended due to the rains that had been falling non-stop for a week. It was monsoon season. But the organizers confidently stated that race fans had nothing to worry about. Reporters asked if bomohs would be called in. The organizers simply reiterated that all would be fine.

Bomohs are local shaman who have been called upon for generations to cure illnesses, exorcise demons, remove curses (or create them) and other sundry mystical services.
Bomohs can find out if your husband is cheating on you.
They can curse the little 19-year old tart he's been screwing.
And they can make him fall head over heels in love with you. Again.
But bomohs have corporate clients too.
Whenever organizers have a big event that they don’t want ruined by petty things like the weather, they sometimes call in a bomoh. It could be the launch of a new car, or a rave party. Doesn’t matter.

But even magic has rules: Apparently, bomohs cannot change the order of events, merely the timing. For instance, they can hold off the rain or speed it up.
But it usually means stealing from the future.
A call for rain now might possibly mean worsening some dry spell into a full-on drought somewhere in the future.

And if you believe the rules, and we’ve had any help for this haze, well.
We can only pray.

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