Monday, April 20, 2009

Dunia Fantasi

On returning to Jakarta in the late afternoon, I hurried to Dr Bahari’s clinic. Min was in high spirits and I decided to take him to an amusement park called Dunia Fantasi, which is at Ancol, to the West of the docks at Jakarta’s Tanjung Priok. We drove past black miserable slums populated by thin ragged people and then into the park with its beautiful golf course, gardens and well dressed pleasure seekers.

"Who’s this?" asked the thin little manager at the entrance gate, as he looked in a kindly way at the slightly shaky, waif-like Min.

"This is Min. He stays at a clinic." And by way of explanation I showed him a note from Dr Joseph.

"We can let you in free," said the manager.

"That’s very kind."

"I’m sure the lad will enjoy the clowns and the rides."

We passed through the turnstile and into a fantasy world. Recorded children’s voices singing celestial songs seemed to emerge from the hibiscus; florid wooden horses did their merry rounds; Dunia Fantasi employees dressed as clowns greeted all the grinning children. I call them clowns but they had ghastly ghoulish faces which delighted the school kids and their mums. Min reacted differently. At the sight of the clowns, he hid his face in my chest and then tried to drag me back through the turnstile. There was a look of panic and terror on his face.

"They’re only people..." But I would not be able to explain to Min. I held on tight and pulled him swiftly away from the ghouls and over to the merry-go-round. I hoisted Min onto a wooden horse and off we went. Yes, he liked this and wanted a second go.

When it came to the big toy cars I was just able to squash Min in. He must have been the oldest kid having a ride. We were refused a second shot on the grounds that Min was not a toddler.

Eventually we had a wander along the beach, near the Horison Hotel. Min was now feeling more confident and felt brave enough to grin into my face and then spit at me. This seemed to be his way of being playful and having a little joke. I frowned and tried to look disapproving, without much success. He spat again and seemed to find this wildly funny. Then he decided to knock my glasses off. Now I was just a little upset.

It was definitely time to return to the van and drive back to the clinic. Maybe I’m not very good with two year olds. On the other hand, I could forgive Min just about anything. Min was like me; he was a bit of an alien and an outsider. He was my soul-mate.


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