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27 November 2010
Stand By Me
of the man who was still known
as the last Rajah of Denpasar,
though he never ruled.
We called him Bapah.
As his family did. It was a word
for Father, and he was Patriarch.
He and Bill talked philosophy, sang
old Dutch songs together. (Amazing
to us, how many Indonesians
had fond memories of the Dutch.)
When Bapah went to hospital,
Bill found him in pain on a thin mattress.
‘We’re not putting up with this!’ he said,
went back to the hotel and ripped
the comfortable one off his own bed.
He marched back into the hospital,
carrying it on his shoulder, lifted Bapah
on to a chair and remade the bed.
The old man recovered, and went on
visiting in turn each of his five wives
allotting equal time to keep the peace.
‘Have one wife only!’ he advised BIll.
What Bapah really wanted
in his old age, was to be a priest.
It was years later we read
of his cremation, and the tale
of how he was found as a baby,
only survivor of the mass suicide
of his conquered family.... A gentle man.
November PAD Chapbook Challenge 2010: 22
Prompt: taking a stand. (There are several in this poem.)
Note: The word for father is properly spelt Bapak, but we pronounced it as written here.