My friend called me the other day sounding distressed. Something happened to her and she needed to talk. Lately she had been unable to sleep and was prone to headaches. Moreover, she felt that her energy would be drained to the point of exhaustion. But at other times, her energy level would shoot up so much it caused glitches to her electronic gadgets.
Clearly something was wrong. The last time we met, I noticed that uncontrollable spots had emerged on her face, which she thought was hormonal. I told her to take a break from work. Perhaps things were getting on top of her? Certainly she looked pressured. So she took off to Bali.
I did not see her until a week after she returned. Instead of feeling better, her condition had worsened and she needed my advice. Apparently when she was in Bali, she went to have a massage at a place near her hotel. The woman told her what her problem was. She had lots of negative energy inside her that she needed to clear out. It was put there by people who were not happy with her.
The woman helped cleanse her of some of the negative energy and gave her some oil and incense to take home. She also tied a piece of string around her wrist for protection. My friend was not to worry, because other than the bunch of negative energy she had swirling about inside her, Shiva is also residing within her.
At this, I paused. Now, I’m all for keeping an open mind to all sorts of peculiar things. I often wish I could see things like ghosts and beings from different dimensions, and go astral traveling. Not because I doubt them, but because I feel I’m missing out on a lot of exciting things. Myself, I find it hard just remembering my dreams. I am doomed, as it were, to be a prisoner of my three-dimensionality.
“So, the massage lady says Shiva is inside you?”
“Yes. Isn’t that the craziest thing? I don’t know what to make of it.”
I was careful not to cast judgment, however. Just in case. Shiva, after all, is a Hindu deity. He is also the Destroyer. My friend showed me on her iPad the photos of the place where the woman gave her the massage. The room was full of old bottles of unguents and other oily stuff. The place spelled out the heebie-jeebies. I noted the three Rangdas, the Balinese child-eating demon queens, in the background, covered in black-and-white check cloths. She insisted they were Barongs, the lion-like creature, the good guy who fought Rangda.
I pointed out the long tongues, the bulging eyes, the long hair and the upward-turned fangs. A quick Google on the iPad proved I was right. The woman who gave her the oil was a devotee of the demon queen of the leyak, who in the fight between good and evil was very much on the side of evil. I told her I hoped she hadn’t used the oil on herself.
Apparently, that was not the end of it. A week after her Bali trip, my friend was sitting on the balcony of her apartment looking at the bright lights of Jakarta, when suddenly she heard a voice telling her to go inside, put the oil on her face, burn the incense and seat herself in a lotus position.
For the next few hours she swore she could feel that her body was possessed by an entity. She even engaged in hours of conversation with this being whom she was convinced was Shiva. She was also convinced it was because of him that she could never keep a boyfriend for long.
I could see that her mind was finding it hard to grapple with all of these weird things. I advised her to exercise caution and to stay away from the oil and the incense. Meanwhile, I gave her the number of my facial therapist. He is a mine of knowledge, from the history of Hinduism in Java to the theory of Quantum physics, and makes house calls.
A few days later my friend called. She had met my therapist at her apartment.
“And?” I asked, all agog.
“He wondered what Shiva was doing in the corner of the room.”
Desi Anwar is a senior anchor at Metro TV. She can be contacted at desianwar.com and dailyavocado.net.