I made it into the fifth life cycle

Some first nation people in North America talk about 7-year life circles. Each of them carry some specific function for personality, each of them opens up some new layers in life. Since I was child, I somehow never imagined my life lasting longer than the age of 27. I just didn’t see it coming afterwards, except perhaps an image of driving a motorbike when already retired. But apart from that I didn’t really relate to any imaginations that would go towards the period of life which would start the fifth life circle.

IMG_8823Exactly one year ago I was raising some glasses with my friends in Yogyakarta, joking, that I sure will have a great last year of my life. And I felt I didn’t want any party, but at the night of my 27th birthday I wanted to pray. Pray for some absolute energy, ultimate vibration, null-energy, tone of the universe. And Shiva, yes. Hindu temples could possibly raise this connection. So I told my friends that I’ll be taking a motorbike an hour drive away from the city to a small hindu temple at night, feel free to join me. Instead of couple of friends (I didn’t expect anyone care to drive out in the middle of the night), we were altogether seven people – Berit, Marie, Monica, Jali, Ethel among them.

What happened though, was that our crowd turned out to be joyful people, full of life and… bigger plans. So on the way we managed to set up another plan for a much bigger Hindu temple. The one which was so heavily calling.

What followed, was the most exciting, beautiful, breathtaking birthday one could ever imagine. And then what followed, was the most absurd, ridiculous, embarrassing and terrifying birthday one could imagine. Which eventually still ended without any real problems, but the threat was real – to be fined for 10 000 rp!! And we only wanted to pray… Luckily, we were left with just the bittersweet memory of an adventure of layered meanings, absurdities, guilt, joy and a fortunately, a sweet follow-up.

Although I probably knew a year ago that setting my age of 27 as the last one to remember must be a joke, I was still curious enough – am I gonna make it or not. The year blessed me with moments, when I almost didn’t care for further. But even then it also striked my mind that the exhibition I was curating was supposed to open when I would be already 28. That kind of meant that I should become 28. How otherwise?!

Anyway, I still love, therefore I am. Now 28, silently entering my fifth life circle. It will be a blessing. How otherwise. 

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Granny has a secret

Would you ever think that this lovely old lady was born some 80 years ago as a boy? No, of course not, nobody would ever think of it. As far as everybody remembers her she has always been this sweet old lady wondering around the village.

Only that she somehow never got married and has no children of her own. But she has many grandchildren from her sisters, who would never guess that their granny has a major secret – that’s her male genitals and an ID-card of laki-laki (a man in Indonesian).

But does it really matter?

Personally I follow the feminist criticism on biological determinism. I don’t agree that our gender is supposed to be in accordance with our sex, that literally based on our genitals the whole society should be divided between men and women only, and there’s no room or just a tight one for any alternatives, both, in the scope of possible genders and sexualities, and also within the substance of these possible gender and sexual identities.

I think the case of this old lady – the oldest transgender I have met in my life -, who is living in the middle of the tropical village life, very down to earth, simple life of sunny and rainy Sulawesi, surrounded by rice fields and green hills, brings out fabulously the relativity of sex-gender pairing. Any foreign visitor, even an anthropologist, would see this world here ‘traditional’ – still out of the reach of modernity and globalization, that theoretically would bring along ‘the sexual revolution’. Yet this ‘traditional world’ here has reached far further than most of the societies in the West, taking the problem with gender with far more ease.

Granny can’t talk much about it, as the children are playing around and she wouldn’t want to let them know. But she brings out her ID-card where her sex is stated as a man. As Bugis culture distinguish between 5 genders, she has probably led a decent life as a calabai (male-to-female transgender) and finally people even forgot about that, seeing her as she is, whatever she wears under her skirt.