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Ubud Readers and Writers Festival

The festival seemed amazing, the glimpse that I got. International authors telling their stories and inspiring countless aspiring and established writers.

The bit I remember most was meeting a woman in the pool. Actually, firstly I met her at the front desk of our accommodation (a magnolia and starfruit filled nook just off the madness of Monkey Forest Road.) This woman, Annie, was in a fluster, as the renos she was getting done on her home meant she’d had to move out for a few weeks, and the place we were in had no phone reception. I’m not sure of her profession, but she was trying to have a meeting with someone in Japan. She must have been in her mid sixties, had soft grey hair but a strong lined face with stern and watchful eyes. I remember saying to her, ‘one day at a time’, as if I could put her back in the moment. She obviously needed to talk.

Later, in the pool, and with no suggestion of wanting our pity, or even compassion, she told us about her brain tumour. How there was little hope, and she was deciding whether to stay in Bali, her home of 30 years, where she’d raised her children and fallen in love. They would carry her out in a box at some point in the not too distant future. Or, sell up, head back to Australia to her children, have operations and medical care, perhaps live a little longer, perhaps a lot.

Annie was renovating her home for the next people, getting her life in order. It made me feel for Annie, and wonder what did life mean at that point? What was important? Where was Annie’s community, her family? Her heart seemed torn, I think it had been for quite some time. Perhaps her heart had been stretched too much over the years, between places, between people. Those roots we put down are so important, while we’re having children, growing old, even when we die. Especially when we die. I hope Annie is happy with her choice, wherever she is- and is still drinking vodka.