On our last morning, we venture down through the rattan vines, giant sugar palms and prehistoric ferns of the rainforest to pay our respects. We reach the riverbank, and a jungle penjor with fresh leaves to commemorate Galungan gives us a clue of where to find the statue amongst the undergrowth. At first, all we can see are boulders. But as our eyes adjust, we make out the outline of two eyes, a nose and a mouth, upon the stones that make up the shrine’s perimeter walls. Faces, furred with moss, that bring to mind the mysterious Olmec heads found in the Mexican rainforest.
Yet still no stone tiger. The only roars we hear are that of the river rapids. Until suddenly, a shard of light falls through the towering teak trees, the contrast revealing the 1,300-year-old statue, licked with over a millennia’s-worth of lichen, its poleng a mere rag. Jérôme and I turn to each other in wonder. There is no need to say anything. Instead, we both let out a deep breath, dropping our shoulders in the process. The invisible has just been made visible, right in front of our eyes, and somehow it feels just fine. A thin plume of frangipani smoke wafts towards us, incense from an offering to the spirits which inhabit this secret spot, given quite recently. A reminder that the secret of living is giving, and what we are feeling is balanced.