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Bintang - Part II

The strange feeling you get when you meet somebody and then in the blink of an eye you actually feel that there is a connection is a very weird experience and cannot be comprehended by anyone who hasn't actually been there. This was the case with Bintang. There were no inhibitions between the two of us, yet so many things I wanted to ask him, and this seemed to be exactly the feeling he had as well. I spent five full weeks with Bintang, in what he called his personal paradise. To his parents this was his personal playpen. He had not heard from them, nor had he made a single attempt to stay in touch with them since the day he just wandered off into the PNG rainforest, feeling betrayed, misunderstood and totally on the wrong path in life with the missionary families who would, as he put it: “Eat shit in order to capture another soul for their fairy-tale Bible crap”.Years ago Bintang totally distanced himself from his parents’ Christian belief, and left them in order to figure out what life was really about. He ended up in Davo, where he was welcomed by the indigenous tribe to stay for as long as he wanted. One month had added up to 12, 12 months became four years, and still: Bintang had unfinished business and was not at all ready to go back to the United States. The villagers of Davo were convinced Bintang was given to them by one of their gods, since he just wandered into town on “Day of the Gods”, and participated in all the rituals they were doing right then and there. Bintang also has some talents that cannot easily be explained among the members of the tribe. When phenomena cannot be explained, the tribe’s people are in accord with what their ancestors taught them: “It’s the gods”. So Bintang is a gift they received, and according to the oldest man in the village, who is also the leader or the chief, the gift stays for as long as he is treated with respect and as long as he has something to teach them. Bintang is impressive. With two bare hands, a savings account of 30.000 US dollars and some connections overseas, this guy has managed to turn Davo upside down to the benefit of the people living there. “We had good lives before he arrived, but there is no doubt he has managed to improve our lives a lot and brought loads an loads of happiness to us all, The village chief adores Bintang more than his own children.”, the chief’s wife kept telling me in some kind of extremely broken English. She did not know one single word prior to the Gift’s arrival, now she was actually able to converse.

The tradition of giving every new acquaintance a massage upon entering the village had already existed for generations. Bintang taught them how to improve the massage, make it last longer and having the purpose of easing the muscles of rainforest wanderers, who from time to time happen to pass by. . He had started a school in one of the huts, and had taught all the village kids how to read and write English, Algebra and Geometry. Two years ago he had invited five of his friends to Davo, accommodated them in newly constructed huts, and asked them to help the villagers improve their lives in any way they could think of. They had made all kinds of improvements in the village. Water quality, huts, sanitary steps – Bintang’s friends all possess top-rated degrees in different areas, and were able to use their skills during their “vacation”. Bintang loves his life. My five weeks were probably the most fantastic five weeks in my life. Nothing beats Bintang and the way he cares for other people. Of course, Bintang’s stocks rose even higher when he introduced me to his private wildlife sanctuary on the edge of Davo. Bintang took care of sick or wounded animals of all kinds in order to give them back to nature once they healed. If they were damaged for life, he had vowed to himself that he would let them live in his sanctuary as long as that didn’t have any pain. He had taught the villagers respect for all life, and they had listened. Oftentimes they would now come to him with a tree kangaroo with an injured leg, a paradise bird with a broken wing or whatever they felt needed help. And Bintang took them all in, fed them and took care of them. His sanctuary was a large fenced-in area with small huts in which the animals lived. Within the fenced in area, smaller areas were also fenced in and he had established feeding stations and water puddles for each zone. A great system. Bintang had also managed to get loads of free medicine and equipment from connections in the USA, and he had established the Davo Animal and Human clinic inside the sanctuary. Yes, Bintang has a degree in medicine. He is a doctor, but had never practiced before he came to Davo. Bintang loves animals and so he has connected to all of the ones which have to stay at his sanctuary for the rest of their lives. Bintang and I spent hours every day just talking and being together. Of course, when to men of almost the same age hang out, there has to be some competing. I think we competed in all kinds of sports and exercises you could think of in a rainforest. River swimming, tree climbing, off-piste jogging, log –lifting. Every day a new idea came up. I actually won one of the competitions we had every day: The number of leeches found on our bodies. Bintang usually had 10 – 12, while my body could be the feeding frenzy for up to fifty. We got to know each other like I know no one else up until today. Bintang had contemplated a lot during his four years in Davo, and had in a way created his own life philosophy and his own religion. Both of which I could easily relate to. Bintang does not want me to reveal his personality on this matter, so of course I won’t. Only one thing, he really wanted me to convey to the world: Bintang seldom falls in love. But when he does, he falls hard. The main reason why he left his family and why he stayed away from them is that to Bintang there is no distinction as to whom he happens to fall in love with. To Bintang there are no heterosexuals or homosexual s. He just falls in love once in a blue moon, and he can’t tell whether next time will be a man or a woman. When we parted Bintang’s last words to me were: “I could easily have fallen in love with you, Cinta (he gave me that name), but brothers don’t fall in love. I love you more than I could love any sexual relation. I felt exactly the same way.

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