My Ketut Liyer

I went to a Tukang Kusuk today.

I actually have no intention of visiting one but after telling stories to people that I slipped in the bathroom this morning and the side of my butt and my back hurt because they hit the toilet bowl on my fall, everybody was saying, Miss, mau yang kusuk? (Miss, do you want a massage?).

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I told the story again of my ungraceful fall to our Chief Accountant and he said the same thing. “You have to see one to put everything back in order. Or else, 5 years from now you will feel the effect of that fall.”

Ok. Sounds scary. So I finally got convinced that maybe that is the way to go. I asked somebody to look for one and invite the Tukang Kusuk to come over. The person said, “Miss, tidak bisa. Banyak anak anak.” (Miss, she can’t. She has a lot of kids.)

Ok. It seems I have to do my own courtesy call.

Come 5 PM and I was on the road going to the kampong (village) of the said expert.

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I was asking the driver if all Indonesians go to a Tukang Kusuk. He said only those who don’t want to see a real doctor and take tablets or injections for their illness. Sounds very much like the Philippines. So I am going to an albularyo or a faith healer, it seems.

We stopped in front of a normal house we usually pass on my way to the city. Men were sitting on the roadside while kids were playing some games with makeshift toys. I, together with a colleague who personally knows the Tukang Kusuk, came inside the house. The driver left us and did some errands as it will probably take an hour before my kusut finishes.

It was my first time to enter an Indonesian house, I realized. It was cool. It looks like any modern house made of bricks and cement except there are no tables and chairs! They only have mats on the floor. Even the kitchen, where I had my massage, only has a mat in it.

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It must be cheap maintaining a house in Indonesia. There is no need for all those fixture and what-have-yous. It’s like a robber came into the house and finished all the belongings.

Anyway, so a middle-aged lady came out and shook my hand the Indonesian way. The Indonesian way is shaking hands, releasing, and bringing that hand you shook the others to your heart. I think it is a kind of respect for them. I still have to remember this. I tend to forget it all the time and people might think I am snooty, rude and all especially if they don’t know that I am not Indonesian as I look like them.

Anyway, the lady went back in. I was asking my colleague where she went. She said the lady is probably praying. She came back and ushered me to the kitchen where a mat who has seen maybe a hundred coats of oil and a sullen-looking pillow who has seen 200 heads are stationed. OMG.

And then the lady asked me to undress. What? There were 4 people in the kitchen that time. She said “Tak apa apa. Jangan malu.” (It’s nothing. Don’t be shy.) Seeing my reluctance, she asked me if I brought a sarong. No, I did not. She took one from a nearby room and gave it to me. Undressing inside a sarong was still a feat. Anyway, I made it. She asked me to lie down, face down, on the mat and the pillow. I can feel the grease sticking to my body. And I was holding my breath not to smell the pillow.

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And then she started. She took some oil, whispered something into it, and started her magic. OMG. It was a pleasurable pain through and through. My feet were constantly up in the air, involuntarily, because her hands were just kneading all the air she found in my body.

Not my legs.
Not my legs.

Before the massage, she never asked what kind of treatment I need. She just started without consultation. But as she tries to acquaint herself with my body, I don’t need to say anything anymore. It was like she knows me just with her touch. Scary!

As she was laboriously fighting an air in one side of my back, she asked me if I take hot showers regularly. I said everyday. I will die if the water is not hot. It is just so cold here. She told me to stop. All the air in my body is caused by the hot shower. I tried to defend a usual habit which I think is very normal and she said, “Air dingin labih sehat!” (Cold water is healthier!) Ok, I rest my case.

Then she said most probably I fell down. She can feel it from my muscles. And that I am battling sakit perut for days. She can feel it in my stomach. Which is actually correct!

Who is this woman? OMG.

The gentle hands, the painful pleasure she gives, the diagnosis she can gather just from grazing her hands to my body, I AM AMAZED.

As I finished my session, there was a queue of other people who wants a treatment as well. Some were actually watching my naked body as the lady wrapped up. She said that sometimes, she can only eat dinner at 2 AM because her house gets so full with people.

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I dressed up, gathered my things and thanked her. I also dropped an amount in her donation basket that is in another room. I was warned not to give money to the Tukang Kusuk directly as it is considered impolite.

As I was preparing to leave, she asked me how I feel, “Enak?” (Good?). I smiled and said I wish to come back again.

I was on my wait out where the driver was waiting for me when I heard her from the kitchen, “Ingat! Jangan air panas mandi. Air dingin!” (Remember! Don’t take hot shower! Take a cold one!)

I am really not sure about that one. I will probably have another visit with her soon if I take a cold shower as I will be jumping up and down the bathroom just to prevent the body from feeling the cold. And then I will slip again in the bathroom and probably break my bones this time around.

I shouted “Saya coba!” (I will try!). And then I was gone.


2 thoughts on “My Ketut Liyer

  1. Great story! This sounds like the type situation I would get myself into.

    …I don’t think I’d give up the hot showers, either.

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