The Javanese wedding bed

Twenty years ago, I fell in love with a piece of furniture in a shop window.

The shop woman told me that it was a Javanese wedding bed. Ridiculously big, impractical and costing as much as a small second-hand car, it was magnificent. My soul lurched with desire.

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Friends counselled me to buy a small second hand car instead, but I didn’t see the point. Who would want a stupid old car when they could have a Javanese wedding bed? In any event, I have never learned to drive and the thing called to me; its memory kept me awake at night. Unable to fight my desire any longer, I put a deposit down and, weeks later, it was delivered.

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It was so big it took up most of the living area in my tiny rented flat. I threaded fairy lights through the carved wood and bought fat cushions for it.

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I used to walk around it, stroking the warm, sun-weathered wood and sighing with happiness.

So beautiful, I thought. So, so beautiful.

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Visitors were flabbergasted. Most laughed out loud because noone expected to see such a thing in the boxy living area of a second floor walk-up apartment. Everyone fell in love with it.

“It’s Javanese,” I grandly said, reminded of Nabokov’s line (“she made familiar Javanese gestures with her wrists and hands, offering me, in a brief display of humorous courtesy, to choose between a rocker and the divan”).

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When I moved, I dragged the beautiful, cumbersome thing around with me and my thousands of books. I had decided that my as-yet-unborn daughter – whose birth and nature had been predicted years earlier by my clairvoyant friend – would sleep in it. And then I fell in love, married, and gave birth to Bethesda, who was, curiously, exactly as described.

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We moved to a new apartment when she was six months old. The removalists, idiots to a man, had trouble getting the bed out of the flat and so they cut bits off it.

Yes, that’s right: they cut bits off it.

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Breastfeeding a 10kg baby around the clock and having not slept for six months, I felt unable to take legal action and so let it go. But I wept. How I wept. My beautiful bed had been maimed.

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The bed followed us to the North Coast. It lay against the wall of the garage, broken, for almost a decade, before and after the divorce. And then last week someone offered to heal it.

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There are people in this world who take and take and take without giving anything in return, and then there are people who are kind and thoughtful and unfailingly generous.

These are the people who restore our faith in life.

So thank you, Mr Wright, for making my bed better. (And my pink bicycle after Bethesda pranged it, but that’s another story.)

TBC