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Amelia Narawa

Suva, Fiji Islands

Amelia Narawa

Hi, I am Amelia Narawa of Fiji, a wife and mother of three, and this is my first creative writing class at university, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. My writing is mostly about things or ideas that I believe has affected the individual in the modern world. It is also against humanity for the careless attitude shown towards the environment. I like writing about the Pacific Islander and how his life has been transformed from naive native to being a resident of the world and the discriminations that they have had to endure during this process.

Excerpt from Making Waves

A glossary is available below.

The Tavola Eaters

Daily they would gather under the tree, sometimes three or of four of them and at other times there would only be two of them. They would come to gather the remnants of what the bats had feasted on the night before. They preferred picking the fruit off the road, as it was easier to pound because the sun had dried the outside stiff.

"I hate these bats, they eat everything and can't even leave the unripe ones to ripen."

The walls were meant to divide the lawn from the road but for the purpose of the tavola it was to be used as a huge mortar for the pounding of the nut. This was also a place for all kinds of discussions. About their lecturers, about their friends, about their tests and about the girl that laughed at them in the lecture.

"I think I gonna get one for the test."

"That's better, I gonna get zero."

"Oh bullshit you been studying all this time."

"Bitch."

There were many tavola trees on this campus but this was their favorite one. Everyone who passed by could see them and they could also see everyone who didn't see them. They learnt new things about each other, the horrors of their families, or something uninteresting about themselves.

"You know what happen las night?"

"What?"

"That prostitute on Shortland Street, she been call Chris again."

"Shit, we thought sara ga you gonna tell us something bout you. Who want to know about Chris an that one?"

"O shut up"

The passers-by sometimes sneered with contempt at them.

"Why those guys looking like that for? They must be thinking we got no food eh?"

"They think we nako."

"Seti, look at them mada, they kai viti too, ulu maji."

Some passers by who they knew, and would know what they were doing, had acquired a new ignorance.

"What you gang doing? What's that?"

"This the tavola! Where you from, New Zealan?"

The ignorant, ignoring that, asked, "What part you eat?"

The pounders answered, "The inside, sona. You have to get the stone and tuki the thing. When you tuki once an the thing can't crack you have to keep tuki and tuki the thing to crack like this. See? You wanna taste it?"

"No thanks."

"Fuck off then, want to be palagi, not even kai loma. Black arse."

"Eah the way they wanna pretend like they never see this before."

Sometimes someone would pound his or her finger.

"Ouch, shit."

"That's ok, you not gonna die, its only sore for a little while then finish."

"Come I hit your finger an you see sore or no."

The day that the accident happened, they had been laughing about a character in The God of Small Things. Baby Kochamma reminded them of someone they all knew. The accident happened so fast that later on, they would laugh about the victim herself and how she had lay sprawled on the road as if she herself were a tavola ready to be picked and pounded. The victim had had her back to the reversing vehicle. It hit her on her backside and she tumbled and lay on her back. It was as if she was looking for her own shock, as her eyes were looking around in all directions. The others wanted to laugh at the hilariousness of the situation.

"Hey I think she dead."

"Hey driver, you can't see your behind."

"Eah, you think this the Suva Nadi highway? The way you driving, how bout if this your sister eh?"

"Tacina, I never been see anybody when I reserve."

"What you mean you reserve, you been reverse not reserve."

"I say when I been reserving I not see anyone."

"Hey, if you can't speak English don't wanna speak fancy words eh?"

"Shut up, you two, you are not the English professor."

"Check her mada, any bone broken or no."

"You gang check, me I never do first aid in school."

"What we gonna tell her mother?"

"Don't worry about that, just check first she's ok or no?"

Their minds raced, panicking about what they had to do next. They were worried about how they would have to explain that they were under the tavola tree and not in the library or in lectures. The police would want to know every detail. In the meantime their poor friend still lay on the road, not because she had been badly hurt but because she was too embarrassed to get up. She had opened one eye when her friends were arguing and had seen the crowd that had gathered. She stood up, dusted herself and not speaking to anyone, walked away head held high.

"Oilei, I thought we were gonna have to go to her funeral"

The loss of some of their best mats was something they had all been dreading, although it was not to be. The incident had taught them that no matter where they were, what they were least expected to be doing, they must always look out for vehicles that didn't follow LTA road rules.

After the crowd had dispersed, they were back pounding the tavola, more ferociously than ever. A minor mishap would not dampen their enthusiasm for the nut that was no more than a centimeter and a half long.

Glossary

tavola
name of tree and of the nut that it bears.
Shortland Street
popular TV series in Fiji
sara ga
really
nako
uncultured and coming from the bush
seti
a form of disagreement
mada
expression of finality
kai viti
Fijian
ulu maji
stiff frizzy hair
sona
shit
tuki
pound
palagi
European or descendant of a European
kai loma
half caste
tacina
younger sibling
Oilei
exclamation
LTA
acronym for Land Transport Authority in Fiji