Being true to yourself and your world.
Lele watched as the aiga went about preparing for the day. But this day was different than any other. He watched as some, gathering the tools normally used for producing good in their world, pondered how to use these tools in ways foreign to them. He watched as others crushed berries they would normally enjoy as part of a morning feast, mixed them with coals from the fire and smeared the mixture on their faces trying to look fierce like the tusked manu vao vao, or wild boar as the tagate ese called them, or the large mouthed sharp toothed malie from the vasa. Things the aiga had never done before and it filled Lele with dread and sadness. His people were changing because the expanded world of the invaders threatened the world they loved. But to protect it required them to give up that world to expel the invaders. In doing so would they give up the world they loved forever?
Loud voices could be heard from the other side of the village. Yelling, not only in Lele’s language but also in the language of the tagata ese. They were coming towards the center of the village. As they approached Lele could make out in the early morning light one Tagata ese coming toward him with two of the taitai behind him, their taos pointed at his back. The taitai were yelling for him to move toward the afi still burning low in the center of the village. Lele could see the fear on the tagata ese’s face but also something else. Something dark and menacing in the rhythm of the tagata’s agaga. That inward part of tagata that was either in harmony or disharmonious with others. For the first time Lele began to get a clearer picture, sense the rhythm of what was happening in his world. At the last sunrise Lele could feel the changing world but the confusion it brought was something he had never experienced. He and the aiga had always maintained the same rhythm and were continuously harmonious. These tagata ese were confusing because there were some that were harmonious but then there were others, like the tagata before him now, that were not. Lele could tell that the captured tagata’s agaga was not maloloina, it was disharmonious in it’s rhythm and therefore the source of the confusion. How many of the other’s agaga was as this tagata’s? There had to be some that were harmonious with the aiga otherwise Lele would not have been so confused. He would have sensed right away the disharmony. Lele began to see a light through this confusion and maybe a way to save the aiga, and himself, from the loss of all they loved.
Lele again sensed the rhythm. It had been missing for some time now but he was able to once again see the flow, the harmony of what he was to do. He had the taitai set the tagata ese by the fire, had the aiga get him something to eat and drink and Lele went to vasa’s edge. Lele stood on the matafaga at vasa’s edge and saw the tagata ese’s large fagota. He didn’t just look or see the fagota, he saw it. Lele looked to the rhythm of the fagota or the tagata that were on it. He sensed a confusion as before but it was lessened, more importantly he could also sense a harmony. He understood that not all on the fagota were disharmonious to the aiga. Lele was determined to communicate the necessity of harmony to the one who was the leader of the tagate ese. Lele pulled a fagota down the matafaga and as it glided onto vasa’s surface he skillfully slipped aboard and began to paddle effortlessly through the relentless surf toward the large fagota of the tagata ese.
As Lele approached the tagata’s fagota Lele heard shouts from one of the men standing at the front of the fagota. Lele pulled up beside the towering fagota and saw the leader peering at him from over the side questioningly. Lele could sense the harmony in the leader, knew the rhythm he followed now was right and motioned the leader to climb down into his little fagota. The leader climbed down some ropes that were hanging over the side of the fagota and alighted aboard Lele’s fagota. Another tagata ese began to climb down the ropes but Lele indicated to the leader that it was only him that Lele wanted in the fagota, no others, then Lele began to paddle away. The other tagata were obviously concerned with their leader leaving alone but the leader signaled for them to stay. Lele deftly paddled them through the surf back to the matafaga and with the help of the leader pulled the fagota off the vasa. Lele led the leader back to the village afi where the captured tagata was seated eating and drinking. Lele showed the leader the tagata, showed him the burnt fale and pointed at the captured tagata. He found La’ei still shaken by the incident, presented her to the leader, and again pointed to the captured tagata. He walked the leader over to the fale of the teine that was maloloina and then pointed at the leader, the captured tagata and their fagota. The leader slowly nodded his head in understanding and the look on his face showed Lele that there was harmony. He sat the leader by the afi and began to draw in the dirt. Lele drew his aiga happy and going about their daily tasks of making the world, their world better. He drew all the tools they used and depicted how those tools were used. Then Lele drew the leaders fagota. The tagata ese coming into the village being joyfully welcomed by the aiga. Lele drew La’ei’s struggle with the captured tagata, the fire, the tiene, and he drew himself by the pool. Sadness on his face that turned to fierceness. Lele changed all the joyful drawings to those of fear and anger. He showed the tools being used for purposes not intended, much as he did the the taitai earlier that morning. This time however, it wasn’t a call to action it was a plea. A plea to not let this change in their world happen. It was to show the leader that he didn’t want the rhythm to flow toward this future, a future that Lele could not be harmonious with.
When Lele was finished he set the drawing stick down. The fierce faces of his aiga still drawn in the dirt looking up at all of them. The leader with sad face and head bowed slowly began to nod. The leader slowly reached over and took up the drawing stick and began to change the fierce looks on the aiga’s faces to those of joy once again. He drew some of the tagata ese coming from their fagota to help rebuild the burned fale. He drew the tiene being a drink of someting from the leader and being joyful again. He drew La’ei being given a new table for her fale that the tagata ese would build for her and then he drew the fagota leaving with all the tagata ese smiling and waving as they went. Lele knew that harmony had been achieved and all without the aiga having to give up who they were, how they lived and the world they loved.
All the things the leader drew came to be. Lele and the leader shared a hunt for the manu vao vao and enjoyed faifaiva on the fagota where they caught many i’a out of vasa’s depths. After a few sun rises the leader expressed to Lele that it was time for them to go. All the tagata ese boarded their fagota. The leader stooped to the sand and with his own writing stick drew the island, Lele’s island, and then with his hand he touched his head then wiped the drawing away. The tagata ese, as promised, then left with everyone smiling and waving as they floated far away on the deep blue green of the vasa.
I wrote this short story to share my feelings regarding our place in our worlds and our world’s place in the WORLD. Stay true to your world, take care of your world, work everyday to make your world better and don’t let the maloloina of the WORLD change you. In doing so the WORLD will be better place.
My sincere apologies to the Samoan people for a less than accurate use of their language. My appreciation to wordhippo.com for enabling the use of a different language to make this story somewhat more interesting.
Be Well In All Ways!