Thursday, 29 September 2011

Ahu and Hoata’s feathered cloak (Part 17)

It was autumn and already the rains had started and the cooler weather had arrived. Ahu knew that one guaranteed way of keeping warm was to visit the sulphur pools just outside the village and to sit in them and warm up that way. The problem was that eventually she had to get out and it would feel colder than ever.
Tangaroa was toddling around everywhere and now wanted to go with his father Ahuahu in the canoe when he went fishing. Ahu resisted his demands but eventually agreed he could go so long as she was in the boat too. Ahuahu was pleased as the family got into the canoe and they set off from the beach and headed out to sea.
Ahu gripped the side of the canoe with one hand and Tangaroa with the other as they passed over the breakers and headed for calmer water where the gentle swell was easier for them and Ahu was able to relax. Ahuahu told Tangaroa about the fish they could catch and the tides and the birds overhead and then got him to look back to the shore to see the beach they had set out from and the tree and the rock to use as markers. The little boy looked as he was told and then looked back to his father. Ahuahu’s heart burst with pride as the little boy pointed to the gulls and the shadows in the water as though he was taking everything in. When Ahuahu looked back at Ahu her could see she was leaning over the side. She was not well and the swell was making her nauseous, so he steered the canoe around and headed back to shore.
Ahu staggered out of the boat but did not take Tangaroa with her but indicated to him to continue with his lesson but said, “Do not let me lose sight of you.” So the canoe took off again as Ahu settled down on the sand keeping watch. Ahuahu did not stay long but merely paddled the craft around and spoke to Tangaroa all the time, then he headed back to the shore again. The little boy was delighted with his first ride in the canoe and ran up to Ahu and wrapped his little arms around her beaming all over his face. After Ahuahu had stowed the canoe in the dunes he came up to Ahu and sat down beside her.
“I am sorry Ahuahu” Ahu said, “The new baby does not like the sea. Perhaps it is a girl?”
“I knew what was the matter as soon as I saw you feeding the fish” he said smiling pulling her to her feet. “If it is a girl she will have time learn to love the sea as Tangaroa does.”
Happier on dry land, Ahu bent down to pick up Tangaroa. “No, I will carry him," said Ahuahu. Ahu shook her head; “I need him to keep me warm” as she cuddled him close to her.
Hoata was outside her house when they returned to the village. She beckoned Ahu to her as the two boys went on back home. They went inside her house and she said to Ahu. “Atahai told me that you gave Ngaire your feathered cloak. Is that right?” Ahu nodded. Hoata went on. “Now that winter is approaching you should have a warm cloak to replace that one. I have two; you may have one of mine.”
Ahu looked doubtful. “Were they not gifts to you?”
“One was” Hoata replied, “The other one belonged to Kamaka’s first wife. Come on in and you choose which one you would like.”
Hoata brought both cloaks out for Ahu to see. One was edged with white feathers with darker brown feathers making up the main body of the cloak which Ahu kept on touching. “Do you like that one?” she asked.
“It is beautiful,” said Ahu.
Hoata picked it up and draped it around Ahu’s shoulders.
“It is yours now.”
“I will cherish it forever, Hoata; you are like a sister to me.”
Ahu then whispered in Hoata’s ear to tell her she was with child.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Plan B

Set a task to improve buses and trains,

We sat around and wracked our brains

It was a conference on these and other things.

Teams were appointed and spokesmen too

Sadly that was what I had to do,

While my inner self had taken wings.

As each group nutted out their task

The CEO and minions sat back to bask

Observing us as though they were kings.

Then each group made their presentation

None had caused much sensation

The boss nodded sadly as the bell rings.

Up I get and give my team’s submission

But concerned with a certain frisson

That the CEO gets up and swings,

His gavel and stops me in my tracks

And moans at everything it lacks

Despite that delegates were me supporting.

After a break to eat refreshments foul

We were assembled to see him scowl

As his idea for a plan B was unfolding.

Later that evening after a drink or two

He gathered us together and without ado

Gave a presentation of his plan to fans adoring...

Except me that is.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Ahuahu and the strange animal (Part 16)

Ahuahu mentioned to Ahu that he wanted to know how Hi’ilei his old friend and fellow fisherman from the Gannet Island village was faring. Ahu was not sure that she wanted to go back to that village even just to visit but she wanted him to go despite her feeling that they had used them both unfairly. She had no desire to see her cousins and aunts as they represented her unhappy childhood after she had lost her parents.
Ahu was indeed very happy now at Black Sands and loved Hoata like a sister. Their babies who were of the same age were well over a year old and were tottering around on their own two feet, and under everybody elses.
Kamaka’s elder daughter Hatiti had now been promised in marriage to a young man in the village and this had upset Hinewai who also wanted to be married. Hatiti was the most sensible daughter and quieter when she and Hinewai were apart. Hoata their step mother tried to talk to both girls about being good wives when they were married but Hinewai would make jokes all the time, saying what her husband would be like rather that how she would be.
Ahu would hear all the problems from Hoata when they were alone and wondered whether her daughters when she had them would be the same. She hoped she would be pregnant again soon as she looked at Tangaroa happily walking away from her in his unsteady steps.
Ahuahu went up to Gannet Island alone despite Hinewai having asked if she could go too. “Go get yourself a boyfriend” he said as he glared at her. Hinewai grinned a cheeky smile but turned away and thought perhaps Ahuahu might want a second wife soon if Ahu was to be pregnant again. She yearned for a real boyfriend or to be promised in marriage but no family wanted her as she was so silly.
When Ahuahu arrived at their former village it seemed very much the same and he paid his respects at the chiefs house, telling him he was there to see to see Hi’ilei. The chief nodded and said he would find Hi’ilei in his house. He approached Hi’ilei’s house and called out a greeting. Kiri, Hi’ilei wife came to the door and greeted him and rubbed noses.
“Enter, Hi’ilei is inside” she said.
“What? Is he not fishing?” Ahuahu responded.
Kiri, turned and shook her head sadly “He cannot fish any more” she whispered, then as they entered the house. “Hi’ilei, it is Ahuahu to see you.”
Hi’ilei looked up from his mat on the floor. He nodded with little enthusiasm and Ahuahu could see he was but a shadow of his former self and his eyes were dull. Clearly he would not get his usual punch on the arm nor would they be joking about who was the best fisherman.
“Sit, sit down’” Hi’ilei said. Ahuahu kneeled down beside him and then turned and offered a bead necklet to Kiri.
“Ahu, wishes to be remembered to you.” Kiri, with tears in her eyes, took the necklet, thanked him and turned away. “I shall be a little while, talk while I am gone.” She said as she left the hut.
Hi’ilei explained that he had tried to go fishing but his broken shoulder joint did not let him paddle strongly enough so he had to give it up. Ahuahu noticed that Hi’ilei had grown fatter and was much more languid. He was not as boisterous as in the old days, and seemed to tire easily and their conversation lapsed into silence often. As the day wore on Ahuahu signalled that he should get back to Black Sands. Normally as a welcome guest there would be protests and he would be offered to stay the night. But no offer came. Hi’ilei merely yawned and nodded.
As Ahuahu was leaving Hi’ilei said sadly, “You saved my life, do not think I am ungrateful, but it may have been better had I died at Rocky Outcrop and my children and people in the village would remember me with honour.”
Ahuahu returned sadly from the village to trek his way back through the forest to Black Sands. The light was fading and as he pushed his way through the undergrowth there was a snorting sound closely by followed by a squeal as a strange animal burst out of the bushes and headed for him. Standing his ground he raised his machete high and brought it down on the back of the neck of the animal as it attacked him. The animal squealed and collapsed at his feet. Ahuahu made sure it was dead and examined it closely. It was an animal he had never seen before, fat and good for eating he thought. It was a female and her teats showed that she had cubs.
He cut down some branches and tied the carcase with bark strips to the bier he had fashioned then dragged it through the wood. Just before he arrived back at his village he heard a squeaking sound and looking behind him saw some of the creature’s litter following her scent. He laughed for the first time that day. The village can have a feast and raise some more of these creatures for days to come he thought.
Ahu heard a commotion in the village. She raced out to see a crowd gathered around Ahuahu. The elders of the village poked at the corpse and agreed they would have a fine Hangi the next day. Meanwhile the children of the village including Hinewai were chasing the baby animals trying to catch one.
Ahu walked up to Ahuahu and they rubbed noses. She had a smile of love all over her face. “I thought you were a fisherman, where are its fins?”
Hangi – feast
Note: The creature was a pig – European explorers often released animals on islands in case future visitors needed to survive long periods before being rescued in event of shipwreck

Monday, 19 September 2011

Recollections of Warped Mind (No. 7)

Mr. Chamberlain brings us the good news from Munich 1938.

I can honestly say that despite my tender years I was aware of the Second World War. My war was however coloured somewhat by the daily dose of propaganda on the radio or wireless as we knew it then and the daily papers. This information or misinformation had been served up to the masses daily from well before the war began. Quite by chance some sixty or more years later I had given me a British weekly magazine called Picture Post. It was the edition that celebrated the return from Munich of Mr. Chamberlain the Prime Minister of Great Britain, who had achieved what he thought was meaningful negotiations with Herr Hitler the Chancellor of Germany, over the Czechoslovakia problem. Czechoslovakia was a small, made up nation formed at the end of the First World War in 1919 from part of the former Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Chunks of the losing nations were joined together to create a composite of nationalities in the border region between Germany and Hungary. There were Czechs and Slovaks of course, but within the boundaries there were minorities of other peoples. I won’t use the term ‘race’ in case you think me racist. There were Poles and Magyars and Gypsies (or Romany) and not the least, Germans.

Czechoslovakia was an excellent example of peaceful coexistence of differing nationalities. It was comparatively rich in minerals and had a well developed industry. The Skoda motor works being a case in point.

Happiness and contentment are all very well in themselves but never let anyone know you feel this way. When Hitler came to power in 1933, he looked around Europe to see if anyone was happy and he noticed that the Czech people were looking pretty pleased with themselves. So he thought he would put a stop to that by demanding that the happy Germans living in Czechoslovakia should have the right to be happy Germans in Germany, so long as they stayed where they were and where they lived became part of Germany.

These thoughts of Hitler’s clearly became a crisis in the minds of those ‘good’ nations such as Britain and France that wanted to keep everything in Europe and the world for that matter just as it was. They needed to discuss the problem with Hitler. So the leaders of France and Britain decided the fate of little Czechoslovakia at a meeting in Munich and agreed to slices of that country being handed to Germany. This was the Sudetenland.

Incidentally no one invited the Czech prime minister to the talks but those that did take part emerged with smiles on their faces. The Czech government wisely accepted that they had no control over their own country. War had been averted. In hindsight this was patent nonsense. It had given Hitler a chance to assess the resolve of the Western powers and they proved to be lacking in this regard. Hitler marched into the Sudetenland and occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia in a very short time to the silence of the Western ‘powers’.

I was blissfully unaware of this crisis, as my advisors had left me woefully ill-informed. Like the rest of Europe, except for the Czechs that is, I slept peacefully in my cot and was mindless of the dragon that had been unleashed.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Ahu and the easy days of summer (Part 15)

It was several months since the pakeha had been seen. Ahuahu said it was enough to be fighting each other without pakeha in huge ships to contend with. Despite this, there was a number of haka or war dances to prepare the village for further visits which were thought to come at any time. But that was not the case and gradually life returned to normal.
Babies Tangaroa and Paikea were growing and crawling and trying to pull themselves up when placed on the ground. However both mothers kept a careful watch on them as they seemed to delight in putting everything their hands touched in their mouths. While they were breastfeeding both mothers believed they would not become pregnant again. Ahu did not care whether that was the case or not and had already given Tangaroa tiny pieces of cooked white fish to eat. Even Ahuahu laughed to see his face as he tried to work out what to do with it.
As much as she looked after her baby Ahu knew that many babies died when small. Her cousin Aio had lost two babies before they were two years old and she remembered in the burial ground at Gannet Island village there seemed to be more burials of babies than adults. She hoped that the god of the sea wouldn’t want little Tangaroa swimming in the sea with him, but she dare not say it.
Ahuahu was always attentive to Ahu. He could not believe how lucky he was to have her. At night he would try to find new ways to please her. Laying down by her side he would draw pictures of boats at sea on her back and tell her of the waves and the fish and the whales in the ocean. Then he would trace a line of seabirds flying over her shoulders. He would blow on her hair and tell her there was a storm at sea and put his arms around her to hold her tight. Ahu would melt for him and turn around and insist he draw on her front as well.
They turned over and he snuggled down with his head between her breasts and softly traced his fingers over her tummy.
“We will have many babies Ahuahu.” she murmured, but Ahuahu did not answer he had fallen asleep. Ahu smiled; tonight I laugh alone she thought as she clasped him tight in her arms.
The next day Ahu and Hoata went back to the forest where they had seen the pakeha they were very careful to be quiet and did not take the teenagers with them. When they spoke they did so in whispers and both took weapons with them. After they had gathered all the leaves and fruit they needed they sat down to rest and talked. Their voices were but murmurings on the breeze as they talked of their childhood and growing up. Hoata had her chin tattooed and her lips were pricked with blue dye to make them full. Ahu wanted to look the same and asked who in the village would do it.
“Old Hokaka will do it” said Hoata, “She did mine. But surely Ahuahu does not need to love you any more than he does now?”
“I want to show I am strong for him” replied Ahu.
“Strong for him?” laughed Hoata. “You are one of the strongest women in the village, everyone knows that. Talk to Ahuahu first, or has he said it is what he wants?”
Ahu shook her head, “Did Kamaka want you to have the tattoo?”
Hoata nodded, “He married me when his first wife died, to look after him and the two girls: I am just a replacement wife including the tattoo on her chin.”
Ahu went up to Hoata, reached out and touched her hands and then hugged her looking directly at Hoata but Ahu’s eyes could not hold back the tears.
“Don’t cry for me Ahu. I have given him a son; he is pleased with me but…”
At this point Hoata also cried as the two mothers hugged each other but spoke no more.
Ahu decided to walk back home out of the cool forest and on to the beach in the hope of finding pipis on the shore. There was a gentle breeze blowing there and the waves were coming ashore languidly.
When they had gathered enough for a meal that night they wandered back along the sands to the village.
“I love the summer, living is so easy,” said Ahu.
Hoata nodded but said, “Loving is so much harder.”

Pipis - cockles

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Ahu and the pakeha (Part 14)

Ahu and Hoata had gone to the woods to find the Hirau tree for the pigment from the trunk to make a yellow for dyeing. The two young mothers had their babies in slings on their backs and Kamaka’s teenage daughters by his first wife had gone with them. Hinewai had not forgotten her punishment for being too forward with Ahuahu but now treated it as a lesson on how her future husband might treat her. Hatiti on the other hand was saying she wanted a husband like Ahuahu who was gentle, despite his scar. Ahu and Hoata laughed at the teenager’s innocence as they searched for the tree and gathered berries and leaves at the same time. The young girls wandered off and at noon they had still not returned to where the mothers had set up a site to chop down the Hirau tree they had found.
Hoata said they could do with the mens help but Ahu said “No, let them feel good that they provide the food from the sea and talk together.”
“Talk!” replied Hoata. That is all men do. When they fish, they talk. When they return, they talk. But I am at ease that Kamaka has Ahuahu as a friend because they laugh a lot. It is easier to love your husband if he laughs.”
“Yes, we laugh a lot too.” Said Ahu, looking down so as not to convey her true meaning. Hoata noticed the look straight away and said “I could laugh a lot more like you without two silly girls in the house.”
As the two mothers chatted away, the forest was quiet except for the rustle of the ground dwelling birds searching for food and the chirping of insects. The women had by this time packed several piece of the wood required into their baskets. Hoata was about to call out for the girls when there was a frightened scream and a crashing through the undergrowth.
Hinewai came rushing toward them, shouting “Pakeha, pakeha,” all the time looking backwards over her shoulder. The two mothers froze at the words. Strangers were uncommon and there was always fear that another village may have sent a raiding party their way. They pulled the scared teenaged into the dense vegetation and indicated for her to be silent. Hoata signed to say ‘where is your sister?’ but Hinewai just shook her head. They lay still and quiet for a few moments until they heard a tramp of feet through the woods. They could just see that two curious strangers in odd clothing were making their way noisily along, slashing at the foliage in their path with bladed weapons. The three stayed quiet and luckily the babies slept untroubled as the men passed by and went further into the trees. When all was quiet, Hoata again asked about Hinewai’s sister Hatiti. With tears in her eyes the frightened teenager could still tell them nothing.
“It will take some time to get back to the village,” said Hoata to Ahu. “Take the babies back” and handed Paikea her baby to Hinewai, “I will look for Hatiti.”
Ahu could think of no better plan but looked at Hoata, smiled weakly, nodded her head and handed over the machete and touched her on her shoulder. With that she started off with Hinewai and the babies to the village.
After sending Hinewai and Hoata’s baby to their home, Ahu went straight to the chief's house and told him of the pakeha. She told how they were dressed with shiny buttons on strangely coloured clothes, and wearing headpieces she had never seen before.
“Was he of fair skin?” asked the chief. Ahu nodded “Was it war paint?” she asked. The chief smiled grimly and shook his head. ”No, Ahu, that is his skin. They come in a very large boats carrying many men from far away. They are trouble for us. He then made Ahu tell of the encounter again to ensure there had been no omission. Finally satisfied he said “Go to Ahuahu and tell him to come to me.”
By the time Ahu reached their house she was shaking like a leaf. Ahuahu was lying down, but got up straight away when he saw how troubled she was. She told him briefly what had happened and of the chief’s instructions. He came up to her, rubbed noses and wrapped her in his arms holding her tight for a few minutes before leaving for the Chiefs house.
Some time later, Hinewai came, called out and said Hoata was back with Hatiti. The older girl had been sensible and hidden quietly in the bushes too until the pakeha had gone by who had following Hinewai as she had ran off.
It was after dark before Ahuahu returned. They had tracked the pakeha back to the beach where there was a strange boat with huge oars about to set off for a mighty ship at anchor out at sea. The Black Sands men approached them brandishing their weapons and challenged the pakeha with threats and chants. The pakeha though were already making to leave, did so hurriedly as the Black Sands men approached them. One man on the boat made an explosion with a black stick in his hand and made all the men on the shore run but no one was hurt. When they looked back at the boat it approached the huge ship now displaying great sails at its masts and then with the pakeha aboard it moved away to deeper water.
“We should follow them” said one of the men. The chief shook his head sadly, turned and made his way backwards to the village. “They will go this time but they will come again. They have been before many years ago. This is not good for us.”
The next day Ahu met Hoata again. Hoata was smiling with her eyes, “We should see more pakeha,” she joked. “Kamaka would not leave me alone last night.” Ahu though still remembered her fear.
Pakeha - Stranger, Foreigner

Monday, 12 September 2011

Recollections of a warped mind (No. 6)

Me and Mrs. Wallace Simpson

Now there isn’t a lot I can say about King Edward Eighth and the love of his life Mrs. Wallace Simpson. The problem being that almost no one knew what was going on. People in those days did not have the suspicious minds that we have today. A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse as the saying goes. The British press were obliged to keep their traps shut about the romance, whilst the foreign press had a field day. There was honour amongst the press barons then. Not that we should give them any applause. In late 1936 when the story just had to come out because the King chose abdication “for the woman I love,” the British papers had for several years systematically censored out all reference to the future king’s affair.

Truth it is said is the first casualty of war. So the British people of which I was one, albeit only a few months old, were kept in the dark. Everybody of course had an opinion after the event. This was particularly the case because King Edward was a lovable man. He was the Brad Pitt come Princess Diana of the day. He visited depressed areas, talked to the unemployed and promised something would be done. People loved him for that despite the fact that he could in fact do nothing. The only thing to alleviate unemployment and poverty at that time was to have another war. And that wasn’t too far around the corner. Edward was a weak, misled and gullible fool and clearly none of his lady friends up to that time had the ability to make him think he was the opposite. When Wallace Simpson came on the scene she had that peculiar drive and ambition of an American, to be able to persuade him, incorrectly as it turned out, to assert himself and make his own decisions. The British had centuries before decided to behead kings who made up their own minds. Parliament was in charge through the elected government and the lovers soon found this out to their cost. Nowadays nobody gives a toss and who is sleeping with who, that is quite is immaterial. The sin was that he was king and as such had to marry a suitable person, with the right pedigree. Wallace Simpson had had two previous husbands, the last of which had been a house guest of the future king a few years previous. To embark on a marriage with her would have been making a morganatic marriage which was not good for the monarchy and the belief that kings of Britain were defenders of the faith, chosen by God and many other things besides, which made the populace love and adore them. So he went and lived a life of idle loneliness with his lover and performed no useful function for the rest of his life.

One sidelight to this sorry affair was the decision to have the coronation for his brother Albert (Bertie) on the same day regardless of the crisis and furore that was taking place. Thus on the 12th May 1937, I received, being a one year old at that time, a silver spoon to commemorate the event. The new king took the name George presumably because Albert the name of his revered great grand-father (at least by Queen Victoria) was too sacred to be recycled. Luckily the spoon had the right king’s portrait on it together with the word ‘Farnham’ my birthplace, engraved in the spoon itself. For years this was a treasured possession of mine and I even added it to the family silver when Maureen and I were married. It has disappeared now of course. Three children all needing to have spoons to dig in the garden over a number of years meant that it is probably laying buried awaiting archaeological discovery centuries hence. But I doubt if it will tell of my relationship with Mrs. Simpson.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Sensation at Black Sands (Ahu's Story Part 13)

Ahu and Ahuahu had been at Black Sands now for some months. They no longer lived with Atahai the old widow as their house has been completed with the help of Ahuahu’s new friend Kamaka. They now fished together and would laugh a lot. Kamaka had a son a few months old like Tangaroa and two daughters from a previous wife who were in their teens, Hinewai and Hatiti who was the elder. The girls would do everything together often to be seen hand in hand as they wandered about in the village.
Kamaka’s wife Hoata and Ahu became friends and tended the vegetable plots and gathered fruit with their young babies jiggling around on their backs. The two teenage daughters would go down to the beach after the men had been fishing to help bring the catch back to the village.
After one good day fishing Kamaka told Hinewai to help Ahuahu drag the boat up into the dunes while he and Hatiti took the catch back to the village. It was hard for the two to push and pull the large canoe well above the tide line. Hinewai said “I am tired I wish to sit down and rest” and with that sat down on the sheltered side of the boat. Ahuahu continued to stow the ropes and paddles safely until he was satisfied all was well.
“Come sit by me, and tell me about the scar on your face.” Said Hinewai cheekily.
“No we should head back to the village,” said Ahuahu holding out his hand to help her to her feet. She took it, held on and with the other hand reached out and touched the scar on Ahuahu’s cheek. As she did so Hinewai looked directly at him and smiled, not only with her mouth but with eyes also.
“You should not have done this” he said releasing her hand. He turned and set off for the village alone. Hinewai continued to smile, “I think he likes me“ she said to herself.
Later that evening when Ahu and Ahuahu were at their house together, he said, “Ahu, I have to tell you something.”
Ahu nodded and kneeled down waiting for him to speak. Thereupon Ahuahu recounted what had happened. Her heart fell. She could say nothing, but her tears said everything. Wiping them away with the back of her hand, she finally spoke. “Do I not please you still?”
Ahuahu nodded. “You know that I love you. What should I do?”
“You must go to speak to Kamaka now, before there is talk.”
“Yes, the whole village will be talking about it in the morning, Go now.” She pleaded.
With much sadness Ahuahu went round to Kamaka’s house and called out to him. “Kamaka, I wish to talk to you.”
Kamaka came out of the hut, and walked up to Ahuahu.
“Kamaka, you have been a good friend to me. I need to tell you that Hinewai touched me on the face when we were at the boat. Ahu said that I should speak to you.”
Kamaka smiled. “Yes, I know. The girl has been beaten.”
“How did you know?”
“They are silly girls Ahuahu. Hinewai just had to tell Hatiti what she had done. I should have beaten Hatiti too, but I could think of no good reason. I trust you Ahuahu and you have honoured that trust by telling Ahu first. But now we will have to see who else may have seen her touch you.”
Clearly someone had seen Hinewai and Ahuahu as the rumour spread around the village early the next day. By noon the sensation was forgotten Kamaka and Ahuahu were still speaking and laughing with each other and Ahu was looking after two babies while Hoata was digging for oca tubers in the thick vegetation. However Hinewai and Hatiti were still giggling making new plans.

Note: In Polynesian culture there are touches that are not appropriate, e.g. do not pat older people, as you would a child or pet; do not touch the head, not even playfully, this applies to all age groups and do not presume to touch older people unless they touch you first.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Ahu and Ahuahu at the hot springs (Part 12)

Ahuahu woke when he heard the sound of movement in their hut. In the pre dawn gloom he could sense Ahu preparing for their journey south. She was methodically packing their belongings into backpacks. As she passed close to him he placed his hand around her calf. She paused then knelt down beside him putting her bits and pieces she had gathered aside.
“We should go while it is still dark “she murmured. Running her fingers over his thighs and gripping hold of him. “I will get up” he said. “No not yet” she replied as she lay on top of him and touched his chin and neck and ears, he could feel she was naked as her full breasts brushed over his face.
“This is to remind you where we made Tangaroa.” She said. He joined with her effortlessly as she now gripped his shoulders and let him enter her, and then he placed his hand near her mouth so she could nibble on it to stop from crying out as they completed their lovemaking. Ahuahu felt as though his heart and hers were beating as one, then as he relaxed and tried to pull her down to lay with him she rolled over and said. “I must get up now, to feed Tangaroa and go out to look as though I am collecting firewood. You should do the same and pretend to check the boat in the dunes. We will meet at Fern Gully at dawn.”
As she moved about he could sense her in the shadows and loved even those thoughts, as she stood up, clothed herself and collected her baskets and placed them near the door. She then went over to Tangaroa, lifted him to her breast as he sleepily slurped away unaware of the plans for the day. Ahuahu rose reluctantly, splashed some water over himself and felt for his pack to stow his knives and fishing tackle. He placed some fruit and a few vegetables in his pack too. As he moved about in the darkness he brushed against her kneeling as she fed the baby. He touched her fondly and buried his nose in her hair as she reached up with her free hand and touched his face and traced her fingers over his scar. With that he rose up without a word and left quietly to walk toward the sea and then skirt around the village to meet her in the foothills.
Ahu took her time feeding the baby then gathering her baskets with Tangaroa comfortable in the sling on her back she too walked quietly through the village where there was little sign of movement. Ahu smiled to herself. “They do not even know that Ahuahu returned,” she thought.
The birds were making their morning territorial calls when they met up again close to Fern Gully as the sun peeked above the horizon. Ahu pulled him away from the little settlement, indicating they should walk around it unseen. By the time the sun had heralded the day they were climbing high into the hills taking the route Ahu had taken many days before by herself.
Ahuahu recognised the ground where he had been just a day or so before. “We should not enter this land, it is for the Ngerengere” he stated. “It is unlucky.”
“No, no, husband it is full of love.” With that she called out “Ngaire!” and again she called Ngaire’s name. She then sat down on the ground and waited while Ahuahu fidgeted with discomfort. A few moments later the bent old woman limped up to them barely held up by her staff.
“Haere Mai, Ngaire” called out Ahu.
“May the gods bless you my child”, said Ngaire, “I did not expect to see you again.” Ahuahu sat down awkwardly, feeling that it was rude to remain standing, while the women talked.
Ahu reached into one of her baskets and drew out a feathered cloak and placed it between her and Ngaire who had sat on a large boulder of rock. “This is to keep you warm in winter.” Ahu said. ”We are moving to Black Sands, it is safe there. We will stay with Atahai until we have our own house built.”
Ngaire cackled with laughter, “Hold on tight to your husband, or else she will steal him from you.” Ahu also laughed at the thought of the old widow Atahai with almost no teeth should steal Ahuahu away. She glanced back to Ahuahu who was looking at something of interest in the dirt and appeared not to hear these women talk. With that Ahu rose up and Ahuahu did likewise. They nodded to Ngaire, backed away, said their goodbyes then followed the path by the stream though the forest that led to Black Sands.
“You have been there before” stated Ahuahu. “Are you not frightened of the curse of the gods?”
“Yes, but not of the love of an old woman.” replied Ahu.
They reached the Black Sands village before noon, and were greeted as usual by the children who gathered around them all wanting to hold Tangaroa. Ahu went straight to Atahai’s house and getting down on her knees called out to her. Atahai came out immediately and rubbed noses first with Ahu and then went up to Ahuahu and did likewise. They were ushered inside the house and given a drink and some dried meat to eat. Atahai then spoke to Ahuahu.
“Go to the chief’s house and offer your services to him and tell him you can help with the fishing. He will look doubtful, shake his head a little but he has already agreed that you are to stay here. You will get help to build a house, but when he tells you that, be surprised but insist that you can build it yourself.” She then turned to Ahu with a smile. “He will be there some time.”
Later that day when all the arrangements had been made, the boats observed, the site of their house had been selected, and the many children shooed away from coming up to see Ahuahu and the scar on his cheek, he finally managed to return to Atahai’s house.
They all sat down to have their meal and Ahu told him they would go to the hot springs to bathe that night. Atahai and one of the older girls in the village stayed behind to care for Tangaroa. The sulphurous smell was just as strong as before but by the time they entered the communal pools they barely noticed it.
Many families went down with them and the men asked Ahuahu to tell them about fishing at Gannet Island. He in turn asked them of the fishing and hunting at Black Sands, of the tides and the currents and the markers on land to sight when at sea to fish in the right area for each type of fish. One man Kamaka invited Ahuahu to fish with him the next day, saying “We will find good snapper. We must paddle a long way out and then look back to see the position of the rocks. One of them is eroded like your face, but you won’t see that” he said laughing and slapping him on his back. Ahuahu laughed too, he liked this man.
As they walked home that night, Ahu said little waiting for Ahuahu to speak first. “You have chosen well Ahu.” He said finally, “they think well of you.” They entered Atahai’s house and she greeted them affectionately as before. They were shown their place to sleep and the old woman then went to her place and lay down straight away and was soon asleep. Ahu attended to Tangaroa then settled down next to Ahuahu. She stroked him gently and as she was doing so tied a small strip of flax cloth around her wrist and then to his without him noticing. Later as he moved to put his arm around her he noticed that their wrists were tied.
“What is this?” he whispered.
“So you don’t leave my bed for Atahai’s,” she chuckled as the old woman snored noisily in the dark.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Recollections of an warped mind (No 5)

What did you do in the war Daddy?

This was once an appeal to the not so patriotic to do their duty when the country was in peril. The child’s simple question would be answered by the parent feeling guilty or responsible and would thus be persuaded to do their bit for King and Country.

I thought it might be amusing to ask the question of myself or at least very similar ones, to determine what I was doing at momentous times, and how I can now account for my actions or lack of action at the time. Clearly it may be necessary for me to be economical with the truth, and bend facts and dates and events to suit my own personal history. That is the history that I remember.

Was I there? Well if not I was pretty damned close!

I play my part in the Spanish Civil War

Having been born on the 4th May 1936, the Spanish Civil was raging at this time. Looking back, had I had my current political inclinations as I emerged from the womb, no doubt I too would have been marching off, in my nappies to join the International Brigade, in order to defend the fledgling democracy that was too far left politically for it’s own good, in a country which unhappily nursed the Inquisition a few centuries previously to force the populace to conform to the unreasonable demands of the Catholic Church of the time. Well I can say that now but in truth I have always tried to avoid conflict particularly when a stranger you don’t know wants to put you in uniform and carry a rifle while he sits at home drinking his scotch while contemplating your next move. You move all right because you are a puppet on a string, with a stupid smile on your face because it has been painted there by propaganda.

History shows us time and time again that good does not prevail, so General Franco won in Spain, hundreds of foreign volunteers were blacklisted and his dictatorship lasted over thirty years. History also shows us that good does get a chance every now and again but good by its nature is weak, because it is reasonable, benevolent, considerate and anxious to please everyone. Bad, or the forces of evil, on the other hand is the opposite and by its unreasonableness, inhumanity, blindness and desire to please only those in control will be in power more often that not.

So what did I do at the time?

I cried. But my parents thought that I only had a dirty nappy.

Ahuahu returns to the village (Part 11)

Ahuahu set off to return to the village by Gannet Island as he had been told that Ahu had returned there with Tangaroa. This time accompanied by a group of interested children he took the coastal route which meant climbing over a hill that overlooked the sea. The children soon tired by Ahuahu's fast pace, bid him farewell and told him to bring back Ahu, who they had made friends with. One little girl who had been silent all the while, suddenly blurted out, “Bring back Tangaroa too.” looking at him with her dark pleading eyes. He nodded and touched her shoulder. He thought that it would be good to have a daughter too.
As Ahuahu climbed the hill he could see the extent of the sea to his right, stretching out to the horizon. Far to the north east he could see the tip of Gannet Island where he and Hi’ilei did most of their fishing. It was early spring and far in the distance he could see signs of whales making their way north to the calving grounds. Whale hunting was dangerous and needed many men to catch and beach the beasts, but if successful there was food and oil and bone to use for many months.
He met no one as he made his way north. As he slowly made his way down to the coastal plain the vegetation grew more dense and at times he had to make his way to the beach to avoid the undergrowth and rocky terrain that had a number of small streams making their way to the sea, spilling over the rocks and forming tidal lagoons filled with wading water birds. They bade no mind to him as they were too busy feeding before dusk to care about one human.
By the time Ahuahu reached the beach a short way from his village he was exhausted by his speed of travel as well as the anticipation of seeing Ahu again. It was dark by the time he reached his hut. He entered and sensed another person’s presence. “Ahu, is that you?” He whispered.
Ahu did not answer, however Tangaroa gave a sniffily whimper and Ahuahu knew that they were both there.
He felt Ahu touch him on the arm, as she said “Sit down husband, you are weary from walking and you burn from exhaustion. I will find a little food for you.”
“Ahu, before the food, hold me.” Now in the darkened room he could just make out her form as she placed Tangaroa down and murmured some words to the sleepy baby. She then turned and placed her hands on his chest and moved them up, over his shoulders and held his face in her hands.
“Ahuahu” she said as he in his turn placed his hands on her hips then held her buttocks and pulled her close to him, placing his face close to hers and rubbing his nose gently over hers. “Ahuahu, do you know why I went away and hid when you were at the Rocky Outcrop?”
“No, why did you do that?” he asked in return.
“It is because neither you nor I are valued here. We should find somewhere else to raise our family.”
Ahuahu considered the words, shook his head sadly and said, “But I fish here, I fish well. Do they not value that?”
“We are used and people eat the fish you catch, but it is Hi’ilei’s boat even though you are a better fisherman. If you had died at the Rocky Outcrop, what would have happened to me? They may have traded me away to atone for the attack. Luckily the council of chiefs have agreed the Gannet Island fishing spot is the property of our village. That is why they did not attack us.”
Ahuahu looked shocked. “How could you know this? It cannot be true we would know of it.”
“The Black Sands village knew of it, even our chiefs knew of it but you have not been told. They do not think it necessary to tell you. You have been used. I was lucky that I went away and heard of the truth from that village.” Ahu responded.
Ahuahu was silent for a moment. “Why did you come back then?”
“You are my husband, I bore your son. We belong together and we should live at Black Sands. I am sure they will welcome us.”
“I cannot leave as Hi’ilei was injured in the fighting,” said Ahuahu. “They will need me to fish.”
Ahu shook her head sadly, took his head in her hands and said, “They need fishermen at Black Sands too. Eat up now and then get some rest for we should be travelling before dawn.”
Ahuahu was not happy; he needed to tell Hi’ilei but knew that it would not be wise. He trusted Ahu but he felt more afraid than if he was in a boat in a raging sea. Ahu could sense this and after he had finished eating pulled him down to lie with her. She undid his clothes and rubbed his body with oil and sang her song of love to him. She told him how strong he was, and how many sons he would have and how her body ached for him. He burned with desire for her and as he clasped her to him nuzzling her body with his nose and face and pretending to bite her with his lips he murmured “I want daughters too, Ahu.”
Ahu shook with the thrill of his lovemaking. Then as she pushed him on his back and bent over him with her body responding to his touch. “When shall we go?” she asked.
“Tomorrow” he replied.