Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ahuahu and Hatiti (Part 19)



The village was still flooded the next morning although there were signs that the sea water was now receding after the earthquake out to sea has caused the sea to come rushing in to devastate almost everyone’s homes.
Ahu and Ahuahu and Tangaroa slept on the ground on a little hillock a little way from the village. Hoata had found Kamaka and Hinewai but the elder daughter Hatiti was missing. She was probably in their house when the wave had hit and had almost certainly drowned as it was engulfed. But they couldn’t find her body which was assumed to have been washed out to sea. Kamaka had already knocked some of his teeth out in his sorrow at losing his favourite daughter. Hinewai cried all the time and had cut her arms to show her grief. The old widow Atahai had also died as she too was in her hut when the water destroyed her home. In all about 20 people had died or were missing most of them children.
The water from the stream that ran past the village tasted foul but there was nothing else to drink. Kamaka and Ahuahu's canoe was missing together with most of the other boats.
The funerals for those who had died were held with much wailing and sadness. The funeral held in an open space in the forest a short walk from the devastated village was a sombre affair with almost all families except Ahu’s grieving for relatives.
The day after the men of the village met on a hillside between the village and the hot springs. After discussing the situation and the need to atone the gods it was finally agreed to rebuild the village where they were now meeting. For men like Ahuahu and Kamaka it would mean a much longer walk to the beach to fish but clearly it would be safer than staying on the low lying land they were on previously.
Ahuahu had made a temporary shelter with branches, leaves and pieces that were still usable from their old house. There was only just enough room for the three of them to fit the shelter to sleep at night what with the saved utensils and tools as well as the garments they had salvaged.
Far to the west the mountain still smoked but it was no longer angry and slowly the life of the village inhabitants regained some order. At night Ahu would not let Ahuahu leave her for a moment and with one hand touching him and the other Tangaroa she had to lie on her back. Ahuahu gently caressed her rounded tummy and talked both to her and to the unborn baby and his soothing voice was just what she needed to relax. He also told her of the change of plans now that Hatiti had died.
“Kamaka will ask the parents if they would like their son to accept Hinewai instead,” he told her.
“Will they?” asked Ahu dreamily.
“Would you?”
“Hinewai will be very lucky if they do.” Ahu said then pulled his hand over to caress her breasts. “It will be very lucky for Hoata too, she will have Kamaka all to herself.”
Ahuahu shook his head, “Kamaka is hurting a lot and he will be a changed man because he could see his first wife in Hatiti.” As Ahu murmured some words to him, he went on, “Tomorrow I will go down to the shore to gather up the drift wood that has been thrown up on the sands. Will you come with me?”
Ahu shook her head, “No, tomorrow Hoata and I will looks at the vegetable plot to see if any can be saved.” With that she fell asleep.
Then next morning Ahuahu found his machete in the ruins of their house and set off down to the beach and started gathering pieces of wood and piling them high above the beach. He had wandered some way north and was about to turn back when he went inland into the undergrowth to look for the stream for a drink of water. Even here there were signs that the sea had come this far inland with broken branches and even marooned shellfish and scuttling crabs underfoot.
He stopped and listened hard to drown out the background noise of the sea. There was a call. It was a faint but plaintive cry. It sounded like “Tohu” repeated faintly over and over again. He stopped, and stayed as still and as quiet as he could.
“Tohutohu.” The voice again called.
This time Ahuahu worked out the direction and headed straight for it. Every now and then he would stop and call out “I am here. Keep calling.”
Eventually he found a bedraggled figure leaning up against a tree. It was young woman. She was dirty, naked and scratched and bruised all over.
“Hatiti? Is that you” asked Ahuahu.
The young woman burst into tears and called out his name, “Ahuahu, Ahuahu, Ahuahu,” over and over again.
He went straight up to her, knelt down and wrapped her in his arms. “I have got you. I will take you back but I will need to clean you up a bit first. I am going back to the stream to get some water. It is not far. I will talk to you all the time.”
Hatiti nodded still crying holding him, not wanting him to go. Gently he released her grip and talking all the time walked back the way he had come to get to the stream.
Ahuahu was back quickly with two shells full of water. He got her to drink some which she did greedily then with the rest attempted to clean her up. She had a few deep cuts which still oozed blood and the dirt was carefully wiped away with a part of his clothing. He then took off his half cloak and tried to cover her nakedness. All the time he was attending to her she held on to him too frightened to let him go.
“The cloak does not cover you properly Hatiti, so I will tie it around your waist and I will carry you back. Hold me tight and you will not be exposed.”
Hatiti nodded again, and attempted to get up and as she did so Ahuahu put her arms around his neck and he picked her up under her knees.
“We will have to walk back along the shore, let me know if you need a rest”
“It will be you that will need a rest, Ahuahu” Hatiti said.
“Good girl, you will have a wedding to look forward to”
“He won’t want me, if he sees me being carried from the forest by a nearly naked man.”
“Even with the cuts and bruises he will still want you Hatiti”
With that she held him even tighter.
It took them till after midday to get back to the temporary encampment. When Ahauahu said it was Hatiti there was a great wailing and crying thinking that she had been found dead. She held on so tight to him that she didn’t appear to be alive. Kamaka rushed toward them with tears in his eyes.
“She is alive, she is alive” said Ahuahau as he handed Hatiti to her father.
“You are truly my brother Ahuahu.” Kamaka said.
Hinewai alone looked very cross.

Tohu, Tohutohu - Save me or Help me

13 comments:

  1. I can picture joy coming back towards the end but Hinewai looking very cross is intriguing (to me).

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  2. I return to floods and ruin..and yet a smile and the usual comforting cast..nice writing Old(s)Egg..Jae ;)

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  3. A lovely use of "call"! Beautiful story :)

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  4. After the drama comes the possible melodrama. Ahuahu's going to have to watch out.

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  5. You have a vivid and delightful imagination. Kudos.

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  6. I have an Uncle that lives in eastern Arizona, in the Navajo Nation. He is an Hataalii. He would say Ahuahu is a valuable man. I keep picturing what Bay St. Louis on the coast of Mississippi look after the hurricane Camile withdrew. There was a sandy coat of mud on everything with poisonous sea snakes mixed in. Just yuck. Rebuilding after something like that and burying the dead...you know, I still have friends I have not found since Katrina. I guess I should add that I am still enjoying this story very much.
    Thank you.

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  7. All went well until the last line!! Now we are hooked to know Hinewai's course of action!! Leaves open many intriguing and disturbing possibilities.

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  8. There is a lovely, distinct 'folkvoice' to this series. V. well done!

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  9. I didn't really keep the distinctions between the sisters in mind until now. Now it's clear.

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  10. awww thankfully our young couple are still ok and at least some of the villagers left so they can re-build. Seems as if there's going to be some jealousy soon.

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  11. It sounds like finding Hatiti may end up causing as many problems as losing her did.

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  12. Great use of the prompt! Sounds like trouble is brewing and I can hardly wait to see what happens next!

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