It had been a good season for all at Black Sands. All the fish drying racks were full and the vegetable storage bins were stacked. Everyone had a pleased look on there faces as they contemplated a few easy weeks to follow.
The village headman decided that a hangi was appropriate with dancing and singing and much food to be eaten at this hakari for this festive season. And so the preparations began. Everyone was involved preparing the pits for roasting the fish and the birds and any small animals they could catch for the earth ovens.
Ahu was also involved but she did so a slower pace than that of all the other women, she was pregnant again. Luckily both Tangaroa and Hekehoru could look after themselves and they too raced about the village to see what was happening leaving Ahu far behind.
The great round stones for the cooking pits were placed in the fires and heated up then carefully placed in the holes. Branches with their leaves still on were placed on top and the meat and the vegetables placed on these and covered with more leaves and herbs which in was covered with earth. As the heat seeped through wisps of steam and delicious odours filled the area as the village gathered and the speeches and dancing began.
As a member of the village council Ahuahu sat with the chief and the other village elders, with his family close by. The children’s eyes sparkled with the reflection of the flames from the central fire and Hekehoru clapped with excitement at the dancers and the show of strength from the warriors chanting and threatening then finally showing respect for the people gathered there.
The food was eaten noisily and with much talking and laughter. Then it was time for the young unmarried girls and youths to dance. Tangaroa got up and tried to mimic their actions but by this time Hekehoru was getting tired and had curled up with Ahu with her eyes trying not to close should she miss something.
Ahu indicated to Ahuahu that she was taking Hekehoru home and to watch Tangaroa as more dancing continued and kava was drunk. Just as the feast was winding to a close a young man ran into the village, it was a boy from the Hot Springs settlement. He ran up to Kamaka, whispered to him. Kamaka turned and indicated to Ahuahu that they should speak.
There had been an accident at the hot pools, Kaihutu had been badly scolded by an extra large eruption from one of the hotter pools and was in much pain and Hatiti was frightened for him. Kamaka looked to Ahuahu for help.
“I will go to Ahu and see if she had anything to help his pain. But should they not put him a cold pool to help?”
“The skin is badly blistered, it does not look good.”
Kamaka nodded. “You go there now but I will follow in a little while.”
Although Kamaka agreed he also said, “They do not think he will survive.”
With that Ahuahu rushed back to his house, Ahu was sitting on the porch and was surprised to see Ahuahu back so soon.
“I didn’t think I would see you till morning.”
“Kaihutu is badly hurt have you anything to help the pain from scalding?”
Ahu’s face fell and she burst into tears, “Why do the gods play with us so, husband?”
Ahuahu helped her to get up as they went inside the hut to find her remedies.
She gave him some dried leaves, “These might ease the burning feeling but he must chew them. But surely they will have them there?”
“I am worried Ahu, he may not be conscious.”
“Hurry then, Ahuahu.”
Kaihutu died that night, he never regained consciousness. Ahu thought that it was so true that you should never show how happy you are. Hatiti had paid that penalty.
She loved Hatiti dearly. She wept for her sadness and when Kaihutu had been buried in the traditional burial grounds and the period of mourning was passed. Ahu sent a message to Hatiti to visit her.
Hatiti came down the following day.
“Would you stay with me when our new baby is born, Hatiti? I would like you with me.”
Hatiti looked at Ahu, “For weeks I wanted that when Ahuahu rescued me after the tidal wave. Do you really want that now?” Before Ahu could answer, Hatiti continued. “I loved my husband Kaihutu dearly thanks to you. I am grieving for him now with so much pain. That will pass and then I might look on Ahuahu again if he is near me. You do not want that.”
“Men cannot help but to look sideways, Hatiti. It is better that I choose who he should look at. But that time has not come yet.”
“Forgive me Ahu, Even though I have seen you regularly I have hardly seen or spoken to Ahuahu for two years, do you not know why?”
“Yes, Hatiti, I do. But your love for both of us is genuine. I am not jealous of you anymore.”
“I will tell my mother-in law I will be staying with you while you have the baby.”
With that Hatiti laid her head in Ahu’s lap and cried as Ahu stroked her hair.
Hakari - Feast
Hangi - Earth Oven