Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Fisherman’s Daughter

Although this poem was published just over two years ago I thought it may fit the Two Shoes Tuesday prompt word "Offer" quite well.



I loved the rolling chalk downs
With the comfort of lush grass,
Sheep bleating and other sounds
Birdsong aplenty from larks rising
Sky high in faraway grounds.

I rarely ventured so far as the sea.
It was a foreign land of flinty folk,
Drenched with spume from the sea 
Where even their brittle tongue
Was not as ours and hard on me.

From my drab life I was sent there
And bore their rough speech and looks
For which I did not care
Fashioned by the inclement weather
The seas stinging salt spray hard to bear

But there was something for me
The rough cry of nesting gulls
The pulsating beat of the sea
Barnacles resisting the sea’s pulls
Pebbles burnished by tides and…thee

The wind howled, and the salt spray
Stung the eyes so that vision was a blur.
All this, yet I wanted to stay
For the fisherman’s daughter. For her
Charms with my heart did play

She stood full square with a grin on her face
Beckoning tendrils of hair in disarray
One hand on hip and creel held in place
With fresh caught fish to sell on the quay
She looked at me and I took back a pace

No fish ever was so eager to be caught
A full bosomed wench with feet bare and brown
“What’s the catch?” I asked as I ought
“Me” she replied “Father will throw in a gown
When you take me; which he has bought.”

There were enough strong sons for him.
Daughters were the catch they could not sell
Considered unlucky at sea and weak of limb
So for us a seaside church tolled out its bell
And celebrations lasted until the light was dim

“Take her,” her father said “And treat her right.”
“I’ll be kind” I said. So we settled there
In our tiny house we fitted in snug tight
And quickly my wife children did bear
Truly this was love at first sight.

Yes, I loved the place of my birth
And the birds in the sky winging,
But there is nothing on this earth
To match the sound of my wife singing
And children playing for all they are worth

Image found at http://www.isle-of-man.com/manxnotebook

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Salty tears are shed



What is this yearning
Of man for the restless sea
For what do we search?

Its white horses leap

In spring with a briny scent
and breeze in our hair

Languid summer calms

And then we dare to enter
The womb of origin

We are stirred by fall

As storms rage leashing fury
At our long absence

Brave mortals who dare

Then in winters frigid calm
Seek answers again

What is this yearning

Of man for the restless sea
For what do we search?

We seek our mother

To thank her for life's gift so
Salty tears are shed



Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mornings are like that



On a scale of one to ten it was a three
Mornings are like that
My hearing was fine
I could hear the chimes of the town clock
But my sight was impaired by alcohol
Not that I wanted to look at anything
But work called
I whimpered with regret
The bed looked comfortable resting there
My toes curled on the cold floor
Oh, I can see!
It was a misty day
It was a misty me with misty eyes
Scattered clothes, unfriendly mirror, tattered face
It was a raw day
It was a raw me with a raw tongue
My edges were frayed.
Flinging death aside I showered and wished to drown
I didn’t, so my score clicked up to five
Damp me, dump clothes, fresh togs, drink juice
I”ve played this game before
Juice, juice, juice the colour of the sun
Which curves its way up into the sky
for me and everyone else
Why doesn’t it have day off?
I am a man of straw, a man on the edge
Out of the house, skirting the dog do
The world is vast, too big, too small
My pretty neighbour is at the bus stop
I’ll ask her for a drink tonight. She smiles.
I feel so good.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hoku and Aotea (82)



The continuing story of Ahu and Ahuahu her husband in a Maori village in Aotearoa before European settlement of New Zealand. (Did you miss last weeks episode? Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts or click on 'Rūaimoko asks to meet Ahuahu (No. 81)' in the Blog Archive.

 

Hoku settled down quite well living with Ahu and Hatiti. She was glad that Ahuahu was the headman at Black Sands so that she would knew what was happening in the village from the talk at mealtimes. What she particularly liked was how she and the Ahuahu’s children were free to do there own thing in the village and were not observed and criticised for anything that would appear not fitting for a chief’s child which so different from her life at Rocky Outcrop.

The first time she had been taken up to the Hot Springs to see where Horowai and Tangaroa lived she was horrified at the appalling smell of suphur and the sight of the bubbling pools. Gradually she got used to it and visited Horowai often when Tangaroa was fishing.

However at Ahuahu’s home she was closest in age to Hekehoru and she spent much of her time with her and they both used to see Tui the old chief’s son together much to Tui’s annoyance who wanted Hekehoru all to himself. Hoku had hardly spoken to Aotea who had virtually ignored her. One day when he returned home Hoku was sitting on the porch and he had to walk past her to go inside.

“Is anyone else at home?” he asked.

She shook her head, then said, “Why do you not like me Aotea?”

He paused then sat down beside her, “That is not the case, Hoku. It is just that there has been so much talk of us being the same age and of your own father saying you were of marriageable age, that I did not want to be forced to like you when I don’t know you.”

Hoku pouted and said “I am my father’s favourite daughter. He wants me to marry well. He trusts your father Ahuahu and said if anything happened to him Ahuahu might want his son to marry me. You are only the son by Ahu he has left.”

“No, that is not right, Rauora is his son by Hatiti as well but of course he is younger than either of us. My father has not told me to look after you or take you fishing and neither will he. If you like me you will show it and if I like you, you will know it too.” He paused and looked at Hoku closely. “Hoku you have been brought up differently to my brothers and sisters. My parents do not say ‘let us hope they will like each other’ we are free to make up our own minds. There will be many men that will look on you and want you to be their wife. My parents do not believe in arranged marriages.”

Hoku looked at Aotea again and said “If only my parents would subscribe to that idea.” She paused then looked up at Aotea “Why have you not asked me to go fishing? Tangaroa has. I like Tangaroa, he is strong like his father and Horowai treats me like a sister.”

Aotea then explained to her that Horowai was Hatiti’s first daughter by her first husband. “Ahu and Ahuahu came from Gannet Island but left when Rocky Outcrop kept threatening the village. They came here and as they both worked so hard and were wise in solving problems with our neighbours they are well respected and Ahuahu has been head man for some years now. Tell me about your family, Hoku “

“Our family has always been in the village; being chief has either been passed down from father to son or from brother to brother. The stories that are told are those of our village controlling a large area around us. Only when the pakeha arrived has life been more precarious.”

While Hoku was talking, Aotea placed his hand gently over hers and she appeared not to notice.

“Why do the pakeha leave your village alone, Aotea?” She asked.

“There is nothing here that they want. The fishing is difficult from the lava sands of the beach, there is no safe anchorage for their large boats and  the hot springs are just a novelty for them and there is nothing to be traded. Most importantly my father tries to deal fairly with the pakeha when they visit and they realize this.”

“And why did you place your hand on mine, Aotea. My father would be cross if he knew.”

“It is to show you that we can be friends Hoku and I do not want to fight with you.” Aotea paused then continued, “If I had approached you earlier before you had seen our family living together you would have been offended. I want us to be friends not because others say we should but because we find it easy to smile at one another. We have lived different lives up to now and after you being with us just a little while I now want you to stay longer.”

“Should we walk on the beach together this evening?”

“Yes, but I expect we will have to take Houhia and Rauora with us.”

With that they saw Ahu returning to the whare so Aotea let go of Hoku’s hand but Ahu noticed how close they were sitting together and smiled to herself but said nothing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Coral's Story


(Mark and Marina the mermaid part 12, conclusion. Click on Mermaid in the labels bar for previous episodes.)


Some time ago my Mum suggested I write down things that happen in my life, something like a journal that I can look back on when I am older. I wasn’t too fussed back then and I must admit but I did.  It was a bit piecemeal with long gaps where I appear to do and think nothing, which is far from the truth, but am I glad I did because there are some things I wrote down which were precious moments for me and hopefully I can pass them on to my children if I ever have any.

Soon after my Granddad died everything changed. My life turned around, I met a very special person and it wasn’t a boy but another girl…well woman really who had two young children and I loved her from the start. You won’t believe this but she was my Granddad’s girlfriend.

But let me take you back a year or two. I know now that I was not a poilite person to know and get on with in my teens. It is all about oestrogen and testosterone and coming of age, well not age, maturity in body, even if not common sense or understanding. That all changed when my Granddad died and Mum found out that he had had an affair with another woman after my Nan died. That’s OK though, as everyone wants and needs a little comfort and caring in their lives, young people, adults and even oldies. But in his case he had rescued a mermaid in distress and although he didn’t sweep her off her feet as she didn’t have any, he returned her to the sea where she belonged. After they each told the other their stories they fell in love.

When my Mum found out that she existed, she took me to try to find her and to let her know about Granddad’s death. Marina had given birth to two mer children by him and I was totally speechless when I saw her for the first time. She was so beautiful that even I fell in love with her.

After I knew where to find her; that is if she wanted to be found by me, we would talk and eat some the food I would take down and she would allow me to swim and play with Ocean and Serena her children. Then when I was tired out because they were such better swimmers than me I would go and lay on the beach with Marina and we would talk. I took a coarse toothed comb for her hair and would comb it for her and check her back for scratches and for freeloading sea creatures that would hide away on her back out of reach. Marina would sing to me with her children playing in the shallows and the words of her songs told me of the way of the sea and their love of it.

Sometimes she would be happy for Ocean and Serena to drag me out to sea and play their mer games of hide and seek where you closed your eyes and had to try and guess where they were, much like blind man’s bluff but there was no sound under water. Their chasey game was adapted so they were only allowed to swim with one arm but I was still hopeless as they used theirs tails so effectively and always caught me; but I loved it.

One day Marina said to me, “Coral, Don’t love us so much.” Then she looked into my eyes and continued, “Save that love for a man. You have become a woman and have helped my children know that humans can be kind. However I have decided that we must make a long journey to find other mer people. Ocean is growing up fast and I noticed he did something with you that showed me he is maturing.

“What did he do? I noticed nothing.” I asked.

“You probably thought it was quite innocent. But we were all swimming together when he caught a little fish in his mouth then came up to you and kissed you and transferred the fish to your mouth. Did you not notice?”

“Yes” I answered, “but I thought he as just playing a trick on me.”

Marina shook her head, smiling. “No, no. this is a typical mating ritual of a merman bragging that he can provide for his mate. He likes you so much he wants to look after you, even though he doesn’t realize that yet himself.” She paused then continued, “All those years ago when Mark your grandfather first met me he would bring me fresh fish to eat just like a merman. That is when I really began to love him as he showed he wanted to look after me.”

I began to cry and said, “I don’t want to lose you.” 

Marina hugged me and kissed away my tears. “You are not losing me or the children but Ocean and Serena must learn more of life away from you and hopefully find other mer people to interact with. I will make a promise the same one I made your grandfather. Once a year I will return to this beach. This time perhaps it would be better if we met at the start of spring so the water is not so icy for you.”

So we discussed at length exactly when this would be with the high tides and the full moon coinciding. Then she called the children in sat them down and she then explained to them what was going to happen. Serena was plaiting my hair at the time and Ocean was counting my fingers as Marina spoke to them. They looked at me and then at Marina in disbelief. Serena cried and Ocean shook his head crossly and hugged me not wanting to let me go. We all cried as we said our farewells.

That was the last I saw of them. I still go to our meeting place each year, just in case, but they have never returned. I think now that Marina was stronger than all of us and had decided it must be the way and they had to go it alone. Each year I return and pray that one of them might appear but as the years pass even that little hope is fading and I must return to my normal life heartbroken, but I will never give up. Would you?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The killing of a super hero



When I first started blogging this was an early post of mine and seemed to beg a review and rerun for this prompt.

The saddest thing about growing up is killing off your super heroes. Of course my super hero was my Dad. And soon after I started work I killed him dead, metaphorically that is.

He was my super hero because he adored my Mum. He was a brilliant sportsman in his youth and as a young man. Around the house he was always able to fix things. So there you have it; a loving, sporty, wonder man. So he surely was my superhero.

He was a very loving husband and probably drove all the other relations mad the way he hugged and kissed my Mum. Demonstrative love was not normal for working class people after the first bloom of marriage had worn off.

He played soccer for his works team, cricket for the town side and was a champion billiards player. He taught us boys the rudiments of many a card game which was very useful at the family get togethers that occurred at Christmas time so we could compete well with the adults. He came out to referee a scratch match of football with local boys on the neighbourhood sports ground during the vacation period. Above all he had a great sense of humour. I loved him.

When I got my first job, one of the perks was a yearly trip to London to attend a Building exhibition for architects, builders and other specialist to enable us to keep up with the latest trends in the business.

After a trip there one year I thought I would call in to see him at his work place in the city before I went home. I searched every depot that he was likely to be but his workmates all gave the same excuse. "Oh he gone down to Fisher Street" or "He'll be at Conduit Street by now."

I never caught up with him. And sadly instead of being able to have a chat and go for a beer with him after work, I caught the train home alone, pondering about him. Later on I found out that he had just taken an hour off work and gone home early. But as I sat in that railway carriage alone being whisked through the suburbs of London on a dark and dismal evening in November I thought about life, families and the future.

What I worked out was that I had been given a wonderful lesson in life. That small event of no consequence at first sight had set me free to be my own person. I was already well thought of at my new job; I even had a life and friends that didn't include my family but it was this very small event that somehow established me as an independent person.

What I discovered was that my father was not a superhero anymore, and he didn't need to be. He had done his job, taught me a lot and set me some great examples in life and it was my job now to live up to them. If I made mistakes, that was my responsibility from now on.

I do hope those characteristics in him that I so admired live on in me and that my children will also learn too, then break free to be superheroes to their own children as well.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rūaimoko asks to meet Ahuahu (No. 81)

The continuing story of Ahu and Ahuahu her husband in a Maori village in Aotearoa before European settlement of New Zealand. (Missed an episode? Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts.)


A message had been sent to Ahuahu from the headman at Rocky Outcrop, Ruaimoko, for a meeting at Gannet Island with a cryptic message to bring a female member of his family with him. The messenger was told that he should stay the night and return with Ahuahu’s reply the following day.

Ahuahu discussed this with Ahu and Hatiti and said “He has always been fair in the past. I think that one of you should come but I will also take Tangaroa as well. He has met the chief before.”

Ahu shook her head, “Why not take Horowai? She has never been to Gannet Island. Tangaroa will want to tell her about where he was born.”

“It is about time she was with child, Hatiti, what do you think.”

“Yes, it would be better for her to go now before she is,” said Hatiti, “She is still young, she should go. She should see our country to the north as it is now before it is completely taken over by the pakeha.”

At that Ahuahu smiled at her “You are right Hatiti, she must have stories she should tell to her children of our heritage for them to dream of.” He then continued, “I do not know what he wants but with Tangaroa and me she will be safe.”

So a message was sent back with the man from Rocky outcrop that they would meet in four days time at the old Gannet Island village.

Ruaimoko was already there when they arrived and welcomed them in one of the old village buildings that still remained there. The small fishing village that was once Ahu and Ahuahu’s home was but a remnant of former times.

“You are welcome Ahuahu, and it is good to see that your son Tangaroa is with you. Ahuahu then introduced Horowai, Tangaroa’s wife. “Good, good, Ahuahu I am glad you have brought a young member of your family with you.”
Once they had settled and had some refreshment he went on, “I am aware that Black Sands is but a poor settlement compared with others and you have fought hard to retain your independence. By your efforts and possibly because the pakeha have little interest in your location you have not only survived but prospered by their neglect.” He paused here then continued.
“Of all the people that I know you are the only one that I can trust to help me now. Rocky outcrop in is danger of being taken over by the pakeha. Their settlements to the north of us are expanding and there is much inter-village fighting around us as we are confined to smaller and smaller areas. There have been many signs to indicate that our own survival is at risk. Our tohunga has forecast much trouble and sadness ahead. This is why I want to see you.”

“What is you request Ruaimoko? But tell me first why you wanted a female member of the family with us.”

“Hoku, come forward.” The old man called. From the other room of the building a teenage girl came to join them.

“I am here, Father.”

“This is Hoku my youngest daughter,” He looked at Ahuahu and said smiling, “She is my favourite and knows it,” Hoku had by this time knelt down close beside him. He put his arm round her and touched noses with her. “Ahuahu, I want you to take Hoku and keep her safe for me until the present troubles are over. Be a father to her, keep her chaste and safe. I know that marriage is on all girls’ minds. You are the only one can I can trust to treat her as one of your own. If you do this and have a son about her age I may consider him to be a husband for her...later.”

“You honour me Ruaimoko, my wives will look after her, and she will be part of my family. I have but one son her age who is unmarried and that is Aotea. He is Ahu’s third child. But do not let us rush into an agreement yet. You may want to send for in but a few days.”  Ahuahu then turned to Horowai, “Horowai, you can see now why you are here. You will escort and protect Hoku as we return.”

Ruaimoko then said, “The decision to do this was painful to me.” He then paused then continued. “You have not argued or tried to dissuade me, you know we live in times of change. To show my appreciation I have persuaded my village council that your village may use our tauranga around Gannet Island for taking care of Hoku. Mind you we would also like to be told of any whales that are close to shore off your beaches too so they too can be shared!” he said with a grim smile. ”I wish that you had brought Aotea with you too, I should like to have met him.”

“We will not force them upon each other Ruaimoko. Hoku has heard us speak so will be wary of him now. I will inform you of her wellbeing. It is better they should like each other before we decide if it is a good match.”

So Hoku returned to Black Sands and Horowai held her hand and talked to her for much of the way telling her about Black Sands and the hot springs there. Ahuahu talked to the three of them on their journey back and told Hoku that she would be treated as a relative by all of his family and would live with them in his whare.

At this Tangaroa, said “Horowai and my home is but a short walk away at the Hot Springs you are welcome there too.” At this Horowai squeezed hold of Hoku’s hand tighter and whispered to her “You have not left a boy behind at Rocky Outcrop have you?”

Hoku shook her head, “My father was so protective with us girls, no village boys dared to talk to me openly. I cannot think of marriage at the moment when my village is in danger. I just hope my family will be safe now I have left them behind.”

Tauranga -  Fishing ground
Tohunga  - Holy man, witch doctor.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Postscript on Marina the mermaid

(Mark and Marina the mermaid part 11. Click on Mermaid in the labels bar for previous episodes.)
Hello my name is Rosalind and I am Mark’s daughter. Let me say what a surprise it was for me to learn about my father. I had no idea whatsoever that he had this adventure, nor did my brother. Sadly my father died just a few weeks ago suddenly and it wasn’t until my husband and I were sorting out his things on a rather dismal day a few weeks later that I found out what he had really been doing over the last few years since mum died. When I read his account of meeting the mermaid Marina as he called her and of my half brother and sister that live in the sea off our shores I was completely amazed that he had kept it secret even from me for so many years as we were always so close. He left my brother and I a letter; to tell us about the mermaid he had helped…and from the information he provided I finally worked out exactly where they used to meet at their secret beach after that first beach was turned into a bauxite loading port a few years ago where he first met Marina. In fact I remembered something he had told me when I was a teenager so many years ago about the secret places that still exist for those still adventurous to find that few know about.

I couldn’t think how I could contact Marina until I read his story a few times and ignoring the red herrings and waffle that he planted I worked out exactly where they had agreed to meet in that conservation park. I was going to go with my brother but instead I took my daughter who was just a teenager at the time and at that age of growing up and becoming more difficult and snappy every day. I slowly told her about her grandfather. She didn’t believe me of course but reluctantly she did come with me and after a few attempts we found the deserted cove where they used to meet. There were a few signs of my father being there and I discovered the secret cache for food now completely depleted and we stayed overnight just 
as he did by leaving my car out of the park, as well as out of sight.  We settled down for the night on that balmy summer’s evening and dozed in and out of sleep.

It was about four in the morning that I heard the call for “Mark” repeated a few times and I dared to call “Marina” back to her.  There was silence after that but just as dawn broke I could see that she was watching us just at the edge of the sea.

“Marina,” I called again, “I am Mark’s daughter. I came to talk to you.”

She kept very still, then quietly said “He has died hasn’t he?”

“Yes,” I whispered. By this time my daughter had woken up and was listening to us speak. Luckily she said nothing but sat there open mouthed in amazement.

“I have my daughter here with me, Marina. It is just the two of us Have you got your children with you?”

With that she came out of the water and her two merchildren came with her and rested half in and half out of the water staring at us.  So I sat down on the beach not too close to them and talked to her about my family and of my father and how much we loved him and were happy that he had found her to care for after my mother had died. She nodded sadly and cried herself and spoke to her children and pointed to us sitting there. I cannot tell you any more because I am crying so much myself as I write this. Even I thought how beautiful she was, luscious almost and I can see how he fell in love with her. Curiously from that day on my daughter became a really loving person and became the most beautiful young woman you could imagine. Having the opportunity to meet and interact with with someone completely outside her little world changed her. She had realized that love and caring was what life was all about. Her eyes had been opened wide.

Years later I found out from her (and curiously we had named our daughter Coral so many years ago)  that later she visited Marina too by herself and had swum with her and had seen Ocean and Selena grow up. It was then I realized there was hope for humankind after all. 

“I am going down to see Auntie Marina and her kids.” Coral would say if anyone else was in earshot. This was our secret. I am so proud of her she is just like her grandad. Mind you I just hope she doesn’t find a merman to be her boyfriend, on the other hand…she certainly seems to know a lot about the sea now and tends to eat a lot of sushi when she is out! 

Note : Final Episode No 12 , Coral's Story, next week

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Aware



“Are you aware of the danger when you see a female bear?” 

 

Did you mean a female… bare? 

                                                 

 “Could be, I’ll just say, take care if either one lures you unaware.” 

       

“Oh, I don’t know, I might just do it for a dare.”    

     

“Then, please don’t enter into her lair.”

 

“Not even if she has very long hair?”    

    

“No, not even if she has clothes to wear.”

 

“O come on, that’s not fair.”

 

“You will not make a very good pair.”

 

“Damn it, that is so unfair!”  

 

“Just take care. Be aware!” 


"I still might just do it for a dare."

 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Rapata meets Hinewai (No. 80)


The continuing story of Ahu and Ahuahu her husband in a Maori village in Aotearoa before European settlement of New Zealand. (Missed an episode? Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts.)


Rapata returned to Big River and reported his proposals for the Ngerengere settlement to his mission church leaders and it was approved that he should provide assistance to them but he would have to work there on his own, not with a team of helpers that he wanted. Later he came back to Black Sands and told the village council of the plan and asked that if they could consider it. After a long debate they finally agreed that he could do this work but that they must be informed of all that he did there. Rapata asked for help in building a clinic and accommodation for him there and after another lengthy discussion it was agreed and some assistance would be given to him in its construction. In order that the men from Black Sands who helped were not in contact with the residents of the ngerengere settlement it was built on the edge of their area. This also satisfied the authorities from Big River who said they would need to inspect it from time to time. However they never did.

Kamaka who was a skilled carpenter himself, offered to work there as did Tane and Mahora also from Black Sands. So a three roomed hut in typical Maori style was soon erected. On the day that the Black Sands men had finished their work Rapata thanked them and noticed that Kamaka was not returning back to the coast with the other men but started to make his way across country through the woodlands. So he called out after him “Where are you heading Kamaka?”

“To visit my daughter in the village where the Kakas call,” He replied.  

Rapata waved to him and set about putting his belongings inside the new building. It was not long before some of the residents came around to see the new building and he explained to them again how he could help them.

Kamaka told his daughter Hinewai what he had been doing and of the pakeha priest who had been given permission to work with the ngerengere.

“They are like rats in the forest,” she said, “Will we always be plagued with them?” 

“He seems like a good man for a pakeha, Hinewai.”

“Then he must be dead.” She laughed.

“He is older than me but speaks our language well and does not judge us. He calls himself Rapata and he laughs a lot.” He paused then continued, “He will surely become ngerengere himself.”

Hinewai just nodded and they spoke of him no more.

It was some months before Hinewai met Rapata at Black Sands. Although he worked with the ngerengere he would walk down to the village speak to Ahuahu to ask for help with food and clothing. Now that he was at the settlement much of the regular gifts from the villagers had eased off as they assumed the pakeha was caring for them. Ahu and some other women still went there but mainly to tell them of village life and of their families.  

On one occasion Hinewai was visiting Hatiti at Black Springs and was talking to her and Ahu when Rapata approached with a sack that he hoped to fill for the ngerengere. He nodded respectfully to the women and asked if Ahuahu was there, and he kneeled on the floor because the women were all seated. Ahu nodded at him and said, “I will have him fetched,” as she called out for Rouora to fetch his father.

“You look older, priest,” said Hinewai.

Rapata turned to her and recognised her even though he hadn’t seen her for some years.

“Hello Hinewai. It is good that you have returned home.”

Hatiti stared at Hinewai, “You know this priest?”

“Oh, yes, wherever there are pakeha, there are evil men and usually a priest close by; they go hand in hand.” Hinewai now spoke in English, “So you are the fool that wants to live with the ngerengere, are you Rapata? “

“I am getting old, Hinewai. I must do something right in my life; the Church wanted somebody to help, so I offered.”

“You will surely die, then.”

He nodded, “Surely, Hinewai. But I shall be doing something worthwhile for once.”

Hatiti and Ahu stared at the two of them as they both spoke words they did not understand.

“I am glad I can see you again.” Rapata said “And to see that you are with the people you love.”

She smiled, “You cannot see all of me; remember that came at a price.” Then thought a little then said. “I think I understand now. I expect that when Pastor John reported that he had failed here you picked up on who interpreted for him.” She paused then said, “You rescued me all those years ago but you took too long to do it and so you became lost yourself.”

Rapata was nodding at Hinewai and smiling sadly at her as she was too at him, when Rauora came back in with Ahuahu.

“It is all right, Ahuahu,” said Hinewai laughing, “It is only a pakeha begging for aid. I am sure we can find him something.

“You know this man, Hinewai?”

“Oh yes, Ahuahu, he was the one who persuaded me to come home.” She then added with a smile, “It took him a long time for him to do it so do not thank him, he does not need it, you have given him all that he wants here, his paradise in fact.” She then spoke in English again smiling at Rapata, “He has already had his reward.”

Later as Hatiti and Hinewai spoke together, Hatiti asked “What does he want here, Hinewai?”

“He wants somewhere to die and to be forgiven, Hatiti.” She paused then said, “I love this man because he is flawed just like me but at least he brought me back to you.”

“Will you tell me about him?”

“One day, Hatiti, one day. But I will tell you this; he is the only man that cried when he made love to me.”

Hatiti blushed as she bowed her head in embarrassment.

The reader may guess that Rapata was a priest that tried to get loose Maori women to give up their trade in European settlements and return to their villages. Unfortunately Rapata took his time with Hinewai and had a relationship with her himself in the process. This guilt weighed heavily on him so he has chosen the very difficult job of working with the ngerengere as a penance for his mistakes…but clearly he still loves Hinewai and she him. But now that is all over he is working with the ngerengere as no one will touch him ever again and he may be barred soon from visiting the village too.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Tail End

(Mark and Marina the mermaid part 10. Click on Mermaid in the labels bar for previous episodes.)

I expect you want to know whether I ever saw Marina and our merchild Ocean again. Doing what is right is never the easiest course. In this case I had no say I was given just the one option of being able to see both Marina and our son Ocean again just once a year in mid winter on a beach not easy to walk on even in the holiday season when the access was merely difficult let alone the winter when it was quite hazardous as in the cold and wet there was the danger of high seas and punishing winds. So it was that I made my way in the pre-dawn on that shortest day of the year to the beach where we had first made love.

The wind blew coldly, the full moon was reluctant to be seen, and there was rain or sea spray in the air that had swirled inland from the turbulent waters. Curiously I wasn’t worrying for myself but for a year old baby swimming with his mother coming ashore to see his father. I wished I had a blanket to wrap him up in; I certainly needed one. The pale wintry dawn was thinking about if not actually promising its arrival as I sat down in as sheltered position as I could find. If any seagulls had been given the task of calling out “Maaark” to alert me of Marina’s imminent arrival they had reneged and found somewhere else to shelter instead.

“She will come, she promised,” I kept saying to myself. I assumed she would check for all possible threats and hazards before arriving, so waited patiently. Just after dawn I saw her beach herself and I ran excitedly down to her side on the vacant shore.

With my arms wrapped around her I cried out “Where is he? Where is Ocean?”

“In the water at my feet.” She said calmly, “He will not surface until I give him the signal.” Then with no apparent signal from her at all he came up alongside her and she placed an arm around him. I had been parted from them too long; clearly she had used telepathy to signal the all clear.

Still holding on to her with one hand I reached out and touched his hand with mine. Even at that young age he glanced up at her, received a nod of approval (and hopefully a telepathic message as well) put his lips against my hand and sucked at it. I had such an overwhelming feeling of love for them both that Marina smiled at me and said “I wasn’t sure that I would still love you the same way now I have him to care for, but I do. You have made the impossible, possible. He is healthy and learns easily and when I look and touch him I am reminded of you every day.”

“Is it difficult surviving in the sea and having the responsibility of caring for Ocean too?”

“The sea is always unpredictable but we expect that, most of the living things in it are that way too. Understanding the ways of the sea and of sharks and other predators is a defence but it is not foolproof. But we cannot survive on land; you may love me and protect me but how many other men would want to kill me just because I am different. How many large and magnificent fish are caught by you not to eat but merely for pride? The turtle population is dying out because some of your people are eating or selling turtle eggs. Do you know how few of their hatchlings survive? You humans are always upsetting the balance of nature.” Here Marina stopped and smiled sheepishly “No, not you Mark, you are redressing the balance. There will be one more merman thanks to you.” She lifted her head to receive any messages and sounds from around her, then continued. “Come into the water Mark and this time we will try for a little mermaid.”

“I didn’t think you would want me again, Marina. But we cannot if Ocean is swimming around by us.”  I didn’t mention how cold the water was which would surely dampen my ardour.

“Ocean is a baby; as long as he knows I am near he will not worry so long as he can sense I am happy.” She paused here then whispered shyly “How else will he learn?”

So tentatively I removed my clothes and entered shivering into the cold waters alongside them. She pulled me out to the deeper water and enfolded me in her arms and we made love in the occasional light of the moon. Every now and then I would feel a flick of Oceans tail as he swam around us just happy and reassured to be close to his mother. By now however I had got very cold and was breathing heavily; gasping in fact.

“I must get out of the water, it is too cold for me,” I told her. She pushed me up on to the shore pulling Ocean along with her.

“He knows you are to be trusted now. He has received signals of happiness when I am with you. But we must go now.”

I reached out for Ocean and he came to me. I held him in my arms and hugged him and his fingers touched my nose and my mouth and he poked me in the eye. Then I kissed him and let him get back in the water. I looked back at Marina and she was laughing with happiness at the pair of us.

“We will see you next year,’ she said taking my hand and placing it on her rosy tummy. I expect she was hoping that she would have another little merchild; well I certainly hoped we were and I kept my mind focused on that coming true too.

However I never saw her on that beach again. Just a few months after our winter meeting and after suffering a heavy bout of the flu I read that the little bay where we had met and fallen in love was to be developed as a port for shipping bauxite or some other ore being mined some 100 kilometres inland from the sea. A huge construction of a jetty, gantries and conveyor belts was well under way by the following winter and Marina would have never dared to land there now with her children.

Reading this story you may have guessed that our love always conquered every setback. So I visited the same secluded site on the south coast many months later where Ocean was born and discovered I was father to a baby mermaid, Selena; but that’s another story. I must stop talking to you now or else one day you will work out where to find us and I just cannot trust you…you are human aren’t you?