Friday, December 29, 2006

Fiji: Looking in the Mirror - a fable

from W
Peceli told me a version of this story this morning so I wrote it up, changing it just a little from its original context in China. There's a moral in it somewhere for Fiji I am sure.

Looking in the Mirror

Once upon a time there were no mirrors in Fiji, until one man named Bula obtained one which he kept secretly in his bag. He would look at the mirror every morning and every night and talk to it, but he never showed the mirror to anyone. No-one in his household had ever looked in a mirror, ever.

One day his wife Ema got suspicious and when her husband went off to the fields to clean his yam patch, she snuck into the place where he kept his bag and opened it up, picked up the mirror and looked at it.

“Oilei!’ she shouted. ‘He has got another wife, and she’s very pretty!’

When Bula came back from the fields wanting his tea and vakalolo, she confronted him. ‘Watiqu, what’s this?” Ema showed him the mirror.

He looked at it and said, sadly, ‘That’s my deceased father and I talk to him every morning and every night.’

‘It is not! It’s another woman!’

‘Alright, if you don’t believe me, let’s go to the patrol post and ask the officer there.’

They finish their tea and vakalolo then go off down the street with the mirror safely tucked into the bag.

The officer is told the story then Bula takes out the mirror, averting his eyes as he hands over the mirror.

The soldier is surprised. ‘Oilei! That’s a soldier in the mirror. He has a strong nose. What’s he doing there? I can’t solve your problem so you had better go to the talatala.’

The mirror is packed up again in the bag and the couple go off up the hill to see the minister who is reading his Bible under a mango tree.

‘Pardon me,’ says Bula, and he tells the minister that his wife says he is unfaithful.

The minister peers into the mirror and exclaims, ‘Well, I don’t see a woman there. I just see a talatala and he’s quite good-looking. Can’t help you there.’

The couple trudge back home again and Ema’s mother is waiting. ‘Where have you two been? Sobosobo, there’s no work done around here. What’s got into you!’

Bula tells his mother-in-law that her daughter is arguing and unhappy because she reckons he has another wife somewhere.

Ema butts in, ‘Yes, Mum, and he looks at her every morning and every night!’

Mother-in-law peers into the mirror and exclaims. ‘Well, looks like you have another mother-in-law too, so where is she hiding?’

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