Monday, March 26, 2007
A breadfruit tree in Vunivutu village
There's a story to go with these paintings I made yesterday to illustrate an anecdote Peceli told while we were drinking kava a couple of nights ago.
As the twilight changes into night the roosters and hens settle into their resting places on the breadfruit tree. The village quietens down apart from a small group of men drinking kava. There are two visitors in the village, an Australian older couple of Russian descent, the in-laws of one of the men who married a vavalagi girl from Sydney and they live there. Pita was proud to take his in-laws to see Fiji, and especially to experience life in the village. They are taken to the chief’s house and given the best bed in the village out of respect for visitors.
But the birds don’t know that. All is well for several hours until one of the hens falls from her perch on a branch to land on top of another hen. They start squawking and cackling. One rooster, Toatagane, opens an eye and notices a light. Oh, it’s morning already? He doesn’t know it’s just a kerosene lantern with the kava drinkers still going. He decides to clear his throat to start his morning song. It’s about 3 am. The second rooster wakes up, joins in, then the third. There is a cacophony of sound now.
Did I tell you where the breadfruit tree is situated? Well, it’s just outside the window of the chief’s bure, right near the big double-bed. The Russian-Australian visitors jump up, wondering what’s going on, look out the window and see all the birds wide awake and singing their songs joyfully. The man gets out his torch and looks at his watch. Only 3 am!
In the morning a breakfast of pancakes and tea and coconut cake is spread out on a nice tablecloth on the pandanus mats for the two special visitors, who rub their eyes sleepily. The man says to his son-in-law, ‘I’ll give you two hundred dollars if you’ll do something for me.’ Pita doesn’t know what he’s talking about. ‘If you can catch all those noisy chooks and kill them, the money is yours!’
This is a slightly embellished but true story from Vunivutu village, Macuata, Fiji. Peceli told us this story as we drank kava a couple of nights ago. Vunivutu is where the last series of ‘Survivor’ was filmed.