Saturday, June 02, 2012

On the way to Vanua Levu

from w
Travelling by boat to Vanua Levu can be a frightening experience if it's bad weather, but usually it's about a good time of talanoa, telling stories and enjoying friendships old and new. Here's one story. from the Features of Fiji Times.

Laughs on a ship

Solomoni Biumaiono
Sunday, June 03, 2012
We had just left Suva Harbour and cruising parallel to the reef when I got a tap from my fellow travelling companion Doctor Sakiusa Mainawalala, a man from Buca Bay and my tovatas O via grog?(Do you want to grog)? I noticed another gentleman standing immediately behind him as he started up from the floor of the lounge of the cabin class. I later got to know that his name is Ratu Orisi Seruitanoa or Tu O as he is called. Tu O immediately walked past us and beckoned us to follow him. Eitou lao ena olo (we go to the hall), he said the Taveuni dialect. I thought this is a good diversion from the drama earlier where I was just being told via the cell phone that one of my close friends Samu had just been admitted to CWM Hospital. Frantic calls to Tama and Shane revealed they were aware and were going to visit him that night along with Teddy, Dave and Stan.
That brought some relief. So off we trooped to the hall, which is basically the mess hall for the crew of the MV SOFI.
The was already well underway when we entered and the gentleman who was leading us, immediately took charge and worked to break the ice.
Well, he actually vaporised it, if there is a term to describe how he put everyone at ease with his witty one liners. We introduced ourselves, our names, village and which company we work for.
Tu O is from Somosomo, Taveuni and he is the principal of Savusavu Secondary and Doctor Saki, both my tovatas. My kai and our driver Joe Finau from Vanuabalavu, Jack Swann of Levuka and Ledua Takayawa of Matuku from Radial Drilling, Sunia Niurua from Navosa who is a security detail with the bank and Junior Cawaru from Qamea who is a delivery driver. We were joined later by the captain Sireli Vana.
Tu O immediately livened up the session by picking on his tauvu Jack Swann who gave as good as he got. All of a sudden our attention turned to the new and nice looking mat we are sitting on.
The old women would call it a vakabati because it is adorned in layers of coloured wool (kula) and would only be used for special occasions like weddings, birthdays and funerals. But here we are, sitting on a vakabati. One of the crew members present said the mat came all the way from New Zealand.
Tu O was startled, sarcastically asking if New Zealand is now producing traditional Fijian mats. What is so special about this New Zealand mat? We all come from a place where mats are in abundant but you have to go all the way to New Zealand to change the met for the mess hall?, Tu O asked. Everyone laughed.
The banter swung back and fourth during the night as the ship gathered pace through the Lomaiviti Group and so too was the pace of the takis, with Junior now firmly in charge as the taki master.
Topics ranged from witchcraft to Vunilagi in Savusavu, which according to Tu O is the origin of all Fijians of Indian decent in Savusavu.
As usual, all talanoa around the grog basin is always added with baking powder before it is thrown in. Well, according to legends Vunilagi too holds a significant part if the itaukei folklore.
Then there is the story about Kuku(grandfather in the Vanua Levu dialect) Lu and the treatment of the disorder of the testes. In between we would get free clinical advice from Doctor Saki, who proves to be a hit amongst the crowd with his dietary and healthy living advice.
But Tu O saved his best for last when he told of the story about a grandfather regaling his grandchildren with his antics as a young man. In his area there is a well known man called Ja
whom many used to be afraid of because he is physically big and tall. Ja is taller than the grand
father too. In this area too, anyone who shouts at the top of his voice is considered a man. His story is roughly translated below:
Grandfather: Mudou sa rogoca na noqu vucui Ja? (O dou sa rogoca noqu vaculakini Ja?)
Grandchildren: A maqa kuku Sega Tutu (Sega Tutu)
Grandfather: Au ma sobu mai i na wavu levu i Malau. Au ma qai dana e dua na qolou. Au qai idacala ni sa rogo viro mai e dua na qolou mai mada. Arai ma o Ja. (Au sobu yani ena wavu levu mai Malau. Au qai biuta e dua na kaila. Au kidacala ni sa rogo tale mai e dua na kaila mai liu. Qo o Ja!)
Grandchildren: Ma qai vaacava kuku? (Qai cava Tutu?)
Grandfather: Au ma qai dana viro e dua na qolou! Qolou viro mai o Ja! Eru sa qai mai veiraici tu yani... eru ma qai veisisivi qolou. Au ma qai idacala ni sa ukutaina na noqu kola ni sote o Ja!! Au qai sorova tale e dua na kaila! Kaila tale mai o Ja! (Keirau sa mai veiyadravi tu yani...keirau qai veisivisivi kaila. Au kidacala ni hang-taka noqu collar ni sote o Ja!!)
Grandchildren: Ma qai vaacava kuku? (Qai cava Tutu?)
Grandfather: Au ma qai rubica viro e dua na qolou ni ma sa laveti au cae. Au rubica e dua a kaila ena nona sa laveti au cake...Lili na yavaqu.
Grandchildren: Ma qai vaacava kuku? (Qai cava Tutu?)
Grandfather: Au ma qai ukutaina viro ga na kola ni nona sote (Au qai hang-taka tale ga na nona collar ni sote o Ja) .
Grandchildren: Ma qai vaacava kuku? (Qai vaca Tutu?)
Grandfather: Au ma qai laveti oya cae ni sota sara tu ga na mataieirua (Au qai laveti koya cake me yacova ni keirau sa veirai mata sara tu ga.)
Grandchildren: Maqa, mudru sa lili ruarua i macawa ina (Wara drau sa lili ruarua imacawa).
The room erupted into laughter and kept on going until it was interrupted only by the bridge which rang the stand by alarm for the crew as the ship pulled into Koro Island.
Tu O and Doctor Saki volunteered to buy our chasers and we went down with Junior to get four parcels of fried wish and from the women selling on the wharf at Koro Island.
As we left Koro behind and entered the main passage between Vanua Levu and Viti Levu the grog was taking effect.
Just when we were doped and we starting to feel the rocking the boat, Master Orisi Seruitanoa just looked up and blurted out the party pooper question of all time, who the hell introduced this thing to us? Of all the plants to pick the roots of...they decided to pick this root! he says pointing to the dari of grog in the middle of the room.
I guess everybody just felt the same thing...our dope level increased twice fold. I guess some of those sitting in the room would have wished he was a small child but then again, everyone was too doped to answer the wise cracking comments.
The room fell silent. The grog session was over even though the grog was still flowing. But the early breakfast of fish and dalo made up for it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's my brother, Tu O (Tu Leve), with his sense of humor..