(Wednesday morning) Last night about forty of us drove to a home in Moolap to pay our respects to the family of Siteri, some who had come from overseas. We gave mats, masi, kava and an envelope of money to assist with the funeral. We sang dozens of Fijian hymns - loud and clear and I was proud of our Geelong group for their attendance and fine singing. Drinking kava was part of the event. The custom of reguregu is held prior to the funeral which will be on Friday morning. The family gave us a nice curry dinner afterwards.
I wrote this at our writing group at the Wintergarden yesterday.
A Woman from Levuka
‘Sai Levuka ga’ we sing of a favourite town in Fiji with a row of wooden shops hugging the shore, a cemetery with historical markers, a town backed by a green wall of a mountain. Siteri was a child from the island of Ovalau in Lomaiviti.
Moving to the main island, raising four children, she lived in Suva before migrating to Australia with Geoff. We met in East Geelong a few years ago. She came with her second daughter, Christine while Litea, Andrew and Kevin stayed in Fiji. Siteri established a good relationship with members of our local Unitng Church, had a reserved seat in the congregation and joined in our Fiji group. When a grand-daughter was born she ably helped with minding and later walking to school. I remember the baptism, barbecues at Eastern Beach, gatherings of dinner, kava and yarning with Fiji friends, her excellence in baking cakes and Fijian food, her lovely prayers from the heart.
Her family came over to visit and we welcomed them – her mother Nanise, and children Litea, Kevin, Andrew. A terrible bus accident in Fiji took her mother and many others and that trauma we will remember. Later, through a time of illness, Siteri was courageous, still smiling and she was assured that God was alongside in that journey. Eventually her body let her down and her time on earth came to an end.
In God’s grace her Spirit lives on. As we wear black, place barkcloth and mats and flowers on a grave and sing Fijian hymns such as ‘Kaya oti na noda Kalou’ we remember Siteri. Nowadays the song’ Sai Levuka ga’ is also a song of remembrance and our memory of Siteri, a lovely woman of Levuka.