My back ached, my head was spinning and my thoughts were filled with black water and death and well, I have one person to blame (:
This was planned to be three days of 'nothing' aside from; Wake up, beach. Walk back, eat. Nap time, read. Wake up, eat. Walk back, beach, read, eat, sleep.
Except, this whole routine of 'nothingness' was disrupted by my precious copy of the Galu Afi.
My reading was no longer a leisurely turning of a Jodi Picoult page.
This was an urgent, persistent - 'I must keep reading, I am stuck in Malaela and I need to venture onto Lalomanu! There are children missing, and I DO NOT KNOW if they are alive. or alive, I MUST READ ON'.
...But, we are on a long weekend break, I argue with myself.
I laid the book down, careful not to scratch the surface, and bookmarked the page where Mika walks on.
I look around me and realised there isn't a big difference between Lalomanu and Tapu, the ocean lay before us on all sides, we are staying in the bach on a thin strip of flat land and our backyard is, well, its a cliff.
So I walked to the back of the bach and made a mental note of where to run.
Because I'm paranoid like that.
I must have an emergency plan with my family.
Frenchy is sitting by the barbie with Scotty, drinking Tui beers and talking shet as per usual.
"Frenchy, Scotty - If an earthquake happens, do not wait for a warning, leave the beach with the kids, Immediately"
Both clueless men look at me with bloodshot eyes and one said "Right, you carry the bbq, I'll take the cooler".
A drunken chorus of ignorant laughter follow and I feel my high blood pressure hitting the roof.
"Well, that was the same reaction from two men who were found floating in a puddle".
Laughter stops briefly and I stormed off to feed the girls.
Then I was back to the book.
And I read and read and read, until it was 1am.
Like I said before, you must read this - but don't fret, it is not a depressing recollection of memories, or a logistical nightmare, or a story of heroism for those who survived, or holding close to your loved ones, or a book about rebuilding.
It's all of those things, and much much more.
There is one thing that stood out for me.
The way people react at trying times.
They exemplify gracious humanity, or ugly greed.
I saw both that day at Poutasi, walking to Tuataga's house and all around us were men collecting things off the trees and the swamp behind.
I saw a MATAI Samoa open Tuataga's freezer that was washed out to the garage and call out to his aumaga to come and carry the pork pieces and the alaga povi to their village (that wasn't affected).
But there are many more stories of humanity at its finest that should be celebrated.
Needless to say, this long weekend has been consumed with thoughts of waves and loss and hope and rebuilding from the ground. But one thing I can be grateful for, is that this book opened my eyes and my heart to the lives and dreams and lessons of others. We can only move forward from this.
I hope Lani's literary talents will be used by MESC and DMO in creating reading material for children, because those work.
I remember clearly the poster on our primary school library, of a large black wave building up and children heading for the hills. This was also on the back cover of the exercise books.
...but then again, I am reminded of the views expressed by Andrew at MOHealth about educating our people.
E ese a le exercise book ese le reality., e lulu mai le mafui'e ae pefu uma i kai e makamaka i le makafaga.
Thanks for a memorable read, buy the book at wheelers.co.nz