It was the perfect day to discover the real Suva: 35 degrees in the shade, 125% humidity, a searing sun interrupted only by ominous cumulonimbus clouds, dark, anvil shaped and towering to dizzying heights. We left the brollies behind, as if we found ourselves on the mean side of one of those monsters, our bumbershoots would be bumbershot in a lightning flash, literally.
Continue reading 08. Walk Like A Man
Clara had left the house by the time we got back. She had seemed a bit distracted the night before, and even a little run down. That was unusual for her, Clara being one of those enviable persons who take everything in stride, at least insofar as all of us less enviable persons can tell.
Who could blame her? The Fijian Women’s Foundation (FWF) she had volunteered to help was clearly in need of it, running her ragged. Her recent bout of mosquito-borne dengue fever, not an unusual event in Fiji, hadn’t made things any easier. While her case did not develop into its life-threatening form, it was nevertheless debilitating for a spell, with the lesser but long-lingering after-effects still a nuisance.
To top it all off, Clara had found herself on the receiving end of a “tsunami of grief”, as she put it. One of the FWF’s founding members, a legendary figure in human rights movements throughout the Pacific, had recently passed away. It fell upon Clara to arrange a simple thanksgiving and celebration of the deceased’s considerable life achievements – with two hundred of her dearest admirers.
That event was this afternoon.
“It’s nice to be needed…” Clara had said with a shrug the previous evening. Continue reading 07. It’s Nice to be Needed
Despite my inclinations to the contrary, I awoke in Suva.
Now what? My instinct was to run, and if possible, to run in an away-wardly direction. Then I recalled I had been denied a tour of Fiji’s Parliament back in 1999, when the tour setter-upperer at the now-defunct Crusoe’s Retreat had made a token, at best, attempt to arrange such a tour for us. Now, here I was, in Suva, the very seat of power and influence. My perverse interest in touring this country’s contrarian democracy could be addressed through mere identification and ambulation (that is, I had to find out where Parliament was, and walk there).
It was Sunday 14 October 2012 in the stark but spacious and comfortable temporary quarters of our friends Clara McGill and Aydell Thyme.
“Where’s Parliament?” I enquired of Aydell. Mr. Thyme took his time considering my question, peering over his drooping spectacles with a sideways glance, determining at long last he had no idea what I was asking.
“Do you mean the Great Council of Chiefs? That’s gone. You’re aware there was, um, a coup some years back?”
I was aware. Continue reading 06. Mercy by Coup, Merci Beaucoup