Friday, November 9, 2012


I go on holiday and spend two days at a funeral.

Such is my life and it's fine.
I went to Tonga knowing I was going to have a cultural experience.
I didn't realise that it was going to be a sad experience too.

Ok so Sesi and I arrived in Tonga.
We were picked up by the lovely Taa from Keleti Beach Resort
and we mentioned we had been unable to get seats
on the flight that afternoon to Vava'u.
She told us about the funeral that was coinciding with our catching up with family.
Which was good because the funeral was for an extended family member.
Not my family, Sesi's step-father's family.

So we blithely enjoyed our weekend before
we jumped on our place at 7am on Monday morning
and headed directly into the eye of the funeral.

The nephew whose funeral it was,
had been killed in a rather tragic and dramatic way.
At a school
with a van
by his wife and mother of his seven children.

In the process his brother was crushed and severely damaged.
Oh it is complicated and we received the story on little bits.
So I think I know what and why it happened but
I wouldn't put money on that.

Death in Tonga seems to be a dramatic thing.
People die in dramatic ways.
It seems many young men are killed in many ways.
It's a little a soap opera there.
We reckoned a reality show based in a village would easily be
gripping and complex.

Anyway back to me.
A super white, pre tan me.

The lovely Ansala with me holding Ono.

Ansala is dressed like that because she is a cousin of the dead guy
so has responsbilities.
Mostly it was her handing with her girl cousins and carrying stuff around.
We had just spent the evening sitting on tarseal at the morgue.
Tarseal is a 2 on the scale of 1 to 10 of comfortableness.
10 being super comfy.
Only gravel would be worse.
But it wasn't for a long time.
Just through the Methodist and the Catholic part of the service,
with plenty of singing,
in Tongan.
So I had no idea what was going on.
It was the beginning of the funeral service.
At the end the men came and gave us goodie bags of food.

Me and Ono kept each other entertained.
Boy, Ono is one serious little man.

The next morning was the gathering for the funeral.
I think we were there about 8am and
we were no where near the first people there
but got a good possie near the back,
under a tree but still under the gazebo.
Black was the colour de jour,
black with a mat of differing signifcance.
Black is quite hot in the tropics.
Plus we had layers on.
I'm not too good with layers of wrap around skirts
when I need to sit on the ground.
I mean what do you do with your legs that is modest
and comfortable?

Faiana, Sesi's mum kept me up with all the gossip
about everyone as they arrived.
She gave me the heads up for when the wife arrived,
fresh from prison with her children in hand.

Her family had already paid reparation of $10,000.
Her sister had already moved over to raise the children.
It's all so tragic and emotive.

After visiting the body and then sitting in the sun
and then getting another feed of Kentucky chicken,
taro, boiled eggs, more chicken, a sausage and
something that I really wasn't sure what it was
but it got eaten by a child that was with us,
Sesi and I slunk off to the kolo to sit by the habour
and eat fresh pineapple.

Did I meantion we spent our week eating?
Later as we sat in the cool of the evening,
the family explained the hows and whys of the crime,
the family and traditions.
I hardly remember anything but
I liked that there were rules for how people need to
behave in the face of such a crazy and sad crime.
The word had gone out to the younger men to leave well enough alone.
Revenge is something that arrives swiftly in the villages.
Probably is accurate though.

Tip: It wouldn't be against the wife but totally to another person.

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