It pleased me heaps seeing them run away all together, as if they had planned it before being separated by the clouds that spat them out like an angry mother wanting its solitude, and then joining in unison again like they always had a little clever plan. Clever raindrops, you deserve a smile and your freedom. At least you were honest with yourselves and brave enough to do something about it. Yep, you deserve admiration.
What to tell mum, what to tell mum? I saw the train stations approaching then leaving, felt the shudder and heard the slight creaking before we were off again, closer, closer to home. Other train stations came and went like those fleeing raindrops. Viva la raindrops, I saluted them again in my head. Newmarket, Greenlane, Penrose, Mt Wellington, Otahuhu and now Middlemore. Home.
The walk home was shorter than usual and before too long I stood in the huge shelter of our doorway, it doubled as our garage but we never had a car. So it was like a convenient storage shed attached over our front door. No rain had touched our front door in almost twenty four years and dust gathered among the skeletal shells of once colourful insects. Wet, cold but determined, the varnished door loomed up at me dry as the Sahara desert, where I read once upon a time in my school days that four hundred foot sand dunes lived there in numbers too many to count. Mrs Johnson said once, because she had actually traveled to Libya that one day when us Polynesian girls had a decent education, maybe we could also travel to visit Libya and other exotic places. Yeah, right. One day when we are not Samoans living the dream supporting our families, working at mundane jobs, sheltering secrets and being the constant bearer of bad news I suppose, or one day when I win lotto. What do I tell mum, I keep thinking. Mrs Johnson would know. Maybe if St Mary’s college still had her working there. She’d talk to me. She’d be surprised as hell but she would know how to break bad news, like the news I have.
I heard Elvis singing before I opened the door. We all lived together, Mum, me and Elvis. Elvis always and forever on the stereo like he should be paying rent and board like me, but he aint. This made me even sadder, but I had made up my mind up that I would tell her tonight. Sit her down, give it to her straight no matter what she’s cooking, baking, singing to, dancing to, gossiping about. No matter what Elvis is singing, no matter what Church meeting she’s planning at. Just tell her straight, no matter how much pain or confusion it causes. My hand reaches for the door knob and I breathe in like a pregnant Asia does, before the monsoon rains. There won’t be a Sahara in this house tonight, I’m thinking.
“I’m home mum” I say loudly, trying to overcome Elvis and his love sick, oh so faithful heart, dropping my bag to the floor and closing the door gently.
“I’m cooking chicken chop suey dear, be out in a minute.” The air is warm and inviting, it feels like a tumble dried woollen blanket ready to smother the life out of you.
“That’s cool,” I say as I head for my room, my coat already half off as I struggle down the hallway. The broken English of mum’s singing is just as welcoming as the tumble dried blanket feeling. I sit down on the bed and take some deep breaths, reminding myself that I can tell her and she will still love me. That she won’t ever be alone, I will always be here for her.
The scent of garlic and ginger reaches me and the hunger pangs start burning like acid, but my own happiness will have to wait. I take my shoes off and look up to see her standing in the doorway.
“Mum, I have something to tell you, please sit down.” As my weakest, most shy smile surfaced to try and ease the coming moments, her demeanor changed instantly. The pleasing face had gone, the colour of her eyes darkening to a deeper nutmeg brown as puzzlement crossed her face. Exactly as if the moon had told the Sahara sands that it would not be crossing them anymore, the sands would have shifted just as uncomfortably. I imagine the panic rose like those sand dunes, as she stumbled towards me, not taking her eyes off me. I grabbed her hand to help her and patted them so much, I thought I would hurt them.
“What’s wrong? Oh god has someone died, Maeva?” The panic cemented itself there on her beige moon like face, tears welling up and threatening to empty like the monsoon rains.
Pausing a moment, I decided that despite my own fears of crying, I would tell her but I needed to be strong.
“Tell me, eh!! What? Maeva?” As if it was now confirmed there was impending bad news, she flew into a heightened panic.
“Maeva what is it?” she screamed, digging her nails into my hands.
My tears burst forward like the relentless rains. “Mum, I’m so sorry Elvis died. He died in 1977.”
ARCHIVES of January , 2008
- Asia-Pacific Writers supports S.E.A.Write Festival 2012
- Review: Ora Nui 2012 Maori Literary Journal
- FEATURE FILM REVIEW: SKY WHISPERERS: RANGINUI
- Review: THE PARIHAKA WOMAN
- Cha “Encountering” Poetry Contest
- Writing Out of Asia
- ME’A KAI The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific
- WILFUL BLINDNESS - WHY WE IGNORE THE OBVIOUS AT OUR PERIL
- ME TE OTURU: RADIANT LIKE THE FULL MOON - A REVIEW ESSAY OF FIONA KIDMAN’S MEMOIRS.
- Good news for readers of Indonesian literature in translation!
- UEA Fellowship for creative writers living in South Asia
- MORE THAN 1.5 MILLION VISITORS
- Writing Across Cultures’ papers & provocations available online
- Memoir/ Fiction/ Travel Writing masterclasses with Beth Yahp
- Yuanxiang (Otherland Literary Journal) No. 13, 2011 now out
- REVIEW: WATER WHISPERERS TANGAROA
- Review: The World According to Monsanto
- SHAPESHIFTING PASSAGES
- ICPC Statement on the Passing of Zhang Jianhong
- REVIEW:TALANOA, TAFAKATATA, TAFAKALANU: TONGAN STORIES FROM THE PACIFIC
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- ASM TO LAUNCH 13 NEW BOOKS ON SATURDAY DECEMBER 18
- Collected Works Bookshop, Melbourne
- National Novel Writing Month
- PEN All-India Statement on Rohinton Mistry Ban
- Dr. Liu Xiaobo, is awarded to the Nobel Peace Prize for 2010
- Oceanic Conference on Creativity and Climate Change - Oceans, Islands and Seas
- Kia Ora Book and DVD review
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- *CALL FOR SHORT STORIES*
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- WRITING ACROSS CULTURES
- Atlas of Unknowns, by Tania James
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- Seventh issue of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal has now been launched
- THE ASIALINK ESSAYS SERIES
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- 4TH June 2009, is the twentieth anniversary of Tiananmen Square Pro-Democratic Movement,
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- 2009 Indonesian Arts and Culture Scholarship Program
- Release Dr. Liu Xiaobo
- Talk and Reading By RANDHIR KHARE
- Launch Beyond the Beaten Track: Offbeat Poems from Gujarat
- The Expat’s Partner: An Email
- The Asia-Pacific Writing Partnership Relocates to the University of Adelaide
- The sixth issue of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal has now been launched
- Almost Island
- Sherna Khambatta Literary Agency
- Update: Centre for Literary Arts and Publishing
- Literatures in Other Languages
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- Reflections on an Online Journal
- Zelkova Tree
- On Giving Birth to Your Daughter
- Ellipsing, Elapsing
- Whose Woods These Are
- The Mourning Months
- Smashing up the Grand Piano
- Spectral Questions of the Body
- At Hac Sa Beach, Macau
- Bad English
- Flowers are as permanent as Brick
- A Veteran Talking
- A Water Planet
- To John Lyman and the Portrait of his Father
- There’s Always Things to Come back to the Kitchen for
- The Ghost in the Mirror
- The Killing