- Vol. 07
- Chapter 01
I was born on this small island and grew up here, got married here, have three sons growing up on this tiny island, learning what I learned.
I know the tides and the fish and the reef and the skies, safety and danger for fishing. I know how to make a canoe from the trunk of a tree.
I know the field of corn and the gardens of vegetables, when to plant and when to harvest.
I knew the schoolroom and the counting and the chanting and the writing, and my sons learn the same in the same room; and like me, they will leave the schoolroom for work on the sea or in the cornfields when they are no longer small children.
I know the sacred spring of ground water, and the circling stones, the gods and demons of the island. I know the ceremonies.
I know the people in the two villages. I know who is clever, who is not, who is lazy, who will work with me.
I am clever. I learned to drive the tourist boat from the hotel on the mainland. I learned enough of the tourist language to be polite and helpful, to know what things the tourists like and don’t like.
Other clever villagers have learned to be cooks and waiters.
None of us was clever enough know there would be more and more tourists, and the government people would come here and build a hotel on our pathway to the sacred spring. Or that the government boats would come here and dynamite the fish.
Now we islanders have to go to the mainland to buy fish. Now that we go to the markets the children want lollies. Now that we go to the market or work in the hotel, we have no time to look after the corn and vegetables properly. Now we have started to buy rice from the mainland. Now we are getting sick, from eating different food, or maybe, I think, from sadness and anger, now we have to be boat boys or waiters, cleaning girls or cooks, and always smiling and being polite…
THIS ISLANDI grew up on this tiny little island. I was born here, and sometimes I think I would like to die here, right now, before I have to see the next boatload of tourists, or the next government advisor.
Or I would like to leave now. I would like to leave and go to somebody else’s island, and lie on their sand, and swim in their sea, and eat their food while they cook and clean for me.
The gods of my island are powerless to help us, it seems. Or maybe they are angry because we have not kept the ceremonies. There is no time, and too many people.
Perhaps it is time to call upon the demons.
Or is it the demons who are already here?