Expanding Our Circle Of Important

In our lives, the question of what is important and who is important – naturally, to a certain extent matters greatly. It affects us in the form of resulting beliefs we tend to carry around with us – the one’s we may be in denial of, or the one’s we recognize is there –  in the back of our minds but can’t literally describe. These collection of beliefs, which I think is manufactured from the default & mindless programmed machines in our brains, forms the circle of what and who is important. Which then, sadly, goes on to affect our decisions and our sense of self worth. 

Don’t you feel this small innate childlike sense of wanting to feel important, and also, maybe this pressing need to be part of what’s important, of being in close collegial terms with those who are important? There is three parts to that question, and our answers might vary. I will answer it personally; for the first part; I certainly do! Meaning that I don’t want to feel like I am less important but at the same time – like my friends and people who I am drawn to – not really taking myself too seriously, simply because it’s not fun being serious and being with one. The second and third part; acquainting myself with what is so called important, and those who are considered important, has a slight danger of pretension around it, of having to conform to ideals and acting in ways that are not truthful to who I am.

Obviously, the truth is that indeed we are all important. To think that we as all common and equal human beings – one is more important than another, is ridiculous. But sadly, that is actually the way things often are. For some of us, especially we the young people, who haven’t had our minds really expanded – maybe for lack of travel or the lack of information – this circle of importance can be very small, with a boundary that is very thick and defined. It becomes a sort of barrier, a wall or a trap that we have set for ourselves. 

I struggled with this recently. Drudging blindly around the circle and it was excruciating, even scarring. Honestly, I still feel repulsion at the thought of some faces and names. I would be lying if I said that I have forgiven and forgotten people and experiences, that I am all free and filled with pure compassion. I am working at it, because I feel that unless I release them and have no more hard feelings towards them – I will still be tethered to them, and in a way, still in that circle of importance. 

Back then – amazingly just few months ago, without having coined a phrase to personally describe that state of mind, or even having been aware of this restrictive problem in the first place – my life was unconsciously governed by that small circle of what and who was important. This circle was very narrow and was unconsciously influenced by that immediate vacuous environment I was in and informed by the energy and ideas of dominant narrow minded beings. I talked about it briefly, in a post that was posted just around the time when this struggle was most real.

I was around people who were feeding me with their self serving, self propelling and self illuminating ideals of what was important. They regarded themselves as important and anyone less then their standard was unimportant. They had this communal way of praising and ridiculing people. Also, to them, my colorful aspirations was deemed not important, making me feel inferior. As I read my way out of that circle (through books, blogs and podcasts), I have seen them for what they are, I realize that there are other things which are more important in life. 

Sometimes we do things that we feel is thoughtful, a form of good, necessary, redeeming service but then it ends up being a big disservice to ourselves. We can not entirely change people. I reckon that it’s mostly an illusion what happens in the movies, where someone walks in and straight after the great rumble in the difficult climax, the hero goes onto change things for the better, in the end walking into the sunset happily with beautiful slow music rolling in the credits. It’s more complicated then that, we propably end up being hurt badly and scarred in the process. In real life, sometimes the way to affect change is to avoid walking into negative situations in the first place, to protect ourselves and trust our gut instinct – if it doesn’t feel right, just don’t do it or don’t go back there.  

Luckily while moving around those dark times, I made the bestest decision ever of quiting. Of quiting negativity and ugliness. Quiting pessimism and cynicism. Quiting mediocre. Quiting that small circle with it’s people and their ideals and finally giving myself a chance to breathe and dream bigger. I stumbled upon a door and opened it to find an airy room, spacious and well lit. A room which I can furnish as I please and I am selective about what I bring in. All I want to bring in is something that fills me up with joy, goodness and helps me in beautifying my inner landscape. 

We are continuously evolving people. Let’s yield ouselves to change whenever it is necessary. If we are not happy, that’s the sign that we need to change somethin. Go out and breathe some new, fresh and revitalising air. Discover something new, oh that’s exciting. The many sunsets of our lives should be exciting and where get to be optimisitic and excited about the new sunrise. 

Now, I am so relieved that I have seen through that circle, expanding it wider, making it encompass the entire universe. I feel better, I think better and even talk better. Also, I feel a bit more liberated and loving too. Always see through that misleading little circle that life often puts us in. Know that there are other things that can be more important in life.

There is this quote by Nobel Prize winner in Economics, Behavioural Economist – Daniel Khaneman – that I love so much from an OnBeing.org Podcast, which I am going to end this post with it, because it just accurately sums everything up in just one beautiful sentence. 

What I dont know matters enormously, and what I can’t see matters enormously. 

It is an essential reminder in life – the way to live and think. Thanks for reading. Stay joyful. 

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Headstrong Uncle | A Fijian Fiction

My chiefly village of Vitiritiri would be a more ideal place to live in, if only it didn’t have the painful existence of the outspoken and powerful – Momo Kisitoni. He was a pot-bellied dark man with a shiny bald head, who was feared by most villagers for his deep thundering voice and slicing tongue, that ruthlessly humiliated those who caused him dismay.

His astute business acumen and big money, that he gave generously, made him ascend to leadership positions naturally. He is our village headman, our local Primary school manager, Rugby club manager and also an outspoken man in Church – with rights to speak freely, as he pleases, because he makes the largest donation. 

People struggled to make donations in church but Momo Kisitoni had a different struggle – the struggle to cut down his consumption of red fatty meat – as advised by their expensive Private Doctor in town – and reducing that bulging stomach of his.  

The sensible people of Vitiritiri loath him, but there is this other gullible portion of villagers who support him, saying that he is a true leader. Momo Kisitoni is the nephew of our village chief, Ratu Tirauni, but sadly, I feel that the chief also harbors a secret fear of his nephew.

“For once we have a real man, an intelligent man who is leading the village to a better place. Our village is being pervaded with outside influence and outsiders too. Kisitoni is the only strong leader that has the vision and resources to restore the former glory of our village,” says my mother Varani, his keenest supporter. 

The outsiders being my best friend Rusila’s family and two other families that had moved from villages in the hills to our village. During village meetings, Momo Kisitoni raises the motion that the outsiders residing in our village move back to their original villages, for they are taking away land and resources from the true villagers. Determined, Momo Kisitoni urges the chiefs of their original villages to take them back. 

Momo Kisitoni is that man who every feminist would hate – often publicly spewing vile ideologies that are against women. The irony is that he is married to someone who I consider a feminist – my educated Aunty; Nei Mela. She has her diploma from our local University on Secretarial studies and works for a government Ministry. She is also the President of our Women’s club, which under her leadership, has become a successful support group for the economic and social empowerment of women in our village. 

Nei Mela is my father’s half-sister – a very beautiful woman with a fair smooth skin and soft curly hair. Rumor has it that her father is not Tai Sakiusa, my grandmother, Tai Merewai’s 3rd husband. Instead her father is a Chinese farmer that my grandmother secretly had an affair with, while still married to her second husband. 

Nei Mela wears bold red lip stick, eye liner and blush and dresses up in clothes and jewelry that raises eye brows amongst the prudent fashion police club of my village. The life of the party they called her too, always leading the festivities and dancing. On these occasions, one could see anger in Momo Kisitoni’s face. And every one of these dances would always lead to shouting, rattling of furniture and thumping noises, afterwards from their house.

My mum never liked her sister in law Nei Mela, she says that she deserves those beatings for making a fool out of her respectful husband and also that Nei Mela dresses suggestively, and her make-up makes her look like a clown. My mum suggests that instead of working Nei Mela should stay back home and focus on bearing a child, a heir for Momo Kisitoni. According to her, it is shameful for a woman not to bear children, which is the prime purpose of marrying into any family – they are considered ‘a waste of food’.  

Nei Mela couldn’t remain silent anymore contrary to advice from the good housekeeping ladies, that she avoids involving authorities. She reported him after last New Years celebration after beating her up badly. However, he only received a warning, that being his first offence. Despite the beatings and clearly not sharing his stupid ideologies, Nei Mela stayed with him and I have my suspicion that she loved him too, for some unthinkable reason. 

However she was his strongest opponent who never feared speaking against him publicly like others. During the farewell dinner for my cousin Tevita, who was moving to New Zealand for work, Tai Kisitoni – always arrogantly sitting above all the elders of the family on the eating mat – seized the opportunity to give a lecture on the erosion of traditional i-taukei culture from our daily lives. 

Everyone nodded obediently to his words, with their mouths full and moving jaws. We all quietly ate, trying to enjoy the feast; shredding pieces of chicken and dipping it into tomato sauce, serving ourselves large servings from the chopsuey bowl, removing bones from fish, spooning green rourou with pieces of mutton into our mouths, along with soft boiled cassava and dalo. 

Nei Mela serving food down below with my mum and other ladies from my family unit – started getting agitated with Momo Kisitoni. She stared angrily at him and tutt-tutted her tongue, irritated at him for killing the joyous mood with his irrelevant topic. 

“Please Kisitoni shut up! We are all trying to enjoy our meals here. If you are so concerned about the ancestors, why don’t you go and join them!” Nei Mela said, stopping him in midsentence. 

“Can you hear her? You see this is what I am talking about. Know your place woman! What sort of example are showing to these young girls?” my uncle roared back at my aunty.

“I am teaching them how to stand up against all the foolishness that comes from your mouth.” 

A heated exchange erupted between them leaving the atmosphere awkward and uncomfortable and a solemn silence followed when the argument ended. 

We, the young ladies were then told to eat faster, and to get on started with the washing of dishes immediately. I happily stood up first, collecting all the empty plates and bowls, delighted that my Aunty with her smart sassy mouth defeated Momo Kisitoni in that battle of words, making him look foolish for once. 

Tai Kisitoni was the enforcer of not only culture but also of religious and moral conduct. He talked about himself all the time on Sunday’s during Church service, making himself appear faultless – perfect and supreme above all. 

He knew everyone’s weakness and he would bring them up during the service, shaming the sinners in attendance – that ranged from the excessive kava drinker, the smoker, the alcoholic, the bad parents, the ganja eaters and the ganga dealers, the adulterers, sorcerers, lazy people, fornicators and the village gossipers.

It was on a Friday night when I got found out by the man himself, with his own eyes. That afternoon, I had told my mum that I would be doing tutorial questions at Rusila’s house. Me and Rusila had always been on the same class all throughout Primary School up until now where we were both first year students in University, taking the same course – Tourism and Hospitality – doing the same units and intending to work in the same posh Hotel. 

My boyfriend Netani, was Rusila’s second cousin. He had always been inquiring about me to her, saying things like how pretty like the moon I was and other smothering feather-soft words. Being his cousin and being my best friend, Rusila fixed us two together. She warned me to be cautious though, not too overinvest, as he had a considerable experience in dating. I took no heed and quickly I developed the fever

We got caught sitting in the dark, on the wooden bench underneath the mandarin tree behind Rusila’s house – our usual meeting place. We had been talking for more than an hour when all of a sudden a flash light shone upon us like we were some criminals. 

“What is happening here? What are you two doing sitting in the dark?”

Tentacles of fear quickly spread across my chest when I realized that the voice was that of Momo Kisitoni. He started moving towards us, all the while continuously shining the flashlight upon us. We shamefully covered our eyes from the bright flashlight directed at our face – like Adam and Eve did in the bible from the light of God – awaiting judgement. 

“Miliana, is it you? What are you doing here in the dark with Netani?” he asked. 

I couldn’t answer a word. My heart was beating so loudly, my mind went numb. 

“Sorry, we were just talking sir, nothing more,” answered Netani calmly which I found to be very brave of him. Another part of my brain, which was not affected by fear at that moment, loved him more for that. 

“Did I ask you a question? You blarry low life, I am not talking to you. I am talking to my niece,” Momo Kisitoni answered almost spitting at Netani. He stood right in front of us, inspecting us closely. 

“Stand up!” he said sharply. 

We both stood up slowly. While getting on our feet, he hit Netani on the face with the thick flashlight, sending Netani down to the ground. He kicked him three times like a dog making him moan badly which had me crying.   

“I didn’t tell you to stand up, you pig. What do you think of yourself? The audacity of you to court this girl. I pay for her school tuition do you know that? Just so that she don’t marry low life boys like you. What do you have? Nothing! You are nothing! There’s great plans for her and you just come in intending to ruin her life?”

“Please forgive me sir. I didn’t mean to do anything like that,” Netani murmered incoherently, crouching on the ground in shame and pain. Seeing his bleeding face sent shivers down my spine. 

“Be gone now before I kill you with my own bare hands. Go!” he screamed at Netani, who quickly stood up and ran through the Hibiscus hedges, disappearing underneath the breadfruit trees. 

He never said a word to me while walking me home. Poor dad was watching the six o’clock news in the living room when Momo Kisitoni stormed in with me.

“Etuate! Where is Varani?” called out Momo Kisitoni. 

“Tavale (brother in law) what happened?” my father asked. 

Dad stood up and muted the television with the remote, eyeing us with surprise, curious as to what sort of crime I have committed. And my mother in the kitchen, hearing his deep distinct voice and sensing alarm in it, rushed to the living room where we stood. 

“Now what is wrong with you two, letting her roam around at night like this?” Momo Kisitoni asked, pointing at me. 

“She was going to Rusila’s house to do some school work. What happened, where was she?” my father replied. 

“I found her at the back of Rusila’s house sitting in the dark, talking intimately with Netani. Now what was that all about? You call that doing school work, huh?” 

“What?” my mother shouted, just arriving in time for that part of the story – stunned and in disbelief, when she heard it. 

She turned to my father and screamed at him; “This is all your fault, you are not doing enough to discipline them, you tolerate them too much – letting them do as they please. Whenever I impose something tough, you oppose it.” 

“And you just let me deal with you after this!” my mother shouted at me. 

“Who knows what immoral conduct they have been engaging in, in the dark. I have invested so much money onto her education, all gone to waste now,” Momo Kisitoni said. 

 “Etuate,” he continued, “prepare the grog bowl and the kava, Ill send word for Netani’s parents to come over here for the meeting,” Momo Kisitoni said leaving us to our own selves, which I feared, seeing the murderous look in my mothers face and the look of disappointment in my fathers. 

The door was closed, my brother Jovesa was sent to fetch the thickest piece of stick he could find and was threatened that he would be beaten up with it, if it was not of good size. I was given the beating of my life by my mother with that stick – which broke into two – and the sasa broom too. My father had to stop her from hurting me further. 

Around 9pm, Netani arrived with his parents, and seeing me limping into the verandah with my mother made tears stream down his face. My mother swore at him and threw all sort of abusive language at them. Poor old parents of Netani begged for my parents forgiveness – his poor old mother even cried. 

Momo Kisitoni dismissed Netani from being the captain of the rugby team and from playing in the team entirely. He also fired him from working at his Car Repair shop as a mechanic, but this was later reconsidered. 

We were asked if we had engaged in premarital sex and we both lied. We had done it once – my first time – in his room during new years eve when their house was empty with everyone in the village ground celebrating the new year. 

“Do you love Miliana?” Momo Kisitoni asked Netani. 

“I do, very much,” he answered which stunned my mother, making her curse at him. 

“Will you marry her,” Tai Kisitoni asked further. 

“I may not have anything but I am honest and hardworking and I can make her happy. Anything that her parents needs I will provide. The big functions and the small one’s I will undertake,” replied Netani while looking deep into my eyes. Those words changed my life forever. 

Mariage was final, as decided by Momo Kisitoni. My mother cried and my dad looked down hiding his tears. Nei Mela strongly opposed it but that was futile. 

We got hastily married a month later. Netani remained working for Momo Kisitoni and was to pay him back the tuition that he paid for my two semesters at University. 

My uncle continues ruling with an iron fist, his judgements, not always the best nevertheless people silently obeyed. My life changed that night, and that year many changes happened within the village too. Rusila’s family gave up and moved to their original village in the hills. On the day that they moved, we stood crying on the road side while I clutched onto my stomach, heavily pregnant with my first born. 

An Internet Diet Fueled by Curiosity

                             Photo via Pexel

Curiosity is often the common denominator that drives some of the worlds most interesting people, ranging from authors, artists, innovators and creative people. Those who go on to revolutionize the world, are greatly curious people, who follow and engage that curiosity of their’s – people like Leonardo da VinciAlbert Einstein and my present day hero; the amazing Elon Musk – founder of PayPal and CEO of TeslaSpaceX and Solar City. So curiosity is actually a good thing, if you have a ‘child like curiousity‘, never loose that or if you find it lacking, then start collecting few embers and light up that curiosity fire within you. One of my throbbing curiosities these days is actually learning more about the lives of such creative, succesful and multifaceted people. I am insanely interested in how they work, their habits, their backstory and the other small minute details behind their success. This is one of the reasons why I am very selective about what I read, listen to or watch over the internet.

I have to say that I am greatful to be living in an age where the internet is available and accessible almost everywhere. Where I am currently writing from, in this rural part of Fiji, I often have to compromise a bit on the internet speed and I am often adjusting myself, sitting in uncomfortable places in order to get better internet connection. This small limitation requires me to be a bit more creative, and at times a bit desperate too, in gaining connectivity. 

Mostly, I have to hunt for interesting information and store them for my ‘off the grid’ days – like a hunter and gatherer – a modern, digital age version of it. I proudly consider myself as an inspiration seeker and the internet is my bountiful hunting ground. It’s how the internet continually opens up my mind to the world and its seemingly endless reserve of interesting’ness that makes the hustle for connection totally worth it.

My ‘Internet Diet’ consists of a very small but carefully curated list of trusted and interesting sources which gives me a great deal of value for my very limited time and internet data. Off of these sites I learn a lot of thought provoking, informative and at times life changing information which feeds my mind and fuels my curiousity. Also from them I get to uncover a wide array of other interesting subjects and interesting people, who are living interesting lives. I spend most of the time on the internet mining through these three mediums: You Tube, Podcasts and a few free Websites and Blogs that I am drawn to perusing constantly.

You Tube

A great deal of my data is consumed by watching You Tube videos. Because it quickly wolfs down data, I either watch several short videos – that highlights great and important points in just a few minutes  – or I would watch the longer one’s -that has a vast landscape of great resources to mine over the course of that 1 or 2 long videos. 

My current interest area – which becomes my focus areas when watching You Tube videos – lies in writing, entrepreneurship and creativity. I am often out on You Tube learning about writers; their life, perspective and their writing process, entrepreneurs and business moguls; on their journey, work ethic and how they build businesses from startup to great success and I also like to watch creative people for their work, their creative process and how they achieve a creative flow. 

I am a great consumer of Interview videos on You Tube. Mostly I would watch interviews of people who intrigue me like writers. For instance, I’ll watch all of Malcolm Gladwell’s interview videos from multiple You Tube channels because I am admiring his books and his ideas at the moment. I like the Charlie Rose interviews for it’s simplicity and how he is able to get writers, and other guests of his, to reveal more of the important stuffs about themselves without being too intrusive into their lives. I also love to watch writers interviews through channels like; Barnes and Noble Studios, The New Yorker, CBS This MorningGood Morning AmericaOprah book club and Big Think. I have learnt a lot from them and I try to implement them into my routine as a young writer. 

For entrepreneurship, business moguls and creative people I enjoy channels like the Lewis Howes: The School of Greatness show. Lewis Howes brings a lot of interesting guests on it who share their success stories and also their failures. It’s very motivational and Lewis Howes is a cool, down-to-earth guy, with a sense of wonder in his eyes and he is so devoted to lifting people up into reaching their greatest potential. Also, a channel which is similar to it is Marie TV; Marie Forleo also brings in great doer’s and thinkers and she does these short advice videos which I find very useful.

I also love videos by Forbes, which perfectly covers the day in the life and success stories of exceptional, high achieving, young entrepreneurs. I also think that the Y – Combinator videos are very useful for entrepreneurs, I have only watched their interview with Elon Musk but they seem to have this other great reserve of content on interviews with a lot of other succesful entrepreneurs from the Sylicon valley that I intend on watching soon. And there is this other You Tube channel that I love too; Ympact. It does these motivating 30 minutes documentaries on entrepreneurs and Start up Incubators around the world. 

For entertainment I like to watch Wendy Williams show ( how you doing! ), VlogBrothers ( vlog by ‘The Fault in our stars author John Greene with his brother Hank Greene which is also educational ) and several booktubers ( readers vlog ). With all this buzzing excitement I get from watching videos of writers, creatives and entrepreneurs, I like to wind down and get myself in touch with my spiritual side by watching the Oprah Winfrey Network’s supersoul videos and sometimes, the old Oprah Show interviews too. At the end of a long week, or a long month of trying to hustle, I need me some Oprah so that I can reconnect with the Universe. 

Podcasts

Oh my goodness, I just want to declare this out loud – I love listening to Podcasts! I have been finding great value from listening to Podcasts. It has become a substitute for listening to music for me – well, not entirely, I still keep a few songs to listen to; 2 favorite songs that I have been listening to repeatedly these days are Ed Sheran’s – Galway Girl and Mackelmore’s – Glorious

In case you are new to this concept of a Podcast, or don’t know what this fancy sounding word is – like I was – a Podcast is something like a Radio show, but it is in episodes of 1 to 2 hours (atleast for the ones I listen to) and it is mostly an interview or a discussion on a specific topic or subject.

I first started listening to Podcasts from the blog The Minimalists. The Minimalists is a black and white, simple themed blog with compelling, thought provoking content by Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Milburns about ‘living a meaningful life with less stuff.’ I talked about how this blog had changed a lot of my thinking in a previous blog post earlier this year, it helped me re-evaluate the meaning of a succesful life. They helped me simplify my life into being more focussed on doing work that is meaningful. I had been enjoying their writings on the blog prior to them begining a Podcast. At first I was reluctant to check it out, but when I did, I just got swayed away by the very authentic and intimate nature of the conversations and I ended up listening to their single Podcast episodes repeatedly.

But to be honest I haven’t been checking them out lately as much as I would like to because I have been voraciously devouring this other Podcast by bestselling author Tim Ferriss, called The Tim Ferris show. Most of his contents are very useful, and this is a guy who takes his curiosity very seriously and translate them into the books that he has writen and through his Podcasts. Through his Podcast episodes, Tim Ferris “finds worldclass performers and deconstructs them, to show us how they do what they do, what makes them unique, their routines, habits, favorite books and other things“. He deconstructs the lifestyles of world class performers through his podcast and I try to construct my life by listening to it. 

Some of my favorite episodes that I listened to recently are: Lessons from Steve Jobs, Leonardo da Vinci and Ben Franklin | Maria Popova on Writing, Work Arounds and Building BrainPickings.org | Maria Popova on Being Interesting, Creating more time in a day, and how to start a succesful blog |

Websites and Blogs

I try to make it a habit to read a few websites constantly, because again they produce great content. Also, these websites and blogs are writen by great writers whose writing style and perpective I admire. 

Firstly I love Maria Popova’s website BrainPickings.org. I first came across it on twitter few months ago and it has to be the most greatest internet discovery of mine this year. According to it’s writer Maria Popova;

BrainPickings – which remains add free and supported by readers – is a cross-disciplinary LEGO treasure chest, full of pieces spanning art, science, psychology, design, philosophy, history, politics, anthropology, and more; pieces that enrich our mental pool of resources and empower combinatorial ideas that are stronger, smarter, richer, deeper and more impactful. Above all, it’s about how these different disciplines illuminate one another to glean some insight, directly or indirectly, into that grand question of how to live, and how to live well.

I can’t find the right words, or some fancy expression to describe how much value I get out of reading the BrainPickings website. My life and mind is enriched by reading it. Maria reads all these great books from the library and she condenses it down to the useful and essential for our consumption and reflection. You must check it out if you haven’t. 

Apart from BrainPickings, I read from a few other literary websites. I read writing pieces from writers who I admire on The New Yorker online. Admitedly, I am trying to fine tune my writing, so reading The New Yorker articles by some of the greatest writers today is something that I have to do. There are 2 other websites that I also try to keep up with and they are; On BeingThe MinimalistsSam Harris blogs and Hazlit. Also I like reading this blog by a very talented young writer who I admire – Cody Delistray. I read them all for the same reasons; great writing and an array of interesting ideas that gets me thinking and writing myself.

So that is my Internet diet which I use to get me informed, interested and excited. There is a lot more exciting things to uncover for I feel that my internet search – in a useful and meaningful way – has just begun. It has been a great so far with this particular internet diet, I feel more leaner and full of energy, in the head that is.  

If you share my enthusiasms for anything mentioned above do let me know. Also I would love and appreciate suggestions for anything that you enjoy and feel that it could be useful to me too – like your favorite you tube channel, podcast, blog or website. Thanks for reading, stay happy and safe in your personal internet adventures. 

‘Aleph’ by Paulo Coelho

For some books, I tend to have this problem – at the end, after I have read all of it, I lack the confidence to talk about it because I have no concrete idea what to say of it. My thoughts about it is not coherent and I don’t remember well the details, eventhough I had just finished it. 

My reading is always way far ahead of my writing about them. I just wanna read – reading is blissful. I think that the other side of this fear is actually that fear of doing something imperfectly. Not many ideas are great ideas and in this blog medium where we try to balance our life and writing in it, maybe we should accept the fact that some weeks we may show up to the blog but it won’t be our best selves. 

I will not be writing reflection pieces for everything I read next year, definitely not, but I will only write it for those that profoundly impacts me as a reader. Those books with really great stories and ideas that expands my mind and gives me a new way of thinking. I also want to keep a Marginalia – I heard about it from a Podcast that I listened to recently. To take notes while reading, using sticky tabs, circling new big words and writing definitions of it, using acronyms to mark things – like ‘BL’ for Beautiful Language or ‘GQ’ for Great Quote & other ingenous ways employed by awesome people. And please do tell me of your tricks in making the most of your reading. Next year, I am all for learning and absorbing more goodness from books. The other big goal is to read more non-fiction books too. 

Now about the this book … 

First of all, what is the meaning of the word Aleph. Wellaccording to Paulo Coelho, the author; ” .. in the magical Tradition [Aleph] presents itself in one of two ways. The first is as a point in the universe that contains all other points, present and past, large and small. You normally come across it by chance. For this to happen, [we have to be] in the actual place where the Aleph exists.. called the small Aleph.” So, the place where it is mostly experienced is called the small Aleph and what we experience in it – where we are given vivid, magical and frightening visuals of our past and present and everything else large and small – is called the Aleph.

This book is writen by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho who wrote the world famous – ‘The Alchemist’. Another one of his famous book is ’11 Minutes’, and while reading through my diary few days ago, I found out that I had foregone choosing it for another book (because I didn’t know how impactful to readers it was then), and that I regret. 

This is the first time that I am reading a Paulo Coelho book and it was given to me by my friend Adi Mariana. I feel that this book, reading it when I did, was very timely. I needed it. I needed to pay attention to my spiritual side, it’s often neglected but life is more wonderful when we continuously interact with our spiritual side. 

This book is a personal account of Paulo Coelho’s journey across the whole of Russia through the Transiberian railway in search of some spiritual enlightenment. In the begining of the book we find him being haunted by these feelings of dissatisfaction. So he searched for answers. He needed to find the root cause of that dissatisfaction and try to resolve it. 

When a sense of dissatisfaction persists, that means it was placed there by God for one reason only; you need to change everything and move forward.

Those who have read his writings would know that Paulo Coelho is a very spiritual person, he is a spiritual leader – one of Oprah’s favorite people. And this is is a spiritual and reflective book. The whole adventure spun out of a conversation he had with his Master who he calls J. The master offers some great words of advice to Paulo Coelho on the need to make a commitment to something and the need for a spiritual kind of travel and adventure. 

Our life is a constant journey, from birth to death. The landscape changes, the people change, our needs change, but the train keeps moving. Life is the train, not the station. 

Wherever you are committed to going. Find out what you have left unfinished and complete the task. God will guide you, because everything you ever experienced or will experience is in the here and now. 

With those words of advice in mind, during a book event he agrees to proposals from few publishers around the world to visit their country within a very compact set of dates – several continents in a matter of few weeks – much to the dismay of his agent Monica. Through the process of travelling and meeting his readers, he hoped to come across the remedy for his internal sense of dissatisfaction. 

I love this beautiful quote by Paulo Coelho on his Agent Monica who believed and fought for him and his writings: 

She believed in the impossible and, for that reason, won a battle that everyone, including myself, considered to be lost. That is what marks out the warrior: the knowledge that willpower and courage are not the same thing. Courage attracts fear and adulation, but willpower requires patience and commitment. Men and women with immense willpower are generally solitary types and give off a kind of coolness. 

I love reading personal memoirs of writers and reading about them going on a personal voyage of discovery is an added bonus. And, I am always curious with questions like; What is it like as a succesful writer? How is it like on the road during book tours? How does it feel like meeting with your people, your fans, your readers? Thats exactly what happens in this book – it’s not so much an important aspect of the book – but it does explain some of the intimate, behind the scenes, a day in a writers life – on the road – moments. 

The writer, the singer, the gardner, the translator, we are all mirrors of our time. We pour our love into our work. In my case, obviously, reading is very important, but anyone who puts all his faith in academic tomes and creative writing courses is missing the point: words are life set down on paper. So seek out the company of others. 

Paulo Coelho tells us a story stemmed out of the belief of reincarnation in this book. He is a very fluid person who delves into other cultures and religions and embraces them; seeing a commonality and the universal aspects of each practice. I like that. I like how he embraces everything. This book made see that spiritually, we are all connected, we maybe different in how we worship but there is a common thread. And yes, we are all searching for the same thing in life, which is happiness, a sense of purpose and belonging to this Universe. 

The train trip through Russia took weeks and we find the characters physically and emotionally challenged while travelling from city to city on that noisy, metal clanging, tooting and honking -out – loud train. It was difficult even for Paulo Coelho but he had a goal and all throughout he retained that philosophical and spiritual outlook on life. Eventhough he gets off on occassions to meet his readers – which was the main purpose of the trip in the first place – a good portion of the story revolves around life within the confines of the train and the people he travels with. 

On that trip, Paulo Coelho travelled with a group of people but the two significant one’s who aided him in his spiritual adventure were his translator, 70 year old Yao (I named him Yuri for a while there) and Hilal, a young violinist who was also undergoing her own inner turmoil and claimed to have been drawn to him. 

Hilal was not an official part of the trip, she insisted that she has to go with them and was very single minded about joining the trip and finding love and closure in Paulo. She also turned out to be a significant piece of the puzzle in his heart. This they identified through the Aleph that they experienced on a small Aleph on the train, where they saw their past life and how they were connected. 

On that note, this part here got me abit like ‘what?’ for a moment. You see, Paulo Coelho has been married four times and for all those changes he had special spiritual reasonings for all of them. I dont know, that’s a bit corny. It’s amazing however that he found restraint and didn’t end up having a fifth wife regardless of the amount of advances the young and attractive Hilal made at him.

In a former life of their’s, in the 1400’s, Paulo Coelho was Hilal’s lover and he wronged her then. So that bad feeling he has been carrying around is actually the guilt of what he had done to her in that previous life. Reincarnation is talked about in this book and confidently Paulo Coelho presents it in this beautiful story. He teaches us by sharing his personal story and experience of why he believes it’s true. I dont know if I believe in it. I need to do more research on it. But what I got out of the book is this need to really pay attention to life and to take my spiritual side more seriously. Maybe that’s what a lot of people get out of reading Paulo Coelho’s book. This is a spiritual book with a lot of spiritual practices like the Ring Of Fire which sounds very interesting, and the practice of Shamanism.

IF reincarnation is true however, then I believe that I might have been a writer who died on his desk, sitting on a green chair, on the second floor of a building. Behind me was a window where I could see lights from an old city. How do I make such assumptions? Well, I tried digging deep into myself in search of a former past and that’s what I saw – that pictures pops up in my mind. Oh don’t take it seriously, it’s some theory that I came up with when I was very young. I desperately wanted to believe that I existed before and will exist as some other person after this life, so I consoled myself by believing in that. 

This book was a great read, very interesting, I loved it. I just couldn’t put it down. Reading about how his writings and his ideas (that he held onto strongly) endeared him to people, inspired me in a way to write about things that I personally believe in – even when it might sound bonkers to some people. Now, I am really looking forward to reading ‘The Alchemist’. Ahhh, that should be more magical. 

A Most Fun Job Interview

Last week Friday I had a job interview, the first one in quite a long while. I am always excited about job interviews, I get to talk to the important people within an organization, without knowing how important they are yet, which is cool, and we converse as equals, with me hoping that I get hired. When succesful, then the organizational structure kicks in and I tip toe around them, respecting them for their important’ness. 

I love interesting questions, I love answering them and also seeing what sort of answers I can pull out, off the top of my head. It’s like some sort of game for me, a challenging game that I try to win. At times I miss, I have an embarrasing flop in answering certain questions and other times I hit the spot, making me thrust my hand side to side, doing the choreography to Beyoncés song Formation, singing 🎵I slay! I slay! I slay! 🎶

Talking about interview flops, I got shortlisted for this job in this other organisation that I dreamed of working in sometimes this year. This particular organization has a significant focus on our agriculture sector. The job requirement was a Degree in Agriculture or Agricultural Economics or Agribusiness and somehow I got through with my Economics and Finance degree. They asked me questions about agriculture, and I learned then how I hadn’t any clue about agriculture at all, even though I grew up in a farming community. I may have grown up in the farm but I don’t know how to milk a cow, ride a horse and I have never engaged in commercial farming. The interviewer asked me how many acres of land we had and I didn’t know what acres meant, well I have never taken a measuring tape and measured the entire land area and neither have I had any interest in reading my dad’s documents about the land. He asked me about the viability of an agricultural business, ignorant me, I confidently answered that I believed it was viable. Few months later I actually realize how that agricultural endeavour wouldn’t be viable, it would have failed. Thank goodness I didn’t get the job, I wouldve been bad at it and miserable in it. 

Remember few weeks ago I talked about the few good job applications that I did and the ones I was crossing my fingers for. Well I had an interview for one of them last week Friday. Oh what a relief it was, to finally get called. I had to travel to Suva for the interview. I have to travel for four hours in order to attend interviews in Suva. I hate sitting still in a bus for four hours, it’s exhausting. 

I have made the mistake a couple of times of travelling early in the morning for 4 hours, getting straight off the bus and then straight into the boardroom for the interview. Tired, my mind slows down, desperately needing rest and refuel. I remember once looking at the interviewer funny, thinking; ‘Is that a true question? Sorry, I dont know anything about your organisation. I had other pressing things to do while travelling here, like watching You Tube videos and reading BrainPickings articles – which to be honest, is more interesting than reading your companies website.’ There goes the interview and the four hour commute down the drain. 

This special job interview on the other hand was the most fun I have ever attended. I enjoyed it so much. They were very interactive as interviewers. They knew which questions to ask and how to follow that question up with another interesting question. 

Some interviewers just stick to the script that they have. Sometimes I feel that they are more nervous than me. Some interviewers blankly stare, looking and talking in a very bland way, atleast from a few that I have endured. Like seriously, I get bored sometimes. I get to imagine what the job will be like, thinking that this would be the same group of people I will work with. In these situations I fear that I would suffer from prolonged exposure to uninteresting people and end up having some sort of brain death. 

Now back to this job interview. I applied for this job basically trying out my luck. Initially, I didn’t want to become too invested, expecting to get a call back, because the Organization is a huge one, a prestigious one and the position is a very promising one too – it requires people of high calibre. I didn’t know if I would be considered and I was okay if I wasn’t. But then, hey I did get a call back and I felt so proud. 

I exclaimed to my mum, “Na they called! I am so proud that they considered me for an interview but I dont think I’ll go, I’ll just bask in the glorious feeling of being considered. It feels good.” My mum thought that I was being ridiculous, whereas I thought that it was admirable of me. She ensured that I went. And I did go. It was worth it!

I went a day in advance, so I had rested well prior to the interview. Everything was perfect. Don’t you feel that sometimes, things goes smoothly, there is a perfect flow, well that was the case in this interview. I didn’t make too much effort, it just all happened naturally. This time I did my research of the organisation in advance. The organisation is of great interest to me, the work that they do, their vision, mission and core purpose just aligns with my own. A small but significant part of my interest in life links with the work that the organization does. It was very interesting reading up on the organization. I really felt like this is where I wanna be, climbing up the career ladder, this is where I wanna spend a good portion of my work life in. 

On my way to Suva city, I stopped at Nausori town, roamed around there for a bit. My uncle, who works at the Nausori Airport – as a Pilot – was supposed to pick me up from there and take me up to Suva. Fortunately, he was still tied up (probably flying the plane off somewhere unexpectedly) at work so I had a little bit of time to roam around town. I wanted to check out the small lovely town with the iconic bridge. I checked out their second hand shop for books and I found Reading Jackie by William Kuhn selling for only $1. Its an account of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as a reader, writer and a intellectual. I can’t wait to read that one. I will read it after I finish Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I had lunch at Nausori town, I roamed around that small town and then caught the bus back to Suva. 

So I had learned everything that I wanted to learn about the organization which left me with enough time to catch up with my relatives in Suva. My favorite Aunty, who used to be a party girl, the scandalous queen of the West, who was also my best friend, adventurous partner in crime and confidant, is now married with two kids. She is lovingly settled yet she still has that sense of fun in her and her husband is a cool man – eventhough he is a bit older than her. 

The interview was scheduled for 10.45 am. I went early because of early morning traffic and also buses in that area of Suva likes to swirl around the neighbourhood for 45 minutes before it finally flings itself off to Suva. I was not taking any risks so I went early. Suva was still the same old Suva that I left. It was great to go back and I hope to go back next year – getting back into the system of buzzing and happening city life. 

Walking into the building, I remembered how when I was still at University, passing by, on my way to school, I used to daydream of a chance to work in that building. Atleast Financial Career wise, it is the organisation that interested me along with this other organization where I had that interview flop. Inside the building, it is so amazing. It has a large work space. Everything inside is modern. Also the people working inside look so professional, so smart and intelligent in their dressing and in the way they walk about. 

As soon as I got out of the elevator on the office floor, I went straight into the washroom, freshned up for I had walked quite a considerable distance from the bus stand to the building. I was sweating. I also rehearsed in the washroom thinking it was empty, but I was was caught by surprise when a toilet flushed from a cubicle and someone came out of it. No awkwardness passed between us, I just ignored him and I continued neatly adjusting and parting my frizzy hair into place. 

I went out and sat in the cozy warm reception area – with dimmed romantic light – for a few minutes, smiling at the receptionist and asking the lovely lady whose name I remembered over the phone how many people were interviewing. Its not a very large number, so the probability of my success is okay. I had a friend who I applied with and he was also shortlisted for the interview. I checked up on him and also had to encourage him to come fast and not to be alarmed by the beautiful, competitive diversity of the other candidates also interviewing. 

Then as I am sitting there, calming myself, a lovely Itaukei woman who I later learn is the Human Resource manager peeps out of the doorway – from the inside of the work space where the boardroom was in – and asked the receptionist where the relieving panelist is and if she was coming anytime soon – all said with a big, genuine welcoming smile. She also asked me if I could just wait for a few minutes. I smiled back at her and told her that it’s okay and I hadn’t any problem with waiting. I learned from the receptionist that I was the fourth candidate to be interviewed.

Few minutes later, the HR manager lady opens the door out for me and then accompanying me into the boardroom. She warmly led me into the boardroom with a huge bright smile. And the other panelists also had their genuine warm ‘bula’ smiles on. They even stood up and shook my hands when I entered, introducing themselves. It felt so good, I felt so welcomed. When I am writing this and recalling it, I realize how special that moment was and how very warm the panelist reception to me was. They were kind and friendly. I took to them instantly. They are the people who I want to work with, they were amazing.  

The questions started with the usual first question; “Please tell us a little about yourself.” Now that question, as simple as it is, is one the most difficult questions for me to answer. Good thing was that I had rehearsed my answer to that in advance, and it started off the interview on a good note. Then the interview just led into a great deal of interesting discussions. We were laughing and we shared enthusiasms and interests. I shared an interest in Elon Musk with the main panelist, who could potentially be my supervisor if I am succesful. I enjoyed the interview so much and I had a great time.

Now, I am awaiting the result of the interview. Next process is an interview with their super intelligent and charismatic CEO. I am positive about it. I am getting invested in this. All my expectations and emotions, I am heavily investing it in. I want it so bad. I wanna cry getting it or I wanna cry if I don’t get it. This job means so much to me. I want it so bad, for so many reasons. Its perfect for me. This is it – the make it or break it. I am intentionally investing all of myself, emotionally and mentally into this. 

I feel that at times we need to take chances and throw all of our hope and effort into something. To take the great emotional risk for something, once in awhile. So now, I am crossing my fingers and waiting, hoping and praying that I go through. But heyy, if I dont get it, I might be disappointed an confused for a short while but then I’ll adjust my sail and set off again. Life goes on, eventhough at time’s we don’t know how it will do so after an ending. 

Wish me luck, I need it! I am wishing you all the best too in whatever you are hoping and praying for. We are all in this together. 

‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens

I am proud of the fact that I am able to ‘somehow’ read classic novels. This has to be the third classic novel that I have read and classics are not easy to read, atleast for me, its not. For Charles Dicken’s novels, this is the second book that I am reading; The Curiosity Shop was the first, but than I only half read it because of the spooky characters and the desolate situation that the main characters are in. So maybe that doesnt count, however I will read it again, sometimes soon.

I finished reading Great Expectations few days ago. When I was reading it, I found it a bit of a surprise how very interactive the writing style is, with us, the readers. I found Charles Dicken’s writing style to be a bit modern, I may not be an expert at this because I havent read much Classics, but I say this, because of its similarities with some of the writing styles employed by some modern authors that I have read.

So the novel is narrated by the young boy – Pip, the main character. In the begining we are introduced to him and his life being raised up ‘by hand’ by his sister Mrs Gargery, after the loss of his entire family, with no obvious explanation as to how they died, atleast while I was reading I couldnt get out how they died. 

The novel starts off with him being in the grave yard reading his parents Tomb stones when he met with a very scary incident – an encounter with an on the run convict. The convict made up some scary stories and threatened him in order to obtain some food, money and a metal file. 

It was around christmas time when this event went down and he obliged after being threatened with his life. Being a guilable terrified little boy he ran off home and did as he was told by the convict. 

Then we are introduced to his guardians, Mr and Mrs Joe Gargery. Mr Joe Gargery (Joe) is a blacksmith – a very nice and hardworking man. Mrs Gargery – Pips sister – on the other was a very bossy and aggressive woman who often got physical with both Pip and Joe. Since they were both receipients of her beatings, shaking and shoveing, they ultimately backed each other, confided in one another and protected the other from her wrath. They became the best of friends and for life it was. 

Pip’s life is sad, we can say. He was  a kid who didnt have the comforts of a home he can call his own, a loving mother and a loving father. His only surviving relation, his real sister was very rough with the way she brought him up and reminded him all the time of how much she had to sacrifice to bring him up and how Pip was such a burden. He also had worser uncles, relatives and family friends who made him know how much he was a burden. He was always the subject of their conversations during dinner time and he had no option but to sit through it and hear his pittiful existance being tossed around like some dirty rag. 

That christmas, in the begining of the book, we see Pip stealling from the house and taking the needed supplies to the awful prisoner in the marshes. Now I forgot to mention in advance that Pip grew up in the marshland. Over dinner that evening we are also introduced to the other characters like Mr Pumblechook and Mr Wopsle, the typical village know it all and wannabes, which I happen to know of true life examples in my own life, in my village and in towns. They are not necessarily men, women too can be Mr Wopsle and Mr Pumblechook. 

It was on that Christmas evening that the escaped convicts were caught, towards the end we find out how everything is linked, even those two convicts who seems like miscellanous characters in the begining are all part of the grander story in this book. 

Then there is the rich lady Miss Havisham, the ghostly looking woman who is stuck in time, living in a large dark mansion where also everything stopped, most importantly, the wall clock stuck on a particular time. We later learn, that the time on the clock is the time in which her heart was broken, the time that brought her whole existenc into a hault. There is a wedding banquet with rotted food from something like decades ago and a moldy wedding cake in a room where she likes to visit with Pip. She was a very sad woman and she had a young beautiful adopted daughter Estella. After being fortunate enough to be invited to the mansion through Mr Pumblechook, Pip formed an attachment to the young beautiful Estella and visited more often to Satis House – the name of that mansion. 

Now what is this book about? Well, the title of the book is actually what the book is all about – how Pip came into great expectations of a large fortune and becoming a gentleman in London – getting educated and having money to spend. This book talks about London of those days, with lots of mention of dilapitated buildings, grime, dirt and dust. We are introduced to the very stern and upfront lawyer; Mr Jaggers who is a highly demanded lawyer by the downtrodden people. Most of his clients were the poor desperate people. Mr Jaggers became Pips guardian after he came into expectations, he looked after his finances which was mostly handled by Wemmick his clerk who was of great help to Pip, professionally and personally. 

Wemmick was a true professional, he separated his character at work from his character at home. He kept an amazing home that Pip visited occasionally. Pip had a friend, Herbert, who he got off on a wrong start with. They had a small fist fight, but a very fairly played one in the begining in Miss Havishams mansion. Later they became the most closest of friends. 

Pip was kept in the dark as to who was the founder of his fortune and one of the conditions of his expectations was that he never asked questions or sought out its source. Pip went into problems, especially with overspending and also he had a fondness for the cold Estella who was raised that way. Why does Pip love Estella, I dont get it but I do understand that things like that happen in real life. Obviously, as a reader I disapprove of Pips affection for her. She doesnt deserve his love and somewhere along the way I figured that she would do him so much bad rather than good. She was spoilt and trouble for him. Beautiful people make foolish people act foolish and leave them feeling miserable and foolish in the end. I somehow related to this quote: 

I never had one hour’s happiness in her society, and yet my mind all round the four – and – twenty hours was harping on the hapiness of having her with me unto death. 

The story goes on and on and we have to keep up with the classic language and description. Thank goodness, this book got footnotes or else I would have been reading on without a clue of what some terms were, making some made up assumptions and then reading on. Classic books ought to be respected for how long they have lasted. Some people love them and get them. To be fair I loved certain parts of it. Maybe, I think I did. Anyways I read it till the end and I got what was going on – that I can say. I even found myself making some predictions while reading as to how the events would turn out – which was all so wrong. 

As a person from a closely knit village, I related so much to Pip. Yes, maybe one of the reasons why I had some sort of aversion while reading it, is because it reminds me some bits and pieces that made my childhood so dreadful in the village. I know of people who seek attention and like to take credit for other peoples success – that I can relate to. I have met a few characters like Mr Pumblechook and Mr Wopsle in my life. Also, the changing faces of people when you are successful with great prospects and when you fail with a seemingly bleak horizon. Some people can be smart and for one, I swear to myself I dont need that kind of attention and I hope to keep myself away from such kind of people. I believe we can relate to this story in terms of coming into great expectations, having your life change and how we can loose ourselves in it all. Also we never know who can come into our life and actually change it, family, friends and loved ones can come from the most unlikeliest places in our journey through life. It also teaches us to stay grounded and continue to stay in touch with those who love us unconditionally – those who dont need us to be rich with great prospects and future, in order to love us. Thats important and its an important take away message I got from this book.

To be honest, I read this book, I am glad to have finished it but I didnt really enjoy it. It made me feel gloomy. I think there maybe other great works by Charles Dickens that I might like but not so much this one. However I respect this book and the author and the storyline and how it all came together in the end is great. I liked the ending portion of the book. 

If you are a Charles Dickens fan, I am interested in hearing your thoughts on what makes Charles Dickens novels tick for you? Also what is your favorite Charles Dickens novel? 

The Village Sign Board | Flash Fiction

Picture from Pinterest

A passenger in a black – posh looking car – travelling back to his busy life in the City found himself seized by the laid back look and content air of my village. The young man who ‘was’ not proficient at Itaukei language read the big sign board that said ‘Welcome to Nakoroya Village’, trying to pronounce the Itaukei word. The village was a congregation of neatly arranged, multi-coloured – Brick, corrugated iron and wooden – houses, with a single thatched Bure standing amongst them proudly.

As the car respectfully crawled by to cross two road humps, the young man dreamily looked out taking in the village passing by before his eyes. The green grass and leafy tropical plants that bordered houses and pathways. The tall Lemon tree with a wooden bench underneath, standing beside an outdoor corrugated iron kitchen and cooking on its fireplace was a black-based pot with steam seeping from the little slit opening of its silver iron lid. Three piglets ran around freely. Few dogs lay sleeping underneath a mango tree and above it – Mynah birds screeched and pecked away at ripe – red and yellow – mangoes.

Two small brown naked children stood beside a tap splashing water at each other from a blue plastic bucket, while a young lady, probably their mother, hung her newly washed laundry out on the clothes line. He giggled warmly seeing the children laughing with water glistening on their faces and dripping through their fingers.

He snapped out of his reverie when the car slowly came to a hault beside the concrete village bus shelter where two young women from the village sold mangoes.

This black car came upon us when our faces were fresh with laughter. I was laughing at Miliana’s jokes about Tai Kisitoni, disrespectful jokes, but ones that we enjoyed so much because he was a mean man of all sorts who made our lives miserable in the village.

When the car parked in front of us we stopped our conversation and smiled at the passengers of the car. Miliana stood up to greet them.

“Bula, how much?” the large fair man in the front seat asked.

“Five dollars,” answered Miliana who knew little, but enough English to understand and answer. She showcased her wide welcoming smile as if her teeth were also on display and ready for sale.

My attention was immediately drawn to the young man at the back seat, the daydreamer with dreamy eyes who looked at me with friendly interest. I smiled and turned my attention away to Miliana instead who waved flies off the mangoes beside me, eagerly waiting for them to tell how many mounds of mangoes they will take.

“Do you have change for $50?” the driver finally asked.

“No,” Miliana answered softly, we didn’t even have change for 50 cents because they were our first customers.

Carefully looking back into the car I found him smiling. He had light brown eyes and a fair creamy complexion. This attention that he continued to pay me, made my heart flutter and I felt this foolish feeling of losing touch with the cement pavement at my feet.

Mr Dreamy eyes with creamy face moved at the back. “Oh don’t worry,” he intervened. “I got $10 and we will take two mounds of those mangoes,” he titled slightly to get the money out from his pocket. Miliana looked at me, smiled a knowing smile and then began packing up the ripest looking mangoes into the plastic bag.

He got out of the car and came over to our table.

“Bula, I am Steven,” he introduced himself.

“Bula, I am Rusila,’’ I answered and likewise Miliana also replied with her name, taking the money from him. She continued packing in the second mound of mangoes while stealing small mischievous glances at me.

“Nice names, Miliana and Rusila. And this is a beautiful village. How do you pronounce the name of your village?” he asked me in particular, looking back at the two sided sign board.

“Nah.Koh.Roh.Yah,” I replied, smiling, feeling more comfortable with his dreamy, out of the village presence.

“Welcome to ‘Nah.Koh.Roh.Yah boys’’ he said to his friends. “I invite you for a grog session at Rusila’s house”, he told them, not in a pervy mocking way that some boys do to flirt with girls, but in an innocent joking way which was respectful at the same time.

“Yeah right, Rusila’s brothers will warmly welcome you with their fists before they make you sit down with them for grog”, the driver said and they all laughed in the car. “Sorry Rusila, this kid here likes to welcome himself to other people’s villages. He hasn’t even been to his village,” the driver further added, and the two other passengers continued to laugh, even adding in their funny remarks to Steven who also laughed along with them.

“Don’t listen to them girls, they don’t even have a village”, he retorted while taking the plastic of mangoes from Miliana.

We both laughed at his joke, matter of fact we laughed at all their jokes, not deciding whose joke was funnier, not even trying to understand them, we just kindly laughed along. It felt good to be included in their city conversation. In that small moment we felt like the cool city girls on TV, chatting with smart, sophisticated city boys.

“Vinaka for the mangoes Rusila and Miliana,” shaking both our hands.

We both smiled and said ‘vinaka’ back.

“Right,” he paused taking another good look at the village.

“It was really nice meeting you two lovely ladies, till we pass by this way gain, vinaka and moce,’’ finally making his way back to his seat in the car.

The driver and the two other passengers also waved and bid us their ‘moce’.

It was in passing by that Steven performed a small salute gesture like some cool cowboy from the movies and I in return giggled the most soft girlish giggle ever.

We sat smiling and in silence, watching the car drive away, waiting for it to be out of visible sight, holding in our rising excitement.Safely out of sight, we both burst out in a crazy fit of laughter, laughing at what we both understood and needs not to be said outright.

“Steven, Steven, Steven please don’t go. Take me with you to Suva. Take me with those mangoes. I am sweeter than those mangoes. Please I beg you,” Miliana putting on a grand act, mocking me.

“You are crazy Miliana, he was just being nice to us.”

“And did you think he was nice?” she winked at me.

“Oh he was Nice,” I widened my eyes and we both burst out laughing again not noticing the incoming old white Four Wheel Drive with the man inside who started to narrow his eyes and shake his head in disapproval of our loud raucous laughing. Miliana noticed the car first as it got close and rapidly said “FS! FS! FS!”

We both collected ourselves and acted proper, waiting for my granduncle Tai Kisitoni’s car; FS 800 to pass by. Tai Kisitoni was a pot-bellied dark man with the distinct shiny bald head. He was feared and respected by most villagers for his deep thundering voice and slicing bitter tongue that ruthlessly humiliated and insulted those that dare cause him any dismay.

We knew we were in trouble because we were obviously acting inappropriately as per standards that girls like us should maintain as female members of the village. And as expected, he stopped right in front of us and fearfully we both looked into his eyes.

“Pack it all up. Pack the mangoes up. Come on, pack it up Now!” he roared.

Silently with trembling fingers we both started packing it into the buckets that we brought the mangoes in.

“Is that how girls are supposed to be acting by the roadside? Laughing loudly. What were you doing there? Calling boys and men driving by to sell them mangoes or were you two trying to sell yourselves.”

We both looked at his eyes meekly, holding our breaths while collecting the mangoes, for nothing irritated him more than a person who doesn’t look at him while he or she is being counselled.

“And I don’t think so you should be sitting there Rusila. I’ll have a word with your father, you should be at home helping your mother. And Miliana, make sure to tell your father he should be ashamed of himself for letting you sit on the road side selling mangoes. Where are your brothers, they should be doing this, not you. Now hurry up, I don’t want to see you both here when I drive by. Fast! Pack it up!”

His car entered into the village changing the scene from peaceful village bliss to our typical village life where we tiptoed around my unstoppable granduncle Tai Kisitoni. In the brink of crying I helped Miliana pack in the mangoes. After awhile she softly whispered, “Steven,” with a mischievous smile in her face. That night we came back and threw soft ripe mangoes at the village sign board leaving yellow marks and dried mango skins on it. Miliana wrote in dark bold capital letters ‘Welcome Steven’.