It’s no surprise that I find myself confronting a lot of hard truths lately. These uncertain times that we find ourselves wading through on a daily basis have that effect on people, I guess. It’s the waiting around for the unexpected, with the abundance of free time making the restrictions more imposing because we suddenly find that spending the free time with the people that the powers that be, force on to us, is not as fun as we thought it would be.
I recently tried to purge my phone of pictures but after deleting the first 100 of the 18,000 that needed to be sorted, I got extremely overwhelmed and just scrolled right through. A once upon a time friend of mine, called it the meandering of tales yet to be told. I think in my case it might rather be a case of undiagnosed high functioning ADHD. Several requests to confirm this has been shut down by local GP’s and labelled as “just” anxiety driven by stress. Medicate, medicate, medicate being their solution to unlocking the key that will slow down the skipping and sprinting thoughts that race daily through tunnels of weaving stories and lucid dreams. Lucid dreams like when I dreamt of my mother. Not frail and sick as I had last seen her, but healthy and glowing in her prime as I remembered her from when I was a child.
We went on a journey in a red soil country. The heat heavy on our brow but not uncomfortable. It made the sweat on our forearms dance with each step. We exchanged stories and songs and there was only joy to accompany our unhurried steps.
I spoke to her about her grandchildren. The eldest who she bathed as a young toddler and bestowed kisses on her head each night before we left for the Land of Blighty. How there were tears of joy when she received her exam results the week before. The exams that I wished she had been there to see her off for. I began to tell her about her granddaughter’s plans to leave me as soon as she came of age but the skies began to darken and I immediately stopped, as if to wait for the skies to clear before I could start up again.
I told her about my middle child, the one who I believe is the universe’s way of reminding me that karma is always just an arm’s length away. I told her about the way she asks me to tell her stories about her grandmother when we would sit to brush her hair. How she would ask if her grandmother had taught me how to eyeball the ingredients to a Fijian style curry. Or if her grandmother liked to clean excessively like I do. I go quiet when she asks me this because I’m afraid I have turned into you.
And then there’s the one you never got to meet. He’s a charmer that one. Just like his father who you insisted would always be your favourite son-in-law. The youngest who has this uncanny way of tilting his head to the side and looking straight at you as if he can read everything that is going through your mind. But won’t say it out loud because he loves you too much, to expose your selfish dark thoughts. Something you used to do when I’d come up with a cock and bull story on why I needed to be at a friend’s house for the weekend. Seeing right through the default excuse of my imagined puritanical façade of attending the Sunday church service. We both knew it was more the teenage debauchery of Saturday night plans that I was really looking forward to. All this I poured out of me as we walked through my dream. I looked over at you and forced myself to memorise every detail of the side of your face that I could see because I knew in my heart of hearts that this wasn’t real and I still had so much to say before the early morning would yank me up.
And so, I trudged along despairingly. Each step getting heavier and slower, the breathing from us both becoming laboured. By this time, we had reached a place that you called the pick-up spot. I stood there with my smile stretched wide like the cat in the tree from Alice in Wonderland. I didn’t want you to know how sad I was that we were parting. Sometime during that walk, you had changed into Na who was ready to rest. I held your hand and thanked you because I realised that throughout our walk, I had done all the talking while you had listened until every word that needed to slip out of my mouth had been said. Each story safely stored in the backpack you carried on your now weary back. You turned to me at the very last second before you left and whispered, I’ll be back in 4 days.
I awakened from this dream and drifted sluggishly downstairs. Lucid dreaming tends to tire the body out even after an early night’s sleep. I made myself a coffee from the shiny coffee machine that I had convinced my Nev to get me as a birthday present the year before. The grinding of the Yirgacheffe coffee beans reminded of a stuttering car. Methodical rehearsed movements of my arms moved the milk from its container to jug then to the steamer. I stared into the chipped mug as the dark liquid swirled with the cascading steaming froth and I stirred. I took a sip and felt the chipped edge catch on the scabs of my dried lips. The coffee is cold. How long have I been standing here?
The fellow occupants of this house are stirring. These thoughts will have to go back to the dark recesses they lurk in and wait for another day to meander through these hallowed halls again.
Isabella Naiduki is an Indigenous Fijian scholar and writer whose interest is in the study of the Indigenous Fijian identity & diaspora identity, and its influence on traditional story-telling within contemporary society. She completed an LLB International Law & Globalisation from the University of Birmingham and is currently pursuing a postgraduate LLM International Business Law. In her free time she writes about her lived experience as an Indigenous Fijian woman living in the U.K. on her blog – Fijian In The U.K.