Thursday, September 17, 2009
The ghosts within
The subconscious is an amazing thing. I left this island when I was just 10 years old, yet there are events and people who remain stored in my memory (it seems now perhaps for all time).
Today I went to pay my respects to Mr and Mrs Emori Waka at their graveside. As is the custom here they are buried in a small crypt beside their abandoned home. Perhaps abandoned is the wrong word. The house is still full of furniture, but outside the padlock on the door points to an extended stay of absence. The house seems to be resting, biding its time to be reoccupied by their children or grandchildren at a later date. As I pause to think about it, the island seems to be so much about that concept. Foundations of buildings can be seen at the end of the bush line - houses waiting to be continued - perhaps never to be finished. The pace of life here is like a leaf upon a soft wind : watch it soar, watch the island breathe in and out - the moment is gone and we are long buried and gone.
My next stop was to the oldest church on the island to visit the grave of John and Mary Baxter. I was surprised to see he was born at Gravesend in the UK - I remember a thin man with a white shirt and white smile. Brown leathery skin, always carrying a lit cigarette - for some reason I always thought he was an American who stayed on after the war.
Anyway - Died far too young; I note he was only in his late 40's - early 50's during the era I knew him - not too far a stretch from my current age; enough to remember how old he seemed to me at the time.
My biggest regret is the grave I never found. For some reason yesterday I called Mum and asked her about a girl who died here in 1976. I knew her - I can even picture her vividly in my mind. I had no idea why my memory of her was so strong, until confiding in an older lady at the Aitutaki information center. She informed me that the girl in question, Janice, baby-sat us on occasion. Truthfully, I cant remember that, but i remember her regardless. She was an attractive girl with incredible eyes, and she was murdered by her father, because she spoke to a boy. I know for a fact that the father came from an important family on the island, and I'm pretty sure he wasn't arrested until after the funeral because he was there for it *. Sure - the Police eventually came for him and he did some time in a Rarotonga gaol, but I still recall the feeling of waste, and the sadness; a ten year old boy and a 33 year old memory that remains today.
Janice Henry, I will find you again, and we will talk of stuff and nonsense. Sixteen then and now, you have not been forgotten. Rest in Peace.
* I'll update the post if I'm wrong in this