A Rural Childhood Brings Out The Best In Us

A tropical paradise

Well if you didn’t know, Fiji is a beautiful tropical paradise in the south pacific. A paradise. Truly. Population, diminishing from 1 million. Some political issues, but we won’t go into that. Two main islands, but in total 300 islands of all shapes and sizes with crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches.

Sweet as sugar

Sugarcane used to be the lifeline for most families in Fiji. It is quite a versatile crop, but the more love and caring you show, the more sugar it will produce. As a wee toddler, I was fascinated by the rural lifestyle revolving around farming. Intrigued by the adult conversations. And blown away by the strength of my grandfather.

Grand early years

My parents were both school teachers. Bringing up children was difficult. There was no ‘Day Care’ in those days. So by default, my grandma became my nanny. She lived in a different town. A small rural town called Rakiraki. They were all farmers here.

Hardworking farmers. With equally hardworking families.

My days were all filled with excitement. Every single day. I had a few cousins around as well. We were invincible. A typical day would be down at the creek with some flour, a woven bag and a length of string.

That’s all we needed to make a freshwater prawn trap

The flour in the bag, the bag in the creek and the string to pull up the catch. On a good day the prawns would be large. Humongous in fact. Well for a 6year old.

I remember an evening at dusk when my granddad bellowed that his most prized possession had run away! And she was pregnant. Shock horror. The whole household was in turmoil.

We all rushed out to the paddock and saw the remnants of an uprooted clump of grass. All eyes turned on Sanjeev, my buddy cousin. It was him that had carelessly tied the blasted cow.

By now it was getting dark and granddad was getting even more furious

All the men, including us small ones pretending to be, set out to look for the pregnant cow. Our search and rescue equipment was quite sophisticated. Hand lanterns and large machetes.

Walking through a sugarcane field on a dark eerie night (think Children of the Corn), hacking the way with a knife and only hand lanterns for light, is quite a scary thing, I discovered.

Look any which way and it was pitch black. And the rustling of leaves. I had never been so scared in my short life. Oh I so wish I had stayed home with grandma.

To be continued……



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