The child vendor, should hold lessons about how to love anyway.
Her mother by the fire with burning eyes. And her frequent absent father. He has to make a simple buck. At least that is what she is told. Her younger brothers, cheering her on. What rooster crows at midnight is there to accompany her loneliness. That and the smell of freshly cooked cocoa for tomorrow’s business day. And the coconut brooms her grandfather managed to scrunch up with rags slowly. Those too will come with her, and her sweet face.
But White Sunday is gone. And the child vendor had it all. The unfinished white dress. The special meal of a year. The far-away lessons from far away schools. All those and loud shouts of hopelessness in a strange life like this. They dressed her up to smile and bear the big world with her broken dignity.
A simple life, years before her, keeps calling me too. There, when we were younger, we could close our eyes and wish for shining stars. The tin roofs made music with the rain. And the soft whispers on our grandmother’s voices, surprised us into laughter. But even with our simple poverty, we could always fly away.
We made friends with the eels of the vaipe. And we taught each other how to hop scotch into the Vaipu’a fresh water pools, without making a noise.
Sometimes we went at night, and we were very quiet then. But we were hardly hidden because the moonlight followed us. The Apia waterfront was friendlier too. It invited us to sit and watch the sunsets till we could not see the horizon anymore. Only simple street lights.
Birds on pulu trees saw us eating the opened nuts of talie trees. They were home with us too. We walked home playful and giggling. Sometimes we raced against the wind fearless of cars. There were hardly any. The stray dog population was rare too. Those years, children were children.
Now, the child vendor’s wondering, to make money, keeps me thinking. I think of her thoughts a lot. How she may have passed by large windows of huge offices to find no meaning in them. How she could have stood beside a tall cathedral of pretty colors, and felt the need to find God inside it.
How the birds of pulu trees could have jumped from tree to tree to tease her. Yet she couldn’t notice. And how if she was hungry, would she be safe to ask someone with a smile?
What of the high hopes of such a child too I wonder? I wonder if there is a place in this world for her voice. That when she stands there alone in the rain, with her silence and her cocoa. Would she be entitled to argue in a room full of important people fighting for social justice? Because I tell you dear island citizen, if that happens we will finally know. We will know that the windows to our island’s soul are in her eyes.
So a new day will come by us. And she will discover like a flower her importance. Then with her newfound entitlement she will seek out the rivers. So she could see her brave face in the moonlight. And when she is older she will look back with gratitude. In a surprise laughter, she too will feel the joy of her tin roof making music with the rain.