To Know my Writing is to Recognise my Suffering


I’m only a small writer in the big world. My voice is deathly silent compared to the whispers of the child vendors in Apia and Salelologa these days. Life as I grew up got torn. Now, like fog, I’m drifting along the hills of Tiavi. Sometimes I’m hidden beneath the swaying ginger grass and other times I’m as the rain blinding. 

My sister died of breast cancer but fought for the better care of cancer patients in our country. When your hands are tied, you need a heroine like her. Some of you may know her as Manamea Schwalger. I know her as Mana. But somewhere between her leaving and being gone, I still linger. Seems we tend to hold fast when we are dealing with deep loss.

Miss Samoa and Miss Pacific Islands Manamea Schwalger pioneered the fight for cancer awareness in Samoa

It’s coming to terms with the end of life. That journey we shared has to end somehow. And if we are left behind, we hang like ice in the emotions for a part of us is lost. 

It could be that we fear letting go, the void of not having, the uncertainty of  death and where it takes us. Perhaps, despite our plenty families, we really do fear loneliness. 

Many nights I turn and toss in bed. Covid19 doesn’t help. I’m a simple woman with a complex life. Like most Samoans, my life is filled with duty. We are committed to so many things. You the gent holds the duty of an ideal brother, father and son. While you the lady is given the duty of the open sky heavy on your shoulders.

From where and whence did we inherit so much duty? I say jokingly at times that some people are fortunate to not marry us. We carry the world on our small shoulders.

But there’s something innately wonderful about being Samoan. Each of us is blessed with a fantastic sense of humor. If you don’t know it, please feed it. That and unconditional love is all we need.

I write from a nation of freedom of expression, that is, free speech with duct tape. It’s jolly rotten if you’re mindless with words. Someone I don’t know said that he heard a priest say that “life is an STD that will kill you.”  I’m certain it didn’t come from a Kellogg’s cereal box but the point is in the use of words and what we should be mindful of.

Once spoken, the freedom to interpret or misinterpret can be devastating. 

But I live in my birth country where, times are stranger than ever, men still rule and covid19 fear is like wild fire. 

To know my writing is to recognize my suffering. So I’m dark in my head and I love to walk along the river banks of life till I fall into it without anyone’s assistance. My husband calls me his clumsy wireless wifi. Sometimes I disconnect without warning. But I have discovered that this happens because I feel entitled to being paid attention to. The ego is an enemy to our talents. But as I write this, I’m starting at I’m nobody. Yet, engaging your eyes to my lickerish words, I yearn for purpose. I long for meaning. I want to gift you with stories. 

Speaking of meaning, my funny 70 year old father used to say that I always laughed before a joke was at the punch line. I replied, with gut feeling wit, “Dad, I was nuts since I was five. And now there’s only four of us.“

But my father is a simple man.  And he maintains his opinion of me laughing ahead of the punchline. The thing is, in this life, some of us feel the jokes like we feel pain. 

All this to say that I’m writing this on a Sunday. During covid19,  Sunday is loathed, I imagine, by people who live alone. If there’s nobody to talk to or use as ear muffs, well, loneliness is everywhere. But does loneliness have to be so far fetched? Yes, from a river bank Walker I say to you, loneliness is needed to see the light again. 

When you’ve done the lonely walk of sorrows and emptiness, you find the light, your head spins and in a quiet Sunday afternoon, you’re free. Just as a flower withers to find her seed, Peace and freedom are ideals we have to struggle with.

So if the purpose of this rag is to tell you how to be at peace, during these hard times, remember that faith though hope, is earned through our long suffering tribulations. 

God bless and keep you.

Lumepa Hald