I was the one who ran into the barbed wire fence.
And now, I stood before my mother, crying at the top of my lungs, blood dripping from a gash across my chest and down my naked round tummy, settling in little pools on the folds of the lavalava, held up in knots just below my belly button.
It was itchy and painful. I was about 8 or 9 years old, and a bit of a rascal, always getting into trouble.
“Aaahhhhhh nau matahu,” I cried out loud as the coconut frond mid-rib broom landed on my backside in rhythm with my mother’s yells.
“Hia sinia, taiha sa dona horo kacho. Koe vanigho horo kacho mo ngalugalu o volau babai.”
Nearly every word accompanied a swing of the broom, like the synchronized pattern of a punishment dance.
But, I wasn’t crying because of the wound, or because of the punishment. No, that didn’t bother me. I was used to those.
I was crying because I was terrified by the thought that bits of my skin were hanging on the barbed wire fence, ready to be devoured by crawling creatures.
It was the image of parts of me being left behind and eaten by, God knows what, that scared the cries out of me.
Nobody else knew that. They thought I was crying because I was in pain and because of the punishment my mother was dishing out.
Like I said, it wasn’t my fault. It was Fred’s fault. He was my cousin who organized this America vs Japan war game.
You see, I had wanted to be on the America team, but Fred, being the bully he was, insisted that I joined the Japan team, or else I couldn’t play.
I really wanted to play, so I agreed to join the Japan team. But, the sad thing was that the Japan team had to ultimately lose.
Whether we were strong or not didn’t matter.
We had to lose because the bloody Japanese lost the Second World War.
It was all because of some stupid war fought on Guadalcanal, our island, long before we were born.
And so, because of some twisted history in Fred’s head, I ended up in the wrong team.
But, I wasn’t going to let that stop me from winning. I made up my mind that the America team wouldn’t catch me.
So, as soon as Fred signaled the start of the game, I ran. Yes, I ran like crazy.
I zigzagged between the coconut trees and under the large gingers plants. I ran like a cat chased by dogs.
I was determined to change history and make Japan the winner.
As I ran, I looked back, just briefly. That was when it happened. BOOOOMMMM!!!!!
As I came to my senses, I was lying on the ground with blood streaming from the wound on my chest. My lavalava was hanging on the fence.
I had forgotten about the fence.
That was the day I stopped trying to change history. It was all because of a bloody fence.
By DR TARSICIUS KABUTAULAKA
University of Hawai’i