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Stories From Kiribati

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Tangira's Family

Posted by Amota Eromanga on June 17, 2012 at 5:35 PM

Tangira was a fisherman. His wife was Akoia and they had four children, two boys and two girls. He loved his family very much. He often went out fishing for his family while Akoia and the kids stayed home doing the housework. Although the family could not make enough money, they lived simply and happily.

One stormy night, Tangira’s kids didn’t like eating dinner of rice mixed with toddy. They finally slept on their mats with empty stomach. This made Tangira sad and responsible so he decided to go fishing without telling anyone.

Early the next morning, the kids got up and began their normal work. The boys fed the pigs then fetched water from the well. The girls swept inside and outside the house and later cleaned the dishes. When Akoia woke up, she instantly noticed something. Everytime she got up from their mat, Tangira would be there still sleeping beside her. But not this morning so she looked around. The toddy shells were still untouched with bubbles. The sour smell from toddy bubbles seemed to fill her morning air – greeting her.

As her eyes reached the bareaka (canoe house), the canoe wasn’t there. Her head turned here and there but they were all gone - the sail, the paddle, the basket, even the bobwaka (smoke container). Now she was certain - Tangira had gone out fishing while she and the kids were in their dreams. She knew why – for his family!

Then cold feeling panicked her. The storm! Yes, a week was gone now with this sort of bad weather. Signs of worry appeared on her brown sleepy face. She stood up, rolled their mat then put it at the corner of the buia (sleeping house). “Tangira is skillful and always careful” she tried to put comfort into her mind.

At the end of the morning charges, Akoia called the children for breakfast. Grated coconut, doughnuts and drink of boiled toddy were ready for them. While eating, the kids asked why their father was not with them so Akoia told them he went out fishing. During their meal, somebody came to the house - the wife of their neighbour.

“Akoia, may I borrow your grater?” Rineita asked.

“Yes, it’s hanging there. You may take it” Akoia replied. “Sit here and join our breakfast”

“I can’t, thank you. My husband Teia is waiting for some grated coconut to put in his tea, so I think I have to go. I’ll return your grater soon.” and she walked away.

“Is Teia going somewhere?” asked Akoia.

“Yes, he’s going net fishing.” said Rineita without turning back.

The words ‘net fishing’ returned Akoia to her worries. Rineita had once mentioned that her husband liked canoe fishing. Why was he going net fishing, this time? An answer popped easily into Akoia’s heavy mind – stormy weather! Men preferred net fishing instead of canoe fishing during stormy weather to prevent danger.

Akoia wished to know the time but as they didn’t have a clock, she turned the radio on. The radio was silent so she realised the time had gone beyond 8:30. As she waited she became more and more worried.

An hour or more later, Akoia saw something floating very far in the grey horizon. Her eyes never seemed to blink nor away from that thing. As she kept sharpening the distant image, her mouth and tongue were uttering nervously, “canoe, canoe …” Not long the object finally came into clear view. It was a canoe – Tangira’s canoe! In triumph, she looked around for the children when suddenly she heard the children calling.

“Mother!” they shouted, “Father is coming back!” The kids were overjoyed and rushed to the beach to meet their father.Akoia had fully gained strength – her worries disappeared. Her heart was thankful and beating normally. Everyone helped with the catch, fishing gear and lastly taking the canoe back on land.

Tangira sat on his kiakia (small separate house) eating his meal while his kids and wife were pouring out feelings they had gone through. Then they begged him not to go out fishing again during bad weather. Tangira didn’t say anything. He only smiled back because he knew that his family loved him very much.

The stormy air was now filled with the smell of fresh barbequed fish from Akoia’s fire!

Categories: Personal Stories

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