Cassava

Here is a short piece that Kate wrote about her impressions of her four days in Fiji.  I hope you enjoy her writing as much as I do.

Cassava.

Through from the markets, past café and shops. Hair up, first time, feels not right. Used to the braid flipping tail fish on back of a shirt, tunic. Skirt today, no uniform any more, no school. The market after the cyclone, the flood rain away and the other cyclone. Not much and expensive. Cheaper to eat tin food.

In the big building, the market stalls are neatly arranged with the limited produce available. Kava roots all wrinkly, stringy on the stalls around the outside, mostly older men and lads. Toward the centre, family, couples and women stalls. Carrots, potato, thin purple white eggplant. Okra, caps on, piled up. Limes, not pretty bright green shiny ones like in the big supermarkets in Australia, dull but still good fruit, the inside juice is what matters. One stall draws attention, bowls of deep green small leafed on stems, curry. Ask, yes, daughter, tells, good with coconut milk, or fried up with ginger, garlic, onion her mother intervenes, good. Outside in the street the stalls are ground level, just mats with the seller sitting, waiting. Bula, call, look here. Bundles. Coconuts piled up. More of the same but outside.

Outside, two sides of market buses wait, motors running. Long seats on walls of market, no floor stalls here. Ice cream trolley, little bell tipped to call. Locals like to wait ‘til bus starts reversing, jump on last just a case of knowing, only the men do and lads learning how last minute rule works. Fluid. Sweat. Faces of school students, uniforms unexpectedly neat considering, how do they keep them. Lads knee length open cloth, whites as bright as their smiles, flashing. Girls with neat braids, a cloth pressed, maybe made damp or becoming, to forehead or neck. Waiting for buses all. Getting on.

On the road the air moves. Watching a little lass, Indian perhaps with bright red dress, bangles. Stand on seat with air pushing past, her glossy curls soon lower as she sleeps on her mother, large black shirt. Bus stops, iconic, some simple, one other the rocks on roof painted yellow, featured not buried or piled up next to. Proud of small structures as proud of uniform, progress but not today perhaps.

Perhaps water matters less than the cost of plumbing fixtures. The showers at the marina are always running, the taps do not turn right off. But the wash rooms are always clean with hibiscus flowers always left on the cisterns. The one whole tap handle at an angle has the centre button intact. It has the “c” for cold left on though it is wrong as it is the hot tap. Tap. Reggae rhythm infiltrates. Filters into the step and code.

Code is the sun. Shoes optional.

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All is well.