Chapter 4

Written by: Hemali Ajmera

Tearfully Angelica placed a bouquet of flowers on a make-shift memorial constructed near the Morton Bay Fig tree. Three days ago, Dr. Noland, the renowned anthropologist, had peacefully passed on to another world, leaving a gaping void in Angelica’s. During their brief association, Angelica had found solace in his wise words and comfort in his warm presence. 

Another storm to ravage my already shattered life, thought Angelica. 

Just a day before his death, Angelica recalled Dr. Noland telling her how twenty years ago, he had bid farewell to Taru and sailed out on a driftwood raft to find his way back home. With folded hands, the island natives had looked skyward and chanted himene (hymn) to their Atua (God) for the safety and well-being of their white tungāne (brother).  

After the plane crash, some natives on a remote Pacific island had found Dr. Noland’s unconscious body on their island. 

Upon regaining consciousness, he was presented before a tall and imposing figure in an elaborate headdress, with a heavily painted face and body covered in intricate tattoo. Great knowledge amassed from years of study in anthropology instantly led Dr. Noland to recognise this person as someone very important in the tribal hierarchy.  

Immediately Dr. Noland prostrated before him, an act of submission and surrender. This pleased the Ositaulaga (high priest) immensely, who decreed that the visitor could stay on their island. Dr. Noland’s new home was called Taru, meaning paradise.  

The natives earnestly believed that their guest, who had miraculously fallen from the sky, possessed good sacred power. They revered him because after his arrival, no natural disasters had ravaged the island. He had reined in the vengeful demigods who routinely punished them by unleashing natural calamities.    

Over the months, Dr. Noland learnt some of their language and many of their customs and rituals. He shared many wonderful stories with them.  

“But it was I who learnt so much from them. In their world, there is no ego, pride or vanity. Every living thing is precious. Unconditional love and forgiveness pervades every facet of their existence. If anyone makes a mistake, that person is never punished. Instead, he is taken to a sacred dwelling where the elders embrace him and shower him with love. And what do we teach in our world? An eye for an eye! Soon we all will be blind,” Dr. Noland told Angelica wistfully.

                                                                         *********************

The crisp autumn breeze brushing past Angelica seemed to whisper something in her ear as she stood staring at the fig tree where she had first met Dr. Noland. 

  “The destinies of men often intertwine in the strangest of ways. Sometimes it takes a storm to guide us to our destination.”

Suddenly a spark of hope lit up Angelica’s eyes. What she had perceived as the end of the road was actually just a bend. And on the other side of that bend lay a wonderful world which Dr. Noland wanted her to discover and tell the world about.

Comments

I like the concept of the end of the road just being a bend. That was really well done with me thinking oh but we've already read that it sometimes takes a storm to guide us to our destination and just as I was registering disappointment at the repetition I discovered it was a bend. Fabulously creative take on the idea.