39. Karma & Love

A few days after I had sank into a comfortable spot, I was going through all of my things when I came across the parcel Noori’s brother had given to me for her, back in Melbourne.  Opportunity to see her!  

I made my way up to her house and bravely presented Noori with the package.  The family was present and she motioned to me not to speak candidly.  They offered me a cool drink and then the best thing for me to do was return back down the hill.

A little more time passed when Noori began to come around again, to see the family yes, to be of whatever help she could for my mother and sister-in-law, to see me for sure.  I’m most glad she did.  I don’t know what would’ve happened to me if my little angel hadn’t come back and saved me.

She was especially interested to hear about my overseas adventures in Bombay and Melbourne.  News of her brother in Melbourne from someone who saw him in person made her very happy.  And no I didn’t tell on her brother …that he ate pork sausages at breakfast!

You know Noori and I had been the best of friends for a long time now, especially she was there before I even met Hemma and then through the middle of all the Hemma and family problems.  

Noori always made a point (and always without a row) to step aside and let my life take its course.  She consistently assured me she would always be there for me, all the way.  And she was; she did just that.

With the lighter load of my mind and in my heart, I was free to feel myself again.  I dare say, we were falling in love.  Boy oh boy, in reflection does it ever feel as though the space in my young life that was taken up with Hemma time was definitely karmic.  

Experiencing the loss of a child and a heart that played a constant flip-flop; a lonely, almost desperate void. Yeah, I think so.

Noori came in and she loved me wholeheartedly, she took care of me and this allowed me to feel completely at ease and be able to be there for her equally.  I believe this is how it should be.  Sadly I couldn’t be there for her openly in her family’s presence as the Hindu-Muslim thing was still very much in force.  

My family however was very happy with Noori as well.  They noticed the absolute light return to my eyes.  I know this relationship saved my heart, my all, my sanity for what that was worth.

A little time had passed and it was definitely time to speak with a lawyer.  Someone in our circle recommended a well-known attorney in Suva and I immediately set up an appointment to discuss my situation.  I knew I’d best get some good legal advice.  Although sad is the reason, still at least there wouldn’t be a custody battle in all this.  

I arrived alone at 9a sharp the morning of my appointment.  I was invited into his office and met with the lawyer and his paralegal.  They seemed warm and friendly contrary to a lawyer’s most often preceding reputation.  Would it have anything to do with him being a relation by way of marriage?  Who knew, it’s all good, right?

He told me after I sat down, “The floor is yours.  Open up and tell me everything.”

So I began with the beginning; that fateful evening when I was first introduced to Hemma … and her family.  

I told him all I could remember and how it went in my mind.  After they listened to everything, there was a very brief space of silence, a breath or two’s worth and then he said, “Divorce at this time is not possible.  Not right away.  I will file for a legal separation.  And you cannot leave Fiji during the year.”

‘What do you mean, exactly?’ I asked, just a bit taken aback by that remark.  I was still young what did I know?  He went on to explain there had to be time in between just in case there’s a chance of reconciliation.  I already had tried all I would and I knew for certain that wouldn’t happen.   “And we’ll take it from there.”  he finished.

34. Singapore

Pressure to get along in my quest came to shove, it was October and I now possessed booked passage on an Italian ship (asia.jpg) to … you’re not going to believe it, Singapore.  Didn’t my mausa just invite me on similar journey?    Timing I suppose.

daddy's ship passage 1956 to Singapore BLURI would spend 10 days there and so it was only natural to visit as much as I could.  After this layover I would move along, still forward as far as I was concerned, to Australia.  Broome, Australia to be exact …at least as a starting point.

Parwez back at the Bombay travel agency had arranged my hotel accommodations as well as everything else to do with my itinerary to the very ending point of my travels.  I stayed in a nice and clean of course, 3-story, centrally located hotel in the heart of the city.

I was wide-eyed at the action of the hotel owners; they sent beautiful girls my way meant to escort me around the city, dine with me and keep me company.  Definitely not something I would’ve imagined, in spite of the Bombay parties I attended.

I guess I was still an amateur in the world.  I politely sat with a few of the girls in the hotel snack bar, enjoyed a coffee and a little conversation and I literally left it at that.  This was not for me.  After all I have a wife waiting for me in Fiji.   

Interestingly enough for I don’t wish to judge it as suspicious but to all the letters I wrote to Hemma from India I never, not once, received reply.

Well, anyway here is another part of my 1st encounter with Singapore.  I remember some guys walking around with pythons draped around their necks offering to drape them around any passerby’s neck for a photo opportunity at the rate of a couple of Singapore dollars.  There was always something.

Singapore consisted of many delightful and unusual eateries.  I found my way to an area of the city which was an Indian community.  It has existed since the 1800’s and for a moment there I thought I was back in Bombay.  Anymore I cannot remember what it was called but that’s all right.  

The food was good and you know me by now, that’s what I was looking for.  Oh the coconut-cream cooked curries and the fish dishes were especially yummy!  I don’t know how I remained as skinny as a stick.

I also found myself in a parking lot that was converted for the evening eateries.  Food vendors opened up their cafes after the day’s use of the lots by automobiles and served up the most delicious varieties of Indonesian cuisine.  

Make sure you don’t litter, I was warned by a few helpful people.  There are covered disposal containers for your rubbish when you are through eating.  No one cleans up after you, this you must do and be certain to do it properly, or else!  

Singapore I have to say is refreshingly clean.  Littering in any shape or form is severely punishable by their law … just don’t do it!  It really has got to be the cleanest, used by people, place in the world.  It was without question very beautiful.

I visited a gorgeous place called (if I remember correctly) the Tiger Balm Gardens.  I loved it so much I made a point to return to it again before leaving Singapore.  I called this place the Buddha Gardens due to all the statues depicting various translations of Buddha.

All fun things must come to a halt at some point and besides the next destination was calling.  My travel accommodations would be a bit different this time.  The ship for starters would be more like traveling on the SS Lakemba and my off-point was not so glamorous.

 
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33. Stalemate – a New Game is in Order

One day and much to my surprise, my mausa (maternal uncle) showed up and yes, right here in Bombay!  He came in from Fiji with an associate of his and was just wanting to visit … hmmm.  I couldn’t help but to wonder if my brother had something to do with this.

We spent just about every day together.  We weren’t perfectly alone as this associate (tagalong rather) was always with him.  Jittu would go off and do other things with his family while mausa and I did whatever it was we did, going around here and there, eating this and that and basically sightseeing.  

This associate of his I felt very strongly about.  Though it wasn’t my place to voice my opinion of this person I was not at all pleased with his attendance.  I felt sure he was along for a free ride; not once ever did he offer to pay for anything.  

There was just a certain air about him.  But I never asked my mausa about him because who knows, maybe it was some sort of payback or … well that’s why I won’t assume.  I still didn’t like it.

One day mausa came to my hostel to pick me up as was the usual and we went for lunch.  Afterwards we enjoyed a nice drive, not looking to see anything in particular.  He then told me he did not like Bombay.  He was ready to head towards home going first through Singapore and then Australia.

He said I should go with him as his guest.  I was very happy for that gracious invitation of course but I did not wish to return to Fiji.  I’m supposed to be on my way to London.  I gratefully thanked him for his most generous offer and reminded him that I must make my way to England.

He did understand and just before he left, he pocketed me some money and yes I will admit it was a big help to be sure.  Then he was gone.  

Imagine this: neither myself nor Jittu were locals for one and the population of Bombay, never mind the rest of the Indian subcontinent was already astronomical.  Looking for work, the percentage of competition for any one position was completely overwhelming, Why do you think Jittu and I sold movie tickets?   

After my mausa’s departure, Jittu and I returned to doing whatever it was that we were doing … hanging out in Bombay and ultimately closing our season of friendship.  We went on for a few more weeks.  Jittu gave me his contact information for back home in Africa.  

I had no way of knowing how much longer the Suez Canal would be closed and when would I really be able to afford a flight to London.  These flights’ price tag remained well, sky-high as this was really the only way to England at that time.  I had to make a move though and I knew I must leave India and my bond with Jittu behind.

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With the Suez Canal not reopening until March of 1957, which of course I didn’t know at the time, I would’ve been in India for a few months more and most likely homeless and hungry, not knowing how much longer I could continue selling movie tickets.  I had to make a move.