25. Hope Is Still Alive Beyond the Horizon

Life was like playing hide & seek with Hemma’s family.  Of course I maintained my husbandly status but it wasn’t comfortable.  No matter which room of what I thought was our house alone, that I would go into there was always at least one of them in there;  here or there.

When we escaped to our own room more often than not, there would come a knock at the door.  Really?  I remember when we lived at my family’s home (prior to our son’s birth), the one thing which was sacred was a closed bedroom door.  Clearly it was not practiced within this family unit.

So now let’s get on to the planning of what’s next.  In the Southern Hemisphere, it was about the beginning of winter, 1956.  I had heard before from various sources, that there were many individuals heading out to England, as a life-change move.

One could migrate there easily as we [Fiji] were already a British Crown colony.  While migrating closer to say New Zealand, or Australia, a visa was still needed.  As holders of a British passport, getting into a life in England was not at all difficult, other than securing transportation.

A big push, a tempting plus was the memory of my father telling me to use my government sponsored trip to India.  The British crown was sending each one of us kids, one-way to India if we wanted it.  “Go and see your father’s homeland, if you can.”  I could still hear him telling me this.

Now I could feel the wheels turning in my head.  My brain was starting to formulate the way it would go down.  If I take the free one-way passage to India, then it should be easier to get over to England from there.  From where I am currently positioned in the South Pacific, the journey would take me north-westerly and I would hit Bombay first.

I went into town one day and made an inquiry at the Labour Department.  Could this really happen?  Of course, this was absolutely a service they could provide for me!  To open this chapter up, they supplied me with the necessary forms and the requirements.  This would be my birth certificate and expected date of departure.

Can you even imagine how this re-sparked the 🔥within me?

That evening when I returned home, I made sure to have a private conversation with my wife.  I told it to her like this:  ‘Once I get settled down in London, I’ll call for you.  I’ll have a job and a place for us to stay.  You can travel to me on your own or I will come and get you myself, whatever you need.’

Hemma said she would have to think about this very big change.  She then also said to me, “Why are you always trying to leave Fiji?”  I responded quite calmly to my surprise, ‘There is no future or happiness here for us.  The memories here are becoming to painful.’

She seemed somewhat confused.  ‘Once you go away from here you’ll see what I am saying.’  I told her with great confidence.  It took some time but Hemma finally agreed later that evening; yes you can go she told me and seemed to mean it.  I mean the part about migrating to England.

I submitted my birth certificate, my requested travel date and the filled out forms to the Labor Department the next day.  It was all rapidly processed and my airline ticket to India was booked for Wednesday, the 18th of July, 1956 – Nadi, Fiji to Bombay, India.

TEAL ticket jacket 1956

 

Of course you understand this had to go in steps.  Of course!

 

 
|||

2.  📽 the Cinema … part 1

Now I am wondering, do our island dogs look the same as the ones in Japan or England or any different from say the dogs in Africa?  Do they bark with an accent or is it all the same?  What about the people – how do they look when they smile or get angry and do the babies and children sound the same when they cry?

What about cowboys, do they really have gunfights and why do they say doggie when they talk about their cows?  I had to know!

📽 In the meantime my friends and I would get together on the weekends, most often going for ten-cent matinees, which bought us front row seats, the balcony costing two shillings.

Usually it was Captain America who ruled our weekends!  🎞 These shows were presented serial style in that there would be 2 episodes shown back-to-back on the big screen.  I do have fond memories of that pleasant theatre.  It even had a nice little café downstairs.

I was especially taken with their terrific papaya, 🍓, mango,  🍌 and  pineapple 🍍 milkshakes.  I can see the making of these milkshakes right now!  There were the always-fresh cut-up fruit chunks to one side of the counter, the🥛and ice cream on the other.

The ingredients were put into a silver can then mixed, blended and poured into the glass but only half the way.  The maker then placed the can up on the counter with the remainder of your shake and doing it with such great flair: perhaps it was just the thrill in anticipating the cool delicious milkshake at the cinema!

Needless to say the theater owners always made certain there was a nice variety of cool refreshing tropical fruit juices to savor as well sodas.  The café served up flavorful fish & chips, sandwiches, the best milk-coffee on the island, cupcakes and candies too.

Private vendor citizens were able to sell their freshly roasted warm peanuts and muttar (green peas) to the moviegoers, but they had to do this outside the theatre doors.

As a young lad around 10-11 years of age, I used to go with my brother-in-law and his brothers to the American soldiers’ camp in Tamavua.  We could sell snacks to them like narongi (tangerines), bananas, salted and dry roasted peanuts, and muttar.

We also offered an immediate favorite; rolled roti filled mostly with spicy-curried veggies and sometimes we filled them with chicken curry too.  I remember we would get a lot of silver dollar coins in our payments from these uniformed guys.

They must’ve liked us well enough because in the evenings, sometimes we would get to stay there in the GI soldiers’ camp (as we called it) and watch American movies.  These were projected on to a screen that was set-up outdoors.  They watched mostly Westerns and I quickly came to realize that John Wayne was my favorite cowboy!

I paid as close attention as I could to the friendly American military persons.  I silently noted to myself their demeanor and from what I could tell, I liked the attitude they demonstrated towards one another as well as how they interacted with us, the island natives, as we are that.

I was relaxed there, feeling perfectly comfortable.  These friendly experiences sparked a yearning to go to the USA and get myself a horse, some boots, a canteen and learn how to sling a gun or two!

|||

 


See you next Sunday night for the continuing chronicles!