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.

37. Does My Necktie Really Need Straightening?

You know I was so lucky to find a temporary job in a garment factory in town.  I accepted it, I was paid well and it was cash under the table as the saying goes.  The majority of workers were ladies and there was about 35 of them.  Only 4 men sewing to include myself.  

Not to boast like a proud rooster or anything but it’s the truth; I loved all the attention the female staff showered on me.  There were no complaints here!  They were always looking to buy my lunch, take their breaks with me and oh how they fussed over me, I mean my goodness!  

Many of them would walk by and tell me that my necktie needed straightening only to immediately start playing with it.  Fortunately the men on the team didn’t begrudge me while my ego was being blown-up like a hot air balloon.

While it was all well and good and my work pleased the supervisors (my previous experience shone through apparently), management had to let me go.  Within the allotted 2 weeks I was unable to provide legal documentation allowing me to be lawfully employed in Australia.  🇦🇺 

I was very happy though as I made over A£200.00 and this was enough to buy me a one-way aeroplane fare to Nadi, Fiji.  There was also a tidy sum remaining for pocket money and gift purchases for the family back home.

After separation from tailoring I remained just a few days and then took a bus to Sydney where I would catch my flight back to the Fiji Islands.  Once I arrived in Nadi, I took a commuter flight into Nausori where an airline shuttle bus then delivered me back to Suva in just under half an hour.

There my mother and brother-in-law were waiting for me with a taxi.  My mother was so happy to see me, she began to cry big tears of joy; she couldn’t believe I was really there and said as much.  I offered her my arm and said, ‘Pinch me and you’ll see I am really here!’

I told them as we began to drive that first I must go to Samabula, to the house on Moala Street where Hemma was so that I can bring her with us, back to our house.  My mother agreed wholeheartedly.  The taxi took us to where I had left my wife with her parents and siblings before heading to India.

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36. What’s For Breakfast?

I’m telling you one could hardly walk on the streets of downtown Melbourne for it being so crowded.  Everyone bumping into someone or other; of course I didn’t mind if it was a pretty girl, I mean you can’t blame me can you?

One morning I was in the breakfast room enjoying my meal when suddenly I felt as though a figure was looming near me.  I thought not much of it at first assuming it was only someone pausing to decide where to sit.  Well, that was it.  

A young man asked if he can sit at my table.  I looked up.  I nearly fainted from shock I do believe.  And here I always thought it was a big, big world!  It was Noori’s little brother, Farhan.  Yeah, the same one that always wanted to beat me up everytime I walked past their home back in Suva.

This will be good I thought and extended the welcome to sit.  He looked on at my plate for a brief moment and then said, “What you are having for breakfast looks real good, I think I will order the same.”   I must say that I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Why?

Upon my breakfast plate was eggs, skillet potatoes, toast and pork sausage.  Remember this is before all the modern substitutes for pork and beef we have now; turkey, vegan, etc and  well as most everyone knows Muslim faith does not allow the eating of pork.  Farhan knew full well that he was about to indulge in pork; that is to say if he hadn’t already.

I bring this up because it’s just too funny when I think back on the reasons he fought me when we were younger; Muslim and Hindu, no go … do not come near my sister!  and all that.  Now here he sat with me enjoying pork sausage.  

I refrained from chastising him.   C’est la vie!

We exchanged pleasantries during our meal, obviously the both of us a little more matured since our last meeting.  He was going to school there in Melbourne.  With the prices of everything sky high during the Olympics, he’d caught on to the fact of breakfast at the YMCA costing only a fraction of what the restaurants all over the city were charging.  Smart.

He asked what I’d been doing and where I was off to next so I told him my agenda, that is as I saw it at the moment.  How nice a conversation can be when ego doesn’t get in the way.  From that point forward I saw him 3 or 4 times more.

Very soon after I arrived here I sent a letter to home, informing them I had left India but that I hadn’t quite made it to London.  Circumstances brought me backwards, to Melbourne.  It wasn’t long before I received a reply.  

The letter informed me of an uncomfortable situation at my house.  It said something about the inappropriate presence of a man, for sometime now, at our residence.  I was advised to return home just as soon as possible.

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