Tragedy Part 2
The day after the woman was hit by the car I was awoken a little after five to a Matai screaming in the village (this is how the people in my village communicate with one another). This screaming event felt like it was happening right outside my window as about 30 feet away is where the Matai’s meet. I was planning on going into the city that day anyway to celebrate Ali’s birthday and get my much awaited mail.
The previous day I inquired about the first bus and I was told it would be at 6:00. (Quite a few of us where meeting so I wanted to make sure I had some time to go online and put up these blogs that I somehow find time to write. I usually have to pretend I’m sleeping in my room for longer than normal in order to write.) So naturally I went outside to wait for it at 5:40. While I was waiting for the bus my many friends in the village were trying to get me to come to church with them. I politely refused as I had a mission to attend a Peace Corps sister’s aso fanau. (You can never say friend as then they think you are dating this person.) So I stood there by the road watching the Methodist Church service in front of me and the Matai meeting to the right of me.
It was extremely interesting to watch. At the church after they sang beautifully, they were praying for 20 minutes (I timed them). While at the Matai meeting I noticed there were 2 pickup trucks and a big taxi van, which I presumed to be from the Matai’s of the man who drove the car that hit the woman. They were displaying fine mats and they were presented.
Before I could ask any questions, one of the woman in my village who was also heading to the city told me that we should go to the bus driver’s house to get on the bus. (How simple does that sound, if the bus does not show up, go to the house where one of the bus driver’s lives and make sure he is ready to leave.) We hop on the bus, I tried to sit in the front and the woman in my village told me to move to the seat in front of her. The bus left around 6:10, which was not too far off the 6:00 mark so I was quite impressed.
The engine roared and the music began to blast it’s normal dance music. We turned towards the city which was an amazing surprise. We drove around picking people up and then suddenly to my surprise, we turned around again. We passed my village again (The Matai meeting was over, but church was still in session). And headed towards where the route is really supposed to start from. We passed Elisa’s village, the bus already was full of packages and people, There were already people sitting on laps. By the time we got to the last village in my district, the woman sitting behind me told me to move so I could sit on her lap, as most little wooden benches already had 4 people to them.
I moved quickly past the man and child sitting next to me and sat on her lap. I immediately felt the sharp bolt digging into my body. I knew it was going to be a long ride. We rode around for about ten minutes, and then people shifted so two men (sitting on each other’s laps) were sitting next to me. The woman from my village did not like this. She used her body the best she could to be a barrier from me and the men as she held the side of my body. When the bus stopped for the billionth time to get more passengers she had me move again so I was facing the window, so that way the men could only really see my back.
When there are four people to a seat, often the person on a lap next to the window faces the window. I learned that this is the most uncomfortable position, and although I no longer had a bolt slicing my body into pieces, I would have gladly accepted the bolt instead of my cramped quarters. Sitting on her lap, I had my knees pressed against the window, my feet in a little pocket of air in which I was unable to move them as there was no space because of packages and the other many people on the bus. My legs fell asleep numerous times and I could do nothing about that because there was no place I could move to. I could not find the room to let alone try to wiggle my toes let along the rest of my body.
The bus was full, with four to every seat, and there was just about no standing room. (The person who helps out the bus driver was hanging out the door.) After almost three hours of being on this bus (It is normally a little over an hour’s bus ride.) we finally reached the city. Passengers began leaving slowly as they wanted to get off at their different stores. Finally there were enough people off in which I did not have to lap sit anymore. (Of course this had to happen when there was only about five minutes left of my ride to go.)
The city was a good time, we cleaned our much needed office, celebrated the birthday with an amazing lunch (yummm…meat without bones!), paid the electric bill, and did our normal tafaoing. Finally it was time for the next to last bus. I wanted to avoid having the same situation as I had before, so I made sure to get on the bus early, and lucky enough I did not have to sit on anyone’s lap as the bus was not as crowded.
When I finally reached home, I had a normal evening where I watched some volleyball, fed the baby cow many bottles of milk, and had a talk with my tama. I asked him about the Matai meeting. The fine mats were covering people to show their shame and the family took it off those people to show they forgive them. The family was also presented money from the visiting Matais. They were invited inside which meant that they were forgiven.
When I inquired about the driver, the police did get involved and the man is in jail awaiting his trial. Some of the Matais said that Ofa, the woman, shouldn’t have been walking to church by herself as she was old. However, that woman had been walking by herself to church for 30 years (according to my dad) and had never had a problem as she did not walk on the road and walked on the side by the grass. Apparently the driver was not paying any attention and was old.
If I find out more about this situation, I will be sure to post it.