Saturday, June 26, 2010

My Age Is...

My age in Samoan year
I feel as though I am mature, an adult even. However today as I struggled for half an hour to eat, I began to question my age.
My brothers daughter is one years old. Like most Samoans she is fearless, since the adults allow her to take risks. I have found it normal for kids of that age to play with machetes, as they know at such a young age how to take care of themselves with what I would consider a dangerous object. I have no problem holding a knife, or even using a machete, in some circumstances, so my guess is I am above the one year age mark when it comes to certain things.
During one of our many power outages, Sharlene, the baby, picked up the candle and began playing with it. I tried to take it away from her as I know of it as trouble playing with fire (I have been on fire three too many times in my life) and was stopped. “No, let her be. If she gets hurt, she will learn how to take care of herself around fire.” Because of my past experiences, I don’t feel comfortable playing with fire in a way that she was. Maybe playing with fire at such a young age is what inspires the amazing cultural tradition of fire dancing. Some in some aspects, I feel as though I am the age of a baby.
The reason why I struggled with food is because I had all the right tools to eat, but didn’t know how to use them. I had a can of tuna, and a knife (there was also a machete in the front room which I tried using). Samoans don’t use what we consider a can opener to open their food, instead, they use knives. Earlier in the day, my eleven year old sister grabbed the can from me and started to open it.
But here I was alone in the house, hungry. I kept prodding the can with a knife, and all I was getting was little dents. I figured it must be the knife, so I went to the front room to grab the machete. The knife was big and heavy. I could not find a way to stab the can open without cutting myself. I headed back into the kitchen to try the original knife. My charades of heading back and forth continued for about half an hour, causing the can to have dozens of little dents on the top lid, however, no opening.
I really wanted to eat, and thankfully church had let out so my neighbors would be home. I ran into my room, grabbed my i’e, and headed outside. As soon as I started to walk across the lawn, my family showed up and saved me.
The fact that opening a little can of food, such a basic life skill for Samoans is so difficult for me, I must be a young child.
I may have trouble doing the basic Samoan things for life, but I am learning, slowly. There are many things I can do now, that I never thought possible when I arrived in October.

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