Thursday, May 10, 2012

People in Samoa Who Make Me Happy

First, I’d like to talk about my pe’u (boyfriend), Julius.  He has a drooling problem and can’t sit up on his own for long but has the most enchanting grin.  He’s shy and when I talk to him he laughs then plants his face downward.  Usually into a mattress.  He seems to cry only when he’s hungry and has never failed to smile when he hears my voice.   I can’t imagine not being able to see him every day and watch him grow up.  He’s five months old.

I also love my young stalker at school.  I wrote recently about the Year 1 girl with the nerve to come to the office and ask me to turn on her favorite video song by the 3 Stooges.  For the last few weeks she’s become a stalker.  From the time I arrive at school until the time I leave, she’s there.  Watching everything I do, with love in her eyes.   I will so miss being a hero to these kids.  

Yesterday, because it is the last week of the term, the teachers had tea together during an extended interval.  My “stalker” stood outside.  She is tiny, so just peeked over the window ledge.  She watched me.    She’d say “Hello, Nancy!” and I’d smile and say hello back.  Then she’d wait.  After a minute, she’d say it again.  I’d smile and respond again.  After about 50 times, the other teachers grew annoyed and sent her out to play.  When interval was over she was supposed to be in her classroom but she wasn’t.  She was waiting for me to walk upstairs so she could shyly touch my hand. 

I love all the kids in different ways.  I wish you could visit the school to meet these amazing children.  Cheeky, shy, friendly, quiet.  They each are charming in their own way.  Isaac, for instance.  He’s  15 and in Year 8.  He’s as tall as I am and I have no doubt that he is stronger than I am.  But he has the heart of a child.  This morning as he walked toward me he started waving with both hands and saying hello in English.  He’s one of the kids who has been left behind.  He’s missed several years of school and been ignored in classes because he is slow.  But he loves to learn and I love to see the look in his eyes when we work together and he gets it.  There is nothing more gratifying than seeing someone grasp an idea and realize they’ve learned something new. 

My friend Meripa is a teacher.  She is a tevolo (devil).  She insists she’s an angel and she is, deep down inside, but her sense of humor causes the devil to come out.  No matter what the event, I can always count on Meripa to lighten the moment by playing the fool just to make people laugh.  She’s also very patient about explaining things to me when the Samoan is flying, fast and furious. 
I’m a big fan of most of the bus drivers and their helpers, who are called “supakoko”, which sounds a lot like “supercocko”.  That would be a hard title to live up to.  I depend on the buses to get me anywhere I need to go.  The drivers now stop if they see me walking, even if I haven’t flagged them down.  The supakokos carry my bags and make sure I get a good seat, relatively speaking.  Sometimes having any seat, and having someone sit on my lap is as good as it gets.

This is just a very short list of people I see every day who make me happy.

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