Tuesday, 17 March 2015

My father's relatives

I live with my parents. My father is a chief in his village(s). He ran for the elections once or twice. As a result, people from his village (and the neighbouring 10 villages) know (of) him and where he lives, and think that because he spent money during his campaign (and sold Tino's 1/4 acre inheritance to fund it) and that he's a doctor and lives in a big (dilapidated) house, he has money.

What they don't know is that my father is now 84 years old. He hasn't worked for years. He gets a weekly stipend from his children and wife to buy his lotto, fill up his car, get his hair cut, and buy some more lotto. He has no income of his own. He asks his grandkids for money. They are all below 9 years old. So when random bottom of the food chain shits rock up the house asking for money for this faalavelave and that, don't expect me to come running with a cup of tea and a biscuit, or open my purse.

What they also don't know is my father's memory is failing. So when they say they are the children of Leilua Galo's cousin's neighbour's uncle, my father nods and smiles and says "Ioe ouke iloa lou kama" when in actual fact, he has no idea and can't even recall what he had for breakfast two hours earlier.

What they most certainly don't know is that I have a good memory if my father does not. And I remember clearly that these were the same assholes who camped at our house on the eve of the election, and then voted for the opposition and were nowhere to be seen once the votes were in. So when they come to ask for money, and my father turns to me, and I say (fuck off) "sorry leai se tupe".

Even his own close blood relatives come knocking to ask for money. These are the ones who know he's old, know he has no money, know he's nearing dementia, and still have the nerve to ask.

But once in a while, my father will get a visit from a nephew or a niece from overseas or from down the road. A visit purely for the sake of seeing their only living uncle, to see how he is doing, perhaps push a $100 tala note in his hand, bring him faiai aku and a piece of taro, and retell old memories to make him laugh. These are the relatives I will gladly bring out the kettle and make tea for. These are the relatives who restore my faith in humanity. I wish for more relatives like this. And I make a mental note to visit my older relatives and do the same.

1 comment:

its just moi said...

I hear you! Chin up...just keep on with the 'sorry, leai se tralla'..and if worse comes to worse and you really want to insult them...do the "Im so glad you came, I was actually just thinking about you oga e iai le matou faalavelave, and we were hoping YOU could contribute to the saogamea!"...choohoo