In this season of chronic illness I’m often lying in bed still and quiet.
My most favourite place to return to in my mind is Labasa.
Walking down the narrow steps of the plane on to the tarmac, the heat hits me with ferocity in my face.
I hear Hindi and then my Macuata dialect spoken once more as taxi drivers linger and airport workers with their fluro vests hurriedly move people into the open concrete room to collect bags. I wander to the little shop and buy some Bongo chips. I’ve been waiting for that taste for so long.
Another scene that repeats is me walking along the road near the turn off to our village. I see the bus shelter surrounded by tall cane leaves as we pass by the bore. The turn off looks the same. The pine trees on the hill sway as if welcoming me home. I can see how red and hard packed the dirt is and can feel the rocks under my soft feet. My cousins laugh because my feet are ‘da da’ (soft) unlike theirs.
We know we are from different worlds but we are of the same heart.
The same cloth.
The same love.
Sometimes I'm standing in Vunidrodro.
This is a crossing between where my Nau was living and where my grandparents used to live when I was a child.
We played in the crossing and near here a lot as children. We’d swim and bathe just upstream from here.
I remember the feeling of excitement that would be in my spirit as we approached this crossing when we were kids.
It was usually a couple of years in between our visits and in Australia, I constantly dreamed about what it would feel like to lay eyes on our village again and all our family there.
Just over the hill, we’d get our first glance.
The river stones would give way to the bright red dirt again as we’d travel over the hill and spy the Vunibaka tree (like a Moreton Bay fig) which was like a beacon, a signal that we were home.
Our other home.
This photo was the moment I got to stand at that crossing, in Vunidrodro in 2012 with my children for the first time.
The slippery rocks underneath my feet.
Our village calling my name.
I miss #labasa but I’m grateful to visit in my dreams.
I love that I can still visit in my dreams.