|Lalomanu Primary School in the 70's|
If all of these were one-time events, we - my brother and I - would have missed them, because on this particular morning, we were late getting up, therefore, we were late for school.
And now the indelible and vivid memories of the morning that had a lasting effect on me.
My brother and I stood at the main entrance to the Lalomanu Primary School. We froze. We were late. The main building, about sixty yards directly in front looked forbidding. It seemed more like a slammer than a school. We could hear faint recitations and other usual classroom activities. Immediately before us was the malae (field) which appeared tapu (taboo) and ominous. We looked at each other, grimaced and decided that we would dare not cross it. Not on this day; not this morning. Everyone - students and teachers - would cast stares of scorn and scoff. The malae slowly evolved into an imaginary gangboard of humiliation and jeers. Punishment for tardiness was whipping - not spanking or paddling. Hence, I couldn’t fathom the school grounds anymore to be a field of dreams, but of screams. So I again eyed my brother and immediately, as if on cue, we both retreated, like rodents from a lurking python.
My brother was older, so I followed his lead. A few tense minutes later, not far from the school, we found ourselves in a togafa’i (banana patch) - hiding, or ... trying to hide. The decision was desperate and naturally stupid. Our red uniforms against the green background violated the principles of camouflage which we were trying to beguile and befriend. We had decided to wait until school was dismissed in the afternoon and we would walk home with the rest of the kids. But, again, because of contrasting colors, a passerby easily spotted us and said he was going to let our mother know about our shenanigan.
We reasoned quietly. We compared our mom’s whipping to the teacher’s and opted for the former - the lesser of the two evils. (Normally, a parent’s whacking should be different and lesser than the teacher’s. I personally would rather be whipped by a parent than by a teacher.) So we stepped out of our hideout and timidly started what seemed to have been a long trek home.
|The dreaded salulima (handbroom)|
Because I did learn something that day, albeit the hard way; and what I learned I had not forgotten; nor will I ever forget. It was my Mother - not a schoolteacher - who had taught it.
Thank you Mom. I love you!
(Mom passed on several months after this incident.)