By Patricia Page
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Extra resources for Across the Magic Line: Growing Up in Fiji
My mother bought a small one which we called ‘the dear old lali’. It travelled with us from country to country and ended up in my Paris flat. But it had lost its sticks, was made of cheap wood and gave out hardly any sound at all when hit. Gay wanted a better one and knew we’d find a big selection in the souvenir shops. The girl who said she loved the rain gave us two golf umbrellas and told us where to find the bus stop for Nadi. We weren’t very suitably dressed. Mud oozed between the toes of our sandalled feet and splashed my long skirt as I jumped over puddles.
Very very far! You sisters? ’ Others were twisting round and listening in. The windowseat passengers had rolled down the tarpaulins and held them still with elbows and hands to keep the rain out. Some were old and torn and let in the rain anyway. Nobody seemed to mind. Saris flapped in the wet wind. A little boy poked his head out and opened his mouth to catch the drops. The driver had turned the music up high. Maybe it was BULA FM. Suva 102 FM. Suva tomorrow. I thought of seeing Suva again almost with apprehension.
Mara was now President. Rabuka had made a surprising comeback as a populist Prime Minister urging democratic reform. He was negotiating for Fiji to be taken back into the Commonwealth, having presented the Queen with a whale’s tooth, a symbol of contrition. Tourism, Fiji’s main industry, was at an all time high, however, it received another, even worse blow in 2000 when George Speight, a failed businessman posing as the Messiah of the Fijian people, staged a coup which, unlike Rabuka’s, was violent and bloody.