the flying foxes

In the falling dusk, hunters from my Faleula family travelled inland seeking the pe’a (flying fox).

In no time at all, a tall tree full of these upside down creatures came into view. Rifle sounds pierced the quiet evening, causing the flying foxes to surge up into the darkening sky. They were fleeing in all directions. It was a sight I will never forget. I was struck by the shapes and patterns they made in the sky. I looked on – thinking of the legend that Grandpa had told me about Nafanua, the Goddess of War, who was rescued by flying foxes, when she was stranded on a hostile island.

The hunters had caught five flying foxes. These were prepared in a umu (traditional above ground oven of hot volcanic stones) by aunties and cousins to honour us as guests visiting from New Zealand in 1972.

I didn’t eat it. I cried.

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