A SOUTH SEAS WOMAN
 
 
 
In this life I am an active, busy member of a Polynesian group that lives in an island in the South Pacific ocean. I have a small son, a lively, mischievous, rebellious young person. I do not know what may have happened to my husband, but I do know that he is not there. He may have gone with an advance group to explore a move we have decided to make to a larger island where the natural resources of fish, seafood, fruits and other edible vegetation abound. It has become clear that our sustenance has been depleted by population growth and long habitation on the island to a degree no longer compatible with a good life.
 
We have several long canoes which have been constructed and readied to transport us as a group to the new island, which is at a distance from ours of more than a hundred sea miles. It is necessary for us to go all together as a group, because of the distance and because of the unlikelihood of many individual members of the village having the superior navigational skills necessary to reach our tiny target in that vast coean. My husband is one of the few who possess such a skill, enabling him and the other two navigators to find this spot, pinpointed by our spiritual leaders.
 
I am all ready to leave with the rest of the households. My belongings are all packed up in a tapa cloth bundle secured by lianas, and I have deposited it in the place in the canoe to which I have been assigned. All is in readiness, and only waits for the tide to float us off the shore so that we may raise our sails and embark on our long, long journey. It is imperative that we all take our places in the canoes on time, because, once the tide has risen, we cannot afford to wait for stragglers.
 
But where is my naughty little boy? As usual, he has run off and is hiding somewhere, in order to make sure I know that he chooses his own actions and does not simply follow my instructions - which have been explicit. When I mention his absence to one of the leaders, he tells me I have a few minutes to find him, and that I had better go quickly, because they will not be able to wait for me once the tide has risen. I thank him and assure him that I will be as quick as I can, and run off to look for my boy, frantically calling out for him, searching in all the little hiding places he likes to secrete himself in when he is being naughty.
 
Alas, he is in none of them, and I begin to worry, calling out, warning him of the impending departure, reminding him that he will be left behind if he does not appear. Still unsuccessful at sighting him, I begin wandering farther from the beach, now beyond hearing of the rest of the group, calling and calling his name, casting my gaze outward to the uncultivated lands, upward into the tall trees, not looking down toward my feet as I walk frantically farther and farther from the beach. Suddenly I am dropped down into a deep pit with vertical sides, and land at the bottom in a heap, having struck my head on a large rock as I fall.
 
Coming to myself, I have no way of knowing how long I may have been unconscious, but imagine that it cannot have been more than a few moments. I realize that I must find a way to climb out of the pit, which is probably one that was originally dug as a trap for animals and abandoned when their numbers became too scarce for practical purposes. I stand and begin attempting to climb upward, calling out as I do so for the villagers to wait for me - but the walls are smooth, except for the one big rock halfway up, and I fall back again time after time. No one comes, and I realize that I am too far off to be heard.
 
It is hard for me gauge the length of time it takes me to climb out of the pit, but I finally make it to the top and run frantically toward the village and down toward the beach. I can see before I even arrive there that the canoes have left - and not just a few minutes before my arrival, because they are nowhere in sight! I am alone on the island, except for my wayward son - and it quickly becomes apparent to me that he too has departed in one of the canoes! I am truly alone on the island.
 
I do not have any detailed recollection of the rest of the story. What I chiefly remember is sitting for many hours with my back against the trunk of a tree near the place where I once lived, gazing out to sea, hoping against hope that someone will come for me - perhaps my husband, when he learns that I have not come with the rest.
 
I imagine that the rest of my life is not immediately ended, that I probably make rudimentary efforts to find food, to build a shelter, to take up a life alone - but I do not remember doing any of those things. What I remember is sitting with my back against the tree. My impression is that after a lot of time has passed, I simply abandon my body there under the tree!
 
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