Being a Solomon Islander
I sit with my brothers and my cousins, watching our mothers stomp out the dance, their hips swaying and the dust kicked up by their bare feet settling in their hair. My mother seems to have been dancing for hours, her soft hair is covered in a fine layer of dirt, and her smile flashes every so often in my direction. The drums and pipes carry the light tone through the air and I clap with my brothers and cousins in beat with the motions of the dance, laughing and singing.
Caught up in my own traditions, I can almost forget the voice of the missionary teacher who follows me each day as I join my older brothers in their daily journey to and from the waterside. I watch as they sail away from the shoreline, the long canoe gliding across the water. They can escape the confusing words of this colorless man who wears too many cloths and wonders still why he is hot. This man follows me and my friends as we trap lizards or play other boyish games, trying to dodge him and his talks of being burned in a volcano forever.
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My brothers tell me to ignore him, as they have. The missionary is not the threat, it is the kings who will take our homes and the food we eat. I hear my auntie telling my mother that morning as they prepared the pig for the feast later that evening, that the missionary plans to open a school and make me and my friends be students. My auntie told my mother, that my uncle feared they would teach us to be colorless too. For now though, we are away from the eyes of the missionary.
My cousin says that he hides in his hut and prays for us to be thrown into a volcano when we dance. If only he could see my mother smiling and throwing her arms above her head. He does not look at us though, instead he follows and speaks of fire and his father, scaring my sisters and little brother. He scares me too but I will soon be a man, I am almost 9 already, I cannot show my fear. I will learn to laugh as my mother or walk away unhearing like my brothers and father.