Entries open for Honi Soit 2021 Writing Competition

Childhood

Words by Benson Lilo Oto.

Art by Isabella D'Silva

Stories of my Dad’s childhood with Papa.
They would take their va’a at night
and fish,

At the village beach with
coral reefs nearby,

At night fish were slower, easier to catch
The night-winds were lukewarm
like the water,

Fish were always plentiful,
Papa would surface with many for dinner.

Years go by and Dad eventually moved
To Aotearoa and to so-called Australia.
To the time he told me about these stories
To when we both return to the Motherland.

We went to the same village beach
like stories told,

We dove into cool water,
Dad mentioned a difference,

Around the corals we searched for the same storied fish
We searched and searched…
The wind picks up, reminds me of my second home – cold
We ended up eating something else
that night.

All those stories of his childhood,
Warm water, plenty of fish, was it all true?
If I pass down these stories
and tell my own,

Return with my children
… what will they think?

***

This poem was published in ‘Embers’, a pullout in Honi’s Semester 1, Week 11 edition.