Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

After reading Allen's column, scroll down to read yesterday's long posting.  Many comments on last week's postings are also well worth reading. Sorry there's no special Weekend Readings this week.
Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in www.connectme.com.fj/news/opinion. I thank Allen and Connect for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.

A Tree of Knowledge

A few friends usually meet at the Lautoka Market to have a basin of kava and a yarn. Most of them are retired and the others are almost there. They have been doing this for some 20 years, off and on.

Half of them look like they are in the late forties. They started meeting there way back when they were still working. They are Lautoka originals, meaning born, bred, schooled and worked all their lives in Lautoka. They played hockey, cricket, soccer, rugby and basketball. One or two were six-rounders in the square circle under the Queensberry rules. I joined them a few years ago whenever I wanted to catch up on the news.

We became familiar faces at the market and as time went by, I realised that these were brilliant people, with due respect to them. Talk usually revolved around everything and anything. We decided to name the spot the Tree of Knowledge.

And as time went by,  the curious wanted to know what went on under the Tree of Knowledge. To put it short, the Tree of Knowledge allows us to stop and smell the roses.

Many people don't  pause for a while.  Tt's work, work, work. Stress levels are on the rise. With companies doing their best to stay afloat, management puts pressure on employees to produce things with the bare minimum cost and this can take its toll on the human being.

As we sit at our spot, we see people scurrying around and we call out, "Have a bowl." The answer is usually, "Boy, very busy today, have to get these orders out." And away they speed to whatever stress level they were going to.

Some people do stop by and have a yarn and talk usually ends up on how tough life has been. But I tell the guys that everybody has problems; it's how one manages it that matters. If you let it get to you, then it becomes a real problem. There is always somebody somewhere who is worse than you.

Many people have Friday nightclubs. They meet at alternating homes and put in money that is banked to be shared at the end of the year. In the meantime, they just meet and have a basin of kava or the better-off, have a whiskey or wine. Yeah, some will whine because of hard times but the Tree of Knowledge is about people getting together to share ideas and have fun.

We have some very prominent people who come and sit with us and just relax. We now have former Fiji residents residing overseas who check us out each time they come in for a visit or on business.

The Tree of Knowledge is more than gossip, if someone thinks that's what goes on there. Gossip is all around us. But we are not perfect and there will be times when we will gossip. One of the old timers will say, "OK change the subject, sa kua mada na kakase." We will all have a good laugh and try and find out who started the topic.

The Tree of Knowledge is about networking. A wise man said that human nature isn't designed for isolation. There are times when someone will come in and share his problem and sometimes he finds the solution amongst his friends.

One thing good about this group is there is a lot of love and much more to give. We have a few homeless people who share our spot and were fascinated when told they were a part of the Tree of Knowledge. Homeless people are often looked down upon. They are seen as useless. But give them a chance and they will be of use. So I've learnt.

Some of the mates are still planning; oh, no, retirement hasn't brought them to a stop, no way. Some talk about extending their home or adding a few more vegetables to their backyard garden. Some intend to travel abroad to visit family. I've come to learn a lot from these mates, and like one of the visitors from Australia said, "Allen, what we need is a lot of is love."

Well, there is a lot of that among the mates. And yes, some of them still have a twinkle in their eyes, the sprightly old sods. But we take care of each other and we usually notice when one is quiet and we ask, "Hey, what's wrong? Want to share?" If he shakes his head, we understand but he usually comes around.

One of the best things I see is when children and grandchildren of my mates stop by and sit for a while.

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