Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

Delightful Letter

 I don't often receive letters or postcards in the mail. Mail meaning those things that come from the Post Office. Well last week I received a most welcome postcard all the way from Levuka. It was sent by a good friend who has called the Old Capital home. His message was, “Keep this postcard on your kato-ni-wai-liliwa to remind you where you should move.” The caption on the  card referring to the photos says – Levuka is the main town on the island of Ovalau, Fiji. It is situated just east of Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji. Levuka was once the capital of Fiji. Levuka is situated on the ocean, and fishing is a major industry and pastime there.

Most of my correspondence these days is by  email. Just imagine what life would have been without the Internet. Here are some of my thoughts on what we used to do before the Internet came into our lives.

Without the Internet we would be playing sports or going for a bus ride. We would be out on the road going for a walk. We would be reading or at the library. We would be playing hide and seek or police and robbers. We would be playing with our tops or marbles. We would be pounding glass to make maja for our kite strings to fight kite. Without the internet we would be playing in the trees or in the grounds playing volleyball, soccer or rugby. Without internet we would sit and write letters and take hours writing it. We would also have writing pads and envelopes at home. We would be good spellers and have good grammar and know our tenses and sentence structure. Without the Internet we would buy stamps and post letters and wait impatiently for replies from friends and family. Without the Internet the postmen would still have a job and we would rush to the door to see if any mail came for us when we heard the “tring tring tring” of his bicycle bell or the sound of his motorbike.

I remember when I was still in primary school my older female cousins would squeal with delight when we heard the postman call out, “Mail for Elizabeth, Pauline and Mary.” When they received their letters and if it was from their boy friends I would actually see them soar into the air and zoom about right up to the clouds. They would rush off to their own private corner in the house, open their letters with love and droopy eyes and squeal with delight and come rushing out and make as if nothing important was in the letter. Then they would pull out writing pad and fountain pens and expensive Biros and go to a secluded corner and write. Then when the letter was written, after four days, they would put a dab of perfume into the envelope and of to the post box around the corner. Then they would sit and wait and wait and wait. Each time the postman would come around they would rush out and he would say, “Goodness I just emptied the mail box yesterday.” I always wondered why the mailman was so popular.

And one day when the postman came and took one of my cousins to the movies I was baffled. Well the postman was young he was fit from all the walking around and he knew lots of things about the neighborhood. I grew up and one day I saw in the papers a movie that was titled “The postman always rings twice.” I wondered why he would ring twice because in Samabula, where we lived he just called out and the ladies would rush out. I wish I was a postman back in those days!

Anyway without Internet I would still be faxing my letters. And with out the computer I would still be writing my letters and posting them. I would still have to spell correctly and correct my grammar. Remember the movies of young soldiers in Vietnam? The camera would do a close up on them and you see them reading a well read letter and they would hug and kiss it and then tuck it away safely into their pocket and them they would smile and have a far away look in their eyes.

Today we have social networking, which I don’t mind at all because I have gotten to meet school mates that I thought had taken the lead to heaven or hell. Gotten in touch with relatives and made new friends. And it is faster. In a matter of seconds you can send a letter to the other side of the world and in minutes you get a reply. Today you simply sent a message via email and in a few minutes you get a song played for you on the radio.

In the old days my cousins would sit and write letters of request to the radio station and wait a week for their song and squeal with delight when they heard their names announced on the radio. And on our way to school we would hear the kids say, “Hey Liz, we heard your dedication on Sunday's listeners favourites.” And Liz would feel really important. Today making a dedication is common. I loved the part when my cousins would kiss and hug  or spray perfume on their letter and then kiss it and drop it into the letter box. I just can’t see them doing that to their PC. It would look stupid. And the perfume would spoil the computer screen.

Receiving letters from friends is such a joy. I remember the days when we would sit around writing Christmas cards,  lick the stamps and take them to the Post Office.We were  delighted when we  received cards   from friends and relatives. We would hang them on the Christmas tree, and in the office they were pinned to the notice board, and the message and feeling in receiving them would be overwhelming. Today, sending messages on the Internet is so simple it's taken out the fun and feeling of receiving something dear to you.

To my sunburnt Canadian friend living in Paradise in Levuka, thanks a bunch.  You have brought back memories of what it was like to receive a letter.

Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in Fiji. I thank Allen 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.


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