Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

'Hope Springs Eternal in the Human Breast'
First published in the Fiji Sun December 2010
By Allen Lockington
When I was growing up I remembered that Christmas was a joyous time for me. On Christmas Eve I was told to hang my pillow case at the top of the bed before I went to sleep. I did this from a very early age and when I woke up the pillow case would have toys, sweets and new clothes. When my parents, God rest heir souls, saw the delight in my squeals they would say Father Christmas came last night because you were a good boy. I would get up and hug them both.

Then we would attend a morning mass and like normal little children, I couldn’t wait to return home to play with my new toys and wear my new clothes. Sitting at the Sacred Heart Cathedral church in Suva, I would egg on the priest to end the mass quickly.

But after mass my parents would stand around to greet other people and talk about everything.
For me, my mind was at home. When we did get home my parents would cook and we would exchange dishes of food with our neighbour and I would go and play with the children. Some would have no toys so they  were given one and we would just play until it was lunch time.

There would be a huge fight when one of the neighbour’s children would not part with a toy. Things would soon be solved and we would go home to eat a hasty meal, but come back to play again. For me Christmas was always the same. The pillow case would be hung up and Santa Claus would sneak into my room at night and bring me good things. As I grew older, I grew up hearing that there was no such thing as Father Christmas. Or like my neighbour Subhash would say, Christmas Father. I was stunned. 

As I matured, the pillow case was no longer hung up and we moved in with extended family and had a Christmas tree. In the morning we would wake up and rush out to see what was under the tree. 

Later in life I read that some organisation had published an article saying that we should not lie to children about Father Christmas because he doesn’t exist. It's bad to lie but for  many children like me hope and fantasy almost died. For some children, hope died! 

In Christianity, we live life by faith, good works and many other beliefs.Why did we listen to people who said that Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny existed? Were these the very same people who believed in the tooth fairy?

In this day and age we still need hope in our lives. As for parents who still treat their children like how my parents treated me, please carry on the tradition.Children need a little mystery and hope and believing in the unknown. This will make them grow up and look back to see how delightful their younger days were. 
Hope happens when someone knows something, decides that it is pleasing, realises that they may not get it, but believes that there is still a chance of getting it. For me, I hoped for many good things when I hung up the pillow case.

Today I still have hope that things will get better. Let’s bring back the hope and wonderment this coming Christmas. Life can be an adventure howsoever you perceive it to be. A story that my dad told me when I was a child comes to mind. 

Harry Griffin Lockington was a staff sergeant in the Royal Fiji Military Forces. We lived at the Queen Elizabeth barracks in Nabua, Suva, for some time and he probably heard the story from a visiting army officer from overseas. It goes like this:
‘An RAF airman was in his plane fighting the Japanese somewhere in the Pacific and his plane was shot down. As he drifted, he watched the fight taking place in the air. He saw many planes shot down and many pilots went down with their planes – Japanese and English alike.

In war nobody really wins. Then a Japanese pilot bailed out and floated down towards his life raft and he was taken prisoner. As they floated in the raft the Englishman asked his prisoner what he had. The chap said he had a box his father had given him to open when there was no more hope left. The hours grew into days and the Englishman said: “Open that bloody box and rescue ourselves.” The Japanese man said: “No, my father said only open when there is absolutely no hope left.”

They became delirious and the will to open the box came from the two men and then one would say: “No.” But soon they lost all hope and were just about to open the box when an American destroyer spotted their little dinghy and they were rescued.

The Japanese airman was taken prisoner and later on repatriated to his country when the war ended. Some 50 years later the Englishman received a letter from the Japanese man, inviting him to New York.
Prior to this they kept in contact throughout the war and had became pen friends. They both married and had children and were getting on with their individual lives.

The Japanese was much older and he knew he didn’t have many years left on his calendar so he wrote to his ‘mate-in-peace-time’. He said to meet him in Times Square, New York,  and that he would pay for the air fare. He had ventured into business and became a millionaire. 

They were delighted to see each other and without the publicity of the paparazzi the older man pulled out a well-kept box.

“Remember this box I had with me when we were in the South Pacific, whom my honorable father had given me to open only when there was no more hope,” the Japanese man said.

“Well today I want you to be beside me to open and see what would have rescued us if we gave up hope.”

Their wives, sitting at a respectable distance from them, peered curiously while sipping on wine. They too knew about the box. The Japanese man looked at his mate and said, “Here goes.”

He broke the seal and opened it. It was empty.’

Tears welled up in both the men’s eyes. They sat in silence each to their own thoughts.
In their 80s both men had seen many things, bad and good. The empty box and the realisation hit them hard.

They stood, hugged and shook hands and went their separate ways never to meet again, knowing that when they were in the life raft thousands of miles from land, there was still hope.

Both men will have died by now as I write this story again. You see, life is such that like those two brave men fighting for their countries, they hoped things would turn out good for them and their country.
Merry Christmas and may you bring back hope into your lives.

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.


Hope springs eternal in the human breast (Alexander Pope) said…
God bless, Allen. A story to remember with hope! And here is to the RAF and to all who served including those from Fiji.
Singh said…
Always a pleasure to read Allen Lockington. It brings back fond memories and lifts the heart.

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