Pepe

The pain was unbearable. It was Loga’s own fault. Tears streamed down her face. Why had she waited so long? As she was waiting for the concoction of boiled kava and hibiscus bush to take its full effect, she laid there thinking of Pele’s face when told by her parents they were not to be married. She thought of the pepe growing inside of her. Would it have had her smile?  Or perhaps Pele’s famous jungle green eyes? Would she have been praised for her singing and dancing skills?  Could he have been the fearless warriors that the aliis honored?

Her stout aunty Leata walked in, a stern look on her face. “You should not have waited for the fourth month. I know you were counting on you and Pele’s approval, but you should have known it would not come to pass. He is of lower class, Loga. He could have all the skills and tupe in the whole island, but you cannot change that fact. It’s time.”

Leata placed a bamboo stick between her niece’s teeth and started the lomilomi. Loga moaned in agony as her aunty gave her a prolonged and severe massage. Using the wakatele technique, she rubbed from the top of her abdomen down towards her thighs.

Pele sat outside the hut under the ripe mango tree. He longed to be at Loga’s side. He stared out at the calm ocean. Dolphins were doing their acrobatics, and children ran along the white shore line. Everything about this day was beautiful.

But for Loga and Pele it was a day full of sorrow and despair. Leata was having an unusually difficult time. She put as much pressure as she could muster. Loga champed down on the stick, snapping it and biting into her tongue. The rusty taste of her blood filled her mouth she let out a painful howl.

“We’re almost there, child,” her aunty breathlessly whispered. “The blood inside is getting all mixed up, it will come forth and bring the pepe with it.” As she said that, there was a warm sensation between Loga’s legs. She became unconscious.

When she came to, a lava lava lay over her, and her aunty and the fetus’ remains were gone. She painfully jumped up wrapped in her lava lava and ran outside. Loga ran towards the sami. She wanted to dive in and never come out.

Pele ran after her, seeing a crimson trail left on the white sand. His rage was building almost to the point where he became blind. As he glanced up, Loga was gone. He ran to the water, calling out her name. Frantically searching up and down the shoreline, he spotted her bright colored lava lava floating in the shallow blue water. He leaped into the water, searching for her. He swam and swam until he himself almost went under from exhaustion. He drifted in the shore and lay on the warm sand. Wailing in anguish, he lay crying on the beach. He had lost his precious Loga forever.

In Polynesia the motive for suicide was usually not despair or the abandonment of a life. The idea behind it was revenge. It was the prospect of returning in the form of a ghost to persecute and torture the hated person. Pele was brokenhearted but the thought of this gave him some small comfort. He knew he would run into his beloved Loga again.