I was drifting off to sleep when I heard my father relate his dream to some relatives and close family friends. In his dream, Rokowati (affectionately referred to as Bulou), the wife of Tuni, our kalou vu, appeared to him and gave him an ultimatum that should he hit me again, supposedly with a stick or sasa broom, she (Bulou) was going to take me away permanently. Whilst I had internalized such divulgence with an open mind, it has, nevertheless, continued to pique my curiosity and interest ever since. However, in retrospect, and with the benefit of hindsight, it has to be said that my father kept his side of the bargain. I, on the other hand, did not take advantage of my perceived privileged position. Instead, I took steps, perhaps sub-consciously, to refrain from raising my father’s ire. Such restraint on my part, I believe, is the best reward for my father’s steadfastness.
It was in the early 1960s. I was attending Ratu Sukuna Memorial School (RSMS), a secondary school, and the family was living in Nabua Village right across from the school. I was doing well in my studies. It was at this time that the Principal, Mr. William Donelley walked to the village from school one day and spoke to my father about my prospects at school and that I could go far given support from home. My father was relating this story sometime later in the privacy of home when he divulged his dream to the private gathering there having yaqona that night. He added that one could always tell Bulou’s presence when one could smell the heavy Fijian tobacco (kavuru) whiff in the air. Alternatively, one sees her in a dream as a heavily-built woman with buiniga (fuzzy, shaped, full hair), full-breasted, carrying a ketekete (basket woven from coconut leaves) on her back and of course with that ubiquitous kavuru.
I can’t recall when my father hit me for the first time which had necessitated Bulou’s intervention. I can’t recall either the reason. But it must have been during early childhood in the village and I must have done something very naughty indeed.
At first, my father’s revelation of his dream didn’t make any change at all in the way I felt or how I projected myself to others. It essentially went in one ear and out the other. However, after I had heard the same story from others a few times and I had whiffed the unmistakable kavuru during times of pending vulnerability, it just occurred to me that perhaps I was indeed under Bulou’s spell and that she was protecting me. I began referring to her as my guardian angel (see e.g. ‘My Origin Story’).
I had experienced such a time of vulnerability in the mid-1950s, well before I overheard the story from dad; and that, in retrospect, did fuel my own conclusion of being under Bulou’s spell. I was attending Nabua Central Fijian School. The family was renting a room at Lakeba Street, Samabula, under a sub-letting arrangement with relatives. One night, mum and dad were having a heated argument and mum started crying. I heard the commotion from outside and rushed into the room with tears in my eyes and moved in to protect mum. That did the trick. It was magical. Dad knew that he was now confronted with a larger threat. The commotion died instantly. Peace returned.
The subject of dreams, it has to be said, is unfinished business. The science of dreams is not settled; why do we dream, what are dreams, what do dreams mean are all works in progress. Therefore, it is difficult to logically analyze dad’s dream scientifically. However, I do believe that something can be said from an empirical perspective to lend creditability to the dream, its interpretation and its continued utility.
The ultimatum from Bulou conveyed to dad by a dream became dad’s unbroken promise for the rest of his life. It guided his behavior and it became a goal to aspire to. Purely from the perspective of behavioural science, dad’s dream and how it transmuted to positive actions for his self-improvement and for a more rounded personality has to be creditable. The dream is essentially a means to achieving creditability.
Bulou’s intervention as both the courier and the apportioner of the ultimatum, if and when warranted, has specific traditional significance. Dad was a connoisseur of all things traditional during his lifetime and perhaps that was intended to run in the family. He obviously got the nod from our ancestors as the conduit for their interventions to ensure family heritage. And I am the chosen lucky beneficiary.
Bulou is a character from my Origin Story. Questions have been raised, in general, about the interventions of our ancestors in our daily lives via dreams or otherwise. The angle of enquiry has generally been focused on the acceptability of such ideas in the context of our Christian faith. I suppose that will be one question that will keep exercising our minds for a while. Be that as it may, it is prudent to note that biblical figures did dream, and that ancestors also appeared or were mentioned in their dreams. In any case, the scientists have yet to understand our dreams fully. So the discourse continues.
For the purpose of this specific discourse, however, I propose an open mind when it comes to analyzing dreams and seeking their interpretations. Thus, through dad’s dream, he was determined to avoid the repercussions that could have happened. This had led to his own behavioural and personality improvement; and the family benefited. For my part, I opted for calmer waters and conflict avoidance as response to the ultimatum and the threat contained therein. Consequently, family peace and solidarity prevailed. I shudder to think what could have happened otherwise.
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