Rain all day. This was Fiji. Drops splashing into the sea, splash! The malachite undulating hills dark against the impossible turquoise of the sea. A ferrous blue skirted a thin strip of lace, foam and waves climbed unto the beige beach.
A thunderstorm that was forever childhood excitement: a knife sharp, mercury-white glare followed by thunder. The thunder started in the hollowness of the chest and exploded outwards and side-wards. It grumbled towards the hills and reverberated once again in the hollowness of the thorax. Fear, panic, terror rolling across the sky.
You travel so far from the known, familiar universe only to arrive back at home, back in childhood and memories of a past just barely clutched at: hibiscus, frangipani, paw-paws, coconuts, palms, bananas, poinsettia, crotalaria, Jacob’s coat-of-many colors, flamboyant and Pride of Barbados. Even the people were brown with frizzy hair. But, there the similarity ended.
These are island paradises. Virulent vigour was here replaced with gentility, softness, courteous solicitude. How come the fierceness of the past, the poison of inter-tribal warfare was converted to today’s decorous civility?
The breeze blew hard and the leaves rustled like coins thrown on the floor, metallic. The sea was everywhere like a living emerald scarf, all motion. Or, like molten glass, tinted and still, otherworldly. And the sky, beyond description.
Was it the stickiness, the humid and slightly fetid air that suggested a lack of constraint, a fecundity that moistened the upper lip and every aperture that throbbed subtly, lips that imperceptibly quivered, quick in the spirit, quick in the pulse, quickening the imagination?
A sultry energy of possessing and conquering, of pestle and mortar, of animal instinct forged in this intense heat of a smithy – liquid and molten emotion transformed, transfigured into concrete material flesh. Sins of the flesh!
You could tell, once you knew, she was a dancer. She walked with an erect stance, holding her back straight whilst pushing off at each step with the ball of her feet. The neck was long, the lower limbs slightly, ever so slightly short for her height and her torso was long. Her head was small and round, hair Pacific blonde and the face shy and girlish, innocent and trusting.
In the evening light, at dusk especially, all her qualities merged with the sound of the sea lapping at the beach, the clump of mangrove at the shoreline and the intense green of the foliage shading off into the grass green and the fresh green of palm trees. Elegant, simple and in the imagination, virginal. Imagination bestows these attributes to reflect our desires and innermost longings.
Watching the sky change color, from blue to indigo, to red, pink and purple before a wash of black erased all colors, this was our evenings. This was counterpoised against the sea itself, first revealing an intense and clear turquoise that changed to green, not jade but emerald green. It ended a murky, muddy blue-green, turbid but probably alive and rich. Then what colour was this that shimmered, fish scales, tar and liquorice?
As I looked across the bay, a wood pigeon pecked at the ground, a plover walked across the waterline, and the lagoon rippled continuously, a few fish jumping or skating across the water. This sublime, solemn beauty will probably outlast me, will outlast the brief interval of my existence.
Photos by Jan Oyebode