Processions and Successions

The light rain beat steadily on the windows as the car made its way down the muddy path, through the rainforest. Merata found her thoughts getting lost in the passing wilderness as it flew by the window.

The driver spoke, “Merata, toeititi lava tāua i Fifilemu.”

“Lelei.” She acknowledged absent mindedly. She was relieved to know their drive would be over soon.

Fifilemu wasn’t exceptionally far from the capital, just a drive inland, but waiting in this car was not putting her racing mind at ease. Fifilemu was such a small village. The attendants visiting today would probably outnumber the population of this village four or five times. It was difficult to imagine her uncle, the monumental Ariki Nui, chief of all of Pētea, Heikura was from this humble place. But then again, it was hard to imagine Heikura was dead.

Suddenly, the rainforest gave way to wide open clearings- fields of taro, fish farms. The humble beauty of rural, island life, except there were no people in these fields. The farmers and fishermen who would normally be working the fields and ponds were preparing to attend the funeral.

She could see the dominating, palm-frond roof of great meeting house peeking above the trees and smaller huts. That was their destination; the funeral would be held there. Processions of families could be seen walking the dusty, dirt roads towards it, lead by their offerings, their family chief, and their orator. Soon she would meet with her family, and walk the same road to give offerings to their fallen leader.