In the world divided by hate, the story of Nemani and the invitation for Eid, shows the love that gives us hope for a peaceful world.
So here’s the story of Nemani and the Old Indo-Fijian Lady from Lovu Seaside as Nemani V Loulou writes on his Facebook.
Earlier today while walking through Lautoka town, a stranger, Fijian of Indian origin, looks to be in her late 50’s walks up to me holding two corned muttons and two onions and tells me, “kaise bhaiya, you bring me the water one day, Eid Mubarak, come my house for lunch, i made food for all the people”.
She gave me directions to her place, she had no phone so I wasn’t sure if i would even find her house. So after about 2 hours I decided to go to her house.
Lovu Seaside wasn’t particularly an easy place to navigate through, wasn’t long before I realised it was a squatter settlement. After about 30 minutes of searching, I found her little humble home, it was so small that I drove past it a couple of times.
As I got off I could hear her voice from the road yelling, the typical mother kind of yelling. I also heard other people, children, i-Taukei children. The place now looks familiar, after the cyclone a few years back I had visited this area to distribute some drinking water. Behind her half wood and tin house was a tamarind tree, there were about 15 or so people sitting around on white potato sack mats, eating, all i-Taukei, they all seem to know each other so I assumed they were neighbours.
Then I heard her call me from her home, “eh bhaiya lako mai kana” (Hey brother, come and have some food), as i stepped inside her tin home she offered me a plate.
Her kitchen looks to be added on to the original tin structure. I sneaked a peek inside her main home, there was an old Fiji flag on the wall, a small frame with Arabic writing, a couple of old framed pictures I presume to be of her parents.
There was no fancy setup in her kitchen, a pot on the tired looking stove and a couple of pots on the old table. There was a plate of gulgula on the table. On the stove she scooped a spoonful of rice and placed it on my 1990’s style tin plate and at the table she uncovered a pot and scoped for me a spoon of curry then poured over it some Dhal (peas). Then she told me to find a place to sit and she’ll get me some water.
It was a very humble Eid lunch but it was the best I have ever had. The curry was made of corned mutton, baigan (egg plant) and potato’s, for desert she had made gave us one gulgula each and black tea.
What struck me was not how poor she was but how much she gave although she didn’t have much to give. I saw in her her big heart and her love for her God and her religion. I saw a heart that was willing to give. She didn’t see race or religion. I thought she probably used all the money she had to buy the two tins of corned mutton and two onions. I wondered whether she walked home after we met.
As I left her home she thanked me for coming and said to come again soon. I told her I would, and I definitely would.