Hospitality

Monday 8 October, 2012:

Kepaoa texts me twice in the middle of the night. The first one says he can’t stop crying; next one says something like: if I’m gone by then tell her I love her and my family. I text him back, telling him: Hey don’t talk like that! I want to ring someone… maybe his older brother, Paki. I don’t know his number. I lay there wondering if I should go over, then I tell myself not to panic. Kepaoa’s at home, he’s ok – they’ll all be checking up on him. I send a couple more texts, just to say I’m right here, and if he feels scared or upset he can text me any time. And then I fall asleep.

 

About 8:30am, I get another text: ‘Can i come hang out with you at yours ms please?’  I have to laugh as I reply, saying that it’s not going to be very exciting at mine. Kepaoa is undeterred, so I tell him I’ll come get him. His next text reads: Soon ms algood? Thankyou!

When I get there, Kepaoa seems kind of ‘flat’ – it’s hardly surprising. But dutifully, he checks with his parents, and they’re fine about letting him out of sight for a bit. Furthermore, he’s just received a call from one of the psych team at the hospital, and has agreed to meet with a counsellor in the next few days. So I can see he has a basic willingness to accept help.

As soon as we get inside, I can see him kind of relax and exhale a little bit. “Oh maan, Miss,” he tells me. “I just feel more comfortable at your place.”

I bring out the mattress off the spare bed, and some blankets and pillows, and he settles down in the lounge, with TV, laptop, and some food out of the fridge. His tired, jittery look kind of softens. “Miss,” he keeps telling me. “I like being here.”

“That’s good, huh…” I say, just sitting beside him and stroking his hair. His head’s still sore, from banging it on the ground when the cops came.

 

I’ve already arranged to meet La-Verne for coffee at 2. We’ve been in communication on Facebook (I having signalled my readiness to talk to her again by liking her new dp, and she having responded by messaging to ask if I’m free for a coffee). I feel okay about leaving Kepaoa on his own; he seems stable and calm. When I get back, I find him sound asleep. He’s cranked the heater up, and is slumbering away peacefully in the resulting sauna.

 

Tuesday 9 October:

I wake up about 5:30 this morning and cry quietly. “Don’t forget about Tau…” I whisper, to  whatever beneficence might be listening. “Don’t forget; not even for one second. He’s the bravest person I know – please don’t forget. Even if I haven’t done enough.”

And all day, everything seems surface level and tiring. I feel trapped by some whole persona of being not enough, being the one who’s not good enough. Things overlap and I can’t work any of it out, not right this second. I feel like I’m supposed to be someone else: a very good, very still little girl.

 

Wednesday 10 October:

“Gonna be a big talk tonight,” Kepaoa tells me.

“Good… good!” I say.

We’re sitting in the car outside Teri’s house, waiting for her to get back. Just talking about this and that, listening to a CD (one Kuli made for me, way back when).

“You can tell an Islander made this CD,” comments Kepaoa, and we snort. “Cos it ain’t gangsta gangsta,” he goes on, making me laugh. “But it’s not… white people’s music either.” He wrinkles his nose in disdain.

“Ohh, for fuck’s sake!” I exclaim, and he grins. “Kepaoa, I’m amazed you ever got to know me at all! You and your ‘white people’.”

“No, Miss… I never thought about you like that. Honest to who.” He settles back into his seat. “Actually, you always reminded me of my mum. Straight up.”

“Aye?” I ask.

“Yip. No shit.” He shakes his head, at the perplexing fact that there’s one aberrant ‘white person’ in his life.

 

Later, as an upshot of the ‘big talk’, Kepaoa and Teri are given permission by their respective families to stay the night at my place, before Teri flies out tomorrow evening.

Around 9:30, a car pulls up in the drive: Paki, dropping off the two of them – and Dante. Kepaoa says immediately, “Miss, it’s alright if Dante stays too, isn’t it?”

Dante, who is hovering in the background, can barely look at me, and seems to be in paroxysms of embarrassment at Kepaoa’s words.

Kepaoa goes on, unselfconsciously: “He’s really worried that you’ll be angry – but I told him, no, Miss’ll be awguds with it.”

I look at Dante, who, if the ground could have swallowed him up, would have taken this option willingly.

“Yeah, course it’s fine – come in, you guys,” I tell the three of them. There’s nothing else which would make any sense, and really, I can’t help being touched by Kepaoa’s faith in my hospitality.

 

I haven’t heard back from the Union Field Officer yet. Frankly, it’s all been very low on my priority list – the whole thing.

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