MOKAI Patolo's journey into the new year has been a harrowing one.
The past month has consisted of prolonged hospital stays and visits as he tried to maintain a sense of normalcy in the lives of his three young daughters. The days, however, have been anything but normal.
Emotions flowed when his girls — Grace, 5, Fisi, 5, and Ana, 3 — asked if they could live near their mother's grave at Viseisei Village outside Lautoka. He did not know how he could ever deliver on this request, so he did not give them an answer.
As fate would have it, while Mr Patolo was trying to muster the courage to explain the circumstances surrounding their mother's burial at the chiefly village, a stranger the family had only come to know a few weeks ago was also contemplating the children's future.
Some will say it was coincidence, but to Mr Patolo it was the hand of God at work when Vuda elder Ratu Tevita Momoedonu called him and offered a piece of land near where his late wife and baby were buried,
Ratu Tevita, who is the Taukei Sawaieke, said the land was in the village boundaries and about 100 metres from the graves of 33-year-old Sisi Patolo and her seven-month-old baby Sarah. The two were killed in a brutal attack last month which resulted in the hospitalisation of the three girls.
Mr Patolo had no words and broke down in tears for he could never thank the chief enough for his generosity.
"I am lost for words trying to describe the happiness and the emotions that filled my heart knowing the wish of my daughters has been granted by Ratu Tevita," a teary Mr Patolo said.
"Last week at Lautoka hospital, my daughters said they want to stay next to their mother's grave when they're discharged from hospital.
"And to my surprise, I couldn't believe it when I received a call from Ratu saying he had a piece of land in the village on which to build my house.
"I am proud to say that I feel at home despite the fact that my parents and close relatives are in Tonga.
"Now that I thank the Lord for his will and I know for sure the girls will be happy as they will be staying next to their mum's grave."
It was through Ratu Tevita and his Sawaieke clan that mother and daughter were buried in Viseisei.
Mr Patolo said his daughters did not want to return to the house where their mother and sister were killed.
Ratu Tevita said immediately after the funeral, he had already decided to give a piece of land to the family.
"This will sort of complete things because it is important for Patolo's daughters to live close to the grave of their mother and sister," he said.
"I took it as my responsibility to help the family and to rehabilitate them from this traumatic experience of theirs.
"Further to this, the family will be very much part of the Viseisei community because they will be residing in Viseisei Village, on my yavutu (land).
"It is an honour for me and a humbling experience to extend my love to the family.
"In fact, Patolo is not the first one from outside Viseisei to reside on my land, there are also people from Tailevu and other parts of the country residing there.
"It is because they needed it so why not extend my assistance to a Tongan family in distress."
Ratu Tevita said he would not charge and did not expect any money.
Mr Patolo also thanked the Sawaieke clan for the great assistance offered to his family.
"I can only pray to almighty God to bless Ratu and his clan," he said.
"We are grateful and thankful to Ratu for stepping forward during this very trying time.
My children are blessed in that Ratu heard their plea to live near their mother."