One painful goodbye

The hardest thing Tokasa Salusalu has had to do was to say goodbye to her husband of 36 years.

In all their years of marriage nothing was more painful than seeing her husband on what would be his deathbed at the Qarani Health Centre on Gau.

Ms Salusalu’s husband, Manasa Buka, was one of the four people who died earlier this year died after eating the fish daniva (herklotsichthys quadrimaculatus) at Somosomo Village on Gau.

“The last time we spoke we were at the Health Centre and he wanted me to massage him,” said the mother of six.

That was to be their last conversation, before Buka as her husband was commonly known, passed away.

The 54-year-old Ms Salusalu could not contain her tears when sharing the story of the man she had grown to love since their wedding in 1981.

“I was not ready to fall in love when I was told to get married,” she said. “I had left my village in Lamiti and came here to Somosomo to visit my elder sister to help look after her family.

“When I was in Somosomo, I had not seen Buka neither had I met him, let alone even talked to him. I did not even know that his relatives and my sister’s in-laws had arranged for a fixed marriage.

“They did not even give me a day to talk to him, all I know is I was told that we were to get married. I cried and prayed to God to help as I embark into marriage life and to help pave the way for me.”

Thirty-six years later and with six children, Ms Salusalu said the decision to get married was never a mistake, it was meant to be.

According to Ms Salusalu throughout their marriage not once did Buka lay a hand on her.

“Like every other marriage, we had our differences, we argued but he did not swear at me nor did he punch me. He made sure to see that we resolved our differences before the next day.”

Ms Salusalu said on Monday, January 2 of this year, Buka had gathered his family and wanted this year to be a much better year than 2016.

“He asked for forgiveness and asked me to forgive him for any wrong that he had done. He apologised for everything and wanted this year to be the best year of our marriage.”

On Wednesday January 4, 2017 Buka was one of the four others who passed away after eating daniva.

Associate professor in marine studies at the University of the South Pacific Dr Joeli Veitayaki said daniva was a known toxic fish.

“There has to be a scientific explanation but for that research has to be undertaken. Blood, of the poisoned persons and eventually tissues in case of autopsy, plus and remaining of food samples should be collected and analysed to see the type of toxin and perhaps the source.

“USP has just started a project on ciguatera fish-poisoning, co-led by Dr Susanna Piovano and Dr Jimaima Lako, and in collaboration with Fiji Fisheries Department, Institute Louis Malarde in French Polynesia and Japanese National Institute of Health Sciences, and we hope this would help toward a better understanding on fish poisoning in Fiji.”

Of the 19 who ate daniva that day, four died, Among the survivors were a two-year-old kid and a bedridden man.

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