People: Healing old scars

Litiana Tiqe, left, with Losana Nai and Simione Deruru beside the memorial plaque that honours the memory of a family of four that were killed in a massive landslide at Tukuraki Village in Ba. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

The pain of losing a loved one is an unbearable agony — hard to erase from a person’s memory.

Such is the pain Losana Nai has had to bear.

She lost four close family members to a massive landslide that buried and killed them at Tukuraki Village in the highlands of Ba in 2012.

Losana lost her youngest son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren to the landslide that occurred after weeks of heavy rain.

To this day, those memories remain fresh in the mind of the 80-year-old.

On the morning of the tragedy, Losasa was relayed the horrific news that her son and his family had perished in the landslide.

With the assistance of security officers, villagers worked hard to retrieve their bodies.

Buried alive at the old village site were Anare Taliga, 38, his wife Mereoni Robe, 23, and their two daughters 18-month-old Losana Nai and six-month-old Makelesi Matalau.

“I can never forget this story,” Losana said.

“When someone asks me about it, even until today, I tell them the truth and how it hurts… my granddaughters would have been in primary school now.

“A few days after their burial, I decided to move to a sister’s place, away from the village because I could no longer bear the pain. It was painful to see the remains of their home and what my son had built for his family.

“Isa, my beautiful granddaughters. They would have grown up to become strong girls.”

In 2017, the government relocated about 50 villagers to a new site, about 10 kilometres away.

Losana was one of the villagers who was given newly-built wooden home by the government.

The relocation gave the widow some sense of relief because she no longer had to be haunted by the sight of the old village and the loss of her own family.

Moving on, she rebuilt her life in her new home.

And in honour of her late family’s memory, she decided to live a healthy lifestyle because she believed her youngest son would have been proud to see her alive and living life to the fullest at 80.

Beside Losana’s one-bedroom home is a small backyard garden where she plants green and leafy vegetables and a few root crops to cater for her daily meals.

When she feels the need to eat meat or canned food, she forks out cash from her monthly Social Welfare pension and purchases some from Ba Town.

Life goes on for Losana in the Ba hinterlands.

She enjoys the luxury of living in a decent home and knowing that she is safe from the dangers of landslide.

Villagers of Tukuraki have their farms at the old village site and visit it at least once a week to fetch fresh produce for the market.

But for Losana, returning to the old site means inflicting pain of old wounds.

She’d rather enjoy life at her new home and heed to the call of her vanua and the church as age continues to catch up with her.

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