I stumbled across a poem today, written by a Tongan poet by the name of Konai Helu Thaman. I thought it was really powerful, and it reminded me some of the last blog post– regarding the “culture clash” between Tongan youth and their predecessors. The title of the poem is “Cinema.” Interestingly, there is no longer a movie theater in the Kingdom of Tonga. November 2006 was a tumultuous time for this nation. The capital, Nuku’alofa, was essentially taken over by riots. There are conflicting opinions as to the cause of the riots– some of the unrest apparently stemmed from anti-monarchy protests. Another contributing factor was Tongan hostility towards Chinese immigrants and their businesses. Anyway, a portion of the city was burned down in a fire. The movie theater was not a target of the riots, but fire has a way of spreading– and the theater was lost.
The Cinema (by Konai Helu Thaman)
HOLIUTI… the glaring letters sprawl across the unpainted walls;
the laughter and noise of children half-naked in body and mind
Waiting… anticipating the hideous eyes of guns and blood
The lens bringing these closer to their young innocent eyes.
Inside they giggle and tickle one another
Embarrassed by the embracing, the long drawn-out kisses
Rehearsed many times but the children do not know;
Words… what do they mean?
The sounds of guns and sirens make sense…
Well done! Malie! Deafening shouts annoy Europeans who sit upstairs
Drinking cokes, frowning at the ignorant natives
And fanning themselves impatiently.
The show is over and there is a faint murmur… ‘Ti eni’
There is a rush for the only exit
The children, half asleep hurry home to the warmth of their soft tattered tapa
Under which they will dream of rich palangis and brave cowboys
And will wake, laden with the wounds of Time