Blessed is the worm that slide through my shivering fingers and into the salty black ocean,
Lament the unlucky worm caught in Uncle Satuu’s home-made mosquito net racket that is immediately devoured.
Chomp on blue, green, red worms while they squirm for their short-lived existence.
Samoan delicacy at its best – Live, wriggling reproductive organs that float to the glassy surface only once on a balmy full moon in November.
The one night when we don’t mind being awake at 2am to sew sweet smelling necklaces and to patch mosquito nets to be used for catching the ellusive worms.
Throw in a dozen bottles of Vailima and the night stretches out into the dark shadows of sleeping Itu-o-Tane shorelines.
Only to be disrupted by coconut lit fires and disgruntled pigs as humans take their place under leafy fuafua trees.
We wait and wait and wait and wait.
In the shadows.
While able bodied men paddle their flimsy canoes in search for where the palolo will choose to rise.
“It’s going be a good year, I can feel it” says the toothless man from Fagamalo.
“I doubt it, there were no thunders and worst of all, no lightning in October, it’s a waste of time” mumbled the old lady from Avao. In the darkness, I see the shine of her two gold teeth and the pink of her round plastic hoop earrings.
I think to myself, If I was a palolo, I would swim away as fast as I could from her.
The early morning air is a pungent fusion of Impulse perfumes mixed with fragipanis, mosoois and pig shit.
Depending where you’re stepping in the dark, the latter can be unpleasant.
Women gather their children, chiefs chat near the fires, young lovers hold hands in the pleasant darkness, young girls gaze at half undressed boys and dogs bark into the darkness because they can. Until someone throws a rock unto their emaciated ribs and quietens them momentarily.
As we wait, we worry.
The sun rises not too far away, yet the palolo refuses to surface.
And just when the fires started to die out, the voices of the men fill the air, and a sea of bodies rush to the sea, with buckets and nets and Goodyear tyre floaters and little children in tow.
Nevermind the dangerous undercurrent
Nevermind the rising tide
Nevermind the sharp corals
Nevermind the reef’s treacherous edge looming close
Nevermind the hungry sharks.
Nevermind the bodies swept out to the unforgiving deep, still holding onto their buckets of worms, never to be recovered.
“Make laia, it just wasn’t their year” says the toothless old woman, while she chows wriggling palolo between her two gold teeth.