Chapter 7: Farewell to the Island

Island Wedding (4)  “But I don’t understand.” Puaura’s voice was filled with confusion.

Ahohako felt miserable. He wished that they could stay here on the island, lost in newlywed bliss. But he could not shake the firm voice of Tangaroa from his mind. He stepped toward his new bride and put a reassuring arm around her. “We must leave. Tonight. All I can tell you is that I will explain along the way.”

Island Wedding (144)

Puaura sniffed. “But Mama—” her voice broke. “She will have no one!”

“Everyone on the island loves your mother,” said Ahohako. “She will be fine. Everything will be okay.” His throat constricted as he forced out those words – words which he himself did not even believe. Would Tangaroa allow the two of them to flee the island safely? Or would they be dashed against the rocks and killed, like outsiders? “Everything will be okay,” he said again.

They did not pack much for the journey. Puaura brought a small bag, but Ahohako, not wanting to take anything else belonging to the real Ahio, chose to leave everything behind but the clothes on his back and a wallet filled with all the money from Ahio’s bank account. Then, later that night, they met with Puaura’s mother for a teary farewell.boat (22)

At exactly midnight, they boarded the small, wooden rowboat which Tangaroa had shown to Ahohako in a dream. Puaura sobbed as they boarded, and sobbed harder still as they pushed away from the shore. As Ahohako rowed against the oddly calm waves, the island hulked by in the ghostly moonlight, then shrank into the distance, until all that remained was Ahohako and Puaura in the blackness.

boat (24) boat (28) boat (31)

For the first few days of their journey, Puaura barely spoke. But at last, she opened her mouth. “Where are you taking us?” She looked at Ahohako with the shy uncertainty that one usually gives a stranger. Which, of course, he was. Maybe Puaura was beginning to sense it.

“I don’t know.” It was true. All Ahohako knew of the sea came from swimming fish-like beneath the surface. Now, as a man, the sea was as much a stranger to him as he was to Puaura.

“What will we do when we arrive?” asked Puaura.

Ahohako pressed his lips together. He did not know. He did not have much formal education or job training. Neither did Puaura, as far as he knew. “We’ll figure something out,” he said.

Adieu Island (102) Adieu Island (99) Adieu Island (105)

Many days after leaving Matahina Island, the endless blue of the ocean began to give way to land. Ahohako rowed inland along a wide river, until they began to see signs of civilization – docks, stone walls, and strange buildings with thick ivory walls and red-tiled rooftops. With a few final exhausted strokes, Ahohako pulled the rowboat onto the banks, then he and Puaura emerged on wobbly legs.

For a long moment, they just stood there, looking around at the hills and buildings and foreign plants. Then Puaura said, “We are very far from home.” And she buried her face in her hands and wept. Ahohako, overcome at last, wept beside her.Adieu Island (62)

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