Thursday, November 25, 2010

Samoan Curfew

This is a true story that happened to Loa's father and her uncle back in their home island of Samoa about 40 years ago.

This happened to my father and his cousin back in Samoa when they were about 15 years old, and like any ordinary island child they loved to swim. In Samoa, they have a curfew for the village people to be in the house by 6 or 7 p.m. to do prayer. So around that time the officials of the village would ring a bell or blow a conch shell to inform that curfew was in effect. It was not only forbidden by law but was forbidden because around that time, the ancestral spirits would roam free and anyone could be "taken" at that time.

My father, being a trouble maker decided that he and his cousin would hide out on the beach so they could swim throughout the night. Well as they swam, they started to see the torches and knew right away that the officials were getting ready to enforce curfew. So they hid and kept the noise down until the officials went back into their houses. That was a stupid mistake.

While they were celebrating in the water for not being caught my father and his cousin started to notice a faint sound in the distance on the beach. They tried to look who it was that was making the noise but they couldn't figure that out. As the people started getting closer, they could see that they were chanting and holding torches so they assumed it was the officials doing another round of enforcing curfew. Then they noticed the people were wearing clothes of way back in the day and the chanting was actually of an older Samoan language that was hardly used. My father knew right away that something was wrong, so he convinced his cousin that they should hurry back to their house.

While returning home they felt for some reason like they were being held by some kind of force because these men kept getting closer and closer even though my father and cousin was running faster and faster. Eventually they reached home and my grandmother and some of the other elders of the family were waiting impatiently for them. As soon as they got there, my grandmother could see what had happening, so she quickly rinsed my father and his cousin off with fresh water to get the salt water scent away from them. She hurried as fast as she could because she could see the spirits coming closer and closer. As they were only a few feet away my grandmother just finished washing my father and cousin off. Then when see looked up the spirits were gone.

AT this point my grandmother stared crying. She beat m father and cousin and explained that the curfew was not only for the purpose of the officials but for the respect of the spirits that walked around at night. She told my father they had just disrespected our ancestors. And she explained how lucky they were that she was there to know how to handle the situation because this had also happened to her when she was a young girl. My father and his cousin from that day never broke curfew and till this day, they look back on that event and wonder what if?

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