On this day of solitude (Good Friday) I want to share this enduring image of a man which I hold in my mind. This is a man who I only know because Clea died and because she died in a place where he worked at the time. I had met him briefly before the airport and I have since seen him a number of times but it is this image below that I hold in my head. It is the image of a man who has to undertake a sad and solemn duty to ensure his countrywomen are treated with respect, even in death.
She wanders along the verandah of the fale at the edge of the airport. The warm, tropical breeze reaches her and touches her but she is unaware. She is watching a man walk toward the airport gates. He opens them. He waits patiently as three hearses drive through. He moves to the front of them and slowly, respectfully and patiently he walks ahead of the hearses past the lone woman on the verandah to the edge of the tarmac. He is the silent sentinel guarding the hearses parked on the grassy verge at the end of the tarmac close to the ocean.
There is an aeroplane preparing for its flight across the ocean. Again, he walks ahead of the hearses to the cargo hold of the aeroplane. He watches and waits as the coffins of his countrywomen are loaded into the underbelly of the aeroplane.
She watches too because one of those coffins holds her beloved daughter. She does not know which one. Later she boards the plane as well with the knowledge that her daughter lies below her in the cold depths of the plane. They are going home.