“Wow”, the young student doctor breathed in joy and wonder as my baby slithered into view, “that is the first time I have seen a birth. Thank you for sharing this with me.”
I took my eyes off my newborn son and glanced at the young doctor. All at once the years dropped away to a scene of blue sea, blue sky and a hot burning sun. We were hot, we were tired, it was the midday heat but we were determined so see something of this non-touristy Fiji island on our one and only day there. What a glorious stopover to our main destination of New Zealand! Fiji was the Hot House at Kew Gardens brought to life. Eyes widening in wonder as we strolled down a road lined with grand colonial houses. The rain hosed down yet we didn’t care; it was so hot the rain dried before it hit the ground. We took a taxi to the nearest beach. The sea was too hot to cool off in so my husband and I found a shady spot under a tropical tree.
“English?” said a voice, breaking into our slumbers.
We looked up to see a Fijian boy looking at us eagerly, “I learn. I go London soon. I learn to be doctor.”
We sat up; the boy was about twelve years old. We admired his ambition. He told us he was learning English from a retired Englishman on the island as well as at school. He was determined to learn as much as possible because all the scientific text books were in English. The University of Oxford was his aim. He told us about life on the island, about the seaplanes, the sudden downpours of rain; which we were to experience again later that day. We took photographs and his name and address and promised to send him a photograph.
The taxi came to take us back to Nadi, the main town. By this time the sky had been filled in with ominous grey clouds. With no warning the clouds dropped their load. The water emptied out instantly. Later, the small village lake took on the appearance of a primeval swamp when the hot sun began to cause the water to steam.
Steam…water…my baby cried as the nurse cleaned him up before handing him to me again.
I looked at the young doctor and simply said “Emori.”
“Yes. Hot English lady under shade! I told you I would be a doctor.”
“We sent you the photograph – did it reach you?”
“No…but never mind. I went to college and then to London University. My uncle is a dentist in London.”
My husband reached for my hand and, looking at Emori, said, “what about Edward Emori?”
I smiled with pleasure; we so admired Emori’s determination that to name our son after him would be a reminder of a wonderful day and of a friendship renewed on the day of my baby’s birth.