Kalisa rubbed the palms of her hands together. It brought her back to her hut, where she sat down with mother and rolled small balls of herb leaves that would dry in the sun the next day and used to grate over food for taste. Thinking of the past became living in the past and away from the vast emptiness of the sea.
That afternoon, before returning to her hut and mother, Kalisa had found two lengths of rope between the fishing boats. This surprised her because they were usually quite picky about leaving things the way they were before. The ropes were still wet and so they were rather heavy to carry around the island. Kalisa was on a mission, though. And missions effortlessly take effort. That's half the fun. She dragged the rope to a nearby tree and dropped it on the grassy sand. The spot overlooked the beach and would also provide a pleasant location for watching the sun set into the ocean.
Kalisa had spent a good deal of the day collecting a whole range of twigs and wooden sticks. She sat down in the sand and began sorting the wood in length and usefulness. She ended up with a neat bunch of twigs and sticks, and she bound them together with the rope. One rope on either end of the bunch of branches. Then she tossed the ropes over a low hanging branch and bound the end of the rope to the branches, creating a seat for herself on which she could sit to admire the view and think of what she would do the next day.
"jan lili mi o toki e mi", talk to me, child, a voice said nearby. Kalisa startled and turned around. From the other side of the wide tree, the friendly face of Old Kopa, appeared.
"Kopa!" Kalisa said, "I didn't see you coming."
"I was sitting here all along, my dear. I am resting in the shade of this tree and spending time with those I love."
"We all miss jan Potako-suli."
"Potako-suli was my love on this island, but I was not with him this afternoon."
Kopa's smile was as cheeky as a three-year-old's. Kalisa loved talking to old Kopa, because she would surprise her every time with what she would say. She could predict what most of the villagers said. If she could predict so easily what people said, why did they even bother saying it. There was nothing to learn from that.
"Who were you thinking about then, Kopa?"
"It is funny, my dear. But I do not know his name, or if he has a name at all. We never use words to communicate with each other."
"What do you do together?"
"We nourish the bond we have, that is all. It is like replenishing yourself with water from the spring after a hard day's work.
"pona", Kalisa said. She looked up in the sky and saw a few clouds move over her head. Some things Kopa talked about were as far away from her as those clouds up in the sky. Many villagers called her a crazy old bat. Endearingly, of course, but it still bothered Kalisa.
"The word we," Kopa said. "That describes the bond I have with him."
"we is not a word, Kopa", Kalisa said. "Don't let mami hear you say it."
Kopa nodded. "There is no we. There are only mi and sina. I use mi for how I see things and I use sina for how you see things. You can talk about mi en sina to add up the two perspectives into a single more complete unit. But there is no we, nothing that truly joins the two and melts it together. We can say mi mute, which means multiple mi and therefore more of my own perspective, but then you ignore the other, sina."
"I don't understand, Kopa," Kalisa said while scratching away an itch in her hair. "But that's fine."
"If you understand something, how impossible is it to imagine that someone else cannot see it. But enough about my friend. Let's talk about you. Have you finally given in to the call to go on your nasin telo?"
YOU ARE READING
The Toki Ponist on the MountainGeneral Fiction
Like so many people, Joakim combats his inner demons. His latest strategy is uncovering a lost civilization based on a few peculiar words he has picked up in a language he will refer to as Toki Pona. To Joakim, the ancient wisdom of this civilizatio...