The Legend of the Enchanted Bonito Book

There was a married couple named Lalova’atetele and Sinamulisili. A child was born to them - a boy. They named him Alisi. When the boy was of age, he married Sinamafatua. Sinamafatua gave birth to a girl. She was named Manamanaifatua. The girl was accustomed to get up in the early morning, and stand on the bare mountaintop, from where she could watch the rising of the sunShe admired the beauty of the sunbeams. Her lookout was a mountain in Manu'a. The top of this mountain was bare except for a fasa tree (pandanus). When the girl got up too early and the sun was late in rising, she used to climb up that tree and rest there, sitting astride.

Finally the girl was made ill (pregnant) by the sun’s rays, She gave birth to a boy. (The place on the mountain where the girl used to sit is known as Matasaua.) The lady named the child Aloalo-a-le-la (conceived by the sun).

Aloaloalela, or Alo, married Sinaifiti, the daughter of Tuifiti. Tuifiti asked his daughter, "What is your husband’s name?" Sina replied, ‘His name is Aloaloalela," The Tuifiti exclaimed, "Ah, my girl that is the son of the sun. Tell your husband to go to his father and get me Good Fortune. It will be to your advantage to do so."

Alo set out on his. trip. It was night when he reached his mother's home. Then his mother saw that he was going to pass on, she called out to him, say, come in; where are you going?" The boy replied, "I am looking for my father’s family. I have business with them."

Manamanaifatua was vexed, but she said, "Look, the hour is late. Sleep here and get up early in the morning. Alas, you are on a difficult mission. I wonder whether it is safe. However, it’ s a good thing you've called here. Listen to me. Early tomorrow morning you set out and climb up the fasa tree. As soon as you see the sun rise take the creeper that grows at the foot of the tree and snare the sun. When you catch him. tell him about the trouble that is taking you to him. If he asks you to go to Po (night) and Ao (Day), do so immediately, for they are his cousins. Should they ask you who you are, tell them that you are the son of the sun and that you have come to them in your distress. Tell them that you have been sent by your wife’s family to fetch Blood Fortune. If the ladies offer to help you and open the bundle in which the treasure is, look for the fishhook that is moldy and dirty; that is good Fortune. Don’t take notice of the glittering, shining, beautiful hook: it is Bad Fortune. Understand well, what looks like Bad Fortune is Good Fortune and what looks like Good Fortune is Bad Fortune."

The boy went and climbed the pandanus tree. When King Sol rose, he immediately threw his snare and caught him. The creeper with which he noosed the sun is now called ‘the sun- snaring creeper.) The boy then followed exactly his mother’s instructions and obtained Good Fortune. Then he went back and called again at his mother’s home. "I am going to leave now," he said. Manamanaifutua replied, "Alright, but there is one more thing I must tell you. Be sure to follow my advice. As your boat proceeds on its way, beware of turning around; because, if you look back, your treasure will fall into the sea. As you paddle your boat and hear behind you the rushing of waves; when the thunder roars as if it were going to strike you, do not turn around. Don’t look back until you have pulled your boat on dry land."

The boy left, He had wrapped his treasure in his loincloth. While he paddled his canoe, he heard the rushing of the waves as if they were going to engulf him; lighting flashed and thunder roared and rain threatened. Suddenly the boy turned around and his treasure dropped into the sea. The boy jumped in and searched all along the reef inlet, but he could not find the hook. Finally he gave up in disgust. He then went ashore and begged the Fijians to look for his treasure. They went and searched for Alo’s treasure. They found it. It had been caught on the sloping side of the reef passage. Only the shank was left. The hook had been almost eaten up by the fish.

Alo was happy to recover his treasure. He went and met his wife. He told her of the difficulties of the trip. Then he opened his bundle and Sinaifiti saw the treasure. They took it to Tuifiti.

Tuifiti was very pleased to get this thing he had set his heart on. They tied the hook and caught quantities of fish.

In those days there lived in Fiji some brothers and their sister Sina. They were Samoans. These are the names of the boys: La’ulu, Tapuloa, A’auloa, Fatutoa, Aupinipini, Faumoa and Tautunu. The brothers built a boat; then they looked for a fisherman to take it out to sea. Tuifiti had given the hook to La’ulu and he gave it to the fisherman. The latter joined a fleet of Fijian boats and went out. It is said that all the bonitos went for his hook. He hauled in and hauled in until he had thirty fish in his canoe. Then he cut off the hook and hid it in his loincloth. When he had pulled up his canoe, La’ulu asked, "How did you get on?" The fisherman replied, "Alas, ‘the hook was torn off. " La'ulu then said, "And what is that shining in your loin cloth?"

La’ulu had set his heart on seeing the boat sink with fish. So, the next day, he sent the fisherman out again. Twenty fish were hooked. Once again the fisherman tried to steal the hook. Having pulled up the boat, he hid Good Fortune on the beach. La’ulu asked again, "How did you get on?" The fisherman replied, "Alas, the hook was torn off." La’ulu said, "It was torn off, was it? And what is that shining near the sea? Let someone go and get the hook. I had hoped to see the canoe sink with the bonitos caught, but you had no sooner gone out than you returned. I asked you to fill the canoe till it sank, but what did you do? Out you went and right back again. " From this is derived the proverbial saying ‘La’ulu yearned for a sinking boat.

Some time later the brothers and their sister escaped with the hook Good Fortune, which they wanted to take to Samoa. As they proceeded on their way, they were overtaken by a storm on the high seas. Their canoe foundered and they had to swim. When La’ulu felt himself getting weak, he passed the hook on to A'auloa. When A’auloa weakened he handed it to Fatutoa. Fatutoa gave it to another brother. It was thus passed on from ‘one boy to the other, until Sina finally got it. Sina swam on and reached Savai'i. Her brothers perished in the sea."’

George Thurman, 1999

 

 

 

 

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