By Patricia Page
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Extra info for Across the Magic Line: Growing Up in Fiji
But I had to do it. I was too afraid of the big boys. Their legs were in a circle around us, dusty and scabby-kneed, hemming off any escape. Their legs. I still saw most people in bits. But not everybody. One of the boys I saw whole. Pink-skinned and bony. A bristly cap of pale orange hair. White-lashed eyes that drooped at the sides. Adenoidal half-open mouth. Face splashed with rusty freckles. Mossy Frisby. The bane of my childhood. 18 Across the Magic Line The most remarkable thing about his face was its absence of expression.
Nadi seemed not much more than a long main street full of mostly Across the Magic Line 27 Indian shops with a Swami temple at one end, densely carved and painted in lollipop colours which were lit with a special longed-for glow. ‘The sun,’ I gasped. There was a break in the clouds above the temple that gradually widened and descended the street, lighting up the saris of the Indian women and touching on gold hems and bangles. We suddenly felt reckless and chose the first attractive sidewalk café we came across as a place to eat instead of looking for the cheap ones we’d noted down.
All the time I was in Fiji, either in my childhood or during our trip, I never came across any sign of resentment between the Indians and the Fijians — in spite of there being obvious political rifts. Paul Theroux, in The Happy Isles of Oceania claimed Fiji was seething with it. He found a nutty Indian who raved on about the sluttishness of the Fijian girls as compared with the strictly moral Indians. He unearthed a Fijian religious fanatic who believed the Fijians were God’s chosen people and that God wanted all the Indians to go back to India.