By Patricia Page
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Extra resources for Across the Magic Line: Growing Up in Fiji
In those days its buildings were scattered. There were vacant blocks everywhere. A friend might live by a field of tapioca, or a ravine hung with creepers, or a piece of pasture for a horse. To go to the shops or to someone’s place to play, you didn’t have to follow the roads — long and winding because of the steepness of Suva’s hillsides. There’d always be a short-cut that would take you quickly down or up, through clumps of bushes, under giant banyan trees, over creeks. On the way you’d meet frogs, butterflies, parrots.
Fabulous toys. The one I liked to hear about most was a doll that walked and talked and had 300 dresses. Whenever I was there, the doll had just gone out for a walk and taken her dresses with her. Joyce knew of all sorts of exciting places to play. The best was under the Methodist Mission. Most of the buildings in Suva were built on stilts for coolness and underneath them were nooks and secret places. Joyce’s cousins joined us there and we built ‘cubbies’ and ‘shops’ from bits of wood, bottles and boxes.
But there was something wrong with the tree. An odd rustling, a twitch of one of the vines. I stood in front of it, petrified, knowing there was something behind. Something big. My beating heart knocked in my throat. Mossy Frisby appeared from one side, his gang from the other, swinging their legs arrogantly over the roots. He gave an infinitesimal signal — a mere flick of the head, the stirring of a finger — that I noticed as clearly as if he’d shouted an order. His followers immediately knew what to do and moved into their positions: a wide circle with me in the middle.