Tongan Love Song
It took a separation from my usually non-romantic husband to squeeze the sentiments out of him. We had been married about three years and had two beautiful children when I left him behind for a couple of months. No we were not fighting or anything like that. I had a health issue that I needed to check out. We lived in a small South Pacific Island Kingdom. I had given birth to our little son in Tonga, but had complications. My parents came to visit and I returned to stay with them for a while.
We were over 5000 miles apart but it seemed like light years. I had the two chubby little babies to keep me busy, but at night I missed my husband and his sweet adoration. He was left alone in our humble little apartment. Each day after teaching high school, he would spend the evenings with his friends at kava parties. He loved to sing and it is well known that Polynesians have a knack for harmonizing. He developed a tune with his little group of friends and then they added the words. After a few weeks apart, he mailed me the words they had come up with. Here is my song written by 'Isileli Tupou Kongaika, my husband:
Memories have arisen in my mind
For the love we have for each other
Send my love to Timpanogas (name of mountain)
To Utah and the Rocky Mountains
There is love in store for the Lily of the Valley
Desert and wilderness, how is my fragrant flower?
And our only treasure that has been
Sealed for time and for all eternity?
My heart cries day and night
as I envision your lovely being
For life is tasteless and
you will never be forgotten
Elements of true love
are abundant in my heart
I will carry for it is my cross
For this love, Ruth, will never end.
Goodbye, goodbye my sweetheart
Langa e manatu ‘i hoku ‘atamai
Ki he fe’ofa’aki kuo fepulingaki.
Tala hoku ‘ofa ki Timipanokasi
Ki Iuta moe ‘otu mo’unga maka.
‘Ukuma e ‘ofa kihe lile ‘oe tele’a
Toafa mamate ‘oku fe fe koa?
A hoto kakala mo ‘eta koloa
Ne ‘osi sila’i ke tuputupu’a
Tangi hoku loto ‘i he ‘aho pea moe po
Ete mata vision ki si’o sino
He kuo ‘ikai ifo si’eku nofo
He ikai ngalo koe ‘i hoku loto.
Elemeniti ‘o e ‘ofa mo’oni
Kuo fihi tu’u ‘I hoku lotoni
Teu fua pe he kohoku kolosi
He koe ‘ofani LUTE he ‘ikai ‘osi.
Pe‘I alu a pe’I nofo a
Pe’I nofo a pe’I alu a
‘a sioku ofa anga
I was supposed to stay longer at my parents, but after hearing the song he wrote for me, I decided to go home a bit earlier.
As you can tell, there are plenty of metaphors in the song. That made if even more romantic.
My first name is Ruth, and in the Tongan language it translates to Lute . The language has only 17 letters. It does not have an R and a vowel follows each consonant. So there were four verses and each verse started with one letter of my Tongan first name.
It touched me deeply that he had spent so much time coming up with words that told our little story. When I returned to Tonga, they were already playing my song on A3Z, the local radio station.
I hope you don’t mind if I share the song with you. Perhaps it might inspire you to write your loved one a poem or a song for Valentine’s Day or any other special occasion.