“SAI PĒ, MĀLŌ” (PART II) BY SISIFA LUI

Mental illness and any sign of it is against our way of living.

I cannot be depressed.

Depression comes tattooed with being ungrateful,

weak,

pretentious,

attention seeking,

laupisi.

Our children are prisoners of their own minds.

Our youth cry for help with every punch thrown,

every ngatu trodden,

and substance pocketed.

Signs of mental illness,

yet, we ignore it.

I am a Tongan warrior so I cannot be depressed.

We are not allowed to express.

There’s a certain sadness I feel,

But I must keep that to myself,  

and just pray that I heal.

We’re raised to believe that mental illness is not in the makeup of who we are.

So, why are there so many that suffer under its grip?

Churches, and Teachers, will label them crazy.

Crazy people, are not welcome.

And their prayers are not worthy.

I must silence my sadness,

even though it has been a raging drum

within my lungs

beating against the tight cage of my ribs

until they no longer can help me.

Breathe.

Mental illness. We ignore it.

Suffering in silence,

We ask each other every day

“How are you?”

As if there’s nothing more to say, we respond:

“Sai pe, malo”

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