Main Street

Posted on Aug 2, 2017 | 0 comments

Main street, Otaki, is bi-lingual?  Come on mate – it’s multi-lingual.  Certainly the primary languages are Te Reo Maori and English but many other languages are alive and well on Main Street.

There’s a woman sitting on a seat just before I cross over to Main Street.  She says,’What you reckon about this Jacinda?’    I shrug.  ‘Yeah,’ she says, ‘you’re right.’  Then she grins and raises a thumb and I have to grin back.  ‘We’ll see,’ I say.  And we both smile.  A whole chapter of a literary novel in these few words.

Up the street there are hoots, shouts, laughs, hugs, music, squeaky walkers (I’m referring to the frames), the drone of mobility scooters.  There are raised eyebrows, pursed mouths, nods, laughs, whispers.  Strangers smile good morning and friends walk past each other, their heads busy with what they need to remember at the supermarket or the butcher.  Some of us lug library books and complete strangers stop us, indicating the book with a flick. ‘Any good?’ their eyebrows ask.

A man walks alone, deep in thought, an expression that says, don’t mess with me.  Another man does a wide detour around him then stops as the first guy flicks his head.  The second man goes back his body expressing great reluctance.  There is a short low-voiced conversation.  Then each goes their separate way one looking relieved, the other impassive.

A young woman stands in front of a queue at an ATM and stares at the screen.  She is rigid with shock.  What has happened?  Is she all right?  Then speech returns.  ‘Mum,’ she yells, ‘Mum, it’s eaten my card.’  The queue members turn round, look at each.  Nod.  We’ll come back later.

Someone shouts from the play area.  We don’t know what they said (we’re thinking what to get at the supermarket etc etc) but we nod and smile and hope to God that’s the right answer and that they haven’t said I’m just off to rob the bank.

Eyes meet eyes, automatic responses to someone managing a walking stick.  ‘Poor thing,’ the eyes around him say to each other, ‘one of these days, it’ll be us.’

A young man, carrying a triumphant toddler, pushes an empty stroller, grins at comments from his mates.    A woman and man walk, one each end of a column of small children, maybe from Kohanga?  They are so cute and so intent as they hold hands and follow the leader.  None of us can stop smiling.

Outside an op shop someone says, ‘Mmn,’ studies something for a moment, then walks purposefully into the shop.  We all have a quick look to see what impressed her and either look considering, puzzled or approving.

Communication in action doesn’t really need words.  Frowns, eyebrows, hands, sniffs, pursed lips, smiles, do the job they are meant to do.  Like someone weaving a giant harakeke wall hanging, these threads meet, move in and out, weave up and down and around the two main languages adding drama. comedy, curiosity, and life to Main Street.



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