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Nohnoh

June 4, 2010
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Nohnoh Kimiya

Sorry for the hiatus.  I just haven’t had much inspiration lately.  I delete my Google Alerts and other Pacific updates I receive without reading them.  I have been too distracted by other things happening to think about blogging. Let’s think of this break as a little Pacific-regeneration.

And if that isn’t sufficient, I will use this weekend as an inspiration.  I spent Monday and Tuesday with my Mwoakillese (pronounced Mo-kill-ease) family.  My dad, brother Dylan and Uncle Tregar traveled to Illinois to visit my Nohnoh who is staying with my Aunt Kimiya, Uncle John (not Mwoakillese) and cousin Carly.

My grandma is a character.  She has led an interesting life and this has manifested itself into her stories, opinions and views on religion.  It is hard to sit and talk with her without her bringing up religion.  I should mention that my grandma has heart problems and problems with her diabetes.  The ironic thing is she isn’t scared. I am.  She told me (in her not-quite-broken-English), “I’m not afraid of die. Don’t ever be afraid of die.  No one lives forever. The only one who knows when you will die is Jesus. He knows when you come and when you go.  So don’t be afraid of die.”  It can be heart-warming, but I am always quick to change the subject.

My brother Dylan (also quite a character)  hasn’t been able to spend a lot of time with my grandma.  Needless to say, he really enjoyed talking to her and getting to know her.  She was teaching him various words and phrases in Ponpeian.  His favorite was “ke mehn mwau” which means “you are beautiful.”  She also taught him various swear words and bad things to say.  Most insults were directed at the smell of genitalia, but I will spare you the details.

For me it was just great to see her again.  (For those of you that don’t know, in June of 2007 I went to Guam to meet up with Nohnoh before flying to Pohnpei with her.  We spent almost 2 months together.) She is so funny.  She gave me a hug and said, “Wow.  You lose so much weight.  Your brother is solid and you are so soft.”  Of course Dylan loved to hear that.

Back (L to R): Robert (my dad), Nohnoh Kiniya, Uncle Tregar, Aunt Kimiya. Front (L to R): Me, Carly (cousin), Dylan (brother).

The more I talked with her, the more I started to remember the language and mannerisms from the island.  For example, they measure things with their fingers and arms.  Let’s say you catch a fish: instead of using your two hands to show the length of the fish, you would show the length from your fingertips to a point in on your arm.  Also, raising your eyebrows once means yes.  So instead of nodding your head you raise and relax your eyebrows.  Finally, you point with your nose, not your finger.  Just scruntch it and point!  (If none of these make sense just skype me and I’ll show you.)

It was fun to have all of us Micronesians in one place.  I feel so far removed from the Pacific that it is nice to share stories of the islands and hear the language.  I almost forget that I am in the Midwest and not on Pohnpei, even if only for a moment.  I’m definitely struck with nostalgia.

I’m not sure how long Nohnoh will stay in the States.  She seems to be getting a lot better and may move back to Guam relatively soon.  While I hope to make it out for a visit again, I’m not sure if that will happen in time, so I am thankful to have had the time this weekend.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2010 4:55 pm

    I’m sorry your grandmother is having health complications, but it is awesome that you got to spend some more time with her. Oh and I understand the pointing with your nose thing. 😛

  2. June 4, 2010 10:56 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts. Nose pointing is an island thing, eh?

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