A decade later Mauia Uweleye was a young preparing to go to varsity for a long time. After living in the tiny Konoan village of Tamatinoatawawiyaeni on the island of Paradise in Harmony Province for his entire life, the city of La Rochelle was staggering. The people were focused, affluent, formidable and fast. He struggled to get from point A to B without being shoved or pushed. His train finally arrived at the Teatatamanile Campus of the renowned university of La Rochelle. It was a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the great city. It was like a village of knowledge, buildings dotted in between massive and elegant gardens.
His father had shaped his view of the Oatunu (Oans in Codexian) for a very long time. He had provided Mauia with a small keyhole through which to experience and judge the supposedly self-righteous Oan people. Although the city was full of them, he had never really experienced or been around them long enough to know what they were really like. The university would provide that opportunity, an opportunity he dreaded.
He had expected the worst. Oans had always been portrayed as the oppressors of his people: full of spite and iniquity. In response he disdained them. He struggled to peal through their warm smiles and courteous bows as he walked past them. He struggled to discern whether it was a facade or whether they were genuinely nice people.
He knew that the real litmus test would be his encounter his roommate. She was Alia Toaye, the daughter of a rich cocoa baron, Tamatea Toaye. He had already formed an idea about her, a bad one, because not only was she Oan, but she was rich. He expected a pompous, self-righteous rich kid, who would probably expected him to kiss her feet, he mused.
He knocked, opened the door and went inside. She was reading a book and listening to music on her earphones. When he walked in, she smiled, and greeted. He grunted a “hello”. He went to his room and unpacked his belongings. She knocked and said, “Hi. My name is…”
He interrupted, “Alia Toaye the daughter of the great Tamatea Toaye”.
“Have we met?”
“Only by reputation”.
“Good things, I hope”.
“I’m glad you get to meet the real me”.
“Well, now that you have met the real Alia Toaye, what do you think?”
“Okay, I can see you want to be by yourself”.
“Kay, um, bye”.
“Rude!”, she whispered to herself as she walked back to the living room. Mauia sat on his own and read a book. After some time he heard Alia and two other masculine voices laughing. She knocked ok his door, opening it slightly.
She said, “A couple friends o’ mine are here. Wanna join us?”
“Well, if you do, we’re having a fruit cook-out. We’d enjoy it if you joined us”.
She closed the door and left. He wanted to join them especially since fruit was hard to come by in La Rochelle. He eventually acquiesced to her request and joined them in the living room. Her friends, Iohane and Sana, stood up and introduced themselves. He was unable to distinguish people of different clans and classes so it was difficult for him to decide which gesture or greeting was appropriate. This made the situation awkward. Alia lightened the mood by offering Mauia some of the fruits she had prepared.
Mauia was impressed by her selection. Fruit was an expensive commodity in the city of La Rochelle. Although basic foodstuffs were affordable and easily accessible, the tropical exotic fruits she offered him, were not. Star fruit and passion fruit garnished with chilli and salt, pineapple and green mango sorbet dessert, a delicacy in the Oan Isles. It was clear that she was rich. Although the fruits were common in Konoa, they were expensive and luxuries in the Oan Isles.
“We have this all the time in Konoa”, he says.
“That’s really cool. Meanwhile we are struggling to find good food”, Sana said.
Alia concurred, “Even fish is a little problematic these days. When I go to Konoa everything is different. The food is just amazing and it’s a lot more green”.
“There’s something about Konoa you like?”
“Yeah, of course Mauia. It’s a lovely place, I’m sure you must have liked living there”.
“I did. It was fun; a lot different from the actual Oan Isles. The people aren’t as rich though”.
“Whaddya mean?”, Iohane asked.
“I mean, people don’t earn as much money or work in fancy jobs like you guys do, or even get the chance to”.
“But at least you live in a beautiful country”.
“It’s not enough though. I’m one of the few people in my family who went to university, not my mom, not my dad, not my granparents, just me, my sister, and a cousin”.
“Well varsity isn’t for everyone”, Alia said.
“Why shouldn’t it be? So you Oans can get all the fancy jobs?”
Alia, Sana and Iohane looked at him in shock.
“Mauia, do you think that someone just went out of their way to limit the Konoan people?”
“Have you travelled before, overseas I mean”, Alia asked.
"Did you know that in South Hills, it’s almost impossible to find work without a university degree?
"Yeah. Here, we dont have that problem. For all the status that varsity has, is it something we want to be forced to live with? In the Oan Isles, you can be a mechanic without going to a university.
“Yeah, but, but, that means that the Oan people get all the resources and leave people in Konoa, and the territories poor”.
“Really now”, Iohane asked. " I assume you’ve never been to Bielarus".
“It’s the poorest country in Aurora. I went there as a part of a mission by Oanaid to give the people food, shelter and other supplies. The people lined up behind our truck. Their clothes were torn, they were dirty, sickly and thin. One woman’s child was sick, but she could barely afford transport to go to hospital, let alone the medicine and the doctor’s fee”.
“I didn’t know that”.
“We have free housing, free food, free medical care, free education, free water, things that people are begging for in other countries. Have you ever gone to sleep hungry?”
“Yeah. I thought so. Our country may have flaws, but there’s a lot worse going on elsewhere”.
They sat in silence. When they finished eating, her friends stood up and bowed to her and she nodded in acknowledgement. She embraced them and they touched her hand on their foreheads and left.
Mauia started walking to his room and Alia said, “Mauia, don’t let whatever bad experiences you’ve had cloud your judgement”.