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FIJI TIMES ONLINE Serafina Silaitoga Friday, June 15, 2012
HIS face wore an expression that spoke of the terrifying days and nights spent alone in the seas of Cakaudrove - adrift on a punt for about a week.
To survive on a bottle of water with no warm cover for the night or a shelter for the rainy evenings, Rabi islander Tataua's eyes filled with tears as he gazed at the horizon of Yanuca waters - from his new home on a hill of Yanuca village.
Tataua was so traumatised with a far away look in his eyes and only responds with a nod when asked a question.
However, the villagers of Yanuca knew how to communicate with Tataua and that helped during the interview with The Fiji Times.
Tataua, who now lives with Lui Bale and his family, left his home mid last month for a fishing trip. He said he survived on a bottle of water that lasted him days out at sea.
Mr Bale said that Tataua's punt drifted after a few days of fishing out at sea and ended up at Yanucanibeka Island - a 10-minute boat ride from Yanuca Village.
"He drifted for about a week in his punt towards our island and safely arrived on our shores in Yanuca but on another island - which sits opposite our village.
"For a few days while sitting outside my house, I would see a man walking around the island and on the white sandy beach.
"So I sent my boys there and a few villagers have also gone before me but he just refused to come back with them," Mr Bale said.
He said when his boys returned, he got on a boat and went to see Tataua.
"When I got there, he was just staring at me and didn't say a word. I spoke to him but he didn't respond so I saw a string on the island and I picked it up.
"I pointed at the string and told him, through action that if he doesn't come with me, I would use the string to tie his hands and take him to the police," Mr Bale said.
Without hesitation, Tataua responded and smiled at Mr Bale who has kept him like a son in his home for about three weeks now.
Tataua has mingled well with other family members and walks around the village like a Yanuca villager - no fear, no worry but smiles at all those he meets.
Police media officer north Constable Luke Rawalai confirmed they had received a report.
"We have also contacted the family in Rabi and they have asked that Tataua be kept in Yanuca until they find transport to travel to the island to pick him," Constable Rawalai said.