Updated: May 31, 2022
So this is based on a recent experience I had at Auckland Airport as I was waiting to board the repatriation flight to Tonga. On the repatriation flight that I was on, there were only 5 non-Tongan looking faces. Mine being one of them 😅 😂 There were two Japanese women who were going to Tonga for work (JICA maybe) and there was an elderly Palangi couple who apparently live in Tonga.
There wasn't anyone I knew on the flight. I was sitting alone but surrounded by people at the gate and just people-watching quietly. That's when I heard the comment: "Pe ko e 'alu e ki'i mani'i koeni ki Tonga 'o ha?" 🤷♀️🤷♀️
Sometimes when I hear Tongan people make casual racist comments about Asians, and thinking I don't understand Tongan, I go from 0 to 100 real quick (which is why my mum hates going with me to places 😂😂). I'd usually respond in Tongan in a snarky-ass tone and my mum would always remind me "'Ai lelei pe 'a e tō ho le'o na'a halu'i ko e ha taha ha feitu'u" (Translation: Watch the tone of your voice before you get bitch-slapped somewhere) 😂😂
Every once in a while though, the Holy Spirit will enter my soul and I respond with deadpan politeness to rude off-hand remarks 😂😂. That day was one of those days. When I heard the lady say "Pe ko e 'alu e ki'i mani'i koeni ki Tonga 'o ha?" (Translation: What is this chink-eyed girl going to Tonga for?)
I simply responded in my polite work voice, "Ko ho 'uhinga kia hai kataki?" 😇😇 (Translation: To whom are you referring to?).
The lady's eyes just widened in surprise as she fake laughed behind her mask "Weh, ta ko e Tonga pe ko e ia". I returned the fake smile with my eyes but didn't say anything else. She carried on talking to her neighbour in English instead as if that was another language I might not understand.
I always find it funny how people mellow out once they know I speak and understand Tonga, despite looking fully Asian. It's always so tiring and exasperating having to deal with casual microaggressions like that. 🤦♀️🤦♀️
Kenau si'i 'ilo'ia mai ko 'eku foki moau ki 'api.
How I wish they knew, that I too am returning home.