Kisses in the Nederends proved quite a difficult text when I attempted to understand the story and its conventions in relation to the idea of Homelands. The unorthodox and rather taboo nature of the plot forces readers to consider the not so obvious meaning of Oilei’s ailment. For the first few chapters, we are uncomfortable as we wonder how the subjects of farting and ‘arses’ could possibly relate to us, our societies, our cultures and our homes. As the story develops, the exploration of the body as a homeland reveals its great abilities to equalize and promote the teachings of love and peace through acceptance. Needless to say I did not expect such a moving philosophy to spawn from glorification of one’s anus. beauty and meaning of Epeli Hau’ofa’s text.
Hau’ofa breaks his text into blocks, discussing Oilei’s encounter with each of the dottores and modern doctors. After a series of truly odd remedies and teachings, we finally encounter one that seems to transcend all others in depth, truth and universal application. Hau’ofa writes that “the true nature of beauty [is] the essence of the unity and equality of all things” (101). This striking claim stretches to cover the beauty of minds, souls, cultures, customs and yes, even anuses. It is no surprise that the philosophies of Babu Vivekanand should be administered in probably the weirdest and most socially unacceptable manner. This proves to be the most remarkable juxtaposition in the entire text. Oilei has been offered this life changing philosophy and must now find a way to accept its practice. This is a teaching we can carry with us everywhere. We have encountered the raw truth and are now challenged to live out its meaning. While the body is one’s personal homeland, Hau’ofa proclaims through Babu, that equality must also be a sort of the natural homeland for all; we just need to find the courage to accept it.
Many of our homelands texts are connected by this thematic string of “courage to accept.” All of our readings have opened us further to the understandings, plights and triumphs of others. Although we have come a long way, we must view our growth as a two stage process. We have been enlightened, informed and made aware; now we must decide what to do with this opened mind and vision. Kisses in the Nederends offers one of the deepest messages which, after some reflection, successfully leaves you wondering how you could have been so derailed by the taboo nature of the story, that you almost did not recognize its profound wisdom.