“ I got dis fo sissy dollars”, she said
fingering the 10mm glowing black pearl
pendant, attached to a long silver chain.
“I got da setting by Mahina, in the little
building by the police station you know?
she sets pearls. She does good work.”
Scootering south along the Ara Tapu on
the Island of Rarotonga with the lagoon
on the left bereft of plans or even a map,
we turned by a collapsing sign to see
about hiring snorkel gear for looking
about in the lagoon.
Down the wide sandy trail a gray curly
haired, husky built man who was raking
the orange carpet of fallen Flamboyant
tree blooms, wordlessly waved us to the
office with a pointed finger.
Inside, the dark concrete office had a
feeling of vacancy with empty, save for
some salt shakers and a package of
microwave popcorn, rusted metal baker’s
shelves along one wall, a chair and a
ripped box of yellowed paperbacks on the
ocean side wall and an ancient weathered
empty desk on the wall to our left as we
Behind the desk sat a robust lady of
dark chestnut luster with a round face,
large twinkling dark eyes with a gold
glow and a bare hint of a shy smile.
Sticking straight up on the top of her
head were many strands of kinky hair
with the slightest hint of lime bleahed
blonde. I inquired about hiring two
snorkels. “Yeeah, we just have two”
“Eight dowllars a day”, she replied in a
very soft hesitant voice.
I said we would like to have the two
for two days. While she was computing
the figures for this transaction, I
commented on the alluring luster of her
black pearl and she replied with the
information on price and settings.
Black pearls are created in one of the
remotest inhabited settings on
earth-Manihiki, in the endless blue of the
Pacific Ocean. The pearl, set with a
silver crown of sorts mirrored the
rainbow-like spectrum of colors found in
the black-lipped mother of pearl shell
Pinctada margaritifera. The darker hues
of black, blue, green and brown are
prominent, while lighter colors such as
white, silver, grey and gold are more
subtle. Translucent, overlaying shades of
aubergine gave it added depth and glow.
As the wearer of the pearl handed me
the snorkel equipment I could see the
same deep layers of luster in her eyes.
As light reflects through the layers it
exposes strengths and frailties alike. I
felt a kinship with the dark lady and her
dark pearl. I felt a kindness move
between us. The mystery is that being
authentic is the only thing that reveals to
us our kinship with alluring luster-the
intense brightness created as light travels
through the layers and is reflected back
from deep within.
I left the reflective pearls in the dark
hut, exquisite in their settings.