I don’t know means kailo

A sugar cane thatched roof, open house

Four front wooden posts, four at the back, four feet high floor;

Between posts, coconut plaited blinds hung;

A leaned-on dish rack on three posts, stood out like mother’s bun 

Relatives’ kids from Savaii

Attended school in Apia

There was no choice but stay in the sugar cane

Thatched roof open house

Walked to school miles and miles abound.


Sixpence it was for a quarter piece of butter

Bread for a shilling but for us

Two breads were better for a crown

Certainly adds a smile not a frown


Lemon leaves and raw brown sugar to taste,

Were thrown in the cast iron kettle of boiling water;

That’s breakfast for our parents, sons and daughters.

Countless cousins and relatives, shared their portions


Father’s treasures of needles, cotton and thread –

Colourful buttons in a clear glass they were hoarded

A piece of steel for a lock

Were fond memories kept in my mind and heart.

He patched his own clothes and mended pillows.


At times, father asked: “Did anyone take my cotton, needle and 

Thread?’ Mum and the kids shrugged their shoulders

And said, “”We don’t know” meaning “Ka’ilo”


”Ka’ilo or I don’t know” was a standing joke, When things go 

Missing, everyone’s name was “Ka’ilo” be it a child, girl or a 

bloke. It is a worry now that I am aged, when approaching the setting sun of my life, Alzheimers, Dementia or plain forgetfulness,

“Ka’ilo” or I don’t know, will be finally laid to rest. 

Related Stories

Bg pattern light


Subscribe to Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device as well as feature-length investigative articles.

Ready to signup?