A Story Of Love And Sacrifice

Tailevu woman leaves behind family and business to marry sick fiancé.
07 Mar 2023 07:48
A Story Of Love And Sacrifice
Epeli Vateitei and Litia Suguta during their wedding in Gau on February 26, 2023. Photo: Josefa Babitu

Imagine meeting your better half for the first time on the sickbed.

He’s sick, unable to utter a word, even a simple ‘bula’ or stretch his hand for a handshake.

Yet he welcomes you with his eyes.

Hard enough? Perhaps this love story of a Tailevu woman and a man in Gau would change your mind. This is the tale of Epeli Vateitei, 51, and Litia Suguta, 52.

Their tale is like a blind date at first which turned them into an inseparable couple.


How they met

Mr Vateitei was teaching at Sawaieke District School in Gau last year when Ms Suguta’s Facebook account appeared on his newsfeed.

He is from Sawaieke Village.

He added her as a friend online and sent a smile emoji and typed in ‘bula’ as they started conversing.

Soon it developed into exchange of mobile telephone numbers. Before they knew it, they were conversing as close friends and within months were courting.

Love was in the air, they say.

Ms Suguta is from Nabitu, Tokatoka, Tailevu.

She had a tailoring business.

“We talk almost every day and our love for each other continued to grow,” Ms Suguta recalled.

“He has to climb a hill near his village in order to get telephone reception to call me. Every day, I would eagerly await his call.”

Four months on, they planned to meet in Suva.

Mr Vateitei had been a divorcee for four years and had five children while Ms Suguta has two children and has been alone for nine years after leaving her de facto partner.

On the week that Mr Vateitei was supposed to board the boat to Suva, he fell sick and was hospitalised.

“We had planned for him to meet me in Suva after the pre-poll last year,” Ms Suguta said.

“I had told my older siblings that I was seeing a man from Gau and we were expecting him.

“I was waiting for his call on a Wednesday, but nothing came.

“I got so worried because we never missed a day of hearing each other out. He knew that I was worried, so he told his cousin to call me. It was on Christmas week.

“When he called and asked if I was still keen to meet him even on his sick bed, I agreed with all my heart and told him that I was waiting for the next boat to come to the island.”



Ms Suguta believed it was part of God’s plan.

“I reached Gau on Christmas Eve and we spent our Christmas together in the hospital,” she said.

“It was the first time for us to meet. We shared stories about our lives and how we’ve found love at this later stage of life.”

According to Ms Suguta, the first few weeks in the village were hard for her family in Tailevu because of the business she left behind.

“I was earning money and enjoyed what I was doing, I could not afford to turn a sick man away,” she said.

“He was the person I spoke to the most in the past months before we met, apart from God.

“We should never look down on people who are sick because they too are human beings.

“I believe that this was part of God’s plan and everyday has been amazing since the day I arrived.”


Tying the knot

Mr Vateitei is recovering well. One of his hands is strong enough to use a fan for his comfort at home.

They got married last Sunday in front of Mr Vateitei’s parents, sister, his brother-in-law and his niece and nephew. Surprisingly, it was the first time for Mr Vateitei to speak since he became sick, and it had to be his vows to his beloved.

This was possible thanks to the Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) programme that reached out to the lovebirds the week before.

Ms Suguta had no idea that a day like this would come; his words were his promise to their new lease of life.

“I have been learning a lot of things from my mother-in-law and they have been helping me learn about my husband as well,” Ms Suguta said.

“In fact, he was sick for almost an entire week, but on the day that I arrived, he was also discharged from the hospital and we have been together ever since.

“He is recovering really fast and we have been so blessed that we get to breathe the same air.

“Though we had planned to meet on December 20, last year in Suva, God planned for us to meet here.

“We begin each day with God and we always pray that he be healed from this sickness.”

Her mother-in-law, Torika Dimolo, could not believe what had happened, but was thankful that it did.

“I was a bit hesitant at first, knowing that this would be the first time they met,” she said.

“But seeing how she is and the work she does, I’m really grateful. My husband and I can no longer care for him like before because we are in our 70s. Her presence means everything.

“She is God-given.”



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