An entry in the Rivers Prize*
OVER THE LAST TWO MONTHS of August and September, I roamed a barren land of non-writing, and perhaps non-thinking, clambered steep mountains and strolled deep dark valleys alone through thick pools of quirky ignorance.
In abject cold and darkness, a whistle from the softest of beaks harassed the ears, while the scent of a rose set off fire alarms in the olfactory mill. Even the dance of the evening sun ended with me been shown the middle finger. And when a dawn appeared promising, throughout the day I seemed to try to catch up with something I missed in the morn.
Not a day ended in which I gave the briefest of consideration to poetry and writing, let alone reading – not even my favourite blog PNG Attitude mattered. Such were my days between August and September. I however did find something - a new perspective and a realisation of sorts.
This new perspective, the result of a culmination of years of blind ignorance urged on by an unsound and unstable ideology, set me on a new path. It felt like I would be living my whole life over again, this time from a vantage position. I am really grateful life has given me another chance, so to speak. Perhaps I have found hope, but I am yet uncertain of its true nature.
During this time I roamed the filthy streets of Port Moresby - dark alleyways where corruption in any form plays out under floodlights; backyard waterholes where bartenders sell their own booze; a pimps' oasis where pensioners flourish without care; and a card gambling haven where entire families live on scones and Tang juice.
I've learned one or two new tricks though, and I witnessed something common in all the people I met: they have a spirit of joy. They all enjoyed what they do and I saw it in their eyes. This spirit of joy was dancing many dances and couldn’t care less if it missed the world.
There was peace and contentment of a kind I can’t comprehend. Only they knew. And that spirit of joy manifested in the ways they carried themselves: confident, content and certain of their respective tomorrows.
I also discovered another face of corruption. It is a simple face with no designer glasses, nor scents of aftershave or oil. It is unshaven, adorned with rows of buai stained teeth and heavy black lips, and wears a gullible odour that reminds me of my grandfather’s smoke-filled round house.
Whatever conclusion one arrives at, corruption has reached the simple man and they too have become partakers in ways that blew my mind. Whether we let corruption flourish whilst we find our way to progress through its thick undergrowth, or kill corruption first then find our way to progress, I guess is up to individuals and families as the government cannot be trusted.
For me, I’ve realised that life is short. And I am not keen on wasting any more time suffering from complaining and talking about things I can’t do much to change.
I will continue to do the things I love most though - write and read - but with more passion about life and its mysteries. May this be my new perspective, new inspiration, and hope it brings me joy and happiness.
* The Rivers Harmony Prize each year will award K500 for the best piece of writing on a theme relating to a peaceful and productive Melanesia. In this first year of the prize, writers are asked to submit essays, articles, plays or poems on the subject, “A good life for the people. Is there a Melanesian way?” Entries should arrive at PNG Attitude (email us here) any time between now and Friday 1 November