The first entry in The Crocodile Prize
Buk bilong Pikinini Writing for Children Award
IN the hills of Ioro there was a little, lonely village that people from far and wide called Koori.
Koori was tucked peacefully into the steep slope of the Tairengkuu Mountain ridge that drained into the ever- singing Biampa River. Koori was seen to be happy always.
Every day the smiling sun rose in the east to warm Koori and its people; the old, the young and the small babies. But all was not well. The people all feared the paaro – the harmful half human-spirit who lived in the jungle.
Soon in each day, the rugged Tairengku Mountain stole the warmth from the sun
Bimako, a little boy just five years old, was unhappy with Tairengku stealing his warmth.
“Ungko [mother], why is Tairengku stealing our sunlight?” Bimako asked his mother, Deeanu.
“Kaaka [grandfather] told me that the paaro lives there and that he stole my friends who should be hunting with me on the slopes or fishing with me at the Biampa River.”
“Baauring [son],” Deeanu said, stroking her son’s curly hair, “You know that Tairengku is the home of the paaro with its glowing eyes that awful screams. In the dream time he stole all the children of Koori and carried them to his home in a cave. That is why we never g wander in those mountains.”
“So there is a cave up there, ungko?” asked Bimako, moving onto his mother’s lap.
“Yes, baauring,” Deeanu replied, “a big, dark cave where the paaro lives and sleeps.”
“Does he have an ummpaang [bow] like kaaka?’
“Yes the paaro has a big ummpaang to kill children and a toora [woven bag] to keep them in and carry them through the jungles and rocks of Tairengku to his cave on the other side of the mountain where the sun sets.”
“Ungko, I will kill the paaro with the ummpaang kaaka made for me.”
“Oh, baauring,” Deeanu said as she carried her son through Koori village. “The village would no longer fear if you chased the paaro out of Tairengku and beyond the Toio River, across the Nagovisi plains and into the deep sea.”
Upon hearing these words, the whole village came to life and danced to the new hunter of the feared paaro.
The people sang and ate food through the night until just before the the sun rose. Then they cried for the lost children the paaro had stolen. They blessed Bimako, this brave new child of Koori, and asked that he should free them from the paaro that terrorised their lives.
“Paaro, paaro, you will pay for all our children you stole,” the villagers sang. “Our brave son, Bimako, will drive you from Tairengku and chase you to Torokina and into the deepest part of the Solomon Sea.”
So early the next morning, when it was still dark, Bimako left with his ummpaang [bow] and taamasii [food parcel]. Morning birds and insects sang praise to the brave new son of Koori who was going to wage war in the mountains. Bimako climbed across the low ridges and higher and higher up the slopes towards the feared peaks of Tairengku.
As he walked he could feel the earth trembling beneath his feet, the birds and animals fled and rocks rolled down towards the Biampa River taking with them bushes and huge trees.
The paaro was angry with the intruder.
As Bimako came near to the paaro in its dark cave, the half human, half spirit creature growled, “Who is this new blood?”
Heavy rain fell and the wind blew hard setting the wild jungle dancing in fear. All around the lightning struck turning huge rocks to ashes.
“I am the son of Deeanu,” Bimako called, getting his ummpaang ready to shoot an arrow, “a woman in Koori where they mourn the lost children.”
“Oh, you,” the paaro roared from its dark cave. “It is you the bats told me was the hero of Koori.”
The paaro moved forward to the entrance of the cave. Bimako waited with his ummpaang ready.
“I want to fight you, paaro,” Bimako called boldly.
“Yes I am coming for you,” growled the paaro, now much clearer at the entrance to its cave. “And if I win I will take Koori and all its people.”
Bimako was losing his mind because of the powerful spells of the paaro and felt himself becoming weaker.
And then he saw the glowing eyes of the paaro so close to his ummpaang and he released a flying tumpaari [arrow].
The tumpaari penetrated one of the eyes with enormous force. The paaro screamed and roared louder than the thunder and the earth trembled like it would break.
Bimako held on to consciousness and shot another tumpaari and another, each one piercing the glowing eyes of the paaro.
Bimako watched as the dying paaro fell to the ground and rolled in a huge landslide far down into the Toio River valley and beyond it towards the Nagovisi plains and into the Solomon Sea at Torokina.