An entry in The Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism
‘I feel that writing about him is a wonderful way of honouring him and celebrating his life’
IT was a beautiful Wednesday night and quite peaceful at the hospital. His condition was listed as critical but stable. Although he was in a lot of pain, he tried to be strong as he always was.
Sitting next to him were his beloved cousin brother, mother, younger sisters, girlfriend and myself. We sat around him and assured him that everything is going to be alright, but it turned out the other way.
At age 21, he passed away at Goroka General Hospital at 8pm on 7 May 2014. It was painful to lose him to such devastating and unexpected circumstances. He died of chemical intoxication.
Emmanuel Dunnen Are was born on 19 November 1993 at Mt Hagen General Hospital. The day he arrived, dad told us that we had to visit someone special today at the hospital so Savina, Bosco and I dressed up in our best clothes and picked the best flowers in the garden and went to the hospital. We met our fourth born brother. He was a cute and bubbly baby boy. We totally adored him.
‘What shall we name him?’ We all asked dad excitedly.
‘Emmanuel’, he said meaning ‘God is with us’.
As a kid, he would annoy us with his harmless pranks, help with household chores and get into mischief. During our childhood days, we went through our parents’ separation, being evicted forcefully from our home which we grew up in, being attacked by thieves and the worst of all was our dads’ death.
It was a long hard road but we survived. We went through so much in life but came out stronger and wiser
We grew up and went to school in Mt Hagen where our late father was the Provincial Dental Officer. At the time of our his passing, Savina and I were doing our second and final years respectively at Divine Word University; Bosco was doing his Grade 11 at Hagen Park Secondary School, Emmanuel Grade 8 and Clara Grade 5 at Hagen United Primary School.
Our father has been an important part of our lives after our parents separated in 1998 and losing him was a constant pain and it had drastic effects on each of our lives. We had to move to Goroka to be with our mother and move on with our lives.
Whilst all of us continued with our education and worked, Emmanuel decided to stay at home and continue his education through the Flexible Open and Distance Education centre in Goroka.
After dads’ death, Emmanuel became a father figure to us. He had been so responsible and serious about things.
‘Daddy wouldn’t want me to leave you alone’, he would say. He assured mum that he would take care of us, especially her until he becomes a man or till the day she will die.
Losing a parent to separation then to death was just too much for him that he had a special bond with our mother. He was closer to her than any of us. Mum will always hold a special place in his heart. He was always here for us, to protect us, to put up a fight for us. As obedient as he is, he would listen especially to mum to run errands and such.
Emmanuel was adorable as a child and he grew up to be a tall, distinguished and attractive young man. Our very own ‘giant’! He was the best looking and it was sometimes hard to believe that he was the most responsible of the entire Are children.
Moreover his enchanting smiles with cute dimples and his charming personality captivated everyone’s heart.
During his childhood years, he loved hanging around with his sisters, play with them, and sleep in their rooms and do almost everything with them. He would also help with household duties like cooking, gardening and cleaning around the house.
He was the same when he grew up, he was always handy around the house from cooking to washing dishes, cleaning around the house, bathing and taking care of his 2 year old niece, doing laundry and almost everything tasks that need to be done. Even the house is female dominated, he does almost everything. He never once complained
His hobbies includes reading books and newspapers, playing the guitar and singing, listening to music, watching movies, reading, hanging out with friends, shopping with his sisters, playing and watching rugby league games and of course attending daily mass.
Very dear to his heart were his mother, sisters and his niece. We were the apple of his eyes. He would drop us off at school or work, then pick us up and take really good care of us. He loved, he cared, and he worked hard at whatever he did.
Emmanuel was a good brother, a good son, a good friend, the kind of friend everyone would love to have. He was a brave, compassionate and unique young man. To his younger cousin brothers and the little kids who knew him, he was regarded as ‘Daddy Manu’.
He always remembered everyone whom he met and would help anyone. He was there for anyone who needed him and was fun to be with. He gives without hesitation and really likes to help people who are in need in whatever way possible.
He had a fine mind and great leadership qualities. Back in our village, he was seen and regarded as an upcoming leader, someone people look up to. At such a young age, he was called names like ‘Leader, Chief and King Manu’. But he was a humble and simple young man, who most times was silent, said little but did lots of great things.
He was truly amazing with kids and would have made an amazing dad. He adored his two year old niece Petronilla, and often he would be seen carrying her around on his shoulders. He even bought her a first bicycle when she was just a year old. It was a gift she always remembers as ‘Daddy Manu bought this for me’.
He would do anything for her like changing her diapers, bathing her, sleeping with her, washing her clothes and almost everything. Even the little things he does, say or bought have a special touch to it. He was the best looking of the five of us.
The sibling love between us is palpable. The bond between us is unbreakable .We have survived the storms in our lives, have thrived and flourished. I greatly admire his humility, kindness, intelligence and strength.
When he was around we felt so secure and protected. Growing up with him, we would get scared, sad, happy, get into trouble and mischief. I always liked it when we are hanging out with our young cousins at home laughing, cracking jokes, going for walks, watch movies or just sit and dared ourselves to do naughty things. We were November babies, so we got to celebrate our birthdays together almost every year
We would travel places together and our last trip together was in March 2014, where the two of us went to Karkar Island for a couple of days. It was the happiest I had seen him on that trip, his first ever boat trip and a memorable one.
As I held his lifeless body in my arms, I realised with a gash of pain, how terribly I would miss him. I had lost my giant, my guard, my brother. A sob tore at my throat. My hands trembled as I texted Bosco in Port Moresby and Savina in Porgera.
This pain was too familiar. These were familiar tears, tears we had once shed before. The shock and anguish of losing our father six years ago hit us all over again. It was a terrible night for us.
Sometimes Emmanuel would hang out with his friends for a few beers like most young men but on that fateful night he fell to the hands of betrayers. He was a harmless soul and it was hard to believe that anything so bad would happen.
Emmanuel was truly a special young man. I had so much to say to him and so many things to do with him. It all didn’t seem so real. I felt so shattered and empty. I wept for the future, for the man that he will become. He was always great with kids that I thought of all the nieces and nephews I would have.
The drive to the village was terribly painful. Although he grew up in Mt Hagen and Goroka, he was a proud Simbu boy. He was finally laid to rest beside his father at our Wigo Village, Gumine District, Simbu Province.
Rest in God’s eternal peace my adorable brother.