An entry in The Crocodile Prize
People’s Award for Short Stories
In his fading light I curl up among the boulders at the base of Paga Hill whispering messages to the plants and animals from those along the inland rivers, falling asleep as their chatter slowly turned into a hush.
Deep in the night I awake startled at the sound of a young prostitute weeping and tearing red rivulets into her wrists.
I hummed into her ashen face a song I heard a mother singing often to comfort her child a thousand years ago as she tended to her gardens and baked her clay pots.
I lay across the young woman’s body offering her the warmth of the earth as her own began to fade. She does not want to stay. Her tears taste of a hundred dreams unable to germinate in a life drained of love.
I search her memory and find a thousand pair of eyes looking at her with hate. I recognise each one of them. I cannot hold her spirit to mine.
She follows the light of my parents – the Moon and Stars, on a path bringing her toward the spirits of the people I loved, who once stood proud on this land welcoming her as one of their own.
I bid her farewell singing the song of a great chief whom I encountered as an orphaned boy who courageously saved his mother from the savagery of an entire village.
When grandfather spreads his bright cloak across the sky, I kneel beside the young woman’s cold body to tattoo the memory of her life into my arms, and as memories of her pain become mine my anger swells and boils into the surf.
The trees and grass beg me to be calm. From my flaring nostrils gust forth my eldest sons – the great Winds. My daughters – the Clouds, swirl above my mighty head impregnated with rain. Hungry for destruction my children dance storm and chaos.
With them I rage howling and wailing through the Harbour streets and topple a handful of people into the sidewalk‐drain congested with husks of areca nut and spittle. We graze car windows with stones and rocks at Konedobu, Ela Beach, Hohola and Badili and flood the main streets of each suburb.
How dare they? Even animals do not destroy each other so. They spit, they defecate, and they throw their filth onto me and onto each other. Greedy, selfish and conceited people – they cut, scratch & claw into the sleeping curves of my wives who form the mountains and hills. Capturing, caging, killing what should be free. Taking and never giving back! They do not care for each other, or this place, or for me! With one word I can summon my grandmother – the Sea, to rise and flood the filth‐makers into her watery womb.
Only when I hear the frightened shouts of a family on a boat out at sea and observe the destruction of houses at Two Mile Hill I stop and roar for an end to the storm. I calm my children and return them to their slumber.
At the top of Burns Peak I weep in anguish, my tears soaking into an earth worn‐out by over-gardening. I stare at Port Moresby through liquid and haze.
One day, I rattle the radio towers as a warning to the people. I shall raze this city and all within it to dust and rubble.
A quiet sad‐soaked stillness is felt by all as I pass the roads leading through Waigani , Gerehu, Tatana, Badihagwa and Hanuabada. I sit weary on my favourite boulder along the Poreporena Freeway among the comfort of my wives.
It is there, one of my younger sons bears to me the voices of children laughing delightfully, as they carry their home‐made kites into the grey sky broken momentarily by the last trail of grandfather’s bright coat.
One of my wives gently recalls to me the first people that arrived here, before my grandmother shifted in her sleep and covered the land bridge. They were different then – large, agile and wandering people, following the great herds of wild beasts that are no longer alive today. They wore animal pelts and bore strange markings on their faces, and they hunted always.
I remember the first of their kind who died on the land – I have carved her memory near my heart.
Care for my children, this wanderer woman asked me as she kissed my feet. Throughout millennia I have done so – but none of her descendants have I cared and loved more than the ones who first called upon my sons the Great Winds. For such an honour I beckoned my wives to show them the secrets of the earth – gardening, clay‐pot making and tattooing. I promised all chiefs descended from this line that I would make their people great.
But I am all but a memory now in this land – only few remember my sons and they are old and dying.
In their dreams these old men and women call out to me, despairing for their children. They will be reminded I tell them gently and they sleep assured that the day of reckoning will come and their children will be made to remember.