An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Government Award for Short Stories
THE afternoon was grey with clouds overhanging the summit of Porol as I left Dumai village for Basis.
It was 2 pm when I set my feet on the newly constructed footpath leading to Dumuna- Parua village, commonly known as ‘Basis or Back Page’.
Just 20 meters away from the start of the path, I approached three toddlers who were very busy playing with an out of shape saucepan. The kids were trying to cook some stuff in the center of the track.
I took my camera and took a shot of the scene. They were busy and didn’t mind me.
I continued my trek. Some minutes later, I came upon a couple were returning from their garden with a bag of food.
Reaching the first climb of the track, I removed my coat and folded my long pants up to my knees and pressed on up the slope.
There were many amazing things to look at: birds, insects and plants, and my camera became hot taking photographs.
Eventually I reached the first hamlet, Makan Kor, located about 700 meters away from where the Porol track started. Located on the slope, the village was surrounded by casuarina trees and coffee bushes.
I saw another group of toddlers playing marbles with roosters standing around them as if they wanted to join in. I gave the kids and the birds a big smile and walked on.
From afar the conspicuous land slip at Gul Migiremane looked fantastic but up close it was scary. It was more than 250 meters across.
I walked to the edge and was sweating so I removed my shirt and took a rest in the cool breeze winding its way through Porol gap.
Across the other side of the landslip was a brook fizzing with calcium carbonate.
I walked through some tiktik and cautiously made my way across the treacherous slope of slippery limestone.
Gratefully reaching the spring, I placed my open mouth in it and drew in the thirst-quenching liquid. The water was very cold and froze my teeth.
Then I descended back to the track where I met two boys from Kelemabuno village. They were each carrying a 10kg rice bag on their shoulder. We hugged each another.
“Hi guys, can you help me with a piece of mustard. I want to chew some betel nut I have in my pocket”, I asked the boys politely.
Both of them checked their pockets but didn’t have any mustard.
“Sorry uncle, we have nothing in our pockets,” they responded together.
We walked along for another five minutes and I discovered there was wild mustard growing among the tiktik. I picked a single leaf and chewed it with the betel nut. It was soft and aromatic in my mouth, like a fragrance.
In each other’s company, we ascended to the top of Mt Porol along the white limestone walls and through the magnificent rainforest.
It was 4 pm when we reached the peak. Inall, it took me two hours to trek to Mt Porol from Dumai.
We sat at the top and inhaled the cool breeze. I looked towards south Simbu and saw Mt Wikauma glimmering on the narrow horizon of Crocodile Island.
Mt Digine in the southwest and Kundiawa in the west were about to go to sleep.
It was a fascinating and spectacular view of all the locations in Simbu as far as my eyes could see.
After some minutes of rest and soaking in the panoramic view, we carefully descended the other side of the Porol to Dumuna Parua.
We trekked down the red clay until we reached the most admirable Wena Nil, a creek graciously running from tropical rainforest through an ancient rock formation and by now as clear as crystal.
It was most favoured for drinking by the villagers and trekkers.
I parted company with the boys and, after some minutes, reached Nil Keruwai and abandoned the main pathway to follow a pig’s track. I navigated the tiktik, ferns and marshes to reach Kumunowal where my cousins reside.
I stood outside the fence and called out but the kids looked at me like a stranger. Suddenly, little Molly saw me. “Big daddy – big daddy,” she called.
Molly went into the house and brought a plate of food for me.
I thanked her, sat on a form and ate the food. I was very hungry and finished everything. Then I thanked the family and pressed on for Parua.
As I reached Kumuru Lutheran Church station, I saw the local club boys training hard for the weekend competition.
Now close to journey’s end, I crossed Dumuna creek and happily took the main road down to Parua Village. I passed some of the villagers on the way and wished them a top afternoon and finally I arrived at Kono Gapman’s residence.
The kids were the first to spot me as I went into the house. “Daddy Jimmy – Daddy Jimmy!” they called out in greeting.
As soon as my old mum heard my name, she came forward crying as loud as she could. We hadn’t seen each other for nearly a year and she shed tears of joy.
I embraced her and we shared tears together.
She offered kaukau but I ate only one with a complementing cup of cold water. Then I hit the bed. I was exhausted and, as soon as I closed my eyes, I was in the dream world.