IN 2008, up in the lands of the Womkama in the northern part of Simbu Province, lived beautiful lass Tolshi and handsome young man Niman.
Tolshi was in Grade 7 at Womatne Primary School and Niman was in Grade 9 at Mt Wilhelm High School.
Tolshi and Niman had developed a solid relationship. They were getting along well.
After some months Tolshi became pregnant and was expelled from school. Her parents were unhappy that their daughter’s education had ended prematurely.
“Who is the man who impregnated you?” Tolshi’s father asked her in fury.
“It’s Niman, the boy from the next village who is doing Grade 9 at Mt Wilhelm High School,” Tolshi replied with her head down.
“You have spoiled your education and yourself. Since you love him more than education, you have no choice but to marry him.”
Tolshi’s parents, following custom, killed a prized pig, called Niman’s relatives over and gave Tolshi to them together with the pork and mumu food.
At the same time they set the bride price. They demanded a very high bride price of K10,000 cash and 30 pigs.
In just two months the bride price was paid in full. It was the highest amount ever paid for a non-wage earning woman in that community.
Tolshi and Niman lived happily and had four children.But after their fourth child, Niman started flirting with a girl from a neighbouring village.
One afternoon Tolshi was chatting with a group of women, when her cousin said: “You know what ,Tolshi? Your husband is going out with a girl from the other village. I have seen them chatting several times near the trade store.”
“Thanks but I will not trust your words and may I excuse myself because your discussion is worthless,” Tolshi replied. “I will only believe it if I see them with my own naked eyes.”
One afternoon Tolshi strolled down to the trade store to buy a bar of soap and spotted Niman and Sula flirting near the trade store away from public view.
She took Niman aside later and asked him: “This girl is from a different clan altogether; what relationship do you have with her?”
“Oh, you don’t known yet. She is my second wife,” Niman shot back.
“You are not capable of looking after pigs and making gardens. You are lowering my status in the community so I had to find another wife.
“Sula is good at looking after pigs and making gardens. She will help you to look after our children too,” Niman replied confidently.
Tolshi walked home slowly, thinking that one day she would retaliate.
So Niman had two wives to visit. He spent more time with the second wife but Tolshi didn’t mind.
One day Niman’s uncle in Port Moresby found a casual job for him and Niman left his two wives and the children and departed for Port Moresby.
He was away for seven months. During his absence Tolshi’s desire to take revenge grew stronger.
One night there was a function hosted by a local rugby club. Niman’s elder sister and little brother returned from the event at around 1 am and heard the voice of an adult male in Tolshi’s house.
The siblings were excited. They thought Niman had returned from Port Moresby and rushed inside to meet him.
To their disbelief they spotted Melby, Niman’s brother in-law. He was sharing the same blanket with Tolshi.
The boys rushed to attack Tolshi but she fled through the back door.
”What wrong have I done, boys? Tolshi was with her baby at the function and I escorted them here,” Melby said in self defence and walked to his house two kilometers away. But Niman’s siblings had witnessed everything.
The boys could not do any harm to Melby because he was Niman’s in-law. But they phoned Niman straight away and told him what had happened.
The next morning, the rest of Niman’s clansmen gathered and demanded compensation from Melby for defiling the bed.
Melby compensated them with K200 and a pig valued at K1,000.
The pig was killed, the cleansing ritual completed and the cash shared among the boys.
Melby used to live with them but, after this incident, he and his family left for their own village of Kangir.
In Kangir, Melby’s wife Swaire searched for Tolshi all over Kundiawa town, not to harm her but to send her to look after her abandoned children.
Swaire found her hiding in her aunt’s house near the Uwai Market in Kundiawa.
Swaire comforted her with a cigarette and several betel nuts and asked how she felt about her children. “Who do you think is taking care of them? We will spend the night together and you will go home to Womkama tomorrow to look after your children and your garden.”
“I am sorry for them but the boys are not going to spare my life if I go back,” Tolshi replied.
”Do not be afraid. I am going to tell your brother to escort you to your village. You live there with the children until Niman returns and makes a decision,” Swaire assured her.
“OK, I will follow your advice,” Tolshi agreed.
In the morning Swaire told Tolshi: “I know you have been flirting with my husband. If I were like other woman, I could have killed you the moment I spotted you at Uwai Market and surrendered myself to the police because what you and my husband did is really heartless.
“However, it is the children who will suffer and they are innocent people. They have done no wrong. For their sake, I have forgiven you. You go back home and take good care of them and don’t fuck around anymore until Niman comes home.”
Tolshi’s brother took her to his house and Tolshi stayed there with the children.
Niman heard the story and was angry. He had sleepless nights and days and nights.
He wanted to go home as soon as he received the message but his uncle did not allow him to do so for some months.
During this period, his uncle counselled and advised Niman.
“The words you heard could be false. They might trick you to go back home because you have been with me for so long and they are missing you,” the uncle would say.
“When you get home, do not do harm your wife but find out first. If she admits that it was real, do not harm her but you have to go through the court process to express your views and emotions. Only then you will maintain your good reputation in the community.
“Please heed my advice and you will make a difference in our community,” his uncle added.
One day, when he was certain Niman would follow his advice, his uncle gave him the plane ticket.
Next day Niman left for Simbu.
When he arrived, his relatives told him everything that had happened and they urged him to divorce Tolshi and get the children back.
The adultery case of Tolshi and Melby was brought before the Womkama Village Court.
The court ordered Tolshi and Melby to pay K1,000 to Niman and further ordered that the marriage between Niman and Tolshi was severed as requested by Niman. The children would be in Niman’s custody.
Tolshi could not believe the decision. She got up and said, “As far as I am concerned, I am still Niman’s wife. I have four children from him; how could I leave them.
“Niman is my very first true love and the only man I knew since I was a virgin. I knew no other man except Niman.
“He broke my heart when he committed adultery with Sula and I deliberately committed adultery to see if he still has that heart and love for me.
“If Niman cannot take me back then I will have to kill myself. I don’t want any other man in my life,” Tolhsi concluded.
Then she took her seat with tears rolling down her cheeks.
Regardless of Tolshi’s plea, the court stood by its decisions and everybody dispersed.
Niman’s clansmen and women were happy with the divorce and happy that Niman would live with the second wife.
In the night the words of Tolshi kept bombarding Niman’s mind, giving him a restless sleep. He recalled the good times and he agreed that truly Tolshi knew no man when he first slept with her.
He reasoned that Tolshi would not have done what she did if had not gone for a second wife.
Looking at the four children sleeping beside him without their mother was heartbreaking. Tears rolled down his cheek.
“I will forgive and forget Tolshi’s mistakes. She will come back and be my wife and take care of our four children,” Niman decided.
At cockcrow, Niman fronted up at Tolshi’s brother’s house. He signalled Tolshi and she came out. Her eyes were swollen, a sign of crying all night.
Niman kissed her and told her he wanted to take her home. She agreed and they went to Niman’s house.
The next afternoon everyone was surprised to see Tolshi back in Niman’s house with her children.
They lived happily from then on; a truly forgiven life.