IN THE days when the world was new a small group of frightened people on one of the many islands far to the northwest of Papua New Guinea were preparing three large outrigger canoes for an ocean voyage.
On the hill overlooking the beach where the outriggers were moored a lookout kept watch ready to raise the alarm should the war canoes of their enemy appear on the horizon.
Boroma had never seen anything like it. The little black piglet was sitting in a bamboo pen in the hull of the largest canoe.
Everywhere men, women and children were hurrying about loading the canoes with everything necessary for the voyage. Bilums of taro and hundreds of coconuts were being packed into every available part of each canoe.
Dogs were nervously pacing up and down and barking and chickens were cackling and clucking loudly.
Suddenly Boroma found another piglet plumped down beside him. The poor thing looked as confused as him.
“Hello, I’m Boroma,” he said.
“Hello, I’m Manada,” said the other piglet.
As they were saying hello there was a shout from the hill. Everyone turned to look towards the horizon. The people then began shouting at each other and rushing about even more quickly than before.
Soon Boroma and Manada felt the big hull of the canoe moving. Men, women and children were scrambling on board and had begun paddling frantically.
The great woven pandanus sail swung about and caught the wind. The canoe shuddered for a moment and then seemed to lift in the water.
The people began to wail and beat their chests as their village faded in the distance and the canoe headed out past the reef and into the open ocean.
The three canoes sailed through that day and into the night. By the next morning they had left their home island and their enemies far behind them.
From where they sat in their bamboo pen Boroma and Manada could see the people sitting outside the shelter built on the deck between the big hull and the outrigger. Earlier that morning one of the children had come to their pen and squeezed some pieces of coconut through the bars for them to eat.
Among the people there were several thin, yellow hunting dogs. One of them with especially beady eyes kept glancing in the direction of Boroma and Manada and sniffing the air.
Later in the day when the sun was hot in the sky and everyone was sleeping the beady-eyed dog came to the edge of the deck and peered down at the two piglets.
“And what do we have here?” the dog said in a whiny voice and a twitch of its ears. “A hearty meal or two I expect.”
Manada looked at Boroma and shuddered.
“What does he mean?” she whispered.
Boroma pushed his snout forward.
“He doesn’t mean anything,” he said staring the dog in the eye with what he hoped was a menacing look.
“We’ll see about that when you’re on a spit over the fire,” the dog chuckled. “A few weeks at sea and a nice piece of pork with taro will be most welcome, I can’t wait for the leavings. Mind you eat plenty of coconuts and fish heads, I can’t stand skinny piglet.”
Manada and Boroma shrunk in their pen and shivered.
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