JUST recently I had one of those “chances in a lifetime” encounters with two judges of the Papua New Guinean high court.
There I was at the Ipatas Centre restaurant in Wabag at the same time as Justices Ambeng Kandakasi and Ravunama Auka.
They were on circuit presiding over serious cases but they were relaxing during their lunch hour and there was I with a chance to talk literature with them.
I was sitting alone when they walked in. Recognising me, Justice Kandakasi walked straight across to where I sat. I rose to meet him and was introduced to Justice Auka, whom I had never met before.
Their lunch had been pre-arranged and they were served immediately and the staff locked the door so they could dine in privacy. I sat typing at the other end of the room.
Then an idea flashed across my mind. I decided to ring my wife Julie and ask her to bring to the restaurant two copies of my book ‘I Can See My Country Clearly Now’.
When I saw Julie outside, I asked the judges to spare me a few minutes because I wished to present them with the book.
“What is it about?” Justice Kandakasi asked.
“It’s about my travels around the world, reflecting on our country,” I replied.
“Sounds good,” the judge said.
So I went outside, my wife Julie sweating on the footpath, gratefully took the books from her and rushed back into the restaurant.
I signed my name on the flyleaf and presented each of the judges with a copy.
“This is a chance in a lifetime for me to meet two judges,” I said. “It is also a chance for me to promote my province. Please read it if you have the time.”
As they skimmed through the pages, I highlighted the plight of Papua New Guinean authors who cannot get their books to a wider audience. There are no bookshops which sell our books, I told the two men.
“Reading PNG-authored books can improve literacy levels of students but our books are not made available to them.
“Only the UPNG Bookshop is selling PNG-authored books.”
The two judges nodded and took their leave. But before they left, I asked them if I could take a photograph, and they gladly agreed.
Reflecting on that chance meeting, I thank the two judges for their patience and willingness to spare me a few minutes of their precious leisure time to listen to something dear to my heart – the development of literature and literacy in my country through promoting writing, publishing and reading PNG-authored books.
I hope I will meet them again sometime soon, so they can tell me how they felt about my book.