I WRITE this, as this is the very day last year that the Lord called my dad to be with him. This story is a summarised version of the pains and struggles that my dad, the late Alois Kinjimari Suang, endured in his life.
My dad, who was known for his aggressive manner, discipline and short temper, died at the age of 52.
In the modern context of medicine and science, this was not acceptable. He left too soon, when he had so much to live for, and so much to laugh and smile about.
Dad, at home we called him bosman or ‘chief’, was our provider, protector, answerer to our many questions and family visionary and strategist.
Alois was born to Florien and Scholarstica Suangaraven, in the black water area of the mighty Sepik River. He was the eldest of six boys in the family. My grandfather, a carver by profession, had to work hard for dad to attain a basic education.
Later, dad was adopted to James and Josephine Gandi from whom he received numerous beatings, at times the sores were the size of one kina coins. Academically he was bright but behaviourally he was one of the most aggressive and feared boys in his schools in Rabaul, Lorengau and later Brandi.
During his high school days at Brandi, he faced a lot of challenges. Most times he would not go for school holidays, but stay back at the school and work as a cleaner or storekeeper to earn enough to pay his school fees. He wore rugged old clothes most times, but his school uniform was the best kept piece of clothing he had.
Being the aggressive man he was, my dad led fights and got into trouble, but the worrying aspect of his life always was getting money for a better education.
After his Grade 10 examinations, he had an opportunity to either continue to Pasam to complete higher secondary education or further his chances in the pre-year at the University of Papua New Guinea.
He decided to sacrifice his education for a job and joined the military without a single toea in his pocket.
In December 1982 when the recruitment team of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force came to the East Sepik, my dad enlisted by telling them he was 20 when in fact he was 17. So Alois Kinjimari Suang joined the PNGDF on 17 December 1982 and, after receiving his first fortnightly pay of K25, sent K10 to his parents in East Sepik and used the remaining K15 to buy an iron.
He was deployed to Bougainville during the civil war, and later told stories of the bloodshed and how the women, children and men were affected by the ten years of fighting.
In sport, he retired at the age of 29 as a rugby League player and started coaching the Defence Under 17 team and later took over the Defence A-Grade team, which won the grand final in 1996 against a determined Hanuabada Hawks. To this day, it is Defence Rugby League's last premiership.
He died at 52 leaving behind a family that he set the foundation for. His discipline still guides our lives. He received a medal for distinguished military service, the first person from the Blackwater area to achieve this feat. He had worked tirelessly with integrity, honesty and loyalty.
On his sick bed, he mentioned our families from both sides, Manus and Sepik, and said to treat them with equality and respect. And he also said that if we were to marry, we must do so for love and not lust.
His wish was to be laid to rest on the Island of Rambutso, that mangi black wara who had us in his thoughts every day, who had us in his heart every second, He weighed both sides of the coin and decided that being buried in mum’s village was best for our family.
His concern was our family even though he had a huge portion of land in his native Gavamas Village, in the Blackwater area of Angoram in the East Sepik.
He left us on the evening of Sunday, 3 April, 2016, 23 days shy of my birthday. What was heart breaking was that he was crying when he closed his eyes, he knew his innings was up even though the doctors tried their best to save him.
We knew that in a country like Papua New Guinea it is quite hard to save our people with the lack of equipment in the hospitals. However, our family’s gratitude will always be with the wonderful and caring staff of Port Moresby General Hospital.
Well, dad, you are greatly missed by Mummy, Robin, Elizah, Liebert, Nicole, Melchior and Davina.
Rest in Peace, Chief