An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Cleland Family Award for Heritage Writing
IN the late 1970s, at Kombuglo Mu village in the Upper Jimi area of Jiwaka Province, lived a lovely couple, Mogli and Klen.
Today the concept of dating and friendship has gained momentum due to the external influences. But in the past it was only through the form of karim lek (courtship).
The village elders constructed a new house and called for karim lek among the young boys and girls from the nearby tribes to participate.
Mogli and Klen were the first partners to have karim lek in the new house.
They were not allowed to karim lek with other boys or girls but only with the ones whom they first courted.
After six to seven months of consistent courtship, Mogli and Klen made up their mind to develop an everlasting relationship. They were faithful to each other, their love grew and finally they married.
They had a first-born daughter. As soon as she reached the age of nine, they had a second-born son. It was a traditional norm that spacing of kids was a paramount concern to avoid disgrace and criticism among community members. In the end, they had four kids.
After 30 years of marriage, Klen, the mother, was suffered a swollen abdomen. It was an unusual disease.
The village elders would condemn people with hereditary and contagious diseases and victims were buried alive or thrown into a cave or fast-flowing river to avoid the spread of the contagion.
So the elders met in the men’s house and planned to murder Klen with the knowledge of her husband.
Mogli heard the message and on the same night told his wife.
Once she heard the news, she packed her belongings and stayed awake all night.
Early in the morning, she informed her children: “We will go to the garden at the river bank and return in the afternoon.
“Take care of your smaller siblings. Make sure they shall not cry for food,” she reminded her oldest daughter.
There had been an extreme downpour the previous night and Kon Nigle was in flood.
The two couples strolled sadly to Kon Nigle. They reached the river bank and sat on a boulder facing each other.
The couple narrated the tale of the fond memories of their young and old days. They said how they happened to love one another and reflected on their married life until this final day.
The husband knew well that the village murderers would be arriving soon to kill his wife, Klen.
Soon he saw the designated murderers approaching. Mogli was troubled with many thoughts. He did not want to see Klen murdered before his eyes.
“We are here for a long time,” Mogli said.
He stretched his back and walked slowly up the river bank so as not to turn around and see her face. He was filled with misery and pain to miss her love.
Then Klen sang the sweet song they used to sing during their courtship.
“The rain is coming from the mountain / I will be blessed from the sprinkle of heaven,” she sang the plaintive ballad and, with tears welling in her eyes, she jumped into the flooded Kon Nigle.
Mogli heard the loud splash but decided not to look back. He knew very well that Klen had committed suicide.
Some minutes later, the selected murders arrived with their special attire.
His husband ignored them and strolled up the track with a painful heart.
The villager murderers looked around and saw nothing.
“Where is our mom?” the kids asked Mogli when he returned in the afternoon.
“Where is mom?”
“Mom weeds the garden and she is tired so she decided to sleep at the garden house. She will come home tomorrow,” Mogli said.
The children waited all the next day expecting their mom to come home in the afternoon. She did not turn up. So the eldest daughter asked Mogli, “Where is mom?”
“The villagers said that mom had a hereditary disease so they murdered her and threw her into Kon Nigle,” Mogli replied.
“Mom is murdered so I will return to her village with her name to compensate for her death,” she declared.
She abandoned her siblings and went to her uncles’ village.
Her uncles were very sad and cried all day. The next day they hosted a big ceremony to mourn Klen’s death. They slaughtered many pigs and held the haus krai (funeral).
During the speech they declared, “The clan name Morbogia is abolished and be renamed Klen.
This is the story of the mother who committed suicide due to a hereditary disease.