An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Short Stories
THERE are some things that human beings - to be specific Papua New Guineans - do that, when I consider them critically, I find to be so absurd as to wonder whether they have brains.
There was this mother selling taro nicely creamed in coconut oil with spring onion and garlic puree. You could smell it from afar.
Her grown-up girl came back from school and she was hungry. The mother gave her one kina from the money she had earned from the sale of the taro and told her to buy a bun known as dry scone.
The girl grinned and walked to the nearest bun seller, got herself a dry scone and sated her hunger while other people bought taro from her mother for one kina and ate it with coconut milk and garlic and onion soup served on plate. A delicious and healthy snack.
Another time I saw a woman selling oranges at our small market at the hospital’s front gate for K1 50. Her little kid came crying to her for something. Instead of giving the child an orange, the mother gave her a kina and told the kid to buy a bottle of Tang.
The kid ran to the Tang seller and, wearing a broad smile, came back carrying a bottle of the sugary beverage.
There is a fisherman from Wara Simbu who catches trout in the river. Each time he catches a big one, he sells it. With the money, he buys lamb flaps, an animal product classified as health hazard and unfit for human consumption in Australia and New Zealand.
There it’s processed into animal feed but it also floods PNG supermarkets because dogs and Simbu fishermen likes it.
I see many coastal people doing the same thing. They toil in the rough seas, fighting the wind, rain and sun, to catch fish to sell them at the market.
After they sell everything, they buy lamb flaps and tinned fish full of additives and little quantity and take them home to eat.
A mother and daughter sold English potatoes at the main market. In the evening they bought a packet of rice to take home. Before catching a PMV, they were in one of the Chinese fast food places eating potato chips.
Whenever I think about these things, it makes me wonder which part of their body these people use for thinking. It can’t be their brains.
And I wonder whether there are people like them in Australia, New Zealand and other countries or do we only have them in Papua New Guinea.