An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Ok Tedi Mining Ltd Book of the Year
Sweet Garaiina Apo by Baka Barakova Bina, CreateSpace, 2015, 238 pages. ISBN-10: 1499752105. Kindle $9.31. Paperback $18.00. Available from Amazon
IT may have been the combination of chocolate, cheese and red wine that caused it.
In a recent dream I was a member of a war party led by my friend Baka Bina and we were splashing through cesspits of human and animal waste to ambush another clan.
The dream seemed to confirm that my literary association, and friendship, with Baka was even deeper than I’d imagined.
There’s no doubt, however, that the many hours I’d spent poring over Baka’s latest novella had left strong imprints in the deeper recesses of my brain.
For Baka, the answer was simple. According to him, I had, by becoming so immersed in his two novellas, acquired the Apo spirit and was now therefore an honorary Apo, a word which means friend or brother in the Goroka dialect.
I’m certainly proud of this appellation, and the fact that I do enjoy a good piece of roasted kaukau probably confirms that there’s something of the Apo spirit inside me.
The Apo spirit also pervades Baka’s latest work, Sweet Garaiina Apo, his second novella, completed less than six months after Man of Calibre and written during a period of personal tragedy which might have caused a lesser person to want to give up writing altogether.
But Baka is a true man of calibre and, despite these setbacks, soldiered on with the strong support of his wife.
The result, set in the settlements and Ela Beach apartments of Port Moresby, is a story of love and search for identity triggered by the unexpected consequences of two women’s deceit and another’s outrageous and unexpected act of kindness.
Whereas Man of Calibre was laced with the day-to-day humour of village life, with much tok pilai, Sweet Garaiina Apo reflects the seriousness, the struggle and the seamier side of contemporary urban life in Papua New Guinea.
In the end, love and the Apo spirit win through, albeit in the midst of a great loss and with at least one profound question remaining unanswered – suggesting strongly that the search will continue in a sequel.
I, for one, hope that the Apo spirit continues to prevail.