An entry in the 2015 Rivers Award
for Writing on Peace & Harmony
THEY say that laughter is the best medicine. Most of us understand laughter as a way of telling others that we are happy and want to be friends.
Teachers, preachers or trainers make their audience laugh to get their attention so that they don’t get bored and fall asleep during long lessons, sermons or lectures.
While attending a training session, the trainer decided to arouse his audience before his presentation.
“This story is from Ada’s place,” he began.
“Oh no, you’re putting me off,” said Ada, one of the participants.
Ada is from the Trobriand islands, ‘the islands of love’. I do not know why they call it this. Maybe because of the famous tapioca dances. Maybe because it is just a lovely place. Well, it is a lovely place.
“The story is about a lady at the market place,” the trainer continued.
On this particular day, a tourist ship anchored in the Trobriand islands. One of those P&O cruises, maybe Dawn Princess.
The Trobrianders welcomed the tourists with their famous tapioca dance. The girls came with their short red and white-dyed grass skirts. The boys were in tapa cloth with red laplaps. They followed their leader who was blowing a whistle to the tapioca dance beat.
A male tourist had come ashore to take photographs. Afterwards he went to the market place. A lady was selling a pot of taro mona.
Taro mona is made of taro cut into cubes and cooked in coconut cream in a clay pot. It is cooked by boiling and stirring until the cream has dried and turned into something like a pudding.
The tourist asked the woman. “What are you selling?”
“Taro mona,” the lady answered.
“How do you make taro mona?’’ the tourist asked.
“We----ll,” the lady began to explain how taro mona is made.
The eyes and ears of the other sellers were now on the tourist and the lady with the mona.
“We----ll,” the mona lady continued.
Another lady sitting next to the mona lady wanted to help her friend explain how taro mona was made. She knew that her friend did not know how to speak much English and the only word or sentence she knew was “we---ll”.
“We---ll,” the mona lady said again.
The tourist was getting annoyed. He smacked his rolled up paper on a bench and said in a loud voice, “Well what?”
The mona lady’s friend startled, chimed in.
“Well, first of all the taro cook the lady.” She stopped suddenly realising she had constructed the sentence the wrong way in her head.
The tourist walked away. He was probably afraid that if he bought the taro mona, the taro would cook him.
While the participants in the training session were still laughing at ‘taro cook the lady’, the presenter decided to tell them another story.
“This story is from Dena’s area,” he said.
Two men decided to go and visit relatives at Giligili. They did not want to walk so they decided to wait for a PMV or any vehicle they could hitch a hike on. Not long after, they saw a Catholic priest’s ute approaching.
One of the men waved down the ute and ran to the driver’s side and said, “Fada! Fada! Capsize us at Giligili corner.”
“Jump on,” the priest said and drove off.
On the way the man asked his friend.
‘Hidomo, me’alena ma fada nahimata uliwei po ina hiwagita?’ (Man, why did you tell father to pour us out?)
“Well, they say laughter is a good medicine,” the presenter told the attendees who were still recovering from their laughter and wiping tears from their eyes.
“When you have stopped laughing, say thank you because you have relaxed your tired body, reduced your stress level and most of all you have passed the infection to someone near you.
“When you go outside or go home this afternoon, tell the jokes you heard to others and laugh your heads off.
“It is also good that some of you students are awake after all this laughing. The heavy lunch you had made you sleepy.”