An entry in the 2015 Rivers Award
for Writing on Peace & Harmony
HE had to tell her somehow. This feeling of turmoil inside of him was causing too much anxiety. He couldn’t sleep well and days at the workplace were spent daydreaming.
His inner peace had disappeared. He was in a whirlpool with two rivers pulling him in different directions.
He was in love with the girl who worked at the food joint. And when the inner butterflies came fluttering they had knocked something out of him. Well that’s how he felt.
So he decided to tell his mother about the girl at the kai bar.
As usual on Saturday it was a wan belo workday so by half-past-one he and Danny were walking into the settlement just off the main highway.
He and Danny, son of Kange Eddie, had been at school together. They hung around together. They chased girls together. They fought and defended each other together.
They were like brothers from different mothers.
He recalls clearly the day they met. He was by the creek at the back of the settlement looking at some tadpoles that had spawned recently when two not so nice settlement kids came and made him smoke a cigarette with them.
“Holim na laitim! Nogat ba mipla tromoi yu go insait lo wara!” The language was coercive.
“Mama blo yu no stap! Papa blo yu tu no stap!” Their mocking became bolder.
He was on the brink of tears and about to cave in to their bullying when Danny came from nowhere and told them to clear off.
The friendship had lasted since that day. He and Danny sometime joked about the day they met. They likened themselves to the inseparable 1980w movie duo Bud Spencer and Terence Hill.
The two bullies were still around. They’d graduated from cigarette smoking to meaner stuff. The settlement big bois.
Entering the settlement, he parted ways with Danny and headed up the road making sure to avoid the small puddles and a scrawny looking dog.
He saw his mother under the house steps, weeding. His thoughts were now on how best to tell his mother about the girl at the kai bar.
He didn’t want to burden his mother. She acted normally but he sensed something was wrong, that her health was failing.
The persistent cough which usually came in the night was getting worse and had him worried.
Her years working in the flour factory had taken their toll. Without his father, she had worked hard to see him through school.
But recently her supervisor, noticing her deteriorating health, had asked her to resign. The factory management agreed to assist with hospital bills as a token of appreciation for her long service.
On hearing his footsteps, she turned from weeding.
“Son, nau tasol yu kamap? Yupla pinis wok lo 12 kilok?”
“Yeah, mi wantem Danny kam. Em go lo haus na mi kam olgeta.”
“Okay.” She went back to pulling out the little weeds that were sprouting under the steps.
He stood there. There was a brief moment of silence. Everything was at a standstill. No noise. Nothing.
“Mum, there’s this girl from school I want you to meet some day,” he blurted out, the emotions and built-up tension releasing themselves with the words.
There was a brief moment of inactivity from his mother. Then she turned and gave him a look that says, “My boy, have I just hear correctly, what you have just said.”
“You found yourself a girl!? What do you mean? You left school two years ago.”
“Hey, police inspector, isi liklik long ol kwestin yah,” he grinned “You are making me nervous mum, come on.”
“Wanem,” she pulled herself out from the steps, rubbing soiled hands on her PNG Kumuls jersey she liked to wear when doing manly stuff around the house.
He went to the steps and sat on the a pedestal removing his shoes.
“Okay son, yu stori lo disla meri, I didn’t mean to make you so uptight.” She gave a knowing smile.
“Yeah, there’s this girl at high school who used to hang out with a friend…,” he paused, “you know the kind of high school stuff.
“Well mum, this girl now works at the Asian kai bar close to where I work. Danny and I usually go there during our lunch break and …,”
“Yeah, I know that place,” his mother interrupted, “em mi harim olsem kai bar blo wanpla kongkong na wanpla man lo Hagen.
“Kange Eddie worked there for some months as a security. Pei i no gutpla na em lusim na kam stap.”
He knew. It was a business partnership that came about because of loopholes in regulations. A joint venture between a settlement businessman from Hagen and his Asian partner. The Hagen man was a wantok of Danny’s father.
“Well mum, she works there. She serves drinks to the customers; sometime she takes their orders.”
“Is there anything else you need to tell me about her or you twos before you bring her over?” she asked; eyes squinting.
He guessed what she was getting at.
“Mum, she’s not pregnant or anything. I just feel it’s the right thing to do, mum. I like this girl na em tu gat tingting so I believe I’m doing the right thing to ask her to come and meet you.”
“Okay, son,” she held up her hand, “no more Inspector Metau from me.” She turned to walk to the back of the house.
Then she stopped, turned and looked at him.
“Son, what’s her name?”
“Juliet, mum, her name’s Juliet.”
“Okay son, I like that name.”
And she walked away leaving him sitting there.