Awaiting another star
Tourism and tradition – can they co-exist in a modern PNG?



An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize

KAUPA froze in bewilderment and turned to Duma who halted right behind him. He could see the apprehension on his younger brother’s face in the dimming light under the towering canopy of the forest. Duma too had seen what he, Kaupa, saw.

The brothers were in the middle of the bush track half way to the village. It had been a while since they left their garden house far down in the valley for home up yonder on the hilltop.

Kaupa had walked in front with a bilum of raw on-ama nol, his favorite sweet potato variety hanging under his right arm and carried his bow and arrows in his other hand.

Duma had been following behind carrying the loaded shot gun he made it himself in his right hand against his shoulder and a bundle of firewood on the left shoulder.

The brothers were planting sugar cane and banana seeds in their new garden until dark and were enjoying a cool night walk home through the track that they probably had walked a million times.

They had been travelling up and down this track ever since they learnt to walk on their own and knew everything both living and none living in that part of the locale like the back of their palm. But this very night they were confronted with something very mysterious and they were bewildered. 

There was no road for motor vehicle in this thick forest but they had witnessed the silhouette of a Coaster bus accelerated to the other side over and above the track ahead of them with its headlight splashing over the shrubs minutes ago.

 “What could this be?” Duma whispered ponderingly to Kaupa.

“I don’t know. It’s a damn mystery”, Kaupa replied as he put the bilum of kaukau on the ground.

Duma too put the firewood down with the gun still resting on his shoulder.

While they were still debating what the strange thing could be, the mysterious sound returned in the direction that it went. It sounded like the engine of a motor vehicle. The brothers looked at each other in stupor.

The sound got louder and at the same time the headlights splashed over the shrubs. The strange thing returned and got disappeared to the other side.

 “I think I know what it is. It must be aliens flying about in their flying saucer”. Duma whispered.

 “Yes, you are right. It is them. It can’t be something else. They might come back. We better get closer and have a good look at the Unidentified Flying Object.

 “What an experience it would be to see a real UFO from the outer world. I’ve read so much about it. Now I am going to see a real one right here in my own bush,” Kaupa got excited.

 “Just in case set the trigger of your gun ready. I’ll have an arrow ready too. I have seen movies of these aliens getting violent with their laser-controlled gunships when they encountered human beings,” Kaupa cautioned and they moved close to where the UFO had crossed.

The weather was generally fine and the atmosphere was quite chilly but the brothers felt sweat dripping down their chest as they waited tensely.

If there was any screeching bird or insect sleeping in the vicinity, they seemed not perturbed at all by the noise created by the UFO, they observed. It was totally silent. Very strange they thought.

The grand old moon had gone into hibernation somewhere and only the stars were glowing in the sky. In fact the whole sky was filled with stars however, there wasn’t much light where they were because of the dense canopy of the forest, Kaupa had observed.

They spent some time waiting but the UFO didn’t come again. They got tired and called it quit, got their items and walked on up the hill.

As they got to the edge of the village where the first house was located, they couldn’t believe the whole scenery in front of them. They were mesmerized.

Chief Digan’s house had completely changed to an open air theatre. His semi permanent house had changed to a gigantic podium and the shrub of roses and bougainvillea that surrounded the house had disappeared.

Kaupa and Duma wondered how Chief Digan could have constructed the theatre with all these modern glamour just in a day as they passed by the home in the morning and there wasn’t any construction going on. The old semi permanent house made of roofing iron and bush timbers was still there adorned by the beautiful shrub of roses and bougainvillea.

The huge podium was ablaze by a flood of yellowish light shining from the four flood lights standing at the four corners of the stage. Kaupa and Duma couldn’t figure out the source of the power.

The podium looked gold in the light and was decorated with all kinds of decorations; pot plants, flower vases, balloons and ribbons all around it.

There were silhouettes of human beings moving about the podium.

Kaupa squeezed Duma’s hand and pointed in the direction of a buzzing sound. It was the UFO thing.

They lied low on their belly as the sound got louder and the lights of the approaching unknown flying object splashed over the surrounding shrubs.       

The UFO landed in the middle of the podium. The front looked like the head of a gargantuan dragon fly and the body like a giant Coaster bus. It stood on four giant legs that resembled a horse.

Out came the leaders of Sisia clan and their wives and adult children from an opening on the side that looked like the exit door of an air bus.

After offloading its passengers, the unidentified craft lifted and disappeared into the night sky.

Kaupa and Duma were stunned. Fear gripped Rocky but Kaupa was composed and got interested in the whole mystery.

He, Kaupa, left the bag of kaukau and the bundle of firewood behind and armed with the bow and arrows, crawled closer to the podium and he felt nervousness beginning to test his brawn. What could you actually achieve with a bow and arrow? He heard himself asking.

He looked back and Duma was right behind him armed with the homemade gun.

Kaupa trusted the potency of the gun. He had tested it several times before and it was highly reliable.

Once the lever that held the hammer back in very tight position was released, the thrust was such that it, the hammer, flew at a velocity twice faster than that of a factory made gun. Once the cartridge head was hit, the pellets were propelled at an extremely high speed that anything in its way could be hit and dragged by its thrust. Seeing the gun, confidence had returned to Kaupa.

Furthest to his left hand corner were a giant screen and a speaker box.  A slow sentimental music was starting to echo from the speaker into the night air. Some kind of a jamboree, Kaupa thought.

Next to the speaker was a whopping screen. On it a white couple fully naked was caressing and playing all manner of sex games in rhythm to the music.

Spreading on the entire podium was something that looked like a giant trampoline or mattress and people were lying on it.

Kaupa had recognised most of them. They were the fathers and mothers from the Nungu and the surrounding clans with their sons and daughters. Most were the leaders and their spouse and adult children.

As they watched, the music changed to a fast tango. In a frenzy of excitement everybody got undressed and in partners started imitating the movie. It was an orgy.

The strange phenomenon that troubled Kaupa and Duma so much was that mothers were having sex with their own sons, fathers with their own daughters and brothers with their own sisters –an orgy of incest imitating every manner of sex that appeared on the screen.         

 “This is even weird. I think we have gotten in the way of a voodoo or cult. What can we do?” Duma asked.

Kaupa thought for a while and said boldly; “You give me your gun. I will shoot at one of the chiefs and see what happens.”

Duma who didn’t want to be seen as a spineless coward agreed to the idea. “You give me your bow and an arrow. I too will shoot at one of the chiefs.” He stated boldly.

They pulled the shrubs over their head and eyes and stealthily, crawled as close as possible.

At the same time the music picked up its tempo and everybody got into frenzied motion in rhythm to the beat. Kaupa and Duma felt the tempo of their heartbeat rising too. It beat faster in rhythm to the crescendo.

 “They are reaching climax. It’s time to fire” Kaupa whispered to Duma and stood up with the gun in aim. Duma followed him and they fired simultaneously.

Instantaneously, everything included the living beings got disappeared in split seconds. The lights went out, the music stopped and the huge podium with all its occupants and the decors all got vanished.

The whole scenery changed back to what it used to be; Chief Digan’s old semi permanent house surrounded by a shrub of roses and bougainvillea, Kaupa observed in the starry night.

The only trace of the strange phenomenon was the screams and wails of human beings as they got disappeared in all directions through the bushes. Silence reigned.

What if the unusual beings returned and attacked them and Kaupa felt eeriness gripped him.

Kaupa wasn’t wrong. The whole atmosphere suddenly came alive with angry screams of human beings. “Who are they? Go and eat them alive” a deep and rumbling voice shouted sending ripples of echoes through the night air and there were reverberation of approval all around.

Then a stampede of angry people shook the earth as they converged on Kaupa.

 “Who destroyed my party?” The deep and rumbling voice echoed again this time just a meter away.

A moment later, standing in front of Kaupa was a giant figure with the head of a fox with two pairs of canines sticking out in a scissors fashion and a body that looked like a human being but possessing excessively long sharp claws and long bushy hair.

Kaupa pissed in his trouser when the sharp claws approached him.

He lifted the bush knife from his belt at his waste and swung at the strange figure but the hand stopped half way as sharp claws clawed him tightly.

Kaupa struggled to get free but the claws held him firmly. He screamed and kicked about and kicked his brother Duma sleeping right beside him.

 “Ohe-e … what’s going on?” Duma shouted and woke Kaupa who came back to his sense. He sat up awash with perspiration.

The scream woke up the rest of the men in the hausman.

The hausman is a big common dwelling place for men and young boys. It is where all the important decisions and skul tok (edification) are done. In some ethnic groups it is called hausboi.

Today there are very few places in Papua New Guinea that the hausman culture still exists. In the next one or two decades, there might be no more hausman.

“People, what happened?” one man asked sleepily.

 “It’s a hell kind of a nightmare” Kaupa said and the men went to sleep again.

Kaupa lit the butt of a tobacco roll he left by the fire side and chucked at it.       

 “What were you dreaming about? His brother Duma asked and lit a roll of tobacco he had in his coat pocket and sucked at it.

After some moments of reminiscence, Kaupa replied: “I think internet is not good for us grassroots”.

 “What do you been?” Duma asked.

 “I mean people have easy access to pornography and that really spoils our society”.

 “Is that what you dreamt about?”

 “I think so?  Kaupa said and flicked the remnant of the tobacco into the fading embers causing a sudden sparks of splinters before it became dark again. They went back to sleep.


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`Robin Lillicrapp

Interesting meld of content with an object in view.

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