PORT MORESBY - Emily Bina would travel from her school at Kila Kila to get to university three times a week using three lots of buses: from Kila Kila to Manu Autoport; from Manu Autoport to Gordons; and from Gordons to the University of PNG.
Commuters jostling to get on the buses are a constant challenge at each bus stop, especially, when schoolchildren are out schools in the afternoons. These times are a bonanza for pickpockets.
Ten years ago Emily wrote about this in a poem, reproduced below, which has just been published in our joint collection of short stories and poetry, 'Musings from Sogopex', available from Amazon.
'Lo, the Pick Pocket' is Emily’s message to both criminals and to the rest of humankind. We ordinary folk must not give these thugs the opportunity to prey on us. If we use public spaces, we must be vigilant.
The problem amongst males is growing alarmingly. Males from as young as 10 to as old as 50 smoke marijuana (spak brus) in broad daylight. In the cities and towns, we have many zombies, men and boys who act like animals and hunt in packs.
We feel sorry for our women and girls in public but often we can do very little as these animals do anything to look after their own, unless there are courageous men nearby.
In the villages, it is not any better. I have been collecting anecdotes for my next book and women from my village have related to me that they are scared to even go to their own gardens alone.
If they do they are in danger of being raped by red-eyed boys whose brains have been parked elsewhere.
In days gone by, these same young men would have shown the utmost respect to all women and girls.
In her well-received PNG Attitude essay, ‘Hey men, let’s make our streets and buses safe’, Betty Wakia raised an issue that will get out of hand soon if it hasn't already.
Like Emily says in her poem, sometimes you wish these louts would have to pick their teeth off the ground.
Anyway, here’s the poem:
Lo! the Pick Pocket
You pick on the weak and the flustered,
You pick on the old and the unwary,
You pick on the dimdims, the dumdums,
You pick at Koki, you pick at Gordons.
You pick mobile phones and wallets,
You pick two kina and school books,
You pick the students and the workers,
You pick at the major minor bus stop.
You pick bilums and school bags,
You pick shirt pockets and six pockets,
You pick the front and the back,
You pick for anything,
You pick for your life.
You pick with the fingers,
You pick with the razor,
You pick with a pack,
You pick for your bread and for your butter.
You pick for the Nambis and you smile ‘em up,
You pick the Mamose and you glee ‘em up,
You pick the NGI and you look ‘em up,
You pick for the Papuans and you shout ‘em up,
You pick the unwary Highlander n you skin ‘em up,
You pick the wary Highlander and Low!
You pick your ego;
You pick your teeth on the ground.