Neo-colonialism, Palm Island, LNG & the shifting of blame
Half a century on, Biga & Sinclaire recall early Post-Courier years

That ambai - the way she smiles; the way she walks

Jimmy Awagl


SIMBU - A dawn of a new day with the ascending rays of the sun painting the fog red. A lone boy rests upright against his dirty pillow in the small hut beside the gorge.

The young man is about to turn another year older. He pulls on a yellow and black striped shirt with the word ‘BII’ printed on it. Many years before people in the street had adopted ‘Bii’ as his nickname.

Bii lives on the periphery of the Sikaku tribe at the eastern tip of Yongos. He walks downstream on fine afternoons cutting across to the roadside market in search of vegetables.

He strolls gently, a stick clutched in his hand, whistling his favourite courtship song imagining courting with cute girls.

On this day, at a bend in the road, he encountered two girls returning from afternoon classes at Mai High School.

Caught by surprise, and feeling embarrassed that he has had no schooling, he Bii gave a guilty smile. Unable to find words to express his feelings, he looked at his feet.

Then, glancing up suddenly, he caught a smile shining like a full moon on the face of a pretty ambai [girl].

Bii silently thanked his luck, paused for a moment and nodded his head with pleasure a few times.

Then, as he turned to the ambai again, he saw that she and her friend had resumed their walk home, their bottoms swaying rhythmically.

Such, impression disrupted his feelings and emotion. He ran out of words to express how much he was captivated by the eye sight.

“She must be a ghost,” thought Bii, “I have never seen such a girl before.”

As he reached the market, he stood in the crowd thinking about what he had encountered. A close friend walked up to him and offered a betel nut.

“My friend, paint your lips with this stuff,” he said to Bii.

“Surely! Thanks!”

“Seems you look miserable, what’s the cause?” asked his friend.

“My brother, it’s a mysterious moment for me. Since I met a cute lass with blue eyes, amazing smile and possessing the colours of an orchid,” replied Bii.

“Oh, my god! Who’s that?”

“I may have met a river ghost, since I have never seen such an ambai along that path,” said Bii.

“Anyway, let it go for today and we will pursue a search tomorrow,” said his friend, and walked off into the crowd.

“Time to head home before darkness catches up,” Bii thought.

He walked home with a feeling he may meet the river ghost anytime. However, he did not and reached home as the final eye of the sun set behind the tree tops near his house.

Bii walked inside and sat beside the fireplace. Sliding his head beneath his knees he fell asleep.

He dreamed of catching that beautiful smile again.

But that was just a wishful dream. The ambai was a river ghost who had appeared on the road to catch his eye and cause him a lifetime of wondering whether he would see her for a second time.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)