DAGUA - Today, it’s just George and I. Well, it’s been just the two of us since Thursday, that’s like five days ago.
It's been five days since missus and the girls left for Wewak because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Everyone is talking about the coronavirus thing and how it came from China after someone there decided to make bat soup, got infected with bat virus and eventually infected the whole wide world.
Missus thought it would be safer to stay in Wewak than in the village. I didn’t want to argue with her. I’ve passed that stage in life. I also think Wewak is better prepared for this coronavirus thing than the village.
They have Boram hospital for medicine and Sir Michael Somare stadium for quarantine. They have Tang Mow and Papindo supermarkets to stock up on food, bleach and toilet rolls.
So missus thinks it is safer to stay in Wewak. Understandably, she’s anxious about coronavirus and took herself and the kids to isolate themselves with tambu papa and tambu mama up at Kreer Heights.
She thinks I’d be more safe in the village than with them in Wewak.
That’s what I think too.
I know they’ll wait out the pandemic with a good view of Wewak Hill, the town and Kairiru Island from my in-laws’ verandah. Meanwhile, I’m stuck here with George.
I heard everyone’s cross because they can’t sell or chew buai in public spaces. The government has banned all betel nut trade.
The police have been busy chasing vendors and confiscating their only means of survival.
That’s what I heard.
Now back to my story about George and I.
George is not my son or relative or someone in the village.
George is a pussy cat. A pusi.
In Papua New Guinea, the lingo for cat is pussy. A kitten is still a pussy.
You hardly hear someone say “mi lukim wanpla cat lo nait” or “cat blo haus karim ol bebi cat”
People say: “Mi lukim wanpla pusi lo nait” or “Pusi blo haus karim ol bebi pusi”
George came to the house a year ago from I don’t know where. He arrived and then he stayed.
I say stayed because at first we, that’s the missus, kids and I, simply ignored him.
We were hoping he’d return to where he came from, or that his owners would eventually put out a missing pussy report or come looking for him.
That did not happen so George stayed and became part of the family.
I don’t know who gave him the name George. It must have been one of the girls.
I heard them talking to George or talking about George like he’s a baby brother. The missus also developed a soft spot for George. She sees him as a grandson.
While I address this meek orange stray, George, as George, the missus calls him Georgie and the girls address him as Georgie-Porgie.
But he’s not like the naughty boy in the nursery rhyme because everyone in the house loves him.
I’d arrived home from a village meeting when missus told me the girls had named him George.
“Ol kisim poto wantaim Georgie na upload long Facebook,” she announced. “They’ve got 20 reactions so far … that’s what they told me before you came.”
I was going to ask missus what was simmering in the pot on the fire when a familiar figure came running into the hauskuk.
Little Marjorie had George on her shoulder.
“Daddy, we decided to make Georgie-Porgie famous on Facebook!” she announced proudly, caressing and stroking George.
“Okay baby, but make sure he doesn’t get too famous … because then someone might recognise him and come take him from us … or steal him and ask us for a ransom.” I playfully ruffled her hair.
“Daddy, what is ransom?” Her question was innocent enough. I was stupid to use a big word.
I looked at missus to rescue me but she pretended to busy herself with the pot.
If I answered this question, there would be many more. They would make me feel like a student sitting an exam or something.
“Baby, I’ll tell you after you finish your food when we eat dinner.
“Now go and tell your sisters to stop Facebooking and come … mummy’s about to serve dinner.”
Well, that’s how I remember George’s arrival. It was a prelude of sorts.
So for the last few days, it’s just George and I. We’ve been surviving on bananas and salted biscuits – bananas for me and biscuits for George.
We’ve practiced social distancing during the day. George disappears and sleeps away the day. At night, he curls outside the mosquito net beside where I rest my head.
The girls and their mother are returning today. Missus called yesterday evening. She said the girls want to come home because they miss me. She told me she agreed to come because she kinda misses Georgie.
“We’re coming tomorrow. I hope you and Georgie are not starving yourselves to death,” she quipped.
I told her we’ve been sharing dry salted biscuits and rationing water. We are survivors.
But, that aside, I got news for them. Big news. The sort of news that can destabilise families and relationships.
You see, while practising social distancing and self-isolation, I noticed something.
The orange kitten cum pussy cat, now sprawled on the limbum veranda two meters away from me, is not a male cat.
George is a female. A she. A Molly, not a Tom.
The girls will be shocked. That’s what I think.
George and I now wait for the girls and missus. Maybe we’ll have to assign a new name because obviously we can’t do a sex change.
They will have to update their status on Facebook for George. Tell the whole world and see how many reactions they’ll get for this mix-up.
And maybe, with their blessings of course, I’ll suggest Georgina as a suitable name for George coming out as a female pussy cat.
Why Georgina, you might ask?
Well it kinda rhymes with George if we are going to say it quickly. George and I sounds like Georgina.
And that’s the story of George and I. And until the girls return from Wewak, we’ll just have to wait for the outcome and resolution to this tale.