Marape fights back on eve of vote to topple him
Toroama’s first 80 days: return to Arawa begins

Piku-Piku and Asukena – Part 2

Piku-Piku (black grasshopper)


LEGEND - Nana-Muni held the bottle out to the three girls and Sukare took it carefully between two fingers, took a quick look and passed it to Teniso.

Teniso was a tomboy and she turned the bottle upside down and let the asukena (mole grasshopper) scramble onto Sukare’s hands.

Sukare gave a scream and a wince and dropped the bottle. The asukena scurried off into the kaukau vines.

Panikame swooped down on all fours trying to pin it to the ground. But the asukena had escaped.

There was disappointment.

The two boys wanted to give Teniso a kick. But, as Metty-Mahn held up his hand to box Teniso, he saw Alonaa look his way and brought his hand back down.

“Hey, see this.” It was Papa Sii.

He had the asukena in his hand.

“See, it’s magic and I have the asukena back in my hand. Everyone can be happy again.” 

“Okay, come wash your hands. It your mama’s law you wash hands before food. Alonaa, make sure they wash their hands.”

After washing their hands, they went to their mats with their scones and cordial drinks and dug into them.

“Okay, all on your mats and don’t move. Papa Sii is going to tell us how the piku-piku (black grasshopper) got his black colour and how the asukena got his bulldozer hands.'

Nana-Muni dropped his cordial to imitate the asukena doing its bulldozing and that set Panikame laughing and Teniso choking on her scones.

They settled onto their mats, waiting for Papa Sii to start.

“When I have time later, I will tell you the story of the Ghilipo’ne and the Ghetenemoya. Right now, though, I’ll start with your favourites, Piku-Piku and his buddy Asukena.”

The children lay back on their mats and Papa Sii began.

“There were two great friends – grasshoppers: Asukena and Piku-Piku.

“Asukena burrows in the ground, especially after the rain. That was the fellow that you guys dropped and which magically appeared in my hands.

“Piku-Piku is the black cricket you find in the gardens under dead kaukau vines. That’s our friend in the green bottle that Matty Metty-Mahn has now.

“This is their story.”


Asukena (mole cricket)
Asukena (mole cricket)

Asukena and Piku-Piku were good friends and would be together most of the time.

Piku-Piku was pale brown and had red lines across his stomach and Asukena was a forest green colour dotted with plenty of yellow spots.

Both grasshoppers lived at the big garden. They had their own block called the batatri. They lived in one corner of the block and each day they would explore the gardens.

They would find food to eat and take time to play and take naps as they moved from one spot to another.

They even had time to make their own fun to while the day away. So, by the end of the day, they would have been all over the garden.

Piku-Piku liked dancing and, as they moved from each plant to the next, he would do a little bit of a jive and a dance. This sometimes attracted the attention of the birds and it was such a chore to always keep an eye out for them.

Even with this danger, Asukena was not going to stop seeing his best friend. Every day he would wait for Piku-Piku and every day they would explore the garden.

One day it rained all morning and then, in the afternoon, the sun popped out from the clouds. The two friends ran out of their houses to enjoy the sun and were playing when a big bird swooped down.

Piku-Piku was the first to see the bird and took cover under a tapioca plant.

Asukena was a bit slow and the bird caught him by his hind foot. As the bird flew off, Asukena struggled free and fell down. Alas, however, he had lost his both his hind legs. The bird tried to eat the hind legs but the sharp spurs stuck in his beak and he spewed them out.

Asukena collected his hind legs and kept them in his house.

But he now had no hind legs to help him jump from tree to tree or bush to bush and could not join his friend to explore the garden anymore. He stopped seeing Piku-Piku.

Asukena was deciding where to bury the four pieces of his two hind legs when a lusowaso walepa passed by.'

The walepa took pity on him decided to see if he could use his magic to put the hind legs back on. With his lusowaso he put Asukena to sleep.

The walepa then chewed on two special leaves. One of the leaves was from the rare blue kapiak tree. The other was from a very old ghohuno tree at Garanaku. He drew out the juices and made them into a paste.

Unfortunately, the walepa did not know where the body parts had come from.

They were in four pieces, two big and two small. The paws were attached to the small parts. So he assumed these were the last legs and he joined them to the back from where the legs had torn loose.

He then looked at the thick thighs and did not know where they were to be fitted. So walepa glued one each to Asukena’s hands, the bigger side in the palm of the hands and the smaller side at the elbows.

When Asukena woke up, walepa was long gone.

He looked at his hands and tried to pry each one off. But they were stuck together. The walepa’s lusowaso was a powerful one.

Asukena tried kicking his hind leg and it snapped in two. He now had his hind legs – not big ones like before but, still, hind legs. He found that he could jump - but not as high as before.

He looked at his hands and could not understand why walepa had glued them there.

He was standing there befuddled when a bird’s shadow came over him.

Asukena dove head first into the dry kaukau leaves. He found that he could easily move the leaves aside with his big new hands and get away.

He peered out and saw the bird perched on some nearby grass. He started to push the soil aside and he found that it was easy to do that. So he burrowed.

He found he could make a tunnel and he burrowed through to Piku-Piku’s house in the garden. He peered up again and saw he was behind the bird. So he quickly crawled out of the soil and joined the surprised Piku-Piku at his house.

When it could not find Asukena the bird flew away.

Piku-Piku would now visit with his friend. He would make fun of Asukena whose hind foot was in the wrong place.

He did not mind playing with him, though. They found new ways to play. Piku-Piku would jump to some place and Asukena would run along to that place, most times stumbling over his big hands.

One time they built a big fire and were playing and having a good time. Piku-Piku stepped back and ran towards the fire. He then jumped over the fire and landed safely on the other side of the fire.

“See, I can jump over the fire. You cannot and are not fit enough to jump over the fire. ”

That was the problem. Asukena did not have big back hind legs like Piku-Piku. Asukena had lost them. And his small wings enabled him to fly short hops only.

He never showed Piku-Piku that he could make tunnels and crawl under the ground.

Asukena sat and thought about the challenge that Piku-Piku had thrown at him.

“Okay, I’ll take you up on that challenge. Build up the fire with me in the middle of it. Build the fire big so that it reaches to the skies. I will stay longer in the fire than you.”

Piku-Piku put together plenty of dry debris and Asukena climbed into the middle.

Final part tomorrow


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