AS TOLD BY PAPA SII TO BAKA BINA
PORT MORESBY – Before I continue this story, I should let you know that it is an adaptation of a legend told by Papa Sii, whose image is at right
I have taken the words he told me and retold it using a contemporary overlay story of some bored village children.
Children in the village are often left to their own devices and they seek out their own games and activities.
But in this story, there’s a catch.
Older children are supposed to babysit their younger siblings but, in contrast to babysitting as you might imagine it mostly being restricted to an urban house, in the village babysitters have the length and breadth of the tribal land at their calling.
I recall times babysitting and going bush to make small mumus or going to the big river for a picnic and mumu.
Alonaa in this story is unfortunate as there are restrictions placed on him, but he pulls a genie out of Papa Sii to have him tell a legend to the children before their midday nap.
Papa Sii’s was known as Aishi, whose real name was Nokowano Gitehoma. He was from Kotiyufa village, Iufi-Iufa near Goroka in the Eastern Highlands.
Aishi was a great story teller, poet, composer, singer and keeper of stories.
He was especially famous for his ability to remember and sing songs. He was the keeper of the Homasi songs, sung in praise of the old gods of the people of the Goroka valley.
You will find some of lyrics to his songs transcribed in a number of my books.
Regretfully, Aishii Nokovano Gitehoma passed away in March 2018 aged about 70. He took with him all his songs, legends and the history of his people.
I rue that I did not realise the urgency to record what he knew. I have only captured a few smatterings and these will be reproduced in my future writings. Vale Papa Sii.
Papa Sii continuing his story:
Watching to ensure that Asukena did not climb back out of the mound of dry debris, Piku-Piku lit a fire from each side. It flared into a big bonfire and he sat by to see what would happen to his friend.
Piku-Piku waited and waited. When the fire died down, he checked among the embers but could not find Asukena. He waited for a long time.
As he sat next to the dead fire, feeling sorry for himself, someone tapped him from behind.
“Ta da, see me.” It was Asukena. “The fire did not touch me. You cannot go into the fire and come out of it like me,” he challenged.
Without thinking, Piku-Piku replied, “Ah, that’s nothing. I will fly down from that tree straight into the burning flames and come out alive,” boasted, pointing to a nearby tapioca tree.
Together the two crickets swept the bush to collect material for a big bonfire.
Piku-Piku ran up the tree and waited. When the fire was burning furiously, he jumped straight into it.
However, the fire got the better of him and he jumped straight out.
Unfortunately, the fire had scorched him. He was no longer brown and red, he was now black and blue.
Asukena laughed and laughed when he saw Piku-Piku was a different colour.
That led to a big argument and they both went their own ways.
So now, if you look under those kaukau leaves in the garden, you will find a singed black and blue Piku-Piku hiding there.
If you look more carefully you will see evidence in the soil where the clean, baked brown Asukena will be furiously tunnelling away with his bare hands.
That is how they lost their original colours and got new ones.
“Oolle,” Panikame and Teniso whispered. Sukare, Metty-Mahn and Nana-Muni had fallen asleep during the story telling.
Alonaa put his hands to his lips as he slowly crept off the mat he was sharing with the two boys and left to go the village to look for boys his size to play with.