Tales from Faif by Baka Barakove Bina with contributions from Emily Sakepe Bina, Amazon KDP Edition, December 2020, $5.00, link here to purchase
PORT MORESBY - Such is life for me that I have published my last three books (Antics of Alonaa, Volume One, Musings from Sogopex and Operesin Kisim Bek Lombo) just before the end of a year.
The result is that during the festive season announcements about them usually get pushed to the side and there are no fanfare.
Looks like being the same for my latest publication, Tales from Faif, now available from Amazon KDP using the above link.
The book is a collection of 10 short stories and three reconstructions of legends - a total of 13 short stories in all, three of them not previously published on PNG Attitude or on my Facebook page.
My Facebook ordeals are covered in this book. When I first tried Facebooking at the beginning of the year, I found it time consuming and addictive.
I would wander around reading the entries and by the time I finished, time had flown. I was looking at pictures, nothing educational. If anything, it was all un-educational - unfortunately a lot of misinformation.
One lady using the pseudonym Talita was posting misinformation and conversations were being drawn out from this misinformation.
Talita should have done some research first but other gullible readers read her misinformation as truth and the conversation then became funny. Funny in that the pseudo-Talita believed her misinformation was correct and she stood her ground.
I tried to correct some of this misinformation but after my few attempts got glossed over by people wishing to trade in misinformation, I decided it was best not to try again.
Then Covid struck and all the negativity it generated…. boy, you could literarily see the smoke coming out of Facebook and mobile phones.
Next there came a quiet corner in all that smoke and end of the world gloom. The Poetry PNG Facebook page got lambasted by much inspirational and emotive poetry.
Asi Onzem brought the best tears out of you and Jordan Dean made you want to smack the wall or person beside you.
I tried poetry but it wasn't my cup of tea.
The big thing is we had people out there willing to write. What we need to do is channel that desire to write into writing better prose, be it poetry, essays or stories, including capturing our traditional tales, songs and legends.
With such thinking in mind, I issued a dare on Facebook for anyone to post stories that were not all doom and gloom.
But I could not issue a dare if I was not prepared to respond to the dare myself.
So I answered my dare with the Cry Me a River series of stories.
The first of these stories was triggered after I heard an old man from a resource rich province trying to talk on the phone.
He had the volume up loud and the person he was talking to was yelling and the old man was yelling back. He was not concerned that there were other people in the room.
The loud conversation was in their Tok Ples. At some point a person commented, “Don't they know how to speak quietly. Imagine if someone posted him porno noise.”
I took it from there, my imagination running wild about a lauto (elderly) person having a porno experience on Facebook.
It was enough for me to write the four-part series I titled Cry Me a River.
I wrote it in the first person so, while I had people thinking it was a true story about what had actually happened to me, it was really my imagination running in the other direction.
Another themed series I wanted to write were stories around the subject of pineapples.
I have included two of these in this book, My Brother's Marbles and Smoking Pineapple Pipes, the latter not been previously published.
I hope to write some more pineapple-themed stories in a future anthology. If that sounds strange, you’ll just have to buy my book.
The four other short stories in the book are not part of a series. They are on themes I have mulled over during the last few years.
Hanging Balls was submitted to the Commonwealth Writers contest for its 2020 competition but did not get a mention.
There are two short stories on the theme of use of language, Tear Up Your Tumbuna Stories and Lost in Transition. I believe you’ll find them amusing – or even better.
After listening to a recording of Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in a TED talk entitled The Danger of a Single Story, I agreed with her that I would like to let the world know that people like us, Papua New Guineans and Pacific Islanders, do exist in literature.
In this TED talk of July 2009, Adichie expressed her concern for under-representation of various cultures in literature.
She explained that as a young child she had often read American and British stories where the characters were primarily of white origin.
Under-representation of cultural differences could be dangerous, she said.
"Now, I loved those American and British books I read. They stirred my imagination and opened up new worlds for me.
“But the unintended consequence was that I did not know that people like me could exist in literature.”
We as a country must work to get our legends, songs and stories written down and published so that people like us can exist in literature.
To further give power to this statement, Emily Bina is a contributing writer in Tales from Faif with two legends, The Bird Wars and Getipolo's Curse.
In The Bird Wars, she examines the process for getting legends transcribed and published. The process is spelt out in the story.
Emily is mindful of time. All our gatekeepers in rural areas, who knew and told our stories, are ageing fast and dying before we have the opportunity to capture their stories.
I am asking my country people to try to make sure we capture of much of our own culture in written literature as we can.