Fahim Dashty - pioneer of Afghan press freedom
Undelivered contracts cost PNG billions

The story of Marcus, the firewood man

Paul Wii and friend
Paul Wii and friend


FICTION –The boy sat there under the perum tree, dusk’s fading light casting a grey shadow across a landscape now silent.

Marcus Yalgomia cried tears of pain, misery and heartache, it was if the floodgates of the gods had been thrown open.

There was no way he could hold back the tears. And there was no one around to see him cry.

As the sun’s last rays danced down beyond the Digine Range, he wiped away the tears, got to his feet and slowly walked to his grandmother's house on the crest of the hill.

Marcus Yalgomia’s father, a Lutheran elder, a sogan, had raised him to be respectful and hard-working. As the only son in a family with four girls, much was expected of him.

Marcus had recently completed secondary school but had not won a hard-to-get place in a tertiary institution.

So the village was where he belonged and Marcus was not unhappy, he loved his village.

He wasn’t sure what it was that had possessed him lately. Now, sitting beside the fire in his grandmother's house, Marcus reviewed the day.

There was not much to review. Earlier, he had shared a joint with the usual maryjane group beside Bomai Nule creek. That was about it.

He was a drug body now. Everyone in his village saw him as the errant son of a sogan, a lad who had become a nobody.

Each day while his dad dutifully served, Marcus smoked marijuana.

The following morning while walking aimlessly just outside the village, Marcus saw a woman bending to collect three small branches beside the track.

The firewood collector was the wife of the Pentecostal pastor who had come from elsewhere in Simbu to work as a missionary in the village.

Marcus’s heart went out to the wife of the pastor from beyond. They were three poor twigs. If that woman were in her own village, she would get the best firewood, the best of everything.

He felt a sense of hopelessness and sorrow. Here’s a missionary family from outside, doing God's work in my village, and I feel unable to help them.

That night, as he lay on his bed, he thought about his feeling of uselessness.

"I am a drug body. I have no reputation in the village. I have no money. I have no house and bona gana. I have no bank account.

“Which is all true. But I am a landowner. I have my bush and my forest….”

That was when Marcus resolved to do something for the pastor and his family. He would invite them to accept firewood that he would bring from his forest.

For the next two years, Marcus supplied firewood to the pastor and his family.

And he executed this act of kindness in secrecy.

No one in his village, apart from the pastor and his family, knew what Marcus was doing.

The day came when the Pentecostal pastor completed his term in Marcus Yalgomia's village and with his family returned to their home.

One day, about five years later, the pastor was working in his garden back home when his phone buzzed with a text message.

‘Pastor God bless greetings all the way from St Louis, USA.’

His fingers dirty with mud, the Man of God replied, ‘My firewood man I am so proud of you’.


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