‘JT Must Go’: Tik-Tok claims first PNG scalp
Lazarus Towa: a man of humility & sacrifice

A small issue to sort out - and it needs a pig

'Plis noken pul tait wara long mi.
Please don’t flood me'


Artificial image created by Microsoft Bing

An entry in the 2022 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

'Mi kus pundaun na istap, yu no lukim, mi turangu ya'.  Mama Tolili putim sorre pes na sindaun autsait long haus dua bilong em.  Em holim liklik stik na plei plei long em long graun.  Em ino apim pes na lukluk long pes long narapela mama i kam toktok long em.  Liklik swet nau em pilim ron long baksait bun bilong em.

'Don't you see I am despondent?  I am so poor.'  Mama Tolili put on a sour face and sat outside the door of her house.  She held a small twig and made marks in the ground in front of her.  She could not look up into the face of the other woman visiting to talk to her.  She could feel sweat run the back of her spine. 

'Sorre long mi.  Yu hat hat long wonem!'

She pleaded, 'show some mercy on me.  Don't you insist too much?'

Meneso lukluk igo kam.  Em no bin laikim ol narapla long hauslain luk save long kamap bilong em long hap haus ya.  Em toktok isi igo long Tolili.  'Apo, mi kam askim tasol.  Yu saa've, pik ya mi kilim blo yu ya, mi kam isi tasol na mi askim isi.  Inap long yu bekim ikam lo mi.  Mi gat liklik hevi na mi kam.  Mi no apim maus o mekim pablik toktok na olgeta mahnmeri harim.  Nogat, mi kam isi lo haus b'lo yu.  Yu bekim bek toktok long nek isi na no ken bekim wantaim hat-hat nek.'

Meneso looked around.  She did not want others to know why she was visiting with Mama Tolili.  She spoke in a soft voice to her. 'Apo, my friend, I have come to ask you only.  You remember that pig, I slaughtered for you. I am coming around to ask if you can repay that back to me.  I have a small issue that I would like to sort out and it needs a pig.  I am not asking back for it publicly where everyone can hear us so there is no need for you to raise your voice in anger.'

Sampela ol hauslain lain lukim Meneso kamap long haus bilong Tolili na ol ting.  Meri ya no saa've kam raun lo haus. Em mas igat toktok wantaim Tolili.  Ol i putim aut iau na traim harim wonem samting i kam wantaim tupela meri ya.

Some of the village folks saw Meneso visit with Tolili at her house thinking.  We don't normally see Meneso go visit.  She must have something and it would be good if we put our ears out to listen to know what it was she was visiting for.

'Mi saa've tasol ol pik ya ino kamap orait long mi.  Gaten tu bilong mi ino kamap gut. Nau yet mi tarangu na stap.  No gat wanpla i saa've luksave long mi.'

'I know, but the pigs go not grow up well with me.  My garden also does not prosper.  At this present time, I am in a sorrowful state.  No one in the village recognises my plight.'

'Maski long surukim ekskus.  Yu saa've yu gat dinau, yu mas wok long tingim dispela na lukautim pik.  Yu saa've wok long brukim baksait long kandis bilong plei kas na mi gat tingting olsem yu no givim tingting long bekim pik bilong mi.  Yu bai isi isi istap na ol hevi bilong mi bai kam na go na bai ino gat luksaa've ikam long yu.  Mi bai wetim yu na mi go lapun tu ya.'

'Oh, bother, why do you advance excuses?  You know you have a debt, you must work to settle this debt and raise and breed pigs.  You do spend a lot of time at the kandis to play card games.  I do think that you have no thoughts about repaying that pig debt you owe me.  I will age before your eyes waiting for you to settle with me on that.'

Tolili lukluk igo kam long hauslain.  Em lukluk long het bilong hauslain na tingting kils long em.  Em lukluk go daun long ass bilong hauslain.  Em wainkain ya. Em i saa've nogat mahn or meri bai kam sambai wantaim em. 

Tolili looked up and down the village.  She looked to the top of the village and she was worried.  She looked down the length of the village to its end.  It was the same, she could not identify any man or woman who could come to her assistance. 

Em bai nogat sapot ikam long ol wanpisin lain long mahn bilong em.  Tupela brata bilong mahn ya lusim hauslain na go long Lae and Mosbi wantaim femili bilong ol.  Wanpela sista blong ol i marit nau tasol na em bai no nap long lukautim pik yet.  Narapela susa em kamap rot meri and em mas fokofi tu.  Planti taim em no saa've stap long hauslain na bai no gat pik.

She was not going get any support from the man's kin in the village.  His two brothers had moved with their families to Lae and Port Moresby.  One of their sisters had recently gone away in marriage and it is too soon to for her to be raising pigs yet.  The other was a loose woman and maybe a prostitute.  She does not stay in the village and would not be raising pigs. 

Nau yet tru tru swet i bruk bikpela na em pilim i ron igo daun long ass baret bilong em.  Wanpela sorre i kisim em.  Em tingim mama papa, brata na susa bilong em.  Ol istap antap long ples maunten.  Long hap, pig isaa've gro hariap.  Ol lain bilong em ino saa've painim kaikai.  Ol igat planti gaten na ol isaa've lukautim traipela pik hariap gut tru. 

Now then she could feel the sweat run down the depression of her spine into the split of her buttocks.  She felt so remorse for herself.  She cast her thoughts to her parents, her brothers and sisters.  They were up in the mountains.  Over there, the pigs grew up easily.  Her people did not look for food.  They had plenty of gardens and they would raise huge pigs easily. 

Bikpela asua em, taim PMV bus em lusim em long hi wei rot, em mas wokabaut long lek abrusim faivpela maunten na burukim tri pela bikpela wara insait long tripela dei long go long hauslain bilong em. 

The biggest problem was, after she was dropped off by the PMV bus on the highway, she then had to walk on foot to her village by crossing five mountains and fording three rivers over three days.

Em meri tru tru long bik bus longwe.  Ol papa mama na lain bilong em istap longwe tumas na bai ino nap kamap sambai long em nau yet nau yet.  Tingting tasol mekim aiwara bilong em pulap long ai.  Mama Tolili no moa toktok long Meneso.

She was really a lady from the jungles far away.  Her parents or relatives were too far away to come to her aid now immediately.  These very thoughts made tears gather in her eyes.  Mama Tolili did not say anything more to Meneso.

Meneso i lukim ai wara pulap long ai bilong Tolili.  Em bai ino sorre long em.

Meneso saw the glister of tears in Tolili's eyes but she would not feel sorry for her.

'Apo, mi no kam long yu brukim ai wara long mi.  Gutpla meri, nogat, mi gat hevi na mi mas stretim displa hevi nau yet nau yet.  Em longpla taim igo pinis na yu na mahn bilong yu no gat tingting long bekim pik.  Em klostu tenpla krismas igo pinis nau.  Wonem taim bai yu bekim.' Em nau Meneso apim nek igo antap liklik long toktok.

'Apo, I did not come here for you to run teary eyes for me.  My good friend, no, I have a problem that I have to settle immediately.  It has been a long while and both you and your husband have not given any thought to raising a pig to repay my debt.  It has been outstanding for nearly ten years.  When are you going to repay that?'  At this time Meneso slowly raised her voice.

Wanpela meri wokabout namel long ol haus kam sanap long harim tupla toktok.  Em putim iau tasol.

A woman walking the houses came by.  She paused to hear them talking.

Sumuk kamap long ples paia. Foapela meri stap wantaim lukluk long wanpla kukim sospen kaukau na ol stori na lap istap.

Smoke rose up from the fire place.   Four women were huddled around the pot of kaukau on the fire telling tales and laughing over it.

'Em nau em kisim taim bilong em stret.  Olgeta taim em sindaun-sindaun long kandis.  Mahn, em save tingting long ol dinau na hevi bilong em O.' 

'She really had it bad this time.  Too many times, she sits around at the kandis.  Man, does she ever think about her debts.'

'Sheh, maski tok baksait long meri susa blong yumi.'

'Sheh, stop gossiping about one of your sister wife.' 

'Ah, wonem, mi tok tasol, Mama Meneso kam askim long pik bilong em na yutupela bekim wantaim ai wara.  Pasin sem ya.' 

'Ah, What, I'm just saying, Mama Meneso comes to ask for her pig back and you two reply back with teary eyes.  That is shameful.'

'Sorre turangu long em.  Em nogat wantok na tokples bilong em ino wankain olsem blo yumi, em brukim ples stret long lainim.  Taim yu no inap tokples wantaim narapela, hausat bai yu sindaun na stori.  Taim yu gat wanpisin long toktok wantaim orait yu ken toktok gut na tingting long stretim hevi bilong yu.'

'Sorry, have mercy on her. She has no friends and her language is alien to ours.  She has been struggling to learn our language. When you cannot speak to your own kin and in your language with one another, how will you sit down and tell stories to.  When you have a language kin to speak with, then you can feel settled to hold discussions about your problems and discuss ways to settle them.'

'Hamas krismas yutupela stap hia na noken save gut long tokples.  Sindaun long kandis na pilai kas ino gutpela rot bilong lainim tokples.  Nogat, yu mas saa've olsem long kandis ples yu lainim ritrait long namba tasol.  Em nau, aiwara blo yutupela mas ron na bai yutupla pilim na lainim long lukautim pig.'

'How long have you two being here and have not get the language right.  Sitting down at the kandis and playing cards is not good path towards learning the language.  No, you must know that at the kandis place you learn numbers only. There now, your tears should really flow and that should be a lesson for you two and learn to raise pigs.'

'Oiyo, noken tok, mi tu ai wara pulap.  Mi klostu go pulim rop pik bilong poromeri bilong mi na go givim Tolili rop pik ya.'

'Oiyo, don't say, I too had teary eyes.  I nearly went and pulled a pig from my rival wife and go give Tolili the leashed pig.'

'Eh, na yu ting em bai salim rop ikam bek.  Gutpla meri, rop pik bilong yu tu bai lus nating ya.  Olsem na mi tok, inap long sindaun long kandis na go lukautim gaten and pik.  Meri, yu laik go kisim rop pik bilong meri poromahn bilong yu.  Yu okay O.  Yu sigirap long pait wantaim poromeri.'

'Eh, and you think she will send the rope back.  Good woman, your leash will go to waste and will be lost forever. I say, enough of the sitting at the kandis and go care for your garden and pigs.  Woman, you want to go get a pig from your rival wife.  You okay.  You surely asking for a fight with your sister wife.'

'Mi tok tasol, meri poromahn, noken wari, em na mi bai dro.  Ino nap nambawan taim. Em na pipia mahn bilong em, tupela saa've pulim pik bilong mi planti taim.  Em bai wanpla taim tasol sapos mi go pulim rop pik bilong em.  Sapos tupela laik bekim fait, bai mi brukim tupela ya.'

'I am just saying, my rival sister wife, do not worry, she and I can face off in a challenge.  It won't be the first time.  She and that stupid husband of hers, they are always pulling pigs off me plenty of times. It will be one time only that if I go and get a pig on a leash from them.  If they were to retaliate in a fight, I will take them on.'

'Na despela mahn bilong em, Marakus raun long we?  Em ken go dinau pik long narapela lain na bekim pik bilong Mama Meneso.'

'And the husband, Marakus, where is he?  He surely can look around to borrow a pig that they can repay Mama Meneso with.'

'Mama, wai na taim ol hauslain kilim pik, ol saa've givim mipla hap gris tumas tasol.  Ol mahn takim pik, ino isaa've givim yu hap mit pas long em.  Mi harim olsem ol tok yu no saa've lukautim pik na plei kas tumas na stap long kandis ples olsem na ol ting mipela ino fit long kisim hap wantaim mit.'

'Ma, why is it that when the village kills a pig, they give us the greasy parts only.  Those men that share the pork in the village give you portions that have no meat on it. I hear the people say that is because you do not look after pigs but spend so much time at the card games and the kandis, we do not deserve any meaty portions.'

Tolili harim toktok na krai long pikinini bilong em mekim.  Em mas harim ol sampla lain tok baksait long em.  Bel bilong em pen long em luk saa've pikinini i harim ol hauslain tok baksait long em.

Tolili heard her daughter's lament and wept over it.   She must have heard some people gossiping about her.  She felt it in her soul to know that her child did hear the village gossip about her.

Tru ol ino gat hauspik na ino lukautim pik.  Ol mahn long hauslain husat saa've long tilim kaikai, luksaa've long ol lain bilong lukautim pik na putim long ples klia.  Ol saa've olsem ol lain lukaitim pik bai kamapim pik long stretim ol toktok long hauslain, en nau orait ol saa've givim ol lain olsem, gutpela hap bilong ol tan pik.

It was true they had no pigs or a house for rearing pigs.  The men in the village who share food recognise those that care for pigs and put them front and centre.  They know that look after pigs will bring a pig to settle problems in the village therefore these type of people were deserving of the good meaty portions of cooked pork

Tolili silip tasol tingting i kilim em gut tru.  Em mekim na em ino slip gut.  Man blong em, Marakus tu ino kam bek yet long Lae.  Sapos Marakus go askim ol sampla lain long dinau pik, em bai orait tasol, long em, em pilim hevi liklik.  Tru tru ol hauslain gat luk saa've olsem em no gat hauspik na ino saa've long lukautim pik.

Tolili had a troubling night.  She could not sleep well thinking about what her daughter had said.  Her husband Marakus has not come back yet from Lae.  If Marakus went out to his kins, he probably would borrow a pig. She had unease and just did feel uncomfortable as the village knew she did not have a house where she could raise pigs.

Long ples bilong em antap long maunten, em i gro up wantaim baksait bun bilong pik olgeta taim.  Papa saa've givim em mit tasol.  Papa mama igat bikpela hauspik na planti pik.  Em kam marit long narapela tokples mahn na em kamap turangu long pik.   Pikinini tu ol laik kaikai mit pik na ol less nau long kaikai gris pik.  Em tingim olgeta taim ol hauslain mahm saa've givim or salim gris pik long ol na tingim kross long em yet.  Sorre oh. 

In her village up in the mountains, she grew up with the backbones of pigs in the house after a pig was slaughtered.  Her father would have given her the meaty parts to the pork.  Her parents had a huge pig's house with a lot of pigs. She unfortunately married out into another place with a different language and she is living a sorrowful life for lack of getting good portions of meaty pork.  Her child wants to have meaty pork and is fed up of these greasy bits.  Tolili reminisced about all the time the village men gave them the greasy bits and she was angry with herself.  How sad that was.

Em tingting tulait tulait na em slip.  Taim kakaruk i brukim tulait, Tolili kirap na kisim bilum bilong em na aiwara pundaun taim em wokabaut lusim hauslain and pikinini.

She timed herself for the first rooster crow.  When it crowed, she woke up, picked her bilum to begin her walk.  She shed tears leaving the village and the child. 

Pikinini gel, Tolina kamap long haus wantaim wara konteina.  Em lukim Aunti Mama Mary long dua na em putim traipela amamas smail.  Ibin klostu wan wik nau mama Tolili i lusim haus long traipela monin tru.  Em i no kam bek na Aste Papa i tu lusim haus.  Em bin tok em go painim mama.  Aunti mama mas bringim sampela kaukau long em. 

Tolina went out to fetch water.  When she returned with the water container she saw her Aunt, Mama Mary outside her house.  She put on a big smile for her.  It had been a week now since Ma left.  Ma had not returned and yesterday Pa left to go look for her.  Aunty must have brought her some kaukau.

Tasol Anti Mama Mary ino bekim smail.  Na tu em i no kisim kaukau ikam.  Nogat, em tok isi isi tasol long Tolina long kisim sampela senis bilong em wantaim blanket na pilo.  Bai tupela igo long haus bilong em.  Papa na mama bai no nap kamap hariap.

But Aunty Mary did not return her smile.  She did not have her kaukau too.  Instead in a soft voice asked her to get a few of her clothes and her blanket and pillow.  They were going to her house.  Her parents will not be returning soon.

Tolina lukluk long pleit blong em.  Em lukim wanpla hap mit long istap wantaim kaukau. Papa bilong em, Marakus i no mekim wanpela toktok.  Em nambawan taim em lukim mit long pleit bilong em.

Tolina looked at her plate.  There was a portion of pork meat on it.  Her father Marakus did not say anything about it.  It was the first time, she sees a pork meat in her plate.

Em kaikai kaukau tasol; em ino tatsim mit ya.  Em i klostu taim tumas long wonem, mama i lusim em taim em bin komplein long gris pik.  Ai bilong pas liklik wantaim ai wara na em klinim wantaim hahn bilong em.  Nau yet bel bilong pen wantaim traipela sorre long mama.

She ate the kaukau but barely touched the meat.  It was too soon to be eating pork meat after her mother had gone because she complained about greasy pork.  She cleared the mist that gathered in her eyes with her hands. She really missed her mother.

Taim papa igo painim buai, Tolina kisim pik mit na karamapim wantaim lip banana. Em putim long bilum na toromoi ai aut long dua.  Em avinum na liklik mum antap long kalaut i kamap.  Em weitim ol pikinini lusim pilai bilong ol na go nambaut long haus bilong ol.  Taim nogat moa pikinini istap aut em lusim haus bilong em wantaim bilong bilong em.

When her father left to go looking for buai to chew, she took the meat and wrapped it up with banana leaves.  She placed it into her bilum and watched the door.  It was dusk and a quarter moon was up beyond the clouds.  She waited until the last of the children had stopped playing and moved into their houses.

Mun nau pilai wantaim klaut na ples i lait liklik.  Ol mambu sanap arere mekim ples i tudak.  Tolina pilim poret i kisim em tasol em kisim strong olsem mama istap klostu. Em sindaun na pilai long retpela graun.  Em ronim hahn bilong em na apim ol lus giraun na mekim graun level gen.

The moon was now playing hide and seek with the clouds and the moon lit up the place a little.  The bamboo bush nearly made the place a bit darker.  Tolina felt scared but she set it aside knowing her mother was nearby.  She sat down and played with the red soil.  She ran her fingers through the soil and dug up a little and then levelled it out again.

Em kisim mit long bilum na putim long graun ol apim.  Em toktok long mama.

She took out the meat from her bilum and placed it on the raised ground.

'Mama, yu bin salim mit long mi O?  Papa givim long mi tasol mi les long kaikai.  Yu saa've mi no bin saa've kisim mit.  Mi saa've olsem yu lusim haus taim mi komplein long giris pik.  Mi no min long yu lusim mi na go painim mit blong pik.  Na tu yu no bin toksave taim yu go. Mi laik tok sorre long yu long yu lusim haus.  Mi laikim yu kam bek.'

'Ma, did you send me the meat? Papa gave it to me but I did not want to eat it.  You know that I have never had pork meat.  I know you left the house after I complained about having fatty pork.  I did not mean for you to leave me and go look for pork meat.  I want to say sorry to you for leaving the house.  I want you to come back.'

Kol win bruk long nait na Tolina pilim kol na em guria liklik.  Em pusim poret bilong em igo arere.  Em pilim olsem sampla lain i stap klostu na was long em. Em pulim hahn bilong insait long meri blaus bilong em long lukautim em yet long kol. 

The cold night breeze broke through the night and Tolina shivered.  She shoved her fears aside.  She felt as though someone was near and watching over her.  She pulled both her hands into her blouse to keep herself warm.

'Mama, mi kol ya, yu toktok.  Bai yu kam bek O.' Aiwara pundaun na em krai aut.  Em putim het igo daun long retpla graun.  Aste tasol em lukim ol diggim dispela graun.

'Ma, I am cold, you say.  Will you come back?'  Tears fell when she cried out.  She put her head down on the built up red soil.  It was only yesterday that she saw them dig up this soil.

Mama i no bekim toktok.

Ma did not reply.

'Mamaaa! Yu bai kam bek O?  Yu kirap na tokim mi ya.  Pik em wonem, em ino gutpla samting.  Mi laikim yu bek.  Olsem wonem, yu laikim mi no gat mama.  Mi tok promis long yu.  Mi no nap komplein moa long mit.  Mi mekim promis mi no nap moa kaikai pik o ol narapela kain mit O.  Yu kirap nau long bokis ol putim yu na kam bek long haus wantaim mi, ya.'

'Mamaaa' Will you come back? You get up and tell me.  What is pig meat, it is nothing.   I promise you, I will never complain anymore about meat.  I also promise you that I now refuse to eat anymore pork or any other type of meat.  Please, mama, you get up from that box that they put you in and come back to the house with me.'

'Mama O! Mama-a, yu kirap ya.' Tolina pulim long diwai kruse ol plainim long het blong graun ol bungim na ol plaua ol man bilasim long hap.  Em slip antap long matmat blong mama and em tanim tanim slip.

'Mama! Mama-a, you get up.'  Tolina pulled at the wooden cross that was fixed into the ground at the head of the gathered soil. She rolled around over and over amongst flowers that were there on the grave of her mother. 

Taim papa i painim em sampela taim bihain, em tu brukim traipela krai stret.  Em kaikai tit stret, em pilim liklik nogut tru long liklik pikinini meri, krismas bilong em sikis yia tasol na em mas wokabaut klostu twenti minit igo kamap long ples matmat.  Em patim bros bilong em long sorre pasin long em painim Tolina i silip antap long matmat bilong mama bilong em.

When the father found her after some time, he too broke into a wail.  He gnashed his teeth feeling grossly inadequate that his six year old daughter can walk the 20 minutes to the cemetery.  He beat his chest in sorry to find her asleep over her mother's grave.

Mama i bin kam bek long ples bilong wantaim tupela pik na taim em brukim wara, bikpela wara i pul tait na kisim em igo.  Ol bin painim em tripla dei bihain.

Ma Tolili had been returning with two pigs and while trying to ford one of the flooded rivers, it had swept her away.  They had found her body three days later.


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Lindsay F Bond

Another good one from Mr Bina.

And tribute to PNG Attitude for showing support for PNG writers. Never to be underestimated is the reach and value of communication, engagement and understanding.

In that context, readers might also 'lukim' the Ples Singsing website.


Baka Bina

Thank you KJ. Please note that this as published here is what I would do when crafting the story.

The final product would be separate complete stories - in this case two versions but I have others with three versions: (1) Tok Ples, (2) Tok Pisin and (3) English.

And that is where my troubles begin.

We have words and expressions that, when loosely translated, lose some meaning and some nuances and do not translate well into the other language.

This is the case with the English translation of the title 'Please Don't Flood Me'. It should read, 'Please Don't flood On Me'.

When that word 'On' is inserted, I would have thought the meaning in the Tok Pisin title would have carried over to the English version of the title.

I am not sure if it conveyed the context in the village as to the reason why the mother had to leave the marital village to go back to her maiden village.

The flood of gossip at a particular time about her lack of pig rearing skills had got the better of her to make the perilous journey back to her village and, upon returning, her demise by being caught in a flood.

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