Raiders of the night moon

Baka B. Bina works at the Supreme and National Court at Waigani.  He is Voluntary Organising Committee of the Crocodile Prize Competition. Mr Bina writes and contributes lots for writing competitions.

His book called, Man of Calibre won the 2015 Ok Tedi Book of the Year category.  Some of his writings are published in the Crocodile Prize Anthologies.  Mr Bina is a published author and some of his titles available on Amazon’s e-books and Kindle.

Below is a piece he wrote:

When the moon shines the village comes alive when children have fun. A short story. 

 It was written to submit to the Bridport Prize but since we in Papua New Guinea could not pay entry fees by electronic means the story was not submitted and is reprinted here for you to enjoy.

 It is now part of anthology in the soon to be published – Musings of Sogopex.

Raiders of the Night Moon by Baka B Bina

 The moon was slowly coming onto the mountains. The rays streaming through the wall of Casuarina trees surrounding the hauslain were enough to light up the village square.  In the centre of the line of houses towards the centre bottom end of the village a game of kalabus was in progress.  The moon picked the whites of ashes that were used to draw two big circular rings in the ground.   The rings placed twenty metres apart with a small square attached to one side of the circle.  The rings were called the haus and the boxes to the side called the kalabus.   In a type of tag game, the opposing players would be caught and locked up inside the kalabus and then the other side would then try to free their member in it by tagging them or they too were caught and ended in the kalabus.

If a person was in the haus, they were safe but if they were outside, they would be caught brought or held in captive in the kalabus of the other haus team.   The team could just about run anywhere along the length and breadth of the village and could be caught by anyone last out of the haus.

Outside her house the old woman Lapun Ihene had a fire going and the smell of her cooked kaukaus permeated the surroundings.  She pulled the kaukaus out from the ashes of the fire where she had them baked and placed them beside the fire.   It was her special Opume kaukaus that had the beautiful aroma which whiffed around the children making them hungrier than they were.  She was making it a show scrapping off the hard burnt skin of a kaukau and patting the same around so that the aroma whiffed over and around her fireplace.

She had quite a big pile and the children looked at her wondering who she was feeding when she lived with only her granddaughter. Alungo surely didn’t eat all that pile of kaukau.  You could be sure as hell some of the children were making plans on how they could get Alungo to get the kaukau for them to share or to create a ruckus near to the fire in a pretext to steal a piece on the growing pile.

Every now and then she was cursing and reprimanding the children from running close by her fire. She was one with a constant reminder that one of these children could kick the embers onto one of the houses that were tinder dry and could catch on fire easily.

‘You kick the fire and the embers into those houses! Do your parents have the resources to replace and fix the house that gets burnt? Ghahali’q!

‘Shoo with your running next to the fire.’

Most of the houses in the hauslain were made of bush materials:  kunai for the roof and split pitpit or bamboo for the wall.  Some of the houses were rectangular following an imitation of houses built on the coastal provinces but most were the traditional round houses.  It looked like a cone placed on top of a circular corralled-in fence.

In another house further up the hauslain, Iveghulo was already trying a few notes to his bedtime songs.  It was his way of telling the village that he has had his supper and was getting ready for bed.  If the village cared, they should follow suit.  The children made jokes following his few trials – why waste a good night holed up in a house when the moon was up and about.  Somebody a long time ago had substituted his name with the English equivalent – Crying Dog and some ribald words were thrown his way about his fine tuning of his songs.

This started a hocus pocus of bouts of laughter among the children.

 IveghuloCrying Dog had a habit of singing a few songs to bed down the village and then let in the silence to settle them down for the night.  Then at some ungodly hour, he shocked and woke them all up – at the first crow of the rooster as if his internal time clock ran on the rooster’s time.  The big boys in the village always tried to find ways to pot the rooster and to see if they could throw Crying Dog’s internal time into disarray.  The rooster who somehow always got to know the scheme of the boys would find new perching places each night. However it’s favourite was the guava tree behind Crying Dog’s house.  Crying Dog also knew of the boy’s yearning to pot the rooster and he did his best to thwart any attempt.   Man and Rooster teamed up each day to continue their singing and, as they did every day, they stopped at precisely five a.m.

The hauslain children never knew why these two did that but it was a good excuse for them wake up to get to the creek to wash for school.  A few mothers, if they never woke to the cacophony of noises from Crying Dog and his rooster back up, woke up after the singing dingdong stopped to hastily cook their children’s kaukau for breakfast and lunch.

What the children didn’t know was that this was just about the time when the morning chill moved up the gully and exhausted itself at the cluster of the bamboo at the top end of the village. It was in the oracles of the village that the time was when the cold of the earth prepared to leave and when the warmth of the air came to occupy the earth. Then the masalais who were nocturnal returned to their house from their daily night flights during this time and Crying Dog stopped singing so as not the disturb them.  He only sang during the moon nights and not on the nights when it was rainy and miserable.

When he sang during the times of no moon, it was the Homasi songs and the children were told not to disturb him as he was singing songs of worship of their forefathers.  One or two children who enquired why the tone and tempo were different, got a slap on the ear. Homasi songs were to be revered and not disparaged.

The singing at this early time of the night was good for the children as they could do their laughing and crying and making of children’s noises.

 Lapun Ihene was always admonishing the children about the mi’vena.  She said their crying and hollering in the moonlight was sure to bring these mi’venas closer to the village.

Mi’venas were spirit women who lived in the wetlands and creeks and had long hair and big long susus that they threw over their shoulders.  They had dry patches in the wetlands where two or three of the mi’vena would sunbathe and preen each other’s hair.  They were always on the look out to catch some wayward child that they could adopt.

The children lived in fear and awe of these mi’venas and Umalisimo and Muson spent a considerable time looking for these women of the creeks and wetlands. It was all in vain though.

For now in the village, in the protection of the hauslain and adults, these thoughts mattered less. The children were being children and they hollered without fear of disturbing this spirits.  They knew that Crying Dog’s singing ensured that these masalais and mi’venas never came around near to the village and, regardless, nobody, especially thanked him for that.

The children always tried to test his level of patience. They teased him to no end.  Tonight, one or two of the brave children would find a way to put in a thing or two that will make Crying Dog come out of his house and put an end to all their fun.

Most game nights Crying Dog suffered the jibes of the children. But then there were the nights when the jibes got the better of him and he came out the mad dog he was. He said it disturbed his peace of the night.

The children didn’t complain when he sang to disturb their peace. But they broke up anyway. On the worst of nights, Crying Dog came out with his bow and arrows, then that was serious and the children ran skitter scatter putting an abrupt stop to a good game.

In the house down at the bottom end of the hauslain, Manna took out her ropes for making bilums and decided to go house visit with Alunoso. Alunoso was going to teach her the latest twist for making bilum.

Umalisimo had skipped dinner for the kalabus game.  Ma Manna made sure that his food was covered and put in the usual place where he would find his food.

 Alunoso’s three children had been fed and two of the elder ones were out in the village. The youngest was sleeping after Alunoso had done her best to tell her of Seksie and the Climbing Bean – her version of Jack and the Beanstalk.  There were very different versions in each household and each night too.  Tonight’s version was Ve’né Alungo and the Assbean Rope with the Lapun Ihene for the mother.

The bigger children were indifferent to these activities in the village. In one kalabus there were three children from the other team caught and standing tag team-like facing towards their own house.  The prized tin was still in the middle, skewed towards the top end house.  At the other house, there was one girl in the prison.  The red team had three members eyeing the prized tin and scheming about how they were going to release their three members.  Usually there would be one member standing guard over the kalabus. But right now in the blue team the four members were huddled in their own scheme.

Suddenly, the team broke apart and scrambled to meet the incoming who made a pass to tag the end member of the prisoners. The incoming was cut off but he ran on followed by a chaser.  The last one out of the house was always the attacker and the first one out the defender.  Umalisimo was now the defender.  He had been the attacker but his position had changed.

He shot past Crying Dog’s house pulling at the rafter-end-timbers sticking out of the eaves of the roof.   Inside, Crying Dog who was pausing after a long winded song shouted out.   The disturbed cinders on the rafters spangled down in flotsam.


E‘gge, who was that child out there!’   Who is that stupid child wanting to play games on the house?’

He turned around in his blanket.

Tokowa-ma-ne! Take it away! How dare you want to play games, iselova gholosa!’ His gravel gruffy voice shouted angrily from inside the house.

Umalisimo tried to run the language through his head and smirked at the result. Some products of bad copulation, bad children, take the games to your own bushes!’

Whoops and hee haws ran amongst the children playing in reply to the curses as they came flying out of the house and at Umalisimo’s best English translation.  That was going to bring Crying Dog out of his house.

Umalisimo ran back skittles around the attacker with a right feign and for an added shot made another pass on Crying Dog’s house and on the same rafter timber, he had pulled to break his speed and shoot off in another direction.

The chaser ran – slam into the wall of the house.

Hai’iie, Iselova gholosa, gopa moniki ghetan`e, which out of wed-lock child was it this time? Who was that?’

He hollered, shaking off the cinders that fell on him in clumps the second time. He coughed out the ones that landed in his face and he sang out his anger loud and long, bastardising the children outside again repeating that the children were a result of bad copulation.

The children drew power and made more cringing appreciative noises in answer back to him.

‘The bastards – gopa moniki getane!’

‘Whii–ii ii haha!’ Shouts rang out from the children from wherever they were along the length and breadth of the village.

These further riled him. Other times he’d be comfortable on his thin dirty mattress and would not have the urge and the energy to get up to get the bow or to get out after the damned children.

This time, this night, it was different.

Crying Dog threw the old blanket off and sprang up from the bed, his old bones making creaking noises as they snapped into positions. He put his hands over to the side of wall and touched the bamboo receptacle that held his arrows.

The imps were trying to pull down his house. Their parents did little to help him build the house and their ungrateful children now saw fit to play on his house.

He fumed as he pulled down his sheath of arrows and pulled down his bow from the hikise, the straddle holding up dry firewood.   He was fuming mad now.  The pull on the timber and the slamming into the wall was one act that rattled him to the bones.  He tried to string the bow inside the house but the palm bow refused to bend and he abandoned it.

From the side, he pulled out his bird bow, the one made from bamboo stem. He pulled out ten bird shots – gisupos, and looked for the heaviest one.  He toyed with the fighting arrow but that was going to be a matter for the courts if he shot one of the imps.  A bird shot would stun and perhaps get under the skin of the target – well if he could see clearly who he was spearing in the moonlight.

Umalisimo was all smiles as he scooted back behind the houses and darted back into the ring house – safe for now.  He sat panting and hearing all the smart remarks and rebukes about him setting off Crying Dog.

The chaser was knocked out a bit and she straggled back to her ring house.

Riding on the praise of his haus, Umalisimo shot out again when he felt something zing into his trousers.

‘Mama’ and he fell flat on the ground.

‘Whiihi- ii haha, there, I’ve shot you!’

‘Which child did I shoot?’

The shout was enough to send mayhem into the night and everyone went skitter scatter, hollering in all direction.

‘Whii haa!’ They challenged as they shot out of sight.

Two girls heard the zing and saw Umalisimo go down in a heap. They swarmed in to pick up the shocked Umalisimo and half dragged and half carried him down the length of the hauslain.

‘Umalisimo has caught an arrow, Umalisimo has caught an arrow.’

 They regrouped out on the tracks leading out of the hauslain to a cluster of soft bamboo where they deposited Umalisimo.  A quick frisk showed that the arrow had not caught flesh.  They heaved a sigh of relief and waited for the rest of the children.

Two other boys made a pass at Lapun Ihene’s kaukau pile and ran off with quite a few of the choicest selection.

The motley group of children from both camps sat down to catch their breaths and laugh. They looked at the gisupo still stuck in Umalisimo’s baggy pants.  They were relieved that there was no blood pouring out of the trousers.  They were relieved also that the spear was not a palm head on the fighting arrow.  These two other arrows could have different results. Someone had found a container and produced cool fresh water from the spring stream below them.  They were all noises trying to outdo each other retelling how they outwitted Crying Dog.

In the village, there was a rumble of loud motherly noises, with all of the mothers trying to drown each other out, trying to find out which of their children was shot.

‘Can’t you understand, your children are trying to pull down my … my house.’

‘What good house are you talking about, you shot my son!’

‘What child are you talking about? You ask how we copulated to bring on these children!  Ha, you want us to tell you the sordid details, ah!  You are looking for words to say, don’t you?   Oh, thank you for nothing.’

Lapun Ihene put on her own screeches about her missing kaukau.

‘I need my kaukaus back.’

‘Oh stop worrying about kaukaus. Anyway, whom are you trying to always feed with all those kaukau and it was a bedlam of noises; one man against the whole hauslain of mothers and women.

Manna was heard taking it on with Crying dog.   She was seeing red at him for spearing her son.

‘You spear my son. You’ll tell me how many men you have shot. I would have thought that you were part of the back of houses.   Wey! Let me see my son first and we’ll talk more about that tomorrow.’

Mothers were screaming at Crying Dog and Crying Dog’s deep voice rang in defiance at the village women who asked for their children to be left as children.

‘Weren’t you a child before?’

‘We are told stories of you teasing old Ghumove. You forgot about that past of yours.  You forgot that as a child you stole his cooked kaukau from under his nose and you forget that you were as a cheeky as a child.  The very thing you did, these very children are doing now.  And when they want to enjoy being children and you want to spear them. E’gge, somebody wake up that old man Ghumove and we’ll have him spear you.’

Haha, getting old Ghumove out from his grave was funny. That was something that happened a generation ago.  Some husbands were telling their wives his childhood cheekiness.  Yeah, that was him.  He forgot about all of that but these stupid children are playing on him.

‘Listen, you are a ghahali’q.  Wait till we see that child and you’ll make good reparations. A ghahali’q has nothing and we know you are worse than a ghahali’q! From whence will you make the reparations.’

The children had Umalisimo sitting mug in the middle with his trophy of gisupo and baggy trousers and looking for an escape route if needed.  The bamboo cluster near Ve-lamino’s ridge gave way to a small cliff and onto the path that led to the water spring.  If Crying Dog were to follow them they could jump off into the thick bush.

Umalisimo took great pains to try to see if he could find his wounds in the moonlight. He moved his hands to look at his wound.  There was nothing.  The bamboo arrow head had embedded itself into Umalisimo’s tattered trousers.  Luckily for him, he was wearing a baggy two sizes extra jean chorded shorts so it was caught on without nicking into his skinny legs.

If Crying Dog had not made as much noise as he had fired that arrow, nobody would have known if he had indeed fired an arrow and Umalisimo would not have any idea that the arrow was embedded in his shorts.

For good measure, the children started a bonfire using dried bamboo stems and leaves. Umalisimo released the rope that held up his trousers and the baggy shorts dropped.  Lucky for him, he had a boxer of sorts – another cut jeans inside.  There was no bleeding.

They laugh at Umalisimo’s discomfort and then retold what had really happened to get Crying Dog out of his house with his bow and arrows.

‘Oh, I pulled at the rafter pole twice and Sa’sae ran smack into the wall to get him out of his house.’ There was snickering of laughter all around.

‘Yeah, that was stupid of you. You know us girls cannot run as fast as you boys and you tricked me into slamming into the wall of the house.  I came away really counting more stars than being exhausted.’  Sa’sae shot back.

This time they all laughed loudly and screamed in joy and the noise permeated the village night.

That silence into the village as it indicated nothing serious had happened.

Crying Dog made a parting statement as he went into his house.

‘Stupid children, now let me not hear you lot in the village again tonight. Take your games to the road or somewhere to your own areas.  You all come back and this time you will get a real arrow.  I tested you and your mothers with a gisupo and your parents do a little wee wee in their stinky old smelly purrpurr.  We’ll see what a real arrow will do to you all.’

The women retreated into their own homes grumbling and throwing disparaging comments to no one in particular …‘like when you shot your arrows at the enemy in a fight… and stingy comment like he who walks in the shadow of houses.

‘Okay you talk about our purrpurr; we’ll see what you will pay from out of your dirty malo wrap up that had not been washed in a decade.’ Another woman shouted out with glee and was joined in by several other women giggling at the fun of the statement.

The children did not hear Crying Dog’s threat and were indifferent to his statements. They started a song and sang as loud as they could, adding a few lines that tarnished Crying Dog and his rooster.

Those who were lucky to be sitting next to the kaukau thieves were glad to share a piece of kaukau that Lapun Ihene had lost to the ding of the night.

Then the rebukes started coming on strong in the songs as they children improvised and changed words to good songs.

Goodman, whose house was the last in the hauslain and nearer to the singing children, shouted his displeasure that they were going to burn down his new bamboo cluster.  Goodman was the anglicized Ve-lamino.  The children had anglicized all the men’s name in the village and used these new names as a code to get out of trouble.

They broke up after a few more good songs and each child, as quietly as he could, returned back to his or her home.

Umalisimo and Muson held back. They also tried to hold back Rip and Van. But these two felt they had had enough for the night and they trudged off. These boys knew that Muson meant more excitement and perhaps more trouble for the night which they didn’t want to be involved in.

Yeah that was right. Muson had a wonderful idea to exact revenge on Crying Dog.   He had spotted several rows of peanuts in Crying Dog’s garden.

They were going to raid the garden. This was going to be sweet revenge for the arrow shot.

Muson as always, was always prepared for the night. He didn’t believe in masalais and mi’venas.  He took them on.  He was tall for his age and towered over most of the boys including Umalisimo and it was debated that these spirits thought he was an adult.

Leaving Umalisimo at the side of the garden beside the pitpit fence, Muson ran low in the drain to the peanut plot. There were ten rows of peanuts and Muson ran up and down the rows selectively pulling at the plants here and there so that the crime was not easy to spot.

Umalisimo was hastily separating the peanuts from the plants so that they could only take the peanuts only. He was bagging them into a bag.

The moon went behind a cloud and for the first time, thoughts of masalais and mi’venas crept into his mind.  These spirits lived in dark spots and the pitpit cluster could be one.  He turned around and looked hard into the dark clusters.  His hair stood on end.  He didn’t like the prospects of a mi’vena pulling him by the scruff of the neck into one of these clusters of dark spots and … and adopting him, not especially if she was going to have two huge long, long susu that she’d throw over her shoulders.

Umalisimo was having goose bumps and cold sweats and he nearly jumped out of his skin when Muson crept up on him with another large bundle of peanut plants. Umalisimo was now shaking in real fear.

Somehow he got the secondary notion that the garden owner would happen upon him. Umalisimo did not know whose garden they were raiding as this was not his normal sphere of roaming places.

‘Whose peanut garden are we raiding? Umalisimo whispered in a shaky voice.

For an answer, Umalisimo flashed him a shining set of teeth. Umalisimo looked at the shining spangle white stars as they reflected off the moonlight.

‘I’ll tell you later. Now let’s hide the plants’.

They had no time. The next instant they were running for their lives as arrows flew overhead in quick succession followed by a booming voice.

Between ducking arrows and gasping for air Umalisimo could hardly ask if that was Crying Dog. But he did think woops, why, we just then did we raid Crying Dog’s garden?

His trousers came loose and he held them up in one had as he ran.

Muson had taken to running within the shade of the pitpit strands that were the fence line. They scrambled as arrows came flying after them.  One whizzed over Umalisimo’s head and he ducked down to hug the ground.  He laid squat, panting hard on the ground and now the scare of the night slowly gripped his legs.  He could feel his knees turning gooey.

Muson had pulled up in front and then reversed to pull Umalisimo by the scruff of the old tattered black shirt that somehow was his favourite. Muson now rendered a huge tear in it. He hauled him to a squat position and both looked over to where they had run from.

Then good fortune came upon them. They heard Crying Dog making noises towards the other end of his garden.  It seemed to them that there was some other person who had had the same idea as them who had shot out from some part of the garden and Crying Dog was now chasing after that person.  This time he was making so much noise that one would have thought that he had caught the culprit.

Both boys ducked under some pitpit that had fallen over which provided them some cover as they pulled their loot together. Muson had run with the peanut bag and, looking at it, he realised that half the contents had fallen out.  He debated whether to go looking for them. They could still hear Crying Dog at the far end of the garden.  Muson squeezed his arm to reassure Umalisimo and ducked out of the covering.

Umalisimo watched and, as the darkness engulfed Muson, he stood up and prepared himself to run. He tied his loose trousers and crept out of the shade, this time on his haunches.

Then Muson came back quick this time and they left the covering and skirted along the edges of the fence and moved through Umalisimo’s mother’s garden.

The garden had three types of peanuts: the traditional type, the gheya-gheya that spread out on runners and had the nut packed in real tight to the shell; the white European peanuts, his favourite, and the Markham peanut, named after the place near the coast where the seeds had come from when they were introduced to the highlands.

A digging stick was needed to dig out the gheya-gheya peanut, so he let them be. Umalisimo’s mother had harvested the white European ones – which left the Markhams – his least favourite, as the only option. If the planting was right, the Markhams gave bountiful cropping.  He knew, however, that since Ma had not harvested them, the cropping might have been bad.  He pulled out a plant and, when they checked the pods, they were soft, indicating that the peanut plant did not bear well.

AS they stood there discussing whether they should dig up more Markhams, they heard Crying Dog’s voice carry across the ravine from the village. He was talking to Komiti.

‘Oh, Komiti oh, those stupid boys went and stole my peanuts and I was trying to spear them. I think I must have shot one.’

‘Oh I heard your screaming out at the big garden. Do we know the children?’

‘No I don’t know. But it is my suspicion that it was Muson and his little disciple Umalisimo. I’m sure I recognised Umalisimo. But I am not going to his mother’s house now to check on him.  I speared him earlier and I may be wrong to believe that I did put some sense in him.  I will not get past his kranki mother tonight.  It is that Muson that I want to check out his house.  I was checking first on you to see if you had already gone to sleep.’


‘I heard you chasing someone towards Sogopex. Are you sure that you don’t want to check on Umalisimo.’

‘No, I want to check that tomorrow because I think I really did spear a small child. He ran towards Lapun Anupato’s cemetery.’

‘Oh! Now let me get a teapot on the fire. You go and check Née for his son and come here.’

He was only murmuring to Komiti. But, in the quiet of the night, his voice carried over onto the garden on the other side of the small dale and both boys scrambled into action. They took the bag of peanuts and threw it over the fence into a patch of lopoha grass that was their favourite hiding place.  They then ran down to the marsh and, as best as they could, walked through the mud to the back of Muson’s mother’s house.

They pulled up under the strong bamboo patch and used the dry bamboo leaves to wipe and rid their feet off any mud. Muson had built a small dog hut for himself and they both got in as quietly as they could.  They were trying to get comfortable when there was a call from the front of the house.

‘Née, if you are there, can you check if your boy is there. I shot a boy and am scared that he might die in the bush tonight and I am not looking forward to trouble.’

‘We’-eh, what are you saying?’, Née asked as she undid the door to her house and came out with her hurricane lamp. She moved to the small hut and rapped on the wall calling her son.

‘Oh boy, what trouble this boy goes through.’

‘Nama Ghoholo’, she called her son. Nama Ghoholo was beautiful bird probably a Bird of Paradise.

‘Nama Ghoholo, are you in here or what?’ She rapped on the blind wall.

As she called in, three boys moved to the door sheepishly, their face covered in sheets. Raymond had been sleeping in the house when the two boys arrived.

Née took one look at them and starting berating Crying Dog.

‘Eh man, you want to start accusing these boys of stealing. You see that they are in bed.  You should have slept in and then, tomorrow looked for the culprits.  That is some wild accusation you are throwing around.  There is Muson and Raymond, now who is this other boy, Pouwo!  When could they have gone to steal from your garden?’

Ne’ e called Umalisimo by his pet name ‘Pouwo’ but Crying Dog left the yard at least knowing that Muson was home.

The moon on the downward trend sent in a sliver of light straight through the open door into the house. Komiti looked at Crying Dog. Crying Dog had his head down, deep in troubling thoughts.  What folly has he committed now?  If that arrow he fired, if it had struck Umalisimo, that would be two arrows in one night.  It was enough to start a third world war in the village.

Another thought came to his mind. The person that ran from his foot went with a swooosh.  It was too fast for a normal child.  He had heard of other kids in the area, perhaps a dwarfy hikoi, a papa graun, one of those friends of the mi’venas … yeah, a masalai or the host of other night things, he was not going to imagine what calamities that will come fall on Crying Dog.

Crying Dog too had stopped thinking about what calamities he had brought upon himself. He could not continue the night.  At last he raised the cup and downed the last of the cold tea.

Komiti had had many encounters of his own with the hikois of Laheko.  His coffee garden spanned two ridges and he still grew a lot of trees, so it was only natural for the hikois to live in the shade and darkness of it.

There had been that one time not long ago when they had tied him up after he took a nap while picking coffee. If only it had not rained, he’d have spent the night out there with them.  The rain woke him up only to find that his hands and feet had been clumsily tied together and beside him were three full bags of coffee cherries.  He reasoned that for whatever mischievous reasons, the hikois had tied him up and then picked his coffee and they had three bags full of cherries.

At first he had thought that his wife and children had played a trick on him. When he asked in the afternoon, his wife had spent the day in town at the markets and his children had gone to the big river with the other village children.  They had not given him and assistance in the coffee picking and nobody had tied him up.

He knew he was tied up and somebody picked his coffee. He killed a pig and did his luso waso then to keep his spirits back.

Only last month, these mi’vena dwarfs took care of his pig for a couple of days.  The particular pig had gone away with the rope that it had been tethered to.  It had rained heavily continuously for a couple of days making it impossible for him to go searching for the pig.  When the rain stopped, he and his wife looked everywhere for it.  They could not find it and they were about to give up.

But then his wife found the pig. It was in a very dry spot sitting with a smug smile and was as cozy as a tame pig. She would have thought that the pig would squeal and yell for food.  Instead it was a sated pig with a smug smile.  What his wife found disconcerting was that in the wet ground around the area were lots of foot prints belonging to a lot of small children. This was immediately below the area of Lapun Anupato’s cemetery, a hallowed area where no adult went on their own or alone to, let alone children.

Crying Dog had listened. What was Komiti trying to say?

A cold sweat formed on his brow. Mi’venas were something he did not like to discuss.  Did he shoot a mi’vena or a hikoi? No man saw a mi’vena or a hikoi and lived long and he thought that he might have shot one tonight.

He had been reminded of the story of Sukuluho. He had caught a mi’vena and had gone crazy.  He had become a wild man, spending his days in the creeks and under bushes – places where the mi’venas dwelled.  They said he was smitten by one of the mi’venas

He did not want to spend his days doing the same. He would now have to do the right thing with his only pig and do that bamboo puripuri and luso waso. He was going to appease these things tomorrow.

Crying Dog walked out the door without bidding goodnight or morning. Komiti could read his worries on his backside. Crying Dog was going to spend the rest of the night very restless.

Ne’e put in more firewood as dawn approached. The rest of the night after Crying Dog had left was all howls of mii-mmii’s.  The last time she had heard these night noises was when Halavo had shot what he thought had been a pig.  Halavo nearly died after that.   They did all that bamboo cooking puripuri and luso waso to get him back to his proper self.  She wanted answers from the boys.  What did they do to disturb the mi’venas?

Umalisimo sat up all night looking from where in the small hut was a hikoi going to creep into the house.  The mii-mmii howls had been going on around and under the house all night long.

He turned over and over in a cold chilly sweat remembering the one night he and Muson had nearly caught one of these things that calls out mii-mmii’s.  They had spent a night out raiding from the big gardens and had decided they were also going to spend the night under the grass.  They were huddled together trying to sleep under a stock of lopoha grass when the mii-mmii thing walked past a few centimeters away from Muson’s head.  Muson had thrown a bag over it and caught the thing.  He had grabbed it and the thing gave him the biggest blow to his face and he now has a chipped teeth.  The mi’venas were real.  Muson says that, for a small thing, they are very strong.

Tonight these things were agitated over something and were all over them under and near the house.

Umalisimo was not going to go back for the peanut bag.




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