Treasured Rubbish: Island Stuff

My cousin Greg returned to Papua New Guinea with his family after six years in Brisbane. It was a sudden decision and he wanted his family to move back with him to assist with his new business. Greg’s wife and children packed up the house and left yesterday morning on the flight to the capital, Port Moresby. We were all very sad. Greg and his brother Bob’s children and my sons were all about the same age and they enjoyed growing up together as a family. It was the same with us, their parents. We were close.

For the past two days, I had gone to cheer up my cousin sister-in-law Ufi, Greg’s wife while she packed. Yesterday we shared food, cups of tea and lots of stories as she started cleaning. I helped her with some tenancy documents and returned home late.  The next day, after the family had left for the airport, I returned to the house they had rented about 3pm, to tidy up, remove rubbish and pick up some hand-woven mats and coconut brooms from PNG that Ufi had left for me. These were treasured items and knowing how valuable they were, my sister-in-law left her old ones for me.

On arrival, I saw a truck parked and loaded up to the brim. Two men, one Pacific Islander and the other, a Caucasian, I was not sure where he was from, were loading furniture and everything they could get. Then they tried to tie it down with ropes.  Greg’s wife had told me she sold some furniture to a Samoan. She had said, the buyer was coming to pick up the three pieces of furniture, but, these two men loaded everything.

The Islander (Samoan) asked who I was and if I had come to pick up things I bought. I told him I was family and I had come to clean and pick up my Pandanus mats and coconut brooms.

“I can’t find them, they were suppose to be here in the corner”, I said looking at him.

After some hesitation, the man said, he had loaded the brooms and mats. I wanted to laugh but I kept a straight face. I knew these were old and used. The mats were ripped. I looked at him and smiled.

He went to the truck and unpacked the load. He found and gave me back the brooms and the two mats. He asked, embarrassed,  if he could keep the mattresses and the other household items and I told him, he could keep them. He explained to his friend, he had to return the “island stuff”.

I thanked them and explained that the brooms and mats were from PNG and I could not let him have them because they were hard to get into Brisbane, Australia. The man knew the quarantine process for importing such items would have been horrid. He understood. I felt sorry for him because as an islander himself, I knew he would have been so excited to find these treasured island ‘rubbish’ before I had arrived on the scene and ruined it for him.


3 thoughts on “Treasured Rubbish: Island Stuff”

  1. A lovely little story, tempered with the sadness of parting. I know how your sons must feel. My two cousins emigrated to the U.S.A. when I was young and it is very sad to say goodbye to people you know so well. I love the little tale about the Samoan with your treasured mats and brooms.


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