Below are the five best short stories entered for the Short Story Category of the 2017 Crocodile Prize Competition. The numbers of the short stories entered for the 2017 Crocodile Prize Competition was low compared to the previous years. But the quality has been outstanding. The story lines and characters were better developed. The stories were better organised so the build-up to a climax were deliberate and entertaining. The emerging writers have also come from a more diverse background. Electricians to carpenters and Literature students of the University of Papua New Guinea and more. Several of these are first timers who do not identify themselves as writers. The following titles below were the selected short list of the winners after the long process of filing, culling and judging. Only one more process is left, that is: Selection of the overall winner among the 5 winners as identified by the judges.
When the Cattleya orchid bloom, the petals remind me of watercolour on paper. Translucent layers, flow the streams into each other. Lights, waiting to burst in unseemly angles. The orchid’s veins like fine ice crystals are so delicate that it bruises to touch; such a complete contrast to its thick leathery dull green leaves.
Inside, many secrets are kept. But who is to know…
When you are up close to a Cattleya, there are so many things to look at and the mind can play tricks on you. I get lost in the ‘skirts’, the twists of the lines, and ruffled ends of its petals that tilt like a Latin dancer’s skirt. Sometimes the ruffles can look like bird feathers.
It is not hard to see a Latin dancer stretch her legs and throws the ruffled hem back, leaving the wind and the music to take her. Round and round in her twists and turns until the last note, a high-pitched violin is played to bring her home.
That note is also the mosquito humming in my ear as it bites me. I know I am staring at the orchid under the tree outside my house. Show is over.
Inky the octopus didn’t even try to cover his tracks.
I loved this story so much I had to blog it.
By the time the staff at New Zealand’s National Aquarium noticed that he was missing, telltale suction cup prints were the main clue to an easily solved mystery.
Inky had slipped through a gap left by maintenance workers at the top of his enclosure and, as evidenced by the tracks, made his way across the floor to a 15-centimetre-wide drain. He squeezed his football-sized body in — octopuses are very malleable, aquarium manager Rob Yarrall told the New Zealand website Stuff — and made a break for the Pacific. Read more from Karen Brulliard in Washington Post.
Kaz the rainbow lorikeet visited last week. It may be something to do with a new scale-breasted lorikeet that has moved in a week ago. Initially Kaz and friend came to check out the new bird and then returned almost every day. Each time, Kaz’s conversations are getting longer.
Some of you know Kaz, who was abandoned and we raised him. He has returned to the wild and found the partner (pictured) and has lived away for two years, but often comes for a family visit. It was nice to see Kaz and listen to his long conversations in between his treat of honey and bread. How I wish I could understand his stories because often he gets excited while talking and dances around in a circle and flaps his wings.
Our night visitor never left. The long-horned beetle entered our house on Sunday night and was flying around crashing into everything and everyone. My son took it outside, but yesterday I found it alive and under a floor mat.
The brown/reddish native beetle from the Cerambycidae family (according to Queensland Museum) was supposed to live in open forests and woodlands throughout Australia. It has been accidentally introduced to many overseas countries where it is a serious pest in eucalypt plantations. The white, legless larvae of this beetle bore under the bark of recently dead or sick eucalypts lives for several months.
The beetle is 15–30 mm long. This one in our house was at least 45 mm long. This species has a dark-brown, elongated body with a pale band and spots at tips of wing-covers. The reddish antennae is much longer than the body. When I photographed the beetle yesterday, it was very aggressive. I returned it to the woods.
“We are doing it for Allison” is the video produced by family and friends of Allison Baden Clay to call on Queensland people to support a rally this Friday in Brisbane.
Already, the media is expecting thousands of people in Brisbane to join the Allison Baden Clay rally to challenge last week’s court decision to down-grade the murder conviction of her husband, Gerard Baden Clay – to manslaughter.
All Brisbane residents who are against domestic and violence against women – are asked to meet at 12:15pm, King George Square on Friday, 18 December.
Some of my readers may remember the story of the mother-of-three I posted on this blog in August. Her body was found at Kholo Creek, Anstead on July 2012. This creek is less than five minutes drive from our house.
At that time, her husband had already told police he did not know of her whereabouts. Baden-Clay, 45, reported his wife missing in April 2012 and her body was found 10 days later. During the trial last year, he denied killing his wife. There is a lot of media coverage of Allison’s death and you can read the ABC timeline on the events of her death. Gerard Baden Clay was found guilty on July 15, 2014 and convicted for murder. He was serving that sentence until his appeal and the court’s decision last week to give him a lesser penalty.
Allison comes from Brookfield, one of several local communities in Western Suburbs and our family property was bought from Baden Clay’s real estate business over four years ago. Please share this post and if you can make it – see you at the rally.
I have not thought of creating art from gum bark until this season.
In the past month, the gum trees (in Bellbowrie, and other parts of Queensland) have shredded their bark, leaving behind beautiful trunk colours. Surrounding each shedding trees are barks of different shades and density, giving the trees, a kind of carpet or stage to show themselves off.
The gum trees look so striking I decided this year to collect most of the bark around our house to try using its dyes and mulch the bark for my garden. The easiest way to break the bark was to leave them out in the rain to soften and then line our driveway, so everyone can help ‘mulch’ the bark for me as they drove up and down each day. It has been almost three weeks of bark-driving. The mulch is ready, but what I did not expect were the beautiful shapes and colours the bark pieces would make. I hope you like this selection I photographed with my phone. I messed with a few of them using an App called Paper-artist.
Currently, the case of the Yam Hole (Ambisi) is an ongoing dispute amongst our people in Wagang Village, Lae, Papua New Guinea. The national government is negotiating with the villagers to build a large fisheries wharf on my village. Wagang is a small coastal village less than 20 minutes drive to the heart of Lae City. This is the story about the site of the proposed development which is referred to as Ambisi, or the Yam Hole. The Yam Hole is my family’s inheritance, but due to foul play, the authorities have been negotiating with other people who have claimed to own the land referred to as the Yam Hole. With the permission of my Uncle Ahe Max Mambu, I am proud to tell you this oral history and a story about the Yam Hole as told by my late grandmother Geyam Baim to me. This story was told to my grandmother by her mother Geyamtausu Baim and her aunt Awelu Hampom. In one of the flash fiction stories I wrote in Monday’s Finish the Story, I made a reference to this story in Scatterings of the Blood River (Budac) and how a child was discovered.
My grandmother told this story almost every evening and in between other stories after our dinner. When I was 15, I presented the story of the Yam Hole to a large crowd of Lae City residents in the Lions Club Youth of the Year awards. It was in 1980. I represented Busu Provincial High School in the Lions Youth of the Year challenge. In the competition, an outstanding student was picked from all high schools and tertiary schools to give a five-minute original speech of cultural significance. After a gruelling week of interviews in an elimination process, the final test was to give a five-minute speech in front of business houses, leaders, and distinguished guests of the Lions Club (a large charity organisation) in a 3-course dinner event.
That evening, I borrowed a batik skirt, a white cotton blouse and a pair of sandals from my high school principles’s wife. I did not have anything of such quality and was specifically instructed that it was a high society gathering and I must not even wear slippers. Most children owned a pair of slippers or jandals, which we wore to school. None of my family members had any fancy clothes, let alone shoes of any kind. Despite not having anything smart to wear, my family was excited because I would make this speech about our ancestry. I tried to practice my speech in English because in Bukawac, I knew it by heart. It was after all, out family history.
My speech, although based on the Yam Hole and our family’s oral history; featured my great-grandmother and her sister and how they fought the white men/Australian administration and German missionaries to settle and remain in our village. The two sisters were not prepared to give this land away because it was fertile, had clean drinking spring water and completed with two large rivers circling the entire village portion of the land. Part of this land is where Lae city sits on and part is where our village is.
The Lions Club evening was also the evening I learnt to use knife and fork at a table for the first time. Each finalist Lions youth was sat at a table consisting of dignitaries and business people. Our conversations were also marked. I sat in my ‘borrowed’ clothes, the wrap skirt feeling too tight. I struggled to keep the slightly larger sandals on my feet with my napkin still on my lap while I carried on what seemed to be a normal polite conversation with very important strangers at my table. In front of me, on the huge white dinner plate, I tried to elegantly spear my dead cooked half-chicken while it gracefully danced on this huge white plate. I remembered, how crowded the table was with no room to move. It had too many flowers, candles, cutlery, glasses and people, while the food on the huge plates were in very small neat quantities. I could not really tell you which was scarier; the conversation, avoiding the glasses on the table, using the wrong cutlery, losing my borrowed skirt or shoe or catching and eating the dead chicken on the big white plate without getting any of the sauce on my white cotton borrowed blouse from the principle’s wife. I was very hungry, but I had to keep calm and keep it all together until I told the audience my oral history about the Yam Hole.
Miss Pacific Islands – Papua New Guinea, was crowned last night in front of a packed audience at Crowne Plaza Port Moresby.
Abigail Havora, age 24, is a Biology-Chemistry graduate from the University of Papua New Guinea. Miss Havora works for Oil Search Ltd. She is also a feminist and, an advocate for youth. Miss Havora was sponsored by the Pacific Balanced Fund. In her spare time, the bio-chemist devotes her time to The Voice Inc, a dynamic youth development organisation and the PNG Cancer Foundation.
“My intent is to bring a message that strengthens the bridge between culture and the changing times so young people, especially women, are more aware of what they are contributing to, and the type of influence they are exerting. I am passionate about making a difference, which may come across as a broad statement, but my personal motto is to – leave the place better than it was.” Miss Havora said.
Miss Havora is from Gulf and Central parentage, She will represent PNG in the regional quest, the Miss Pacific Islands Beauty Pageant in Cook Islands later this year. Abigail was one of six entrants in the pageant this year.
More on Miss Pacific Islands Pageant PNG – in the next post.
November is a very busy month for our family and usually it is full of celebrations.
My niece Joycelin Kauc, (picture with my mother) celebrates her 17th today (Nov 10th) in Lae, Papua New Guinea. Happy Birthday!
We celebrated Chris’s 17th birthday last Thursday, 6th of November. We will celebrate Nathan’s 20th birthday on November 16. People ask me how I have managed to have my sons in the same month and on the 6th and 16th. I used to joke that it made it easier for their father to remember their birthdays. I also had many other answers of course, but my favourite response is, they were both Valentine’s Day babies. Let’s leave it at that.
In this picture from last Friday, we did not plan to, but we all wore grey the morning of Chris’s birthday. Families do, do strange things sometimes. I enjoy most things in life and am very grateful for them, but I must say, being a mother is my ultimate achievement – especially when I see my sons grow into good people.
Chris’s girlfriend Leela Rashid (below right) joined us in a breakfast celebration before school. At birthday mornings, I rise early to cook a pancake tower and dress it with as many sweets as I can. This time, two of us were on diet so we had to settle for strawberries, blueberries and light cream.
Chris will graduate from high school next week and I have a few small projects to finish up, so I will take a short break (a week) from this blog and respond to any comments when I return next week. Thank you very much for reading Tribalmysticstories.