Category Archives: Writing Stories

Two Songs for One Opening


J.K.Leahy memoir stories ©

“I have a song”, I told my mother over the phone. The regular 30 minute costly international call between PNG and Australia started with muffled voices. And then, depending on who had used her phone, my mother came on when the phone was passed back to her. Sometimes Mother had to find a good spot to get the best reception. And sometimes her voice changed and I knew other ears were listening. Not all will be discussed, some things will come in the future conversation.

“Hello Ma. Are you there?”

Someone is talking in the background and she is telling them to be quiet. I smiled at myself as the picture of her room flashed in my head with the village dogs barking in the background.

“Hello!”

Family discussions and on-going feuds took up the 30 minutes so quickly. As creators of art and music, my mother and I had agreed on many occasions that we would rather sing and ‘stori’ then exchange on family heartaches. Telling stories about happy occasions and things we enjoyed often took up between ten to five minutes of the entire call.

“What song?” my mother responded.

“A song for the church opening”, I replied in Bukawac.

My mother is the village composer and musician. Not me. I am a dancer, creator of crafts and beautiful things and a fisherman.I cal also catch eels but not my mother. And Mother is not a dancer so Tinang, my grandmother and my aunts taught me. My mother did not teach me to compose nor play instruments, but we still sang together. If I wanted music – she played Skeeta Davies and Jim Reeves and Elvis. She also played her flute.

“Which opening – our village one?”

We sang every day in the evenings with my grandmother when she was alive. There was a ten-pact short biblical songs we sang at dusk. They were my favourite. If we sang at home in the village, all my aunts joined in. My mother returned to the phone after telling someone to close her door.

“Do you want to hear my song?” I said.

“Yamandu? (Really?)” she said.

“Yamandu!” I repeated. That means “true”. I wanted so badly for her to focus and listen my song.

In Wagang Village, all families were asked to contribute to the new village church opening. This was last Christmas. Monetary contribution was at the forefront of this event. In the past when I was growing up, each family whether they were crafts people, hunters or fisherman would be invited to contribute what they had, made and grew. Not anymore. Money was first.

“I may not have enough to give to the church so I wanted to gift a song,” I said. That sentence went to a silent respond. I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. I suspected it wasn’t what she anticipated. Perhaps there was more to the silence that I wasn’t aware of.

I let the silent pass. In the background I heard my sister scolding my nephew. I didn’t want to ask my mother why my sister was doing that.

I had composed this song one afternoon at my studio. It just happened. And tonight was the first my mother heard of it. She probably expected me to just send some money. She waited for me to explain.

“I will sing it for you Ma,” I said in Bukawac. “I had composed this song for the opening and you and your sisters can sing it on our behalf”.

“Okay” she said.

The church project was instigated by the provincial government in Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea. The villagers had been waiting for a church for over three decades. The first church was built by the people themselves – each family contributed the materials showing their craftsmanship through handwoven walls, brackets of pulled and dried rattan, carved seats, and hand sewn sago palm leaves. It was a church none of us growing up with it would ever forget because of its aesthetic beauty and the fabric of a cohesive and supporting community sewn together. In time the church building deteriorated. The maintenance did not happen. The relationships in leadership, the respect between the elders and the younger generation became difficult to maintain and the cohesiveness slowly came apart. Termites slowly and quietly menaced their way into what was left of the handcrafted building. It was sad.

“Ma! Are you there?” I asked her.

“Mnem!” (Sing!) she said. I gathered my thoughts. I was only singing to my mother, but it suddenly felt like I was about to face a grand stand with thousands of people.

My mother is known in our family and the community for her music. She was the composer of original songs and songs she translated from different languages into ours – Bukawac and Yabem. Her music contributes to the Lutheran church for openings, ‘sam katong’, large church gatherings of multiple congregations, and many village events. She was a trained muscian. Germans during the colonial era taught her flute, guitar, harmonica and singing at Bula Girls School, not only did she get trained by Germans to nurse, but also to sing and play numerous instruments. The flute was and still is her favourite.

“It’s called “Conversation with God,” I gave her the title. “It’s between God and I,” I said.

“Mnem!,” mnem ma au wangu”, she said. “Sing! Sing it so I can hear it”, she said and although she softly spoke, I detected the excitement in her voice.

“Ae ngoc geng masi, ae ngoc ming masi, ae gameng gebe yagung yawing aom.” (I have nothing, no words, but I came to sit with you).

I sang the first verse and chorus and then stopped and there wasn’t a single sound from the phone. I wrote the song in Yabem. This was the ‘church language’ like many church hymns – they were in Yabem. I learnt this language by listening to my mother, her parents and two brothers speak it to each other. My grandfather was a teacher and most of his teachings were in Yabem. My late Uncle Kwaslim mostly communicated in Yabem – it was his favourite language.

“Mama! Mama!” I called into the phone.

“I’m here”, she said.

“Did you like the song?”

She was very quiet. Then she said, “It’s beautiful! I don’t know what else to say”.

Three months later my mother tells me that she also composed a song for the opening and she sings it over the phone to me. It was very beautiful – but that is another story.

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(If you like my stories, please share them). I thank you all for being here. If you’re new to my blog – welcome! For all my friends who have been with me for a while, I appreciate you and I want to sincerely thank you for your patience. I have been away for a long while and working on other projects. I will share the news here soon.

Sir MeK Has Died


It is very sad for me personally and as a Papua New Guinean to share this story here and I hope that it will get to those that have known and loved Sir Mek. Sir Mek was a great leader and person. Many as I are fond of him. I had the honour of knowing him and his wife Lady Roslyn during most of my professional years in media, politics, and the private sector. In 2017 when I returned to PNG he had agreed and opened my historical first PNG female fine arts exhibition in Port Moresby. I was extremely grateful for his time and know many people will have their own stories about Sir Mek.

Credit: This story was published earlier in “Papua New Guinea Today” and I’m glad I could share it.

Mekere Morauta KCMG

The Member for Port Moresby North-West and former Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta has died. This was announced by lady Roslyn Morauta in a statement. 

“It is with the deepest sadness that Roslyn and James Morauta announce that their much loved husband and father, Sir Mekere Morauta, KCMG, died peacefully in Brisbane on Saturday 19 December.

 BIOGRAPHY  – the Rt Hon Mekere Morauta KCMG

Mekere Morauta was the first graduate in Economics from the University of Papua New Guinea.  He became a Member of the Papua New Guinea National Parliament in 1997 and was Prime Minister from 1999 to 2002.  From 1997 to 2012 and 2017 to 2020 he held the seat of Moresby North-West in the national parliament.

Prior to entering politics, Morauta was Secretary for Finance (1972-1982), Managing Director of the PNG Banking Corporation (1983-1992), Governor of the Bank of PNG (1993-1994), a company director and successful businessman.

As Prime Minister, Mekere Morauta is credited with initiating significant constitutional and economic reform.  In 1999 the Papua New Guinea economy was on the brink, with government finances in disarray and a currency that was spiralling to inconvertibility.  Morauta devised and led a rescue package, which stabilised the economy and the budget.  Key institutions of state were strengthened, and important reforms were introduced to the financial sector, especially in banking and superannuation, and to the structure and workings of the public sector.  Constitutional changes were also introduced which brought stability to politics in Papua New Guinea and laid the foundation for the orderly development of political parties.  

As Minister for Public Enterprises from 2011-2012, Morauta re-set the primary focus of the Independent Public Business Corporation, concentrating on strengthening it to undertake the important job of rehabilitating the state-owned enterprises.

After retiring from politics in August 2012, Sir Mekere was appointed by the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum as the Eminent Person to review the Pacific Plan.  The report was published in 2013.

In 2012 he was also appointed Chairman of the Papua New Guinea Sustainable Development Program Company.

In 2017 he re-contested for Parliament and won the seat of Moresby North-West.

Sir Mekere was born in 1946, in Kukipi Village, Malalaua District, East Gulf, to Morauta Hasu and Morikoai Elavo. His father, Morauta Hasu, was a leader of the Toaripi people of East Gulf, a Local Government Councillor, and Deacon of the London Missionary Society (later United Church). He was prominent in the Cooperative Movement for the Toaripi Association.

Funeral arrangements will be advised at a later date.

Hello Friends


Thank you for being so kind and patient with me on my Tribalmystic Stories blog. It has been a life changing year for all of us.

I wish you all a safe and Merry Christmas and a better, hopefully more normal (and what’s normal these days?) year in 2021. Even if we keep asking ourselves this question, I’m very hopeful and I hope you are too.

My sincere condolences to those that have lost loved ones during this horrible period with COVID19. May peace, blessings and love touch your hearts. What is looming will continue to affect us all and we go into the uncertainty once more as we head into the new year. Writing is a beautiful way to soothe the mind and feed the soul. I love the places I visit when I’m creating and writing stories.

I pray there will be more loving, kind and understanding between each of us. We are all in this together. To my old blogging friends and subscribers, yes, I’m back to the blog and I will be making art and teaching art right here on WordPress so we can reconnect if you are still around. I welcome any new subscribers and thank you in advance. I’ve written enough to get a book out of the memoir stories, but there is more writing yet… (and that is another story). I look forward to your spirited comments and discussions on my future posts between now and going into 2021. I feel it will be a powerful year. Let’s commit to what makes us happy and treasure every moment of now.

This is a brief post to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for your continued support. This image will be the banner for my new creative learning blog and website. I’m close to launching and will run the blog simultaneously with my Tribalmystic Stories blog. Wish me luck!

Mine pollution at Basamuk Bay… We warned about it 10 years ago


via Mine pollution at Basamuk Bay… We warned about it 10 years ago

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Please visit my wantok and colleague Scott Waide’s WordPress blog to read the story and watch his documentary “Uprooted”.

The documentary touches a particular personal situation in my own village, Wagang, in Lae, Papua New Guinea.

The PNG National Government is currently preparing for two major projects to go through our tiny village, Wagang ( also known as Siapia) in Lae Morobe Province. One of these projects is the proposed tailings (pipeline) from Wafi Golpu which will affect the six Ahe villages. My mother will lose part of her front yard at our family home to the main village road; expanded to cater for the development. If you read previous posts you will find stories about my village and our land.

Waide’s documentary gives a visual context of what is allowed into PNG and continues to happen at the cost of development by our own government. I hope “Uprooted” will be watched by those landowners that are affected, so they can speak up for what is theirs before it’s too late.  I also hope those greedy ones in government, provincial government or landowners themselves that believe that they have the ultimate authority to sell out cultural and tribal land for a few bucks can see the devastation it can cause in the future. Land in Melanesia is an intangible heritage and belongs to all in the family and tribe. Noken lus tingting long ol tumbuna bilong yupla. Graun ino samting nating.

*Remember your future generation. Land is not nothing.

 

Mayor Mayhem – Short Story J.K. Leahy


Hi friends, here is another 500-word short story I submitted (for fun) to the Fast and Furious Fiction with Queensland Writers’ Centre (QWC) Please comment if you enjoy reading it. Why did I use this plot? I have been following the turn of events in the Papua New Guinea politics when this prompt came out in QWC’s challenge and having worked in a political office in my past life – I couldn’t help but come up with this approach. I hope you enjoy having a chuckle.

The challenge in May was: the first word must have eleven letters. The story must have the words, “maybe, dismay, mayor, mayonnaise, and mayhem and at some point in the story, someone or something must be running.

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Mayor Mayhem

Accommodate. We were all advised at Mayor Bob Rhode’s campaign office last week that every volunteer must accommodate any challenges – to ensure our favourite candidate wins the elections.

I pulled a salmon blouse over my denim skirt. I had volunteered to assist with campaign administration. I heard a knock. It’s nine o’clock on Friday morning, May 3. From the bedroom, the street looked deserted. Josh my husband was in construction – he often left a tool or his hard hat behind and rushed home to get it. I picked up toys on my way to the front door.

Mayor Rhodes, 50, was a happily married father of two who built special swimming pools for disabled children. He recently extended Bellbowrie’s Bucher Park for the community to take refuge from the rain. Our community loved him.

I opened the door and was surprised.

“Good Morning Mayor.”

“Did Jessica tell you I was coming?” he asked smiling. “You seem surprised?”

“Maybe… Jessica forgot.” I stumbled. Jessica Simmons was his secretary.

“Can I come in?”

“Yes, of course,” I said and led him to the lounge. “What’s this about?” I asked.

I’m 25. My 30-year-old husband told me that I was naïve. “Honey, men look at those blue eyes, your gorgeous breasts, and slender legs, because they want you. Be careful!”

The mayor wore a red sports jacket, his campaign T-shirt and casual slacks.  He said he wanted to discuss some strategies for the campaign.

“You are a perfect campaign leader – a smart, young, and beautiful mum. Voters respond to that,” he said.

“Would you like coffee?” I interrupted.

I left to put the kettle on. A blue sedan, not the mayor’s official car, was parked metres away from our entrance on 55 May St. I was anxious. Our five-year-old Jessica was at school. After being at home for five years, Josh had suggested last week I volunteer in the Mayor’s campaign and learn new skills.

I returned to the lounge with coffee and biscuits. Mayor Rhodes had removed his jacket.

On the coffee table, he laid papers and a bottle of mayonnaise. He pointed and said my campaign area were marked with pink highlights. He stared at me and paused.

“Do you like mayonnaise?” he asked softly.

I sat down with his coffee.

“Yes, I like mayonnaise, but what’s that got to do with the election?”

He took the coffee and set it down, then he leaned forward and touched my hands – he was so close, I pulled my hands away.

He quickly rose and unbuttoned his slacks.

“It won’t take much time,” and as he looked in my eyes he said, “you are so beautiful Daisy, I couldn’t stop thinking about you since you walked into my office last week.”

I gaped at him with dismay. All I could see was the headline, “MAYOR MAYHEM ON MAY ST.”

Suddenly, a car screeched to a halt outside; footsteps were running towards us.

“Honey! Daisy! I forgot my hard hat.”

Art – J.K. Leahy Watercolour


A quick introduction to new followers on the blog and some who may not know that apart from my curatorial work and writing I’m a practicing artist. While I was away from the blog, I painted. My favourite medium is watercolour. I also draw with pencil and pen. If you follow me on Instagram (tribaldiva), then you have seen some of these work. Here are two recent paintings I completed as part of a weekly art challenge with a New Jersey artist friend, Akil Roper.

Most of my art from the 2017 solo exhibition, “Beauty Within” I had held in Royal Papua Yacht Club, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, can be found on my website www.joycelinleahy.com. That collection concentrates on people, places and things that have inspired me about the beauty of my country. The artworks are all for sale – both originals and limited edition prints. Some originals have been sold, however, you are welcome to email me on joycelinleahy@gmail.com. Please let me know in the comments if you like these and share them if you want. I will be showing more art here in the future.

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“Easter” Watercolour 640gsm

 

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“Owl For Nathan” Watercolour 640gm

 

 

 

Hello Again!


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Palau dancers. Pic. J.K.Leahy.

Dear friends,

I have taken a very long blog holiday; the longest since I first started blogging four to five years ago. I have had several art projects I needed to complete and I needed to spend some time on my book, health, and my family. During this time, I’ve received wonderful emails from many of you. Thank you. These emails have deeply touched me, and made me feel that my writing on the tribalmystic blog means something to all of us. To blog daily will be difficult at this time, but I’m very happy to return and work at posting two to three articles, stories or documentaries and pictures per week and when I can.

Thank you so much for your patience and continued support. You being here with me and sharing our stories means a lot to me too. In my culture, we dance to celebrate important events – coming home to this blog is worth dancing, so above are a group of young ladies dancing in Palau. I took this photo over ten years ago, and especially like the bright tones in their skirts and dancing sticks.

To kick start the writing, I would like to share with you a short story. Some of you may recognise parts of this story from my writing (150 words) Mondays Finish the Story with Barbara W. Beacham in 2015. I have left a link at the end of the story for you. I built the tale from 150 words to 500 words for the Queensland Writers’ Centre Furious Fiction in April, but since I didn’t win, I can share it here. Let me know what you think. The rules were to use the following lines in dialogue.

  • “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should, therefore, be treated with great caution.”
  • “He’s never done anything like this before.”
  • “What’s it going to be then, eh?”

Please visit QWC if you want to read other stories.

Mind Games – Short Story – J.K. Leahy

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Photo by Asad Nazir on Pexels.com

“It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should, therefore, be treated with great caution,” Joe said and placed two “candies” on the windowsill. I didn’t respond.

I sat where I could see the pink roses over the white fence. The neighbour’s little girl came out to play. She had bluish lilac eyes and sunshine hair – golden and full of light. She looked two or three, just like Rosie, if she were here with me.

The drugs, one blue and one red, may divert my headache, but not fix it. I didn’t want to argue with him anymore – it only ever turned ugly. But when Joe made poetry and philosophy out of his drug business, it sickened me. I was tired of it, and him. And I wanted my daughter.

Joe moved around the house and after a while, I smelt his garlic breath and stinky shoes.

“What’s it going to be then, eh?” His arm pressed mine to take the pills and he kissed my head. I had dreamt about Rosie and now became tearful. After two years in Johnson Mental Facility, I finally started to feel good again and hoped to see Rosie. I had not seen my baby since she was six months old and Child Services took her. Joe promised me we would see Rosie.

“You keep talking about Rosie, and you do nothing about it. Nothing! You sit at that window all day, every day, Cathy!”

He twisted the truth. He won’t help me find her.

“Oh, by the way, Jack is coming on the payroll. It’s great! He’s never done anything like this before,” Joe said, sounding like he was the model big brother.

“You shouldn’t force Jack into that crap, he’s only 16,” I lashed out.

“I didn’t. He said he needed money.”

“Really?” And that was all I had to say. It became a war.

Later, in hiding, I watched the police take Joe away. He would have calmed down, but only he and I knew that; not our new neighbours. If only Joe wasn’t shouting. This abandoned house was the safest so far in two weeks. We have moved ten times this year.

Today was very quiet. The sun warmed my scalp and shadows danced on my hands. My thoughts hurt my head.

“Ava! Ava! Where is your doll?” the little girl’s mother called.

Near the white fence were a lilac doll pantsuit and two doll hands. The roses matched her floppy hat and threw shadow creases over her delicate face. The toddler first ripped the doll’s head and legs, which she threw towards me. Ava had caught me watching her. She laid the doll arms and pantsuit down, and dropping the body, she ran to their house. My eyes salted, thinking how scary I must have looked to her. I need to leave before the Johnson Mental Health party arrives.

Read 150 words Mind Games here.

 

How a Jiwaka woman started a journey of community transformation before her death


A community champion leaves an example life for all as she bids farewell. An inspiring and heart-breaking story from Serahphina Aupong on Scott Waide’s blog.

The Capital


A beautiful insight with great images by blogger Marcelle Bucher from her recent trip with family to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Marcelle Bucher

Although brief, a few days in Moresby was a breath of fresh (debatable) air after a long three years of not visiting. Touchdown on the tarmac was followed by a lengthy but interesting tour of the miles and miles of new roads built around the city as well as a visit to Koki Fish Market. The multitude, quality and price of Koki is unbelievable. The market is built over the water so the fish is literally straight from the sea to the stalls.

In fact, the whole marketing scene in PNG is unreal. The produce is fresh, the price makes eating your vegetables or fruit incredibly feasible and attractive, and frankly… the people selling the produce are inspiring.

Labour is on a whole other level for market sellers despite the foolish appearance the job gives of sitting around all day. I thought the bag full of produce I was carrying…

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Unusually Sweet


Hi friends,

I have been away from this blog for a little while, working on other projects and deciding the future of the blog. I would like to continue the blog, but re-arrange or improve it in some way so if you have any suggestions, feel free to add to the discussion.  In the meantime, here are two stories I found on YouTube while researching strawberries to grow this winter.

I am trying to re-plant my garden which has now completely overgrown from heavy rains earlier this quarter. I hope you enjoy the videos.

And for more usual sweetness see what else our world is inventing. It sounds and looks weird, but I’d love  to try these ‘new’ fruits. Tell me in comments below if you have tried any of these fruits. I would like to know.