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.
Here is a poor re-production, but I wanted to show this painting I re-worked of a sunset in Suki River, Western Province, Papua New Guinea. The original and proper re-production are superior. I worked in Suki for a short time and have fond memories. The place is surrounded by water. You can look as far as you can and the water never stops. The river joins to others and small lakes that are a home to wildlife and fish. The scenes are quite breath-taking. In a typical evening, here right off the edge of the airstrip (which I did not show but it is at the back of this family), canoes would come across from the villages to pick up the passengers. Then, someone would hold the lamp or a torch as the rest paddled all the way home. Sometimes the trip took three to four hours.
If the villagers were lucky, a motored dinghy would be there to fetch them. And it was not always the fastest, some dinghies would run out of fuel on the way home, so the travellers still needed to paddle. After one of my community craft development workshops, there was no dinghy so eight women paddled me to the airstrip, it took us two and a half hours and they all stood in the single out-rigger and pushed with long sticks and paddles. They told me to sit. I was not brave enough to stand and paddle. We got there on time.
A Pink Bundle with Price Tag is a poem I wrote about an incident that occurred some 20 odd years ago. I was trying to write my exercise in a prose form (for my Creative Writing Workshop), and after much confusion, I had gone down this path with the exercise, so I just went with the flow. With 700 odd words later, I told the whole story in a poem, by accident. I spoke with the workshop facilitator and confused her too, but she has forgiven me, she said. I think it’s because she wants to hear the rest of the story tomorrow. This is the opening of the story and hopefully, it will be part of my collection of poems and short stories book later. I hope you like it.
A Pink Bundle with Price Tag – Poem
JK. Leahy Memoir
The house was low, a brown brick hole with blue shades.
Through the open windows, the inside was newborn stained.
A littered table of copious nappies and toys in rainbow frame.
On a ruffled bed, a small centre-piece, wrapped in a pink bundle.
Outside, my aunt sweats on a hardened dry brown lawn.
Desperate time calls for a monsoon, but none had come.
The sward had suffered Port Moresby’s arid time.
Aunt had waited to have babies, years these many,
that patience had become her virtue and time, her company.
Tok Piksa is a Papua New Guinea Youth Photovoice project. Shot by Mighty Flims, it features young people telling their own stories about life in one of the most beautiful yet underprivileged countries in the world. They know the life and they capture the images to show that life.
Unique plant, wildlife and forest species have been lost and more are being threatened as loggers continue to log pristine forest of Papua New Guinea. And, in a new report, scientists have found that the devastation is also affecting climate in South East Asia. The PNG forest contributes moisture into the air in this region.
Russian physicists Anasatasia Makarieva and Victor Gorshkov suggests the role of windblown moisture from PNG’s mainland forests in cooling and creating rainfall in South East Asia and beyond may have been be underestimated.
“PNG’s forests contribute to the maintenance of this current favourable climatic regime,” they said.
“Their devastation could trigger adverse changes in local, regional and possibly global climates.”
ABC’s Jemima Garrett wrote an area of Papua New Guinea’s internationally significant rainforests in excess of the size of Australia’s entire Wet Tropics Heritage Area in north Queensland has been cleared or logged in the 10 years to 2014.
There is an international concern that PNG government continues to allow loggers not only to re-log in a short time, but giving the loggers to further destruct pristine remaining intact forest that is very crucial to the world eco-system, for example the Kamula Doso-Strickland region contains one of the largest remaining intact rainforest ecosystems in the world. It is an ecological wonder.
The University of Papua New Guinea’s Remote Sensing Centre report shows pristine rainforest and unique species are being lost, and they are calling on PNG not to go ahead with major new logging concessions.
It took scientists two and a half years to piece together evidence from satellite images to produce their report, State of the Forests of Papua New Guinea 2014.
The report found 11,457 square kilometres of pristine forest had been cleared or logged between 2002 and 2014. Australia’s Wet Tropics Heritage Area, which stretches more than 600 kilometres from Cooktown to Townsville, is less than 9,000 square kilometres.
Jane Bryan, lead author of the latest State of the Forests of Papua New Guinea report said it is a concern that not enough time has been allowed by the government for the forest to regenerate.
“The forest needs time to regenerate and if you harvest again in too short a time period you can permanently damage the species composition and ecology of the system”, Jane Bryan.
Deforestation accounted for 3,752 square kilometres of PNG’s forest loss while degradation of previously unlogged forest accounted for 7,705 square kilometres.
The island provinces of Manus, New Ireland, East and West New Britain saw the greatest proportion of change, followed by West Sepik and Gulf provinces.
“The biggest driver of that change was the expansion of industrial logging into previously unlogged areas,” said Jane Bryan, lead author of the report.
In older logging concessions repeat harvesting as soon as 15 years into the 35-year cutting moratorium is widespread, the report said.
Associate Professor Gideon says the PNG Government’s lack of action is disturbing.
“PNG is a signatory to a number of international conventions about biodiversity conservation but in terms of efforts on the ground it has been extremely disappointing,” he said.
The story was told that when Kemampum heard strange sounds coming from nearby bushes on the edge of the water, he approached cautiously. He wondered whether it was an animal or a bird.
To his amazement, in a basket on top of a pandanus bush, he found an infant. Such was a case of the biblical story of Moses. He exclaimed: “ngamalac!” (which translated means ‘a human’).
Earlier that day, there was a battle between the Ahi and Labu people at the mouth of Bumbu River where the baby was found. In the late afternoon as Kemampum was trying to fetch sea water for cooking he found the baby. Due to fear, Kemampum was cautious in approaching the baby in the basket. The tide was rising and the child was about to drown, and there was no-one else there. Kemampum rescued the baby.
The next day, Kemampum took the child to known Ahi hamlets to seek the child’s parents, but no-one claimed the baby. Since no-one had claimed the baby, Kemampum kept and raised the child with his two biological daughters, Awelu Jalecsu and Geyamtausu Ngongwe.
The child was named Hamalac, which came from Kemampum’s initial exclamation when he discovered the baby on the water’s edge, near the Yam Hole.