By Pawa Kenny Ambiasi
An entry in the Award for Short Stories
There lived two men, Mapi and Nawi, in the Markham Valley of Morobe Province some years ago. Both of them were bachelors, they had no wives and children. They lived on their own.
Mapi and Nawi were good friends. They lived in their separate houses, but met on occasion to share ideas, something special like food, go to the market, and to help each other make gardens, build houses and tend to animals.
Mapi was a Christian and Nawi was not. Mapi used to attend church services, while Nawi used to gather around with those people who drank homebrew, smoked marijuana and did other illegal things.
During their meetings, Mapi used to emphasise that God’s creation is perfect. “God created us. And because of God’s perfect creation we live on a fertile land where we can grow huge watermelons, juicy mangos, peanuts and bananas.”
Mapi was trying his best to appreciate nature according to his Christian faith.
But Nawi used to argue with him. Nawi used to say “Who is that God you referring to? Do you mean his creation is perfect? What about most of us living in poor houses, no wives and children, eating no rice at all, wearing same old cloth and drinking homebrew while others are sleeping in good houses with beautiful wives and children, eat rice, driving cars around, wearing new and good clothes and drinking SP and Burgundy? Does this mean God is fair and so his creation is perfect?”
Whenever Mapi wanted to say something regarding nature and its ways, Nawi would oppose him.
Mapi tried very much to convince Nawi, but the more he tried the more stubborn Nawi became. Gradually, Nawi started to leave his friend because Mapi seemed to bother him every time with his one-sided comments.
Mapi was very worried about his relationship with his friend, so he planned for a meeting with Nawi to work together in his new watermelon garden. They had to talk, work and stay together in the garden to reignite the strong feeling of their relationship.
So one afternoon Mapi went to the roadside market where Nawi was staying. There he told Nawi that he needed his help to clean his watermelon garden in the next day. Nawi thought for a while and then agreed to go with him.
While they were planning what to do, Mapi bought some cooked food and drinks from the market and shared it with Nawi. They sat there and ate what was bought. At dusk, they promised to meet early in the morning and left for their respective homes.
The next day, the men went to weed Mapi’s new watermelon garden. The garden had 12 plots so they started weeding. They started some around at 7am and just after midday had completed weeding the whole garden.
As usual in the Markham, the sun was too hot so they went and sat under a mango tree to rest. While they were resting Mapi started up a fire using a gas lighter to cook banana harvested in his garden for their lunch, as they usually did.
When Mapi was busy cooking, Nawi looked for a shady area which was away from the heat of the fire. And so he get rested.
Nawi lied at his back on the ground and sleep facing upwards. He lit his tobacco and smoked it while his eyes scanned through the branches, leaves and fruit of the mango tree they were resting under.
At his view, Nawi identified something unusual. So he laughed to himself loudly.
Mapi, surprised, called out “man olsem wanem, tripela sun tu na yu laugh lon wanem? Sampela gutpela samting kamap lo you aste a?” When Nawi heard Mapi, he broke into bigger laughter.
Laughing and talking to himself Nawi continued, “longlong blo Mapi winim size blo em stret. Em save orite o?” When Mapi heard his name been mentioned by his friend, he felt he was being mocked so he yelled at Nawi and asked what was really wrong there.
“Dispela God yu tok em mekim yu na me and olgeta samting lo stretpela we ya em mas wanpla faul man ya”, replied Nawi. He continued, “look, how come there are small fruits hanging on this large mango tree while we have very big watermelon hanging on a small rope in your garden?
“The small rope should have small fruits and the big trunks should have big fruits. So you see, Mapi I have been telling you that your God’s creations aren’t perfect”.
The Nawi’s remarks put Mapi out of place. Mapi was no way near to regroup and stand his ground like he used to do. Mapi was silenced at that moment.
Nawi finished mocking and making fun of out his friend and lied again like he has done. Mapi continued cooking with sweat from the heat of both sun and fire. Nawi was not helping him since he was Mapi’s hired labour and had to be compensated in that way.
A few more minutes lapsed and the prevailing wind started blowing strongly, causing Nawi’s eyes to become heavy, and eventually they closed and Nawi fell asleep, while the branches of the mango tree swung in the wind.
And all of a sudden, Nawi awoke. “Wanem, wanem, why yu jealous na paitim me?” Nawi complained as he woke up. “Mapi mi silip stap na why yu paitim mi?”
Mapi heard his friend talking again. This time not mocking but complaining of something that went wrong.
Mapi looked towards the direction of his friend and to his surprise Nawi had thick blood running out of his nose.
“My friend, what happened?” Mapi asked.
“You hit me”. Nawi replied.
“No, I haven’t hit you! I was busy cooking under extreme heat and so never seen what has happened to you,” explained Mapi. “I am very sorry. Let me see what has happened.”
Mapi got closer to his friend and found that an object has landed on Nawi’s face just where his forehead and nose met, nearly damaging his eyes too.
Then Mapi found some mango juice and splashed it on Nawi’s face. Then he asked if Nawi could smell the juice?
“Yes, yes, I can smell the juice of a ripe mango”, Nawi replied.
Mapi got fell flat on the ground with laughter and then he started to mock his friend.
“You see, you were very smart and described the imperfection of nature’s creation. You said that the Creator was not in his perfect mind during creation because he put small fruits on big trees and big fruits on small ropes,” Mapi said, “but what should have happened to you if the big watermelon fell on your face like the mango fruit has done? Do you think you would survive the fall of a watermelon on your face from the top of the tree?
I’ll tell you,” he continued, “your head should have being smashed. You should be a dead man. I should not talk to you like what I am doing now.”
Mapi laughed and laughed.
He recomposed himself and Nawi listened on attentively. “You see God knew that this kind of danger lay ahead so he put small fruits on big trees and big fruits on the ground on small ropes.
“People who are able to climb mountain and tress, hunt and tend domestic animals were placed in the Highlands,” Mapi continued,” people who were able to swim, fish and climb coconut trees were placed in the nambis.
“Also God allowed challenges and problems to people’s lives according to their level. People who can handle stress, pressure and boredom are given big challenges. People who are unable to withstand pressure and stress are given smaller challenges.”
“God wants people to be contented at their level and the life they live. Like us, we don’t need to compare our lives with others, but be happy of who we are, where we are and what we do. When we compare, we only insult ourselves.”
“So my friend, don’t doubt the perfect creation of nature. God knows it all”
When Mapi finished, Nawi responded. “From now onwards I will not say anything against nature and its creation. I will go to church with you and start to accept the perfect creation of nature and worship God”.
Nawi received his salvation. He repented and accepted Jesus Christ as his personal saviour.
Since it was Nawi’s salvation day, Mapi prayed thanking God for changing Nawi’s life and also for their roasted banana lunch. When Mapi finish praying, they hugged each other with joy and excitement. Then they shared the roasted bananas.
They did not sit to eat but ate while headed home to see Mapi’s pastor and tell him what had happened.
Mapi and Nawi reached the pastor and explained they story. The pastor was very happy and prayed with them. Even when the pastor’s family, community leaders and youths head the change of Nawi’s life they were very happy and applauded him.
And so they encouraged the other youths to change their ways too, to life a positive life according to the plan and ways of God.