Acknowledging the Traditional Tales

Pawa Kenny Ambiasi

An entry in the Cleland Award for Heritage Literature

Mum, when night falls I don’t just want to sleep only,
But hear tales. 
Dad, when night falls I don’t just want to sleep only, 
But hear tales. 
Big brother and sister, when night falls I don’t just want to sleep only,
But hear tales. 
Uncle and aunty, when night falls I don’t just want to sleep only, 
But hear tales.

You know, I don’t have TV to watch cartoons, 
Toys and mobile phones to play, 
And books to read. 
You know, it’s only 7pm but it’s totally dark, 
No hurricane lamp, candle and even electricity 
To give light for me to stay awake till 9pm. 

You know I can’t learn everything
In the garden, in the bush and at the riverside. 
I need to learn much from your stories. 

Mum, dad, brother and sister, and uncle and aunty
When night falls I don’t just want to sleep only, but hear tales. 

You know, your tales are sweet like honey. 
I don’t know why it happened like that but, 
Later I will know that your tales are about; 
Creation, Culture, History, Traditions, Rituals,
Values, Evil and Good, and risk taking.

You tell me “Why We Have Thunder and Lightning”, 
You tell me “How Mount Ialibu and Giluwe were formed”,
You tell me “How Lake Pipiaka and Eakri were formed”, 
You tell me “How young man who turned to cassowaries
by evil spirit were turned to human being again” 
And you tell me many more of our tumbuna stories.

Mum, dad, brother and sister, and uncle and aunty
When night falls I don’t just want to sleep only, but hear tales. 

Mum, don’t tell me the stories as a remedy
To avoid me bothering you for your juicy break milk. 
Dad, don’t tell me the stories 
To avoid me crying for mum who has just left to the eternal world. 
Big brother and sister, don’t tell me the stories 
For me to hide mistakes that you have done from mum and dad. 
Uncle and aunty, don’t tell me the stories 
To make me like you as you are new to our home. 

You have to know that this world is changing;
Tomorrow people will be sleeping at 11pm or 12pm, 
Electricity will be everywhere shining like sun even in the night. 
Instead of telling traditional stories, kids will be given toys, TV 
And Mobile phones to play with till late night 
By their parents, siblings and uncles. 
And Kids will be reading Kilip and Moru in the night. 

And so I will be getting lost in this world. 
My kids are going to be lost totally, 
They won’t remember our tumbuna stories. 
But for me, your stories will make big difference in my life. 
Your stories will be the pillars of my life. 
They will shape and strengthen me
To be more responsible in the society I live. 

Thank you mum, dad, big brother and sister, and uncle and aunty
For the tumbuna stories you have told me.

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