This series of blog posts is part of the A to Z 2019 Blogging Challenge in which I will write snapshot memories of my early married life in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea.
Verbal jungle drums beat…
We’re on leave overseas
When the rumours hit town
My job is gone when I return
I am a temp after all.
We’re on the move again
Goroka to Gerehu[i]
Life in Moresby – the “big smoke”.
From Education offices in Konedobu
He wields his purple audit pen
On inspections country-wide
His “been there” knowledge
Makes his peers nervous.
On the home-front life goes on
But why do things always break –
Or the children get sick –
The minute he leaves town?
Sequential chicken pox anyone?
Later I join the family ranks
in Education at Konedobu.
Full time employment
The start of my career.
Quonset huts and old buildings
Corral the compound
Files crowd the walls
Subsidies for school kids
In Australia or overseas
Fees and fares
I come to know every surname and school.
My first boss leaves and a new one arrives
Our friendship leads to another K place
As she leaves for Kathmandu and we visit.
One day a Papuan Brown[ii] slithers among the files
Staff leap on the desk and I end a phone call
“Sorry, we have a snake, I’ll call you back later”
Far away there’s indifference to our plight.
Driving home the back way past the villages and squatter’s camps
The raskols[iii] block the road….
With two small children in the car
It’s a case of hold your nerve.
A new identity all my own
And a turning point
No longer “just” his wife
or Les’s daughter-in-law
Albeit temporary staff for ever
Just like his mother…
What’s a decade or two of work
For women who are married?
Forever a “Mrs” not just a misis[iv].
K is also for Kavieng where my in-laws lived (and sent us cray tails as treats), or Kainantu, Kabiufa, Killerton, Kerema or Kieta.
Kiap – a government patrol officer
kaikai – food
kaikaim – eat
kainkain – all sorts of …
kina – PNG’s currency but also shells used for currency previously.
kakaruk – chicken
[i] Then a new suburb of Port Moresby, out past the University. Now known for gang trouble.
[ii] A potentially deadly snake…not one you want to have to look for in an office full of files.
[iii] A euphemistic word meaning raskals but really more like gang members.
[iv] A European woman, not necessarily a wife.