Post System, Another Look At It

Hello folks, I get so distraught at the way things are. All my life the answer to everything was to throw more money at it. Be it the public education system and how our kids are or are not shaping up, be it foreign relations…, even attempts at governmental curbing of inflation: enter the FEDRES. If we can’t throw money at the problems, just go ahead and print some more. One government “system” that irks the hell out of me is our US Postal Service system.

This outfit is literally sitting on countless millions, if not billions of dollars in feduciary promisary notes, and like our central government, has all these years been plundering this hoard and crying “it’s still not enough!”

A blog I wrote back in 2018 touches on this subject and I believe it is germane to our present postal condition. If only you and I could manufacture income or profit the way they do…

CHAPTER TWELVE Remorse Divulged

This is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, places and events are either products of the author’s imagination or when factual, used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Please scroll down to earlier chapters as needed.

Copyright © 2019 Theodore A Henning II

Other KDP publications by Mr. Henning include:

The Sauwastika Enigma (a mystery novel)

Releasing The Soul A Balinese Transformation Ritual

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Early Years)

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Teen Years)

Stone Giant A Young Woman’s Quest For Truth

Mr. Henning’s music is offered at:

http://theodoreahenningii.com

CHAPTER TWELVE  Remorse Divulged

Masai! Masai!” Womini called out to Masa Pirovuki in an  affectionate tone of respect. She stood directly below the entry opening to his longhouse, some seven or eight feet above. Built on log pilings, its creaky flooring was barely elevated a meter above the water when the sea came in at high tide. Now, as she stood waiting at low tide, her toes squeezed into the mucky, moist sand which mushroomed up between them with a tickling sensation. She glanced at the old man’s small dugout canoe, marooned momentarily between the pilings. It was ancient, a frail derelict in need of repair, and that was a man’s job. Komoi certainly would have helped mend it. How sad she thought. Womini couldn’t see the patriarch from where she stood, but her keen hearing informed her that Masa Pirovuki was slowly and decisively making his way toward her.

The others of his longhouse were all out; gathering  vegetable greens, searching for dry fire wood or poking for sea worms to be used as fishing bait. Masa was all alone, and that was fine with Womini. She had hoped she might get a chance to talk with the aged sage without interruption. All at once, she caught the wafting pungent odor of burning fish scales emanating from his house. He had been cooking fish over the fire on his mud hearth in the rear. Womini felt ashamed she hadn’t ventured seaward, out toward the water to the cooking area facing the bay to call for him. Just as these thoughts left her, he appeared in the opening.

Vavi Womini! Rua mari!” he exclaimed, appearing rather pleased to see Komoi’s sullen-eyed yet beautiful young widow. She carefully ascended the rickety bamboo rungs, silently obeying his call for her to approach. Up the old entry ladder she then sat on the narrow landing which ran along the periphery of his house. She knew the old man was without most of his teeth. Especially needful were his molars, those used for chewing savu, the betel nut every aboriginal loved so much. Without his molar teeth, chewing betel nut was impossible for him. And chewing savu was a pleasure he less frequently indulged in. Such was almost bygone for him, like pig hunting and the raids. So, she had thoughtfully prepared a treat.

Womini assumed a side-legged sitting position next to him. Once settled, she reached into her woven carrying pouch and pulled out a short bamboo container with telltale rose-red stains visible on its surface. She offered the winio to him. His eyes brightened as he raised his eyebrows and beamed a great big toothless smile.

He quickly forgot about eating fish! Inside the bamboo winio was that medicinally sweet, red betel nut concoction just waiting for him to enjoy! She had thoroughly masticated it and then spit the blood-like red pulp into her container. Immediately, he pulled off the stopper and scooped some out. Instead of chewing and spitting as others normally did with savu, Masa Pirovuki gummed it for a long time, drawing out every bit of flavor, then swallowed! With his index finger he reached in for more.

Womini knew he was satisfied with her small gift. He motioned for her to speak.

“I have no more tears to shed. My belly feels so empty and twisted. I really feel hollow inside with Komoi gone.”

savu oozing from his mouth didn’t stop him from replying that he, too, felt the terrible empty sensation in his belly. Swallowing again, he spoke in that somewhat comical distorted way toothless people do, when their speech snorts out through their nostrils. “We must both try to keep busy so as not to let this emptiness inside gnaw away at us. Since the first news of his death, I have continually thought about what to do for Rundawai. Komoi was as my son, and now his own son, Rundawai, must grow to become a man without his father. So, I have decided to fashion a bow for him and decorate it with snake incising. A good bow is something a young growing Ayambi warrior-to-be should have.”

“A strong bow decorated with your renown snake incising will make a most cherished gift to him. I am sure that as he grows, the bow will give Rundawai many fond memories of his…,” she wanted to say father, but quickly added, “…grandfather.” She meant this in the wider paternal sense of the word, knowing that he desired to mentor the child in the things pertaining to manhood.

Although Masa Pirovuki was not a true blood relation, Komoi had loved him as a father, giving him special attention in their bond of friendship. The elders had been very special in Komoi’s eyes.

Komoi perceived that the elders of this present generation of patriarchs were each a cache of knowledge and wisdom. He further sensed that much of their knowledge and wisdom was passing away with them as they died; wisdom that, if not captured by his own, younger generation, would pass away entirely. And Masa Pirovuki had not disappointed Komoi in their relationship. By Masa’s lead, Komoi had matured into a fine mature Ayambi warrior, father and would-be leader of his people. His demise was most premature and unfortunate. And now there was young Rundawai to think of.

Womini began again. “Something troubles me about Komoi’s death. He was so strong and fearless, bound to be a great leader someday. Although I publicly mourn for him, I yet strain to understand the cause. His death must have cause. Surely, his death must be the work of manawea sorcery, but such is difficult for me to even think about. Who desired to trouble Komoi?”

“Yes, the manawea are responsible for so much misery upon our people. Yet, we must not let our thoughts dwell on them. The pain in our empty stomachs would grow as a knotted tree limb that engorges itself, while slowly choking to death.”

“What else is there to think upon? This new canoe is now worn and cracked. Komoi is dead, and I continually think of the loss my children have, the loss I have… and I am angry that I am now alone.”

“Yes, be angry, vavi Womini, my child, all will be well with you and the children. But do not give yourself over to unnecessary suspicions. The other men and I are persuaded that no one worked sorcery against Komoi or the other warriors who died.”

“How can this be so?” Her eyes pleaded with him for a more meaningful response.

Masa Pirovuki thought it best to try and defuse her ill-feelings by sharing some points of understanding the elders gained at the gathering of men. “As you know, the Kayov warriors who previously came to attack Yende were indeed routed by our warrior patrol before they could attack our village. We were fortunate to suffer only several minor flesh wounds whereas the Kayov Rudomo lost two warriors, only one of whom they could carry in retreat. Soon afterwards all Yende men gathered to talk and we all agreed that our warriors should attack that Rudomo village sooner than tradition normally allows. We all agreed to break the moon cycle tradition and attack them premature of the proper time.”

“I remember that night,” she interrupted.

“Although our warriors showed great valor, we have incurred the wrath of big Sky-deity, for retaliating so quickly as we did. Sky-deity is not pleased with us. The severe monsoon rains came as a chastening sign of his displeasure. And now we understand that our battle casualties are truly the result of our own wrong doing, and not of  manawea sorcery.”

“Komoi’s death not the result of sorcery?” she gasped rhetorically, trying to understand. It was one thing to be fearful and angry with manawea, but no one dared harbor anger against big Sky-deity.

“We all perceived big Sky-deity to be angry with us when he brought such a severe monsoon storm. I did not then understand big Sky-deity’s anger fomented because our warriors transgressed.  Perhaps, had the Ayambi not broken the moon cycle tradition, as was done, Komoi might still …?” Her voice trailed off as she looked at old Masa Pirovuki, her eyes filling with moisture just this side of tears. Masa nodded once in silence and turned his head back to look intently at the incised decoration on the bamboo winio.

“What must we now do to quiet big Sky-deity’s anger?” She asked hesitantly.

“The decision has been made. At the next monsoon rain, all warriors and adult males will seek a sign of acceptance from big Sky-deity; we will all gather for ritual cleansing.”

Womini knew if big Sky-deity accepted the warriors’ ritual cleansing, then a sure sign of his lessening anger would become apparent to all. As the two sat in silence, Womini gazed off south-westward at the billowing, white clouds which enveloped the rising peaks of the Vogelkop Mountain range. The ethereal mists emanating from the moist mountain foliage seemed to be reaching out, reaching up to the hovering clouds, almost as if seeking a gentle embrace.  She felt the tension within her release its grip. Masa Pirovuki’s revelation caused her knotted belly to relax somewhat, and that was a good feeling.

“You have helped me understand my anger, Masa, eh, Masa Pirovuki, do you think the raids will ever cease?” She did not wait for an answer. However, her words once spoken were a provocative thought for him to ponder. The raids cease? Something most profound would have to take place for such to happen.

Womini retrieved her empty winio, spoke no more and carefully descended the bamboo ladder to the moist sand below. The tide was still out. In the late afternoon, gentle waves began to cascade toward the beachhead, and would soon loft the old man’s frail canoe.

As she made her way around the barnacle encrusted pillars of his dwelling, heading seaward, she pulled a pencil-like stick out of her woven shoulder bag. With her stick, the always ready tool, she hoped to procure several sea worms. Several she needed for bait when she fished the incoming surf. Diligently, Womini searched the exposed ocean floor for telltale worm sign. Masa Pirovuki watched her for a moment then retreated inside to tend to his thoroughly blackened, deliciously desiccated fish, still smoldering high over the embers.

CHAPTER ELEVEN Remorse Acknowledged

This is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, places and events are either products of the author’s imagination or when factual, used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Please scroll down to earlier chapters as needed.

Copyright © 2019 Theodore A Henning II

Other KDP publications by Mr. Henning include:

The Sauwastika Enigma (a mystery novel)

Releasing The Soul A Balinese Transformation Ritual

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Early Years)

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Teen Years)

Stone Giant A Young Woman’s Quest For Truth

Mr. Henning’s music is offered at:

http://theodoreahenningii.com

CHAPTER ELEVEN  Remorse Acknowledged

Warm familiar sunlight greeted Ayambi clan members as they descended to the moist sand below. Piercing brightness momentarily brought pain, as villagers both young and old alike wiped their faces and rubbed their bloodshot eyes seeking relief. The tide had receded seaward, exposing the flat naked sand bar for a hundred or more feet out away from Yende shore.

Yapping dogs took opportunity to run free like the lightly blowing breeze, occasionally muzzling into a crustacean’s hole left exposed. Quickly jerking erect, they looked fiercely funny with white sandy muzzles. Aquatic life, normally protected and unseen, frantically scrambled for safety. Children searched the tide pools for small fish, dug for tasty clams and feverishly scoured the exposed coral for stranded crabs. Activity everywhere indicated that Yende villagers had welcomed the promise of a new day.

Excepting a few aged, the others had already descended to the outside by the time Womini wiped the sleep from her eyes and placed kindling on the lifeless ash. Coaxingly she poked, blowing now and again to entice a flame. Sparks ignited as though if by some magical pronunciation she had caused what was dead to come to life again. Her memories of Komoi could never bring him to life again, but still, it was the thought of sorcery that tenaciously resounded in her mind. Komoi, swift as a running deer, had not died of his own accord she reasoned. Someone had worked manawea sorcery on him. There was no other explanation. Who would have done such a thing?

While women busily tended cooking fires, others whose cup of grief had not so thoroughly poured, resumed wailing quite removed from reality. Womini knew it was their way, but what good did it do to continue to mourn outwardly? The grief she felt inside was burden enough. Her husband and the other dead were in the unseen realm and those left behind must carry on, must… avenge. And with that thought she became acutely aware of the ravenous sensation gnarling away at her gut. This was good, for she, too, had been quite removed in mourning at a time when her soul reeled at the very thought of food. Now that was past. For some, the once chastening monsoon had metamorphosed, becoming an emotional cathartic. Womini knew her children must be hungry, and so she set about warming smoked pig meat and sago cakes.

Mid morning, male clan members began to make their way to the men’s  house, a place forbidden to Ayambi women and children. All the villages had such a gathering house. It was the special discussion place for men, each boasting an assortment of collected paraphernalia; artifacts regarded taboo to all but initiated penis-sheath wearers. Young men were taught the ancestral ways and initiated in the sara. The interior was dark and sooty, adorned with sacred ancestral skulls, fetish animal bones, and various bird plumes.

A centrally located fire pit cradled smoking acacia wood. The glowing coals barely provided the only available glimmer of light. A bamboo drying rack directly above was already in use. The carefully placed severed heads formed a lifeless audience to this morning’s gathering. The gray matter of the once living enemy had been meticulously siphoned through each nostril during an earlier ceremony held immediately after their return. The remaining hair, flesh and bone were in process of thoroughly desiccating upon the rack. These heads were destined to take positions along the east wall, additional enemy heads to be esteemed, along with all the other war trophies.

Masa Pirovuki’s keen elderly eyes were already accustomed to the low interior light. As he sat to one side he carefully rolled a tobacco-leaf smoke. Tradition dictated that elderly men be revered with the vocative title masa, meaning ‘dried up one.’ This posed quite an epithet for any man outliving three concurrent wives who had fathered 17 children, nine of which were living, with eight now deceased! He was lean and muscular, still quite strong despite his advanced age. Although his fine muscular frame could pull draw on the firmest bow in the village, Masa Pirovuki hadn’t been able to participate in the tribal wars. A bad knee from a previous injury prevented him from needful swift escape. Consequently, he usually led the other stay-behinds in standing village defense.

Komoi was special to him, special like a son. It was he who had taught Komoi how to shoot arrows and hunt wild pig with a slicing bamboo spear. Komoi learned about warfare from him during the village defense periods. Now, so young and so quick Komoi was dead. This greatly grieved Masa Pirovuki who requested the special gathering to hear again the strange details of his death.

His rolled-leaf smoke was held vice-like between the pair of limp-flesh lips of his near toothless jaws. Pressed between his thumb and forefinger was a small ceramic plate shard. He swung his forearm downward striking a the shard against the outside ofhis bamboo mbororo in order to ignite the ker fibers held just under his thumb. It sparked and he continued his light up.

During the raid on Kayov village, Kaipori fought side by side with Komoi. Like Masa Pirovuki, Kaipori was deeply grieved at Komoi’s death. He had been the last one to see him alive. It was his account that would again be heard this morning, but in more detail than he had previously reported. At the onset but before beginning to speak, Kaipori reached up to his chest and fondled the small wooden amulet that dangled loosely around his neck. It was a nervous gesture of little consequence. He believed his homomorphic karuar carving offered him protection in battle, and now it gave him courage to reveal the intimate details of Komoi’s death. With eyes still red and moist from grieving and the lack of sleep, Kaipori began.

“It was to be a good raid. Womaki had told us so.” As Kaipori continued, many slowly moved their gaze from him and momentarily gave glancing recognition to Womaki sitting off to one side opposite Masa Pirovuki. “The Rudomo were unsuspecting we Ayambi would confront them so soon, and especially at Kayov. As you all know, it was agreed Tomak would lead some of the warriors in the approach from the cliffs. After the late night journey, we beached our canoes just before dawn. Tomak and the others waited for Wor’s  day-light arrows to come up over the mountain, and then they proceeded directly toward Kayov village for the combined attack. This wait gave my group the needed time to climb the cliffs in the dark, circle inland around the village and attack Kayov from the direction of the hills just as the light fell upon it. In this we progressed swiftly and silently.”

“The second group included Komoi. We made our way through the jungle, overpowering a lone sentry as we circled round. He wasn’t able to alert his clansmen. Then at the appointed rise of Wor, our warriors in total stormed the village. Kayov Rudomo were truly surprised to have Ayambi arrows coming at them from all directions. They never expected to see us so soon or to be flanked. Tomak has already shared the main details of the battle. Of  the three dead Rudomo we could only obtain two trophy heads. The third was the son of the Kayov big-man. Rudomo warriors thronged to him as he perished, thwarting our advancement. And there were other Rudomo wounded as you know. We lost three of our clan, These we have already mourned,” Kaipori said.

Then he tilted his head and let the gaze of  his eyes fall downward in a gesture of respect as he noticeably turned his head toward old Pirovuki before looking up. He continued.

“Komoi fought well throughout the battle. His arrows found their mark, inflicting many wounds. One of these heads is tribute to his skill and that of his mentor. During the battle advance we fought very close to each other. It was on the retreat that we were forced to separate. Just as I and Juki were severing the last trophy, Bodnini was wounded. Since Komoi and Andi were closest to him, they ran to his aid.

“When we started to retreat, I looked back over my shoulder to see them supporting him, retreating slowly with their backs to the enemy. It was at this time several Rudomo warriors jumped from the thicket and quickly flanked them, and Andi took several arrows in the chest, falling backwards. Komoi lost his hold on Bodnini and bolted away, heading toward us. It was terrible to see the enemy pounce on Bodnini and Andi, but Komoi and I and the others knew we all had to move swiftly to save our own lives.” He paused momentarily.

Still puffing his smoke, Masa Pirovuki shifted his position and took opportunity to pose the question, “Where was Tomak and the other warriors during your retreat?”

Kaipori resumed. “They were ahead of us, seaward in position near the cliffs. When the sacred conch shell sounded, we all were alerted to escape. Since we had originally circled around in the dark to attack the village from the rear, the escape route was unknown to us. We knew a swift escape necessitated a rendezvous with Tomak and the others to get to the cliffs. But this plan did not go as anticipated. When Bodnini and Andi fell, we lost sight of the way of retreat and quickly ran sideways to lose ourselves in the jungle thicket. As it was, Tomak and the others made it to the cliffs and without us behind them, signaled with the sacred conch shell several times. By its sound we were able to judge our direction.”

Staring at the yellow glowing coals, Masa Pirovuki again interrupted, “During this time were you able to see Komoi?”

“Yes, he was about a tall tree’s length distance from me, much deeper into the thicket, off to our right side and slightly behind. We all headed toward that beautiful sound and the waiting cliffs. With Rudomo warriors trailing, we had no time to regroup, we each just ran as fast as we could. Everything happened so fast we didn’t even think to drop the trophies, we put all our strength into escaping. Occasionally I looked back over my shoulder to keep sight of Komoi intermittently bobbing into view. At one point, a banana grove blocked my view and it wasn’t until we were past it that I caught sight of him again, but still it was not entirely clear because of the dense foliage of the thicket and the fact that Komoi had drifted further away. I knew we were nearing the cliffs by this time because the sound of the sacred conch was noticeably louder.” He caught his breath and went on.

“As we approached the cliffs I hurriedly yelled at the others to descend to the canoes. Komoi was still some distance from us. Suddenly, as I stood there looking back, I saw the two Rudomo warriors abruptly stop. They were so close and drew their bows at him. Quickly I moved my gaze toward Komoi. The thicket was less dense and I could clearly see him leaping forward. My chest throbbed heavily as I believed Komoi, swift as a running deer, was going to elude them.”

Kaipori noticeably choked in making this last statement. He was drawing to a close the strange story of Komoi’s death and recounting it was very difficult for him. He stammered slightly as he tried to articulate the final events.

“It is a very evil place. Komoi was running through a very evil Rudomo place north of our cliff position. Running as he did, he then slowed because his pursuers showed no sign of pursuing him further. I could see the smile on his face as he glanced behind him knowing he was almost free. The Rudomo released their arrows into the air. Then it happened, so unexpectedly. Just as Komoi turned his head to acknowledge me, his arms went up into the air and as if he leaped, he eh, eh, he disappeared. He just leaped and was no more to be seen. The arrows flew over through open air.”

“I sensed my own mouth hanging open in shock and awe. It was as if the earth had just opened up and swallowed him, for he was instantly gone. Running one moment and then vanished the next. I waited thinking maybe he had slipped and fallen and would get up. Yet, he was gone. I didn’t want to believe what I saw, yet I didn’t have time to investigate further as his pursuers had turned their attention to me and were running, closing within arrow range. That’s when I turned my back and descended to the others.”

Tomak felt obligated to reassure his son’s mentor. So he made a point of looking at Masa Pirovuki, and clarified further. “Masai,” he said affectionately, “We paddled our canoes out beyond the coral reefs and waited as long as possible, but my son never came. If he were alive and able he would have climbed down to the beach. It entered my mind that maybe he had transgressed Rudomo sacred white rock, which seems the only plausible explanation for their abrupt action  not to pursue him. They were evidently so close behind him they should have, but did not. Indeed, we had seen white rock outcroppings faintly distanced to the north of the landing site. Komoi must have stumbled in sacred territory, fallen on his face and has since perished. My son was a brave young warrior.”

Tomak didn’t continue further. He didn’t dare allow himself liberty to contemplate the torture and mutilation the Rudomo would certainly have done to him once they caught him. Bodnini and Andi were seasoned warriors and close friends. He couldn’t bear the thought of his own son being tortured as they surely must have been. He desperately tried to block out such dreadful images and remember Komoi as the fine young son and father he was proud of.

Womaki had remained silent throughout the recounting. Now as the men tittered, the subject of manawea sorcery came up. Brave young warriors just don’t slip and fall and die in battle without a cause. Finding that cause would fuel their superstitious speculations from one end of the territory to the other. Finding out who had worked manawea sorcery would be an unwarranted preoccupation for all the clan. Womaki felt it time to reveal what he knew.

“Great elders and Ayambi warriors. Please allow me to speak regarding this matter.” The others quieted and were pensively attentive to his words.

“On the night you came seeking a powerful word from me I had a vision. While I chanted the sade, focusing all my concentration on the immaterial ones and their power, a vision of Komoi suddenly appeared before me. As if dreaming,  I was startled when it vanished. I opened my eyes to find that Komoi and I had locked glances, if but only for a moment. I continued the ritual and all you brave warriors have since acknowledged the word you received then. You did indeed overpower your enemies, and these mute heads are tribute to your success. However, for whatever its meaning I will share with you my vision that night.

“I saw Komoi as if reclining, floating like a sea bird atop a breeze. Behind him was a surrounding white brightness, somewhat like the appearance of the marsh mist during a full moon. However, this  background  mist was much brighter and shinier. Komoi’s eyes were open and he seemed to be staring, at me. His expression was without fear or discomfort, and this led me to believe he was not in pain. Komoi’s arms were outstretched away from his sides, his bow and arrows firmly grasped. There were no visible wounds. He seemed as if alive. I saw him. In the background mist was a wooden post, such as that of our longhouses. There was a cross beam near the upper end. This object seemed to be at the center of the mist, behind Komoi. This was my vision. And then it passed.

“This vision troubled me because the unseen ones gave no indication of its meaning that night. It was not opportune for me to then disclose what I had seen, as it would have distracted you before the battle. So I kept mute. I have since sought the wisdom of this vision but no answer has come. Then it occurred to me how similar the object in my vision was to the object the white foreigner had shown us when he first came to Yende.

“As you recall he came with Belanda people, but he did not stay. Then after many full moons he returned with his object, his salib kristus. He talked of big Sky-deity and his son. At first his news was welcomed. Then he talked against our sara house which frightened us, because he wanted us to burn it!

“Words about big Sky-deity made our bellies happy. But to burn our anio sara caused us pain in our bellies. So, we killed him.  Because of this, I am persuaded that Komoi’s death was not caused by manawea  sorcery. His destiny was determined by one most powerful, perhaps Wor, or more likely, big Sky-deity. If this be so, we cannot be angry. Therefore, let us not speculate further concerning Komoi’s death but let us put this whole thing to rest, now.”

Masa Pirovuki seemed pleased with Womaki’s explanation and suggestion. He knew firsthand how usurping the suspicions of his people could be. He had almost forgotten that Belanda man with his buku and salib kristus. “Perhaps we were hasty,” he thought, then spoke.

“Womaki is true. It is best we mourn our dead and regain our strength and valor, for certainly we will need both in the days and weeks ahead. The Rudomo will not let reprisal lay dormant for long,” he added. He said this, but he did not entirely discard the manawea sorcery hypothesis.

After a moment of thoughtful consideration and mutual glances, old Masa Pirovuki again made gesture to speak and the others became silent.

“It was good for Womaki to share with us his vision. I for one am encouraged by his explanation. We must remember, it was our own consensus to break the moon-cycle tradition and attack Kayov village as we did. Perhaps big Sky-deity has been angry with us. If so, then Komoi’s death has cause in the unseen realm, for surely the excessively intense monsoon rains have come as a sign. Just as Womaki was correct in his predictive word, I believe he now directs our attention to the true source of our sorrows, to our own wrong doing.”

Tomak nodded in agreement, and as his head bowed in shame, he spoke in a voice barely audible, accenting his part in breaking the moon-cycle tradition. He then asked the men to join him en masse in ritual cleansing. All agreed. When the next monsoon rains visited Yende they purposed to gather for the ancient ritual.

Clouds, Clouds, The Cloud!

Clouds, Clouds, The Cloud!

I love clouds. My wife loves clouds, too, especially those fluffy, white friendly puffs that move about the sky as if slow dancing. They are pretty, but I tend to be encouraged by the taller, cumulous clouds, dark and somewhat foreboding that hold promise of rain! Here in Texas, especially during the summer temperatures are brutal, eggs fry on the concrete, and a good rain is an unrequited hope. So much for clouds.

When the Internet began we all were fascinated by the way simple typing tasks evoked waves of data that showed up on our monitors as streams of letters or numerals, being extracted by “search engines’ out there in the Internet wastelands. I can remember purchasing a Commodore 64 for my daughter. Yet it was her cousin who understood the ‘code’ enough to make a stick figure hang itself! Kool. Many of you can remember the old Osborne computers, replaced by newer IBM units operating something called Microsoft OS.

Our first portable computer was a Sharp PC5000. It boasted a “module” similar to an 8 mm VHS tape in size that could store 124KB. Did you get that, 124 kilobytes, period! Those bytes were used for programs and data! Wow, how times have changed. No longer kilobytes, but gazigabytes of storage. Spinning hard drives gave way to more stable data platforms like solid USB drives, etc. As if these weren’t enough, the clouds rolled in.

Somewhere out there in cyberspace is this “cloud” that can store everything we can throw at it without data byte limits! They call it a cloud because they want you to think of those fluffy, friendly white things floating around. We have happier thoughts of fluffy white clouds up in the sky than what the alternative might be. Truth be told, there are numerous “clouds,” housed way underground, some the size of a small city! Why underground, you ask? I suppose one so you don’t see it, gasp, and fall over clutching your chest, being shocked by the enormity of what is going on! Don’t forget, governments need access to ‘clouds’ as much as we do, data co-mingling is not a new thing, just how you mine the bytes. More likely it has to do with keeping those cloud super-computers cool, it’s cooler down below (for a couple hundred feet at least).

Folks, there is nothing we can do about it, the cloud is with us and has changed our life. But that doesn’t mean life gets easier or simpler, it is just more complicated with steps along our path of enlightenment. And there are those that profit big by the subterfuge. Case in point. Historically, when you purchased something from a merchant, say Sears & Co. you went to the store, picked out the item, paid for it, and took it home. If later you wanted to return the item for a refund, you took it back  to the store and were paid on the spot! Enter ecommerce. You select an item at a merchants site, you pay for it with your trusted bank Credit Card, and no sooner than the blink of an eye one of the trusted delivery systems drops it at your front door!

Now then, if you have to return the item, (Buddha forbid!) you are faced with shipping it back, at your cost or theirs to be determined. So, you wait until THEY inform you the item is safely back and initiate a refund to your credit card. Those few days Your money is still in their hands, I mean, bank. Now, here is the grimace. The mechanics of you purchasing the item allowed for a quick payment to the merchant. However when you ‘get a refund’ you must wait anywhere from 3 to 7 working days for it to show up in your account. Did you catch that, ‘working days!’ Where is it on weekends or holidays? Once the merchant initiates the refund the whole process seems to enter an ethereal dimension all its own, a cloud perhaps! Your ‘money’ is out there, somewhere, but it doesn’t show up at your credit card company’s door for those 7 working days! Where does it go?”

I love it when this happens to my money with a bank. I have no idea the technicality of ‘who has ownership rights of the ‘money’ once refunded but not received. Is there a fiduciary out there collecting interest however miniscule for that 3-7 (could be 5-10 days!) day period? Why does it take so long to get a refund when the NSA can turn on your phone and eavesdrop on your conversation at the drop of a hat? Money in the hands of the elite never stops generating after its kind. If you think of the millions of people experiencing wait times for their money, somebody else is doing the cashing in on the miniscule interest or charges generated during the waiting period. Done millions of times a day involving millions of card/ bank holders, and what at first appears miniscule becomes a sizable chunk of change! A cloud may hold it, but somebody somewhere is experiencing a gargantuan Rainmaker day!

CHAPTER 10 SAVAGE ENCOUNTER

This is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, places and events are either products of the author’s imagination or when factual, used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Please scroll down to earlier chapters as needed.

Copyright © 2019 Theodore A Henning II

Other KDP publications by Mr. Henning include:

The Sauwastika Enigma (a mystery novel)

Releasing The Soul A Balinese Transformation Ritual

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Early Years)

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Teen Years)

Stone Giant A Young Woman’s Quest For Truth

Mr. Henning’s music is offered at:

http://theodoreahenningii.com

CHAPTER TEN  Terror in the Wind

Raakman Sindjab methodically rubbed the finishing stone along the sharp edge of his scythe. It was his weapon of choice. Fashioned of fire-hardened iron it took on a curved, crescent-like shape. Inspired no doubt by the symitar the Ottoman Turks wielded long ago, the representation was near identical. If that weapon ever failed, there were the two crescent bladed kris knives kept close to his body under a wide waist belt. Keeping his weapons sharp was an everyday observance for Raakman, much like facing East when kneeling in bowed prayer upon his rug. It was a routine, his routine bound by tradition.

The other men of his camp were similarly involved. All needed their weapons kept ready. Their two wood-plank sailing vessels were moored out of sight in one of the sheltered inlets of the island. Here, near to the north coast of Sumatra there was a forest of small rising, atols. Emerging from the waters, some with steep clifts and jungle vegetation, miniature islands not much bigger than dots on a map. These rising mole-hills in the ocean were similar but different to the ones they called home, further south along the Strait of Malacca. Their watery territory lay within that narrow ship lane  between Singapore and Sumatra. The hidden inlet, actually a small cove barely large enough for their two junks,  was the water sanctum of Raakman and his cut-throat pirates.

He and his crew had successfully eluded persuit by the Dutch Navy on at least two occasions, and the other foreign vessels broached the same difficulty. The Dutch vessels were larger and cumbersome, unequipted for persuit within and around the difficult small islands. In contrast, Raakman’s vessels were shaped more like an Asian junk and highly maneuverable, even in the tightest of situations. It was on the open sea that the junks were most vulnerable to being overtaken.

This was already the third week of December. He had hoped two months ago they would sail home to Batam in time for Ramadan. But that was out of the question. Forces had worked againt that then happening, but now, a plotted course for home was in the making.

“Berangkat, nggak?” One of the men yelled over to him questioning if they should leave or not..

“Sebentar lagi, dik. Sabar dulu.” Raakman barked back. It was a bright sunny day with the winds aloft. Although he intended they board and get an early start to the open waters, he needed to feel that he was in control, calling the shots. Barking orders in a respectfully demeaning sort of way was how a pirate leader like Raakman communicated.

‘In a moment, be patient!’ he had told him.

As he ran his fingers over the hardened, sharp iron blade he thought of the men he had killed. They all fought valantly but futilely, he remembered. His had been the element of surprise. The pirates didn’t attempt to assault the larger vessels, the steamers. They posed too much of a challenge for his small band. However, the smaller vessels, the wooden sailing ships of Asian origin succumbed to the likes of evil men bent on stealing and killing.  And Raakman little cared if they lived or died. It was their kebendaan he and his men were after.

Consequently, his pirate band was keen not to attack any of the Dutch or European vessels. They set their aim on those smaller merchant ships and did their worst. His junks blended right in with others that trafficked the waters in western Indonesia between Malaya and Sumatra. The Chinese vessels are all quite similar. That’s what made his small band so dangerous. Raakman’s junks appeared Chinese and non-threatening.

For almost a year they had been swooping in and out of the shipping lane, plundering and scuttling however they could.  Taking their time, allowing the trade winds to work in their favor as they forayed. They stock-piled many goods and treasures. Now, the men were growing homesick. All the men seemed eager to venture homeward. More lush and inviting than their present hideout, with wives and families waiting.

Marauding pirates had been a constant threat in the Straits for hundreds of years. It was the primary occupation of whole clan groups in that western part. Such was a pestilence the Dutch Navy just didn’t have enough resources to abolish. And so, as long as Dutch VOC ships were not attacked, cut-throats like Raakman Sindjab sailed about mostly unhindered. And this aspect had not gone unnoticed.

He and his ruthless band had ventured many miles in search of new pirating opportunities. Momenterily, his plan to attack one last time before loading their treasures and sailing home would soon be realized.

Raakman’s face smirked an evil grin as he envisioned the booty and the blood. He was ready, it was time. Through the smirk, he barked the command to get underway, quickly, “Mari! Kita berangkat s’karang! Cepat!

CHAPTER 9 SAVAGE ENCOUNTER

This is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, places and events are either products of the author’s imagination or when factual, used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Please scroll down to earlier chapters as needed.

Copyright © 2019 Theodore A Henning II

Other KDP publications by Mr. Henning include:

The Sauwastika Enigma (a mystery novel)

Releasing The Soul A Balinese Transformation Ritual

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Early Years)

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Teen Years)

Stone Giant A Young Woman’s Quest For Truth

Mr. Henning’s music is offered at:

http://www.theodoreahenningii.com

CHAPTER NINE  Troita’s Surprise

Van Given slid the envelope from Troita out of his pocket and onto his writing desk. Before opening it, he lit the kerosene lamp which cast a warm yellow glow about the cool, damp room; now a day so reminiscent of one back home.

“Troita, Troita my darling. How are you making out in my absence?” he mentally asked himself as he reached for the engraved silver letter opener she had given him for his 30th birthday, a day which now seemed so long ago.

More than six months had passed since Leonard van Given, now the new Regent of Manokwari outpost, had sent word to Troita Inggavird, his beautiful betrothed. He realized before accepting this new posting, an opportunity he could have refused, that he should have been making preparations for his wedding, as he promised. In a word, he himself should have already been back in Amsterdam by this time, just as he had promised. Yet in retrospect his duties for the colonial Resident of Ternate had been so perfunctory, so unchallenging, that now, as then, something deep in his soul, something mysteriously exciting concerning this posting moved him at the mere thought of  it. And, the opportunity hadn’t just popped up as a surprise, either. The Resident had been aware of the prior Regent’s serious physical problems, problems that precluded his continuance in the tropics.

There had been discussions within the elite of the rank and file. Van Given was fortunate to have picked up tidbits of information here and there, information leading him to believe early on that he, Leonard van Given, was a running candidate for the job. The choice of a successor had to be made on the criteria of merit and innate ability. It didn’t take the Resident’s elite circle long in coming to a decision. Van Given was offered the Regent’s post at Manokwari, Netherlands New Guinea and without hesitation, he accepted. Now, his posting responsibilities began.

His had been a wordy letter. He tried very hard to convey his love for her, to reassure Troita that his decision was in their best interests for their future. What were two more years in the scheme of a lifetime? Being the Manokwari Regent was a one-time opportunity, a challenge of untold proportions. The steaming hot, untamed jungles, naked aboriginal headhunters, and beautiful mountainous New Guinea, with that stone age ruggedness, simply beckoned to be humanized; it beckoned to be brought more fully under the lordship of the Crown of the Netherlands House of Orange. And this prospect captivated him. He need fulfill his destiny, he need be — Regent van Given.

Carefully he slid the pointed, blunt-edge silver shaft along the top crease of the envelop, making sure not to hook the thin, folded India paper inside. The pressure between his left thumb and index finger tip against the flat, waxy envelope tactilely informed him the leaves were few. He mused what might be the reason for such a short letter. And then it was open, his right thumb and forefinger gently tugged the delicate paper free. Van Given deftly replaced the letter opener, let the empty envelope slide to the desk, and cautiously opened the single leaf of paper, and began to read.

“My Dearest Leonard, I am trusting Divine Providence for this note to reach you in good health. All is well with your father and mother, as is with my family. Everyone misses you so. We were all numbed to learn you would not be returning home as originally planned. Although you articulated your reasons for accepting the new posting quite elaborately, it is I who am vexed in my heart. For days afterwards, I was in utter shock at the news. Our families had been setting down on paper all the details that needed to be arranged in order to move forward, forward with the wedding everyone anticipated, the wedding I anticipated. Oh, Leonard, how we all looked forward to having you with us. I desperately need you.

“Friends from the university were very kind after learning the wedding had been postponed. They looked in on me quite often. I must have been in such a way. Then, almost by accident, I learned through one of them about the Royal Dutch Geographical Society expedition, the scientific expedition to the Dutch East Indies, of which I’m sure you are already well aware. But now, so as to come to the point in the most direct manner, which is your manner, Leonard. One thing led to another, and after much convolution of thought, Providence has born that I should accompany the expeditioners and meet you there in Indonesia, in Netherlands New Guinea, I believe.”

Van Given’s heart began to noticeably pound within his chest. The palms of his hands became moist, followed by a cool clammy sensation that ran down his arms. Had another been present in the room at that moment, his sudden pallor change couldn’t help but be noticed. His breath returned. Inhaling deeply he reread the last sentence a second time, then a third.  His thoughts escaped his lips in a breathy whisper, “Troita! My Troita! Why are you making the voyage to the archipelago by yourself! Troita, my love, why…, why come to New Guinea?” His eyes fell upon the remainder of the letter.

“There was no need for you to learn of my decision and protest. With the reserved blessings of both our families, I will board the Swedish ship SS Royal Riiggenvord with the others. I impatiently anticipate our reunion. We will no doubt already be most of the way to Batavia by the time you read this. I love you darling, couldn’t wait any longer for us to be together. Soon we’ll be together, soon.” She had signed it, “With all my love and affection,” penning her signature in a firm yet decisive flare.

Van Given sat there numb, as though he were a wax museum figure, just staring at the paper leaf. Then he turned his head toward the open window. The steeply inclined roof  and large overhanging eave protected the vertical wood siding from the biting action of the pelting rain. As his mind momentarily went blank, he casually noticed how wall-like in appearance was the rain-water runoff from the gutterless roof. Contrasted to the steady pelting downpour beyond, it seemed as though he was peering through an unevenly transparent sheet of blown glass. He walked to the sill, placed his hands upon it and continued his gaze out into the mists. His mind was active with questions of concern.

“Where are you now, Troita? Where on the high seas, exposed to the fickle whims of tropical monsoon storms?  Why? Oh, why chance the dangers, Troita?” he said aloud to himself, as if she was there and he could gently reprimand her. As he turned away from gazing at the constant watery deluge, all his strength drained away, leaving him limp. He mechanically walked back to his desk, staring at the India paper leaf in unbelief and concern. With his head whirling in thought the earlier feeling of fatigue and melancholy seized him with a suffocating grip as he groggily made his way to his kapok pallet, flopped down, and tightly closed his eyes.

CHAPTER 8 SAVAGE ENCOUNTER

This is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, places and events are either products of the author’s imagination or when factual, used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Please scroll down to earlier chapters as needed.

Copyright © 2019 Theodore A Henning II

Other KDP publications by Mr. Henning include:

The Sauwastika Enigma (a mystery novel)

Releasing The Soul A Balinese Transformation Ritual

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Early Years)

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Teen Years)

Stone Giant A Young Woman’s Quest For Truth

Mr. Henning’s music is offered at:

http://www.theodoreahenningii.com

CHAPTER EIGHT   Giants Resumed

The thunderous rain vollys seemed to ebb and flow like a tide. Steady one moment, then crashing more horrendously the next.  Adjusting their positions on the hard wooden-slat chairs Secretary Ansel and Regent van Given continued the conversation once more.

Ansel began again,  “There is more to the Kuri-Pasai myth, you know. Are you interested in hearing the Wamesa version of the ending ?”

Just then Budi came through the door leading to the kitchen corridor. The kitchen was a separate cubicle, more or less an addition to the main house structure separated from it by a short verandah that served as a corridor along the back side of the house. It was there that Budi had stoked the crude, wood burning stone oven to bake the fresh bread from the coarsely ground wheat flour that came over from Ambon with van Given.

Ma’af, Tuan-tuan, roti bakar yang segar!” Budi broadly smiled, revealing the empty space in his maxilla where a front tooth should have been. Thus he excused himself at announcing the fresh baked bread. Carefully Budi placed the wooden tray on the table, and began slicing the warm bread. Van Given took opportunity to refill Secretary Ansel’s coffee cup, and reply he was very interested in hearing the end. Ansel continued, his eyes poised upon Budi’s right arm movement, slicing as if sawing, back and forth, back and forth.

“Well, eh, this Kuri fellow was not a very good giant to his fellow countrymen. After Pasai left, the legend goes that he became more intolerable and demanding, and very treacherous in his dealings with others. His reputation as a mean, bullying  giant even went beyond the bounds of his habitat. And so it happened, that one day he again set out to explore more of the vast jungle. In so doing, he ventured away from his territory and came across…, eh, some…”

Van der Kraatj let his voice hesitantly trail off as Sri entered the room to announce the arrival of the now imposing figure that seemed to dwarf the doorway. He was the rain-drenched captain of one of the small supply ships which route between Batavia on mainland Java and the other outlying Dutch outposts. They had shipped out from Ambon, Maluccas Islands three days previous with clear skies and an easterly course.

However, the storm overtook them just as they rounded around back of the bird’s head to arrive at Manokwari. By the time they laid anchor in Dorey Bay nightfall was upon them and the monsoon totally in control. All they could do was weather the storm through the night, not daring to attempt to leave the ship in the darkness. The two men rose from their chairs as Regent van Given introduced Secretary van der Kraatj and himself, and welcomed the captain, offering him a seat at the table.

“Volderman, Hans Volderman, sirs. I’m captain of the Niu Rotterdam. We made port and set anchor last night just as the storm hit. You know what a nuisance the monsoons can be, didn’t dare attempt a dingy to shore until this morning.”

He carried a flat packet under his left arm which he now proffered to van Given. It contained several communiqués from the Resident’s office in Ternate along with posted letters from Holland. The reports momentarily set aside, van Given quickly thumbed through the small post pile making special mental note of the addressees he had yet to make acquaintance. He pulled an envelope addressed to Ansel and handed it to him. Then his eyebrows rose when his gaze fell upon an envelope addressed to him. Slowly he retrieved it and placed it in his pocket. Addresser: Troita Inggavird. The savory pang of excitement at the thought of the greeting it contained quickly dissipated at the sound of the husky, baritone voice.

Volderman continued. “We’ll weather out the storm here, unload our cargo and then weigh anchor for the journey back south around to the outpost at Fakfak, and then on to Batavia. If you have cargo or passengers we’ll gladly accommodate you as best we can.”

“Thank you, Captain.” van Given replied as he filled the cup Budi had brought, and gently slid the saucer over to Volderman. His burly weathered hands enclosed the cup so thoroughly van Given was instantly reminded of the tiny tea set his sister used to play with. So thimble-like were her cups that they, too, disappeared within the clasped confines of a child’s hands.

Ansel van der Kraatj made small talk with the captain concerning his trip up from Batavia, and tried to glean any newsworthy story. His forehead wrinkled as he learned word had reached the Resident of Ternate that the English, who had previously established a small colony outpost most easterly on New Guinea Island, were planning to embark on a geologic survey through to deeper jungle parts of the interior. This information coincided with earlier news that Den Hague was fully aware of the efforts, and had indeed given approval for a Dutch scientific expedition, well manned by Leiden and Utrecht upper echelon. A  ship already enroot could be expected to reach Batavia in less than four to six weeks.

“Extraordinary!” exclaimed van der Kraatj. “Depending on their itinerary, no doubt this means the whole company will acclimate here in Manokwari at some time during the foray.”

Captain Volderman made no comment but already van Given was thumbing through the official communiqués to see if there was advance notice of such a thing. Sure enough, there was.

The captain carefully placed the empty cup on the saucer and began to rise. As he did so he begged pardon of his two hosts, grateful for their warm hospitality, stating it was needful he get back to his ship. Van Given and the Secretary both nodded approval and feigned to rise as Captain Volderman did an about face, squared his immensely broad shoulders, donned his well-worn seaman’s cap, and exited via the way he had come in.

“Interesting fellow.” remarked van der Kraatj. “What do you make of the news?”

“Sounds as if in a couple months we won’t be hard pressed for company,” van Given quipped. What could he make of it. He himself had just arrived. In less than 48 hours he had officiated his first dispute, come to understand how deficit he was in knowledge about aboriginal papuan society, and gained a new awareness of himself as a white Dutch official, descendent of the giant Pasai! Of all things, a provider! And then, of course, the letter from Troita.

At this opportunity, van Given begged pardon of the Secretary, indicating he had notations to write and other matters to attend to. The Kuri-Pasai myth would of necessity be resumed some later time. They arose and vander Kraatj departed. Van Given retired to his quarters, a measure of excitement and trepidation gripping him.

CHAPTER 7 SAVAGE ENCOUNTER

This is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, places and events are either products of the author’s imagination or when factual, used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2019 Theodore A Henning II

Other KDP publications by Mr. Henning include:

The Sauwastika Enigma (a mystery novel)

Releasing The Soul A Balinese Transformation Ritual

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Early Years)

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Teen Years)

Stone Giant A Young Woman’s Quest For Truth

Mr. Henning’s music is offered at:

http://www.theodoreahenningii.com

CHAPTER SEVEN  The Providers

Van Given was first to break the silence and begin the conversation a new. “Something you said earlier keeps coming to mind. You stated the aboriginals regard us to be the providers, what exactly did you mean by that?”

“You are a very attentive and intuitive listener, Regent van Given. Congratulations for picking up on my mere mention of it. The topic surrounding that moniker is quite interesting, you know, not the kind of thing we’d expect to hear coming from the savage mind. Professor Ni’ik Gevil first used the epithet. Although his deductions about the underlying subject matter are speculative, his observations seem valid enough, and Hasbelt agrees with him for the most part. In time the phenomenon is sure to be under the scrutiny of the ‘scholar’s eye’ so to speak.”

Van Given tried not to look annoyed at Secretary Ansel’s obviously labored reply. He certainly has a flair for intrigue he thought.

“All right.  But please forgive me for my round-a-bout if not protracted explanation.  The term, or what I know of the greater idea behind it, called koreri by the papuan aboriginals, comes from a distillation of Gevil’s analyses based on his cursory investigations of papuan stories, myths actually,  the substance of which he has made notes of here on Manokwari coast, Numfor Island, and on Biak Island.

“Additionally, he perused reported information submitted by outlying station attendants about certain geographically widespread, esoteric events among the aboriginals that show marked similarity. These reports, all of which were made by reputable sources to be sure, concerned strange activities instigated by self-proclaimed aboriginal leaders. Gevil’s best deductions indicate that many papuan tribes share a common notion, a notion that at some time in the future a legendary folk hero will magically reappear to his countrymen. When this hero comes, he will bring with him all the beloved, dead ancestors. The notion, however, is usually locally exploited by prophetic, want-to-be leaders, one from within his own clan group who tries to rally an isolated village to do this or that, in order to hasten the time of their hero’s arrival. Thus, it can be speculated that the hero is a kind of ‘messiah’ figure.

“Furthermore, they believe the sudden return of this ‘messiah’ will initiate a time of health and prosperity such as never before seen in the islands, a golden age if you will. Although the myth scenarios may vary, the notions concerning the return of the ancestors, a hero figure and of a golden age are seen to be common through all of them.”

Van Given just sat there, so intrigued by the things he was hearing he kept silent and allowed Secretary Ansel to continue.

“To make the account even more interesting, various groups from the areas I’ve mentioned also hold the rather absurd notion that material goods, things we know to be of European manufacture, man-made stuff, will also someday materialize to their hearts content ushering in this anticipated time of prosperity! The poor fellows actually believe European goods will fall down to them out of the sky!”

“For the love of …” mumbled van Given quite bemused as he leaned back in his chair. Although his question had not yet been answered, he found this prelude most astonishing.

“Pervasive throughout this region is the Kuri-Pasai myth, about two legendary giants, brothers actually, who had a falling out. Their tale is held dear by Numforites as well as the various coastal groups living all the way down past Roon Island to the bottom of Wandamen Bay.”

“Do you know the myth well enough to tell it?” Van Given asked with interest.

“Well, I‘ve certainly spun a yarn or two in my day, and shouldn’t have too much trouble spinning one of theirs.” The telltale upturn at the corners of his mouth was partially obscured by the twisted golden hair of his mustache. Yet van Given didn’t miss the twinkle in his eyes. He wondered if Ansel had a wife and a family. He could just imagine this charmingly rotund fellow back in Amsterdam, sitting in a burgundy leather high back chair close to a crackling fire, telling wild tales to his young children resting motionless, attentive at his feet. Secretary Ansel tamped his well used pipe and continued.

“Two mythological giants are said to have originated way back up the Wosimi River, the river which now drains the inland mountain waters out to sea, at the bottom of Wandamen Bay.” As he spoke, Ansel withdrew a piece of  paper and a writing instrument from his jacket pocket and began to hastily sketch the geography. This would give Regent van Given a better understanding of the territory in question. He continued speaking.

“Originally, legend has it, this great Wosimi River flowed toward Yeratuar villages lying on the coast of the Greater Bay, east of the Wondivoi Mountain range. Kuri and Pasai were giants, rival brothers, and as brothers often have cantankerous temperaments, they liked to provoke one another. Kuri was eldest, quick to combat and not as bright as the younger Pasai, who seemed very clever in his ways.”

“One day, at Maniami, a legendary inland spot west of Wandamen Bay, south in the Vogelkop range, here,” he pointed to the spot on his map and continued, “a place greatly esteemed by the inhabitants of Dusner village and the surrounding region, Pasai beat his lizard skin drum. Far off in the southern hinterland of Wandamen Bay near the Wosimi River, Kuri heard a most beautiful sound pulsate through the air around him. So, Kuri cupped his hands to his mouth and called out, ‘Is that you, Pasai, beating your drum? The sound is so very pleasing.’ From Maniami Pasai replied affirmatively. Kuri then asked, ‘What kind of skin did you use. It’s resonance is so rich and sonorous. Is it from the old gray lizard?’

“Pasai replied that it wasn’t, and Kuri pressed again to learn of its origin. Now, this Pasai fellow was quite clever indeed. In an effort to trick his brother, he told him he had used some of mother’s belly skin and that was why his drum sounded so beautiful. Kuri, envious of his brother’s beautiful sounding drum didn’t even give it a thought. If Pasai’s drum sounded so good with mother’s belly skin, his drum would sound ever so much better with it, too.

“So, Kuri made his way back to mother, picked her up and laid her on her back. Obviously frightened at his sudden movements, mother quickly asked him his intent. He told her he just needed some of her belly skin for his drum. The old woman pleaded with Kuri not to take her skin, but finally, somewhat reluctant, she gave in. Then Kuri flayed her belly with his sharp pasamai bamboo knife. Unfortunately, the trauma was too much for mother and she died.

“Kuri then realized he had been tricked by Pasai into cutting mother which resulted in her death. Kuri yelled to Pasai that he had taken mother’s belly skin and she had died. Pasai yelled back he had deceived him, his drum head wasn’t really covered with mother’s belly skin at all. The beautiful sound had indeed come from the old gray lizard’s skin.

“Poor mother. Poor dumb Kuri. Poor cleaver Pasai. Mutually mad that mother had died, the two got to it after that and fought from one end of the territory to the other. Kuri threw bamboo spears at Pasai and Pasai threw pasamai bamboo back at Kuri. They say that is why there is so much of this kind of bamboo near the Wosimi River today. During their fighting they kicked heavy boulders into the river and this supposedly made it swell so tremendously, it created two enormous waves which moved along and redirected the course of the river. And that is why the Wosimi River now flows to the bottom of Wandamen Bay.

“These giants hit and poked, cut and stabbed each other and even uprooted tall banyan trees to use as swinging clubs. In time, as the feud wore on, the landscape underwent change caused by their immense, careless quarreling. Finally, Pasai decided to leave the island and go off westward toward the unknown regions where the sun is thought to disappear into the ground. He took only his bow and arrows. Kuri remained the papuan giant of the jungle who took possession of all that Pasai left behind. Most prized was that beautifully sonorous, hourglass shaped drum! It was said that for hours on end he’d just pound it and pound it to make that beautiful boom, boom, boom resonate throughout the land.”

“Interesting. And what of Pasai?” Asked van Given intently.

“Well, as the legend goes, Pasai went westward toward the setting sun. Supposedly he discovered the secret to obtaining kebendaan, material wealth and possessions. That is why aboriginals believe he is the progenitor of all light skinned people, who incidentally know his secret, and like him, have followed his deceiving path. We are tricksters who demonstrate the material wealth but we never reveal the secret conjuring formula that obtains it!

“It is this secret knowledge about how to make things materialize out of thin air that we white people are keeping from the aboriginal! Thus, you see, to the papuan mind we are related! And just as is expected that someday Pasai himself will come back to do good for his kinsmen, these black descendants identifying with Kuri believe we lighter skinned descendants of Pasai are the providers!” Ansel finished.

“Good God, man, I’ve never heard the likes of such a thing! To think we have secrets for conjuring up all sorts of manufactured goods is such an absurd notion. The very idea is preposterous, even if it does come from primitive minds!” exclaimed van Given utterly mystified by the tale.

“Secrets?” he half mumbled to himself. Trying to make sense of the whole revelation as though he could do so in a moment of contemplation. Van Given pushed his chair back from the table and stood to stretch, placing one hand on his hips and the other to his head. He gently ran his fingers loosely through his slightly graying hair, eyes still staring off at nothing in particular. Then he spoke again.

“Secret formulae? Things that materialize out of the air and drop from the sky! We the providers, the providers… Yes!” Van Given’s voice trailed off faintly in concentrated thought as he mentally traced a thought. Turning to Secretary Ansel he exclaimed, “Yes, yes, we might very well indeed be providers! I see it, providers! What fascinating subject matter Gevil has stumbled upon, and you say other myths take similar essence corroborating his conclusions?”

“That’s what Ni’ik Gevil asserts.”

“Fantastic! This koreri notion is so preposterous and yet so tenable at the same time. I should certainly like discussing this whole matter with Mr. Gevil whenever that is possible. I was impressed with him last night. He did an excellent job interpreting for us at the meeting. Now I’m doubly impressed.” Van Given having turned back to his chair sat down as though exhausted with a most affable look upon his face. Secretary Ansel assured him that opportunity in the very near future would present itself as Ni’ik Gevil was staying on in Manokwari for a fortnight before returning to Biak.

CHAPTER 6 SAVAGE ENCOUNTER

This is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, places and events are either products of the author’s imagination or when factual, used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2019 Theodore A Henning II

Other KDP publications by Mr. Henning include:

The Sauwastika Enigma (a mystery novel)

Releasing The Soul A Balinese Transformation Ritual

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Early Years)

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Teen Years)

Stone Giant A Young Woman’s Quest For Truth

Mr. Henning’s music is offered at:

http://www.theodoreahenningii.com

CHAPTER SIX  The Debriefing

Regent van Given and Secretary Ansel van der Kraatj sat in the dining room trying to discuss the events of the previous night’s Hall Commons meeting over hot Java-bean coffee. The verandah would have been more suitable to van Given’s liking but that was out of the question. Monsoon rains crashed hard during the night, and completely engulfed beautiful Manokwari in shadowy gray drab. The unending curtains of rain assaulted the red tile roof sounding much like militant waves of canon fire, thunderous volley after volley.

The discussion, if it could be called that, was more an oral dual. They somewhat strained with raised voices against the drone. Considering the severity of the weather it was commendable that van der Kraatj had left his quarters at all to make his way up and over to van Given’s house for the debriefing. No longer was the air sweetly humid and tolerably tropic. Without the sun’s rays there was a cold dankness that permeated everything and seemed to indifferently inch its way into one’s marrow. Both men perceived the gnawing sensation and yet, each equally found a measure of solace in the warm cups they clasped. Sipping their hot coffee between shouts, the conversation continued.

“We’ll be locked in like this for several days,” said Secretary Ansel, “ I’ve seen these monsoons hang around without a let up for a week. Actually, we were lucky the rain started when it did. Wet weather always seems to diffuse local hostilities. Although, that thunder and lightning did seem more severe than usual.” He wiped his lips with a kerchief and continued.

“Quite frankly, Mr. van Given, I was surprised at how readily the Hattam big man and his nephew accepted the tribute we offered.”

“Indeed! That Hattam fellow had the countenance of a tough negotiator. Had it not been for his nephew’s anxious glances, he might have held out for a lot more. I almost feel foolish, though, to report that we stayed hostilities and the Queen continues in quiet possession of the 1000 hectares for a mere ransom of three iron axes, several woven throws and a copper cooking pot!”

Beneath the broad smile on van Given’s face lay a genuine concern that could have easily surfaced as a grimace. Had the settlement truly been fair? Were not these naked fellows fully human as himself, to be regarded with the same degree of dignity as he expected to be? His conscience dictated that he, the new Regent, be seen to deal justly in all situations. From the vantage point of last night’s recipients, was the settlement really just?

“I know what you’re thinking, but you must keep in mind that although a real disparity of means will always exist between the aboriginals and ourselves, never-the-less it comes as no surprise that we are perceived to be the providers. Rest assured this same matter will surface sometime in the future and more axes, and throws, and pots will be given away. It is impossible for them to understand our European ways.”

The coffee had taken the bite off the chill, so he opened the top button of his tunic and continued.

“Regent van Given, you must understand. Things here are somewhat different than over there in the Sultanate’s territory. Here, land ownership, or true ownership of anything among these papuan aboriginals, appears to be in the hands of the many. I should propose, in their thinking, this land remains their corporate possession. We are societal freeloaders so to speak, only temporal  occupants. Ancestral spirits, too,  although dead by our standards are just as much a part of the natural course of their livelihood, including being the unseen possessors of the land.

“While this we presume remains their thinking, they may place periodic demands on us and we gladly pay off with such goods as they value. However, in never coming to an understanding of our ways, they for the moment only feign contentment with the things they receive.”

“So, if I understand you correctly, the Hattam actually believe this land is still theirs?” Van Given asked quite puzzled.

“In no uncertain terms! They summarily have it in their thinking that all their ancestral land is their land, regardless of who has momentary possession and use. Thus, we might infer from their perspective, that they’ve never really sold any land at all, as in our European concept of sell with the conveyance of title held in fee. And we are speaking most specifically of this Manokwari parcel the Queen has repeatedly purchased for a pittance!”

Van Given was somewhat taken back at the revelation. Even if the Hattam, or any of the aboriginal groups for that matter, lacked a colonial concept of total land rights relinquishment, they must have some notion approaching it, as when another tribe wins in battle over a piece of land, van Given thought. So, he naively voiced the question, “How do they deal with the problem when they lose land through tribal war?”

“They don’t, usually!” Secretary Ansel replied. “They don’t usually loose land. From one tribe to another they usually do not war over land issues. You see, even the clans within the same tribe have territorial domains that seem firmly fixed geographically and appear to have been so since antiquity. No one group is pressing in to take over the territory of the other. Yet, with that said tongue-in-cheek, there is the question of Biak and Numfor islanders migrating here to the coast. Feuding because of them has gone on for many, many years. Although the Hattam, and Meyah to the north west,  are recognized as inland mountain peoples, aboriginal migrations to their coast are viewed as encroachments and do provide opportunity for hostility and conflagration.”

Taking a deep breath Ansel continued.

“With the establishment of this outpost, it was deemed best to compensate the locals in small measure. Our guard has demonstrated in the past the superiority of our position. Thus our encroachment, if I may state it as such, is not something of further dispute. So, we aim for a calming of hostilities with payments of little consequence.”

“Well, if land is not at issue, what then do they fight over,” asked van Given?

“Oh, pigs, women, tangible things mostly, sometimes honor, and sometimes they fight because of a superstitiousness characteristic to their nature. The tribal wars, though, usually stem from reprisal. My father killed your father, so I kill you in return and your son retaliates and so on and so on. It doesn’t ever seem to stop. The grudges are deep and numerous. You see, it appears that the basis of social order is in their group, a collective voice as a whole. If you wrong an individual, you are wronging the greater whole, his group. Thus, individual rights are seen to be intricately woven into the mosaic of clan rights in total.  The individual is…”

“Eh, if I may interrupt, how did you come by such a deep understanding of the local ways and customs?”

Van Given knew he was disadvantaged in not being more informed of such things. It was his oversight, a matter he purposed to correct. Before Secretary Ansel could answer, the house steward entered carrying a tray with an urn of more steaming hot coffee. Ansel paused while the cups were refilled.

Terima kasih, Budi. That will be all.” van Given said as he put his cup to his lips and breathed the wafting aroma.

“Hasbelt! Reverend Arnold Hasbelt. He’s got quite a reputation among the aboriginals. Speaks enough of the local languages to converse about most matters and has been quite intuitive concerning aboriginal values, superstitions and social order. His insights are most helpful. Really quite an interesting fellow. You should sit and chat with him as soon as you are settled in. He’s mostly out at his mission, but should be coming to the outpost in a few days. He generally comes in once a month around this time for supplies.”

“Hasbelt? Hasbelt?” van Given said to himself half aloud, “Where have I heard that name before? Yes, isn’t he the one who quelled a tribal dispute up in the mountains? I remember there was mention of the incident in Ternate.”

“Dispute nothing! Hell, it was war! It was flat out blood curdling around there. Two head hunting factions, Hattam and Meyah sub-clans, were at it, actually had been at it, tooth and nail for quite awhile. That reprisal stuff, you know. Hasbelt went in there on his own God-given authority and not too long afterward initiated peace between the two groups. Lucky for him they didn’t just do him in right away.”

“Amazing!” remarked van Given.

“Yes, he could have so easily suffered the fate of other evangelizing Europeans who have come to these islands.” Ansel pulled out his pipe and continued. “For sure, he is a brave if not foolish sort of fellow to have gone in there like he did.  To hear him tell it, he relied heavily on the God-given part. Must be true. He was able to quickly learn enough of the language and start his mission. Been there ever since, about three years.”

“Simply amazing! And he’s the one who knows so much about aboriginal society and such?” Van Given remarked rhetorically, not expecting an answer.

“His background is quite impressive. In addition to his ministerial ordination, he holds a doctoral degree in Ancient Religions and Languages from the Conservatory of Ancient Studies in Mintz and has held the Chair in Anthropological Studies at the University of Gristheim in Bern. Quite a learned man.”

“He’s not Dutch, then?” van Given querried.

“No, not Dutch, German. However, please realize that the Utrecht Zendings has German, Swiss, and Scandinavian as well as Dutch members. The Zendings has taken an active interest to converting the heathen in Dutch East Indies. The Reformed tradition has no more fertile ground for reformation of the soul than right here in Netherlands New Guinea.  Although, there are, eh, those who on philosophical grounds will argue whether aboriginals have souls at all, eh, but that’s another matter. In all honesty, Hasbelt is doing a fine job with his mission. Certainly without his presence they’d be back warring again. And only Providence knows where that would lead.”

“Yes, I’d very much like to meet him. When he does come in, Mr. Secretary, please see that we are properly introduced.” They quietly sipped. The severity of the downpour had noticeably lessened, allowing for more congenial conversation.

Van Given mused this new information in light of his recent encounter with the Hattam leader. There was much to learn and much to accomplish if he were to ensure the Dutch maintained their firm footing in New Guinea. As Van Given continued in silent thought, Ansel re-stoked his Meerschaum pipe and drew in deeply then expelled billowing white puffs of smoke. A sweet brandy-like odor enveloped the two men, a scent reminiscent of the men’s clubs back in Amsterdam. Van Given momentarily distant, was awash in thought when it struck him.