CHAPTER 5 SAVAGE ENCOUNTER

SAVAGE ENCOUNTER 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

This is Part One in a historical fiction series entitled: SAVAGE ENCOUNTER, there are 24 chapters I will be publishing individually, be sure to scroll down to the desired chapter. I hope you enjoy the book. Gratuities can be made to bluebonnets_trb@msn.com through Paypal.

CHAPTER FIVE  The Mishap

Piercing torrents relentlessly hammered the territory for three days and nights. It wasn’t enough the two major clans on Roon Island continued their tribal wars. A major monsoon storm had hit hard. The unusually intense pummeling came as a sure sign the unseen forces were offended with earthly dwellers. As the last of its chastening presence moved westward, away from Yende village, Womini pondered what else could possibly happen.

Through a crack in the woven leaf wall of her longhouse, weary-eyed Womini saw lightening off in the distance, inland across Wandamen Bay. Dawn would be upon them in several hours. As she deeply breathed the stale room air, she momentarily relaxed, trance-like, and found herself mentally savoring the outside air so crispy fresh and biting. It was always so refreshing after the monsoons watered the jungle foliage; crisp and biting. However, she was shut up inside the hut, and the fierce storm had completely shrouded Wor’s face, without which Yende villagers couldn’t expect to live.

Throughout the  deluge, Womini had wondered if they would ever see blue sky again. Wor, that great marching fire-deity daily passed them by. Wor, who throws arrows of warm light toward the earth, by all his power and might had not been able to penetrate the diobara pimasa. Could big Sky-deity be angry with Wor as much as he was with the earthly Ayambi clan of Yende. And what was the cause for his anger she thought?

Without the warmth of Wor, the air felt cool, uncannily cold. Their near-naked bodies accustomed to steamy jungle heat chilled from the temperature drop caused by the incessant monsoon deluge. Everyone in Womini’s household had crammed into the cooking area at the back of the stilt house to be close to the fire. Such was the case in all the households, where the warm smoky atmosphere was only slightly aggravated by the wafting odor of at least a dozen unwashed bodies. Womini placed several jagged pieces of dried wood on the hard earthen fire pit and poked at the dying coals with her fire stick. Flames quickly ignited, licking the edges, casting an eerie yellow glow about the interior. She poked some more. Everyone else in the stilt house was asleep.

Sleep eluded her. She was physically drained and yet she could not find relief. She was restless. Her once beautiful dark features were sullen and drawn. Her weary eyes were sunken and bloodshot from mourning the loss of her loved one. The all-village mourning ritual had lasted only half a day. That was all they were allowed before the monsoons came and shut them up in their stilt houses. The lamentations of aged women had joined the men’s gloating victory hoots like warp and weft  in cane weaving. Men had danced and celebrated the heads they’d taken. Women, scathed by defeat, agonized over the loss of family members. And then big Sky-deity loosed his wrath. For the last three days, he kept Wor away and darkened the heavens with horrendous monsoon rains that dampened their exuberance and sorrow, all in one mighty show of superiority.

Womini’s two lifeless hollows slowly moved to stare at each resting torso. These were not happy times. These were days and nights filled with sorrow and bobo drinking. Bobo released Yende fighting men to a boisterous liberty, a disguise which hid the gnawing anguish deep within their bellies. They feigned victory, yet circumstance could be read in their eyes. There was an air of defeat. Over several months of fighting, the mounting losses increased as did a gnarling, cancerous pain. Every Yende adult felt it. They had ritualized their kin, but the end to it all was not in sight. Conflagration with the Rudomo clan was certain to continue.

“Oh, when will it stop?”  She cried to herself, “When will the killing stop?”

Like sleep, the answer also eluded her. The inhabitants on Roon Island could not rest until all wrongs were righted. But that was the dilemma. Reprisal warfare never completely ended. It is as a treadmill kept in motion by revenge, revenge fueled by primal hatred. The treadmill, although sometimes lulling for months on end, never completely wound down. The Ayambi clan could expect more heads would be taken, and certainly more heads would be lost.

Womini pensively studied the muscular frames of the men curled asleep against the outer bamboo wall. She knew the depths that anger and hate could press a human soul. She herself had been stolen, taken for a slave. In truth, these were not her clan, and yet, it was the Melanesian way. Either pay for a bride or steal one. Wrenched, literally pried from the arms of her dying brother during one such slave raid, she herself had been taken. Futilely protecting her, her brother’s life forces retreated in dark death. But his last heroic attempt had centered on her safety. As leader of the raiding party, Tomak honored that bravery. Womini’s brother was not beheaded and the young Numfor girl was taken, alive.

Happy, long ago memories of her family huddled together in their Numfor Island stilt house seemed to jab in and out between her present thoughts and concerns. Over the years, her hate and anger subsided. The Ayambi clan treated her fairly; she had not been beaten or molested. At first she was an obedient house slave. They named her Womini, when in truth womi-ni actually means this slave. Her slave status lasted up to the moment her emergent womanhood overshadowed the flowering adolescence she had tried desperately to conceal. When the time came that she should bear offspring Womini was given to Komoi.

This proved to be an economic boon. Normally, an Ayambi male had to purchase a bride from a neiboring clan. This always intailed the collective wealth of many clan families. Slaves however, were clearly possessions, no one paid for Womini, other than her brother, with his life.

Yet, Womini assessed Komoi was a prize. Swift as a wild running deer and youthfully muscular. More than once she caught herself stealing a glance at his glistening torso when he sat pounding the sago palm pulp with his amal or while he worked at mending cracks in his wa, the small dugout canoe every coastal male possessed.

Komoi’s father, Tomak, had defeated her brother and rightfully taken her for spoil. She was his slave, his responsibility and in his house she served. Yet, in time, as her own personal trauma became less and less vivid, she came to terms within herself. She would serve and not be a bother. She would try to be as inconspicuous as possible. If she were fortunate, one of the families would bargain for her and she would be purchased for a bride. On the other hand, maybe not. So naturally, in partial response to the hormonal changes taking place within her maturing body, Womini had often caught herself glancing at Komoi. The lurking thought that she might be given to him only seemed to kindle a primal desire she feared might never be fulfilled.

In time, she and Komoi made good the notion that Numfor women were as fertile as frogs. This earned her the respect of the entire village and saved her paternal clan-in-law from public ridicule. Two beautiful girls and a boy she named Rundawai, meaning large headed, because she travailed more in birth with him than with his sisters. These three and Komoi were her constant preoccupation.

Now all was changed. She felt a deep, sinking sensation within her innermost being. What will life be like without Komoi? How can I go on without him she thought? Why must the killing and suffering continue? Questions, questions, questions but never any answers. It’s the way of things, she thought and again placed several more jagged pieces of wood on the dwindling fire. She slumped, yielding to the fatigue that finally overcame her. Gliding into sleep, amorphous visions flashed in her mind. Komoi, swift as a running deer, and Wor, showering the earth with his warm arrows of light; visions that emerged like some waft of smoke carried aloft by a gentle breeze.  And she thought of  big Sky-deity.

“What will it take to quench your anger?” She breathed out, falling deep into sleep.

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