Chapter 6

Written by: Griffin

Angelica strode through the tiny balls onto the grass verge. 

 

There was no breeze. The palms to her right were sullen, lifeless. She placed her backpack on the grass. Not a soul was stirring. The island was enveloped in heat. It was mid-afternoon. 

 

She humped the pack onto her shoulders and forged ahead in search of accommodation. She had a little speech ready in case the locals proclaimed her a goddess or princess. There was a little path which led through secondary forest. The sound of cicadas pervaded the air. In a clearing was a bamboo house and a man sitting on a log, who appeared to be sharpening a tool of some kind. His black hair straggled down past his ears.

 

“Hello,” said Angelica brightly. And then  “Maru.” This was the word for hello in Dr Noland’s vocabulary, which she had studied on the plane.

 

“Maru,” said the man without getting up, holding her in a steadfast gaze. 

 

She thought, “Wow, my first conversation in Taru language. Good old Dr Noland.” 

 

Aloud, she said, “Kou inoa e Angelica,” and “I’ve just arrived. How are you?”

 

The man stood up. “Kou inoa o Temo. La maika i." He was looking over her shoulder at the empty path behind her.

 

“Excuse me, I am looking for a place to stay,” with a wide, friendly smile. At the same time, with her arms she made the shape of a roof over her head. The man got up, laying down the axe-head, and beckoned her to follow. At length they came to another house, raised off the ground, with chickens roaming around underneath. They climbed some sturdy steps and stepped inside. “Te matu bala,” he said, indicating a simple bed.

 

The afternoon sun passed through the simple bamboo wall and made bright stripes on the slatted floor. “Oh, thank you, thank you,” she said, taking off the heavy pack. She couldn’t wait to get a look at her Toren and Pawels book, Living Kinship in the Pacific. In reply, he touched his chest with his right hand, exclaiming, “Ba manute kane,” and left.

 

Angelica wondered if it might be diplomatic to go and see the Head Man. She was determined to know if the kinship on the island was of Hawaiian-type, or the more complicated Sudanese-type. 

 

In the centre of the large room was a raised section where one or more people could sit. On this she spread her few belongings and made a pile of the four textbooks she had brought. There was a noise from outside. She looked out of the doorway and saw below a tall thin man in his twenties, wearing garments of animal skin and woven material. Around his neck was a band consisting of four rows of tiny blue beads. He smiled and said, “Hello.”

 

“Oh hello, pleased to meet you. You speak English?”

 

She descended.

 

They shook hands and he said, “Some English I learn from tungāne Nulan.”

 

Angelica could feel her life taking direction.

 

Comments

Sullen palms - love that. I also liked the language you invented to give the chapter authenticity and the books were exactly what she would have carried with her. You picked up the archaeology theme and carried it off. Fantastic chapter. Believable.