Lahara’s poetic stance

Normal, Weekender

The National, Friday 11th November 2011

WHEN it’s lahara the first thing that comes to storyboard’s mind is music, and the best of jazz pieces at that, plus whiling the afternoon hours away waiting for that ticket from the employers to fly back home to the village. 
In the village there is that long stretch of white sandy beach upon your favourite island such as Rourakata, and the lobsters, the clams, the reef crabs and occasionally for the faithful youth escort of the village to the islands a moray eel or two sizzling over the fire.  (The youth would need that delicacy to look after you well.)
That is how it feels when one flees the city like Port Moresby. But the question that comes to our minds now is what Port Moresby has done to us to force us to escape its significance as the capital of our country. We need to go back to storyboard’s jazz selection of music and reconsider.
The jazz music in question usually coincides with the yellow or gold petals that hang down from tall trees all around Waigani campus in November. In some laharas there is often sufficient drizzle to warrant the arrival of the season.
And the flowering trees respond to the season with long hang downs of yellow and gold, so much so the campus and its surrounds bursts into flames of just that – yellow and gold. But not so this year. The atmosphere all around looks as desolate as ever.
There has not even been a slight drizzle as yet and it seems this could continue until December. Even the fashionable Highlands women amble about the campus with umbrellas not so much to keep out the rain as to stop that damn sun beating down on them mercilessly. But even they look settled.
They don’t want to escape the city. And storyboard believes that our attitude to the city should be like that. Good old Port Moresby.
So then, when there is such a season as lahara any time of the year it is true that storyboard becomes overtly poetic in sentiment, composing or reciting poetry wherever he goes, much to the annoyance of those who walk past him, taking quick disapproving looks at him and then walking on. But what matter. Poetry is beauty; poetry is truth.
The best poems in our lifetime come to us during lahara. It is that time of year, if you are living in Milne Bay, when the direction of the seasonal winds change and begin flowing west and southward so that the northern coastal waters are calm and tranquil as ash spread over water.
The waters become so clear that some mornings you can take a peek from your canoe and see the floor beds of the ocean clearly from 20ft to 30ft.
Lahara then becomes that season of credence in a year when we think seriously about recharging our batteries, wherever we are. Hence, the significance of the Lahara programe at various UPNG campuses and open colleges throughout the country.
Since poetry of the lahara season rules the day people from all walks of life think of coming back to school to rekindle. They may be teachers, public servants, business men and women, informal tradesmen and women, ordinary folk of our country, villagers and so on – they know that at one point or another there must be a common meeting ground for us all to gather, re-consider, reflect and feel refreshed. Ah, good old Lahara.
Sometimes in lahara the southerly winds get a little restless, the weather becomes rough, but it is always in those rough moments that we get good messages coming to us from those higher up in authority.
For example, as storyboard writes this he cannot help but recall the prime minister’s visit to the Waigani campus some months earlier.
At that time storyboard felt enthralled to see his students from Hela all dressed up in traditional regalia to welcome their fellow villager back to the campus.
 It was at this time that this villager promised the Waigani population that in his government all education must be free. That every child from prep to Grade 12 at high school and beyond must be given the opportunity to replenish, to rekindle and be free as a citizen of PNG. That anyone from prep to Grade 12 and beyond is a representative of our nation’s intelligentsia.
And it is his government which will make that as a reality.
But, as storyboard always says, the best poetry of our country usually comes out at lahara.
And this poetry has a lot to do with the future generations that surround us a good number of which is found right here in the nation’s capital.
Some evenings, as storyboard walks home, these representatives of our very future come out to greet him with kind words. Sometimes with baked corn, cassava or pawpaw fruit, all given away for free. Storyboard fidgets a bit then, trying to find a coin perhaps to give back, but there is often nothing left in his pocket to give away because the day has been exceedingly harsh on his daily budget. Still, it is the smile given with the gift of corn, cassava or pawpaw fruit that makes storyboard value lahara’s poetic stance so highly.