By PAUL MINGA
WITHOUT any tertiary qualification and a decent job I have been roaming the streets of Port Moresby for more than two decades as a big pretender and a vagrant.
I feel it is time to be honest with myself and so I want tell who I am and what I had encountered over time. It is a revelation of truth of a very great pretender. I was creating false impressions to school mates, friends and wantoks that I had a job and was fine but in reality I wasn’t and was only acting in disguise.
Having lived as a vagrant for so long, I think it is better I have to make a revelation of myself of the miserable life I had endured while living in the expensive and demanding city of Port Moresby. It is better to expose the truth of myself as there is no prize or reward for me if I continue to be a pretender.
I occasionally bumped into a school mate, friend or a familiar face and I tried as best to let him get an impression that I was ok but at times my inappropriate dressing gave me away and I could not impress whoever I tried to make to believe my story.
As a pretender I dreaded people enquiring about my profession, achievements, work place and where I lived as I don’t have a convincing or credible answer to all those questions and other questions that would be asked. I say I don’t have any one single answer because I do not have a decent tertiary qualification and to make matter worse I don’t have any reliable job here in Port Moresby.
To get a decent job in the city one has to have an educational qualification and job experience to impress employers. Therefore for a person like me without a decent qualification it is tough to get a desired or a dream job. My grade 10 qualification can only get me a job such as a cleaner, guard or a shop attendant. But I regarded those jobs as for people with low qualifications but in fact, I too am in that category.
I was thinking and acting as if I was somebody but actually I was only a failure and great pretender. If I had been honest and true to myself in taking up a job that suited my grade 10 qualification then I would have been on a steady job by now. I am regretful that I am aging now and can not rewind those active years that are gone forever.
Anyway, to get back to my life as a vagrant and great pretender in the city.
This is how I live, what I eat and other things that are part and parcel of being a vagrant in the city.
I can’t afford a rented home, my night resting places are the homes of kind and cheerful people whom I sens as inviting and welcoming. To avoid hurting the feelings of any kind home owner, I venture from one home to another in giving breathing space and then call in sometime later and the pattern goes on like this.
However, as a vagrant seeking refuge in people’s homes, most times what becomes my regular beds or resting places are patapatas (sheltered platforms) or sometimes disposed freezers, cardboard or ply wood sheets. This may be shocking but that is a reality of life for a vagrant who prefers to live in a demanding and expensive city.
Whenever fortunate strikes or a Good Samaritan comes along and offers me money, I make a shopping list for cheap store goods like Super A1 or Ori rice, the cheapest Diana tuna fish and other cheap noddles, Klina soap, etc.
When buying those cheap products it is shameful in the eyes of people who consider those goods as of low quality and tasteless. Therefore to avoid them looking at what I buy, soon after leaving the cashier I usually pack my shopping into a bag or an empty box to conceal it.
However, I only shop when I have more than K100 but when I have something less than that, flour balls are a regular diet for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I can be sure of where I will be lying down for a night but there will be nothing prepared for dinner. I have to carry in my bag of scones or a few flour balls along to feed my grumbling stomach for the night as a substitute for a decent dinner.
Before I leave wherever home is for an outing, I fetch cold water in a 500ml or one litre Coke bottle and tuck it away in my bag to quench my thirst from the scorching Port Moresby heat over the day. Sometimes I do the same with a home-made juice so that it can complement the meal of flour balls as a substitute for a Coke over the day.
However, at times when I afford a Coke drink I take a seat in a kaibar among other customers to enjoy the drink and flour balls. When funds do not allow me to buy a Coke, I tuck away my plastic of flour balls and make off to a place that I consider appropriate and have them with either cold water or homemade juice.
But most times I just have flour balls alone.
This is reality about life for me, a pretender, and those who are in the same boat.
It’s not good for me to go on pretending till I die. I’m not ashamed for revealing the truth of my vagrant and miserable life.
Like one would say in Tok Pisin, I’m doing this to Tok aut, tok stret!
- Paul Minga is a freelance writer.