Quite where the alarm clock came from the villagers couldn’t remember but the children did find the glow-in-the-dark hands comforting. The real story – a story remembered only by the elders – was that Papa Binatang had brought the clock with him from Australia. It was unusual that they kept the clock at all given that the elders agreed that Papa Binatang – Pidgin for Father Insect – was just about the worst thing that ever happened to their small Papuan village. And this, it should be noted, was a village that recently gone through a devastating rinderpest outbreak.
Papa Binatang had a knack for making others uncomfortable. In a bar on the stopover in Cairns he was heard to murmer wistfully, “I could murder a nun. I could.” His face was twisted into an exaggerated grimace that was somewhat reminiscent of the dramatic faces that silent movie stars like Gloria Swanson would affect to give their roles the emotion their voices could not. It was disconcerting to say the least, as he was so deep in his thoughts they had to address him several times “Father! Father!” to get his attention. In short, Papa Binatang was a thoroughly disagreeable man. Shit, he even drank greedily when he was thirsty.
The villagers tolerated the presence of Papa Binatang because they felt it was in their interest to do so: churches in Australia were always shipping off a missionary or two to save the savages, and they always came with the goods. Papa Binatang was no exception, carrying a box of dragon fruits, something the villagers had never seen. Dragon fruit and, of course, a clock with glow-in-the-dark hands.
It became obvious, though, that Papa Binatang was there with only one thing in mind, leching on the young Papuan boys. This carried on for a while, but when the elders realised what was going on they got rid of Father Insect in their own inimitable way. *blaow*
Written on Sunday, 3 April 2011