This makes me wonder why I continue to fill my life up with unnecessary electronic and mechanical clutter.
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Okawiong was a leader of his people who lived in the remote and rugged foothills of Papua New Guinea’s Saruwaget Mountain Range.
His brother was once my workmate, and during the 1970’s Okawiong’s family became my family.
In 1998, after receiving news that, at 74, he was not expected to live much longer, I made a return visit to P.N.G. and “my family” after an absence of 19 years.
This involved a tough 8 hour walk carrying a rucksack after a single engined Cessna had dropped me off at the little grass ‘strip at Pindiu.
It proved to be an emotional and life-changing week for me.
I returned to Australia with an incredible peace of mind that comes from finally having said all those important things that need to be said to people you care about….. before it is too late.
As a reminder of our P.N.G. life, and of the hundreds of nights I spent huddled around cooking fires being fed, educated and entertained by villagers, Mrs GOF and I built this modest attachment to our house.
Partly built with recycled materials it is our preferred place of comfort for much of the wet season when we have no electricity to watch television, and no inclination to venture out into the blowing rain to do any work.
It is always warm and cosy and filled with the aroma of taro or sweet potato baking in the coals, and a kettle and Mrs GOF culinary creation bubbling away on the griddle.
Auxilliary electronic entertainment is unnecessary.
Our own company, the daily musical comedy of birdfeeding viewed through the “window walls”, reading books, or just vacantly staring into dancing flames knowing that this is the way mankind has lived for centuries, fills my soul with contentment.
We also use our smoke house to filter out “acquaintances” from “good friends”.
Our friends embrace the occasional lungful of delinquent wood-smoke and tolerate their clothes being perfumed with Eau de Firefighter.
The others sneer at the “doghouse” and our apparent life of “squalor”.
If I won a million dollars tomorrow in a lottery, the smoke house would remain the same.
No, I lie.
I would buy two new matresses to replace those with erupting stuffing and protruding springs that are now 55 years old, and I would install a whirlygig smoke extractor in the roof to take some load off the under-eaves vents.