The title of this story “BAMBOO BOYS” is inspired by the Papua New Guinean writer Kasaipwalova who uses the Tok Pisin expression KATIM MAMBU (cut the bamboo) in one of his stories to describe buggery at Bomana Prison. In contemporary PNG homosexuality is illegal. There are currently moves towards the decriminalization of Homosexuality. The short story below is a fusion of jokes, myth, stories and prejudices about gay guys that flows as part of the mauswara that occurs at my buai maket.
Dedicated to my courageous Australian friend Jai
The mobile phone was vibrating. Ralph stirred from his sleep and checked his phone. There was an early morning message from Steve. It read; “wakey! Wakey! Hands off your snakey! Get up scratch your bum and get ready for school!” “Cheeky,” Ralph texted back to Steve. Ralph smiled and looked at the time and his smile was wiped off. It was 6:30 am. He needed to be at the bus stop at 7:00 AM or he’d have trouble catching the bus to school.
Ralph was in year 12 at Gordon Secondary School in Port Moresby. His phone friend Steve was a member of the Air Niugini cabin crew. Steve was 22 years old from Manus and New Ireland while Ralph was an 18 year old Central Province lad.
They both had met via the chat service provided by the local mobile company. Obviously, it wasn’t love at first sight considering they were just texting but they seemed to be sending the right signals over the network coverage area.
At 10 PM Ralph sent Steve a text that read; “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” And he waited and waited but there was no reply. He went to sleep disappointed.
He woke up in the morning and found a message from Steve on his phone. It read; “lol. XXX…Sorry babe, went to sleep early. Got up this morn and saw your message...XXX”
Ralph replied Steve’s text and prepared himself for school.
That evening Steve texted back “guess where I am babe.” Ralph had no phone credits so he sent a CREDIT ME K1 message to Steve. Steve sent Ralph K5 phone credits and they both began chatting.
“Lae,” Ralph replied. “Lol. How did you know, babe?” Steve texted. “Telepathy, Were connected, babe xxxx” Ralph replied.
“So, how was your day,” Steve texted back. “Was a shocker, the boys made me to join the girl’s netball team. No one wants gays in their team,” Ralph replied. “I’m so sorry babe, wish I was there to comfort you,” Steve texted.
“Mmm, kinky xxxx,” Ralph replied. “Hehehe horny stud, hope this will cheer you up: sex is when I put my location into your destination, do you understand my definition or do you need a demonstration,” Steve texted back. “HAHAHA, you’re filthy spunk. I think I’d love a demonstration. Thanks dude I feel better now.”
“Love you babe, I’m getting some shut-eye now xoxox” Steve texted. “Love you to, 99 xoxox” Ralph replied
The boys had never met face to face. Steve was always busy as an Air Niugini trolley dolly and his off days were irregularly irregular such that I was almost impossible to have a meeting. Steve offered to take Ralph out on a weekend getaway but Ralph declined because he had the Year 12 exams coming up.
That evening Steve texted, “hey babe wassup, can I call you.” Ralph was nervous. He had never talked to Steve on the phone. “OK,” he replied. Ralph waited for the phone to ring. Two minutes later he received a text message from Steve. “Sup babe, my call was diverted to your voicemail.”
Ralph looked in horror at his phone. He had indeed forwarded all incoming calls to the voice messaging center. “Sorry hon, I’ve sorted the problem, you can call now”
Steve called and they both talked for half an hour. Later that night Steve texted; “Babe I’m in a trance, you sounded like a choir of angels but ten thousand times ten thousand times more beautiful. I think I’m falling for you.”
Ralph was blown away by that. His pulse raced, his pupils were dilated and a surge of oxytocin and dopamine in his brain made him feel light and he had goose bumps. His hands and feet trembled as his nerves fired erratically and for a moment he felt as if the Universe had paused from its activity, picked him up and carried him to its bosom for a cuddle.
“When you fall from a bridge, you fall into a river, when you fall from a tree, you fall to the ground, but when you fall in love, you fall into my arms,” Ralph replied to Steve.
Steve was in Rabaul that evening drinking coke and whisky by the hotel pool. It was a warm evening and the last rays of the sun danced off the ripples in the pool. His phone rang. It was message from Ralph.
He smiled and opened the message. The message read, “Hi. I’m sorry to inform you that Ralph was killed at the bus stop today by some jealous guys. He told me that you were his best friend. RALPHS SISTER.”
Steve was distraught. He couldn’t believe the message. “My greatest pain is I love in Vain!” he cried.