A song for Hula
In life, my wife, Hula, often talked about the natural Eden-like beauty of her remote Iruupi village in the Western province, just across the Torres Strait from Australia.
We had talked many times about visiting Iruupi during our 10 years together, however, this was not to be.
My dear wife told me many-a-time of the natural beauty of Iruupi – a virtual Garden of Eden - with its waterways, barramundi, prawns, deer, wild pig, wallaby, cassowaries, taro, bananas, greens, melons, pineapple and other fruits.
She implored me to go and write a feature article of the place and take pictures of its breathtaking scenery.
Sadly, this would never be, as my beloved wife passed away so suddenly and tragically at Daru hospital on Easter Sunday, March 23, 2008, so far away from me and our four young children Malum Jr (7), Gedi (6), Moasing (3), and baby Keith (9 months) in Port Moresby.
Hula had been suffering from suspected post-natal complications following the birth of Keith last June.
She visited Iruupi to be with family, however, in the process, fell ill and was admitted to Daru hospital on Easter Saturday, but died the next day, leaving behind a broken-hearted husband and four young children.
Memories of another day came swirling in my mind as I struggled to come to terms with the reality that Hula, who was only 31 years of age, would never grow old with me and watch our four wonderful young children grow up.
My thoughts went back to 1998 in Lae, when I met the most-beautiful woman I had ever seen, and fell head-over-heels in love with her.Hula, who was then living in Australia with her uncle and auntie, was in Lae for holiday when I first courted her and would not take ‘no’ for an answer.
We started dating, and our love blossomed, to the point that she left for Australia with the promise that she would be back to live with me as my wife.
Towards the end of 1998, I secured a job with the Coffee Industry Corporation in Goroka, and Hula joined me in early 1999.
We had a big three-bedroom house at the Rotary Park in West Goroka, with a big backyard and garden, and life was a dream to a young couple like us.
We’d roll on the grass like children, grow our own vegetables, take long walks along the streets of Goroka, go to market, have long lunches at the Bird of Paradise Hotel followed by a dip in the pool, lie in the park at the airport watching planes land, and catch a PMV or take a long drive to Lae as I pointed out places of interest to Hula.
Yes, indeed, life was a wonderful, carefree dream for us star-crossed lovers.
We were active members of the St John’s Lutheran Church at West Goroka, with Hula being a member of the church choir, and I have so many fond memories of watching her practice and then walking back home with our hands around each other on those cold Goroka nights.
Hula’s radiant personality and friendliness won us so many friends among the people of Goroka.
In early 2000, she became pregnant, and on Saturday, November 4, 2000, I held her at the Goroka Base Hospital and cried after she gave birth to our first son Malum Jr.
We regaled in the joy of becoming parents and enjoyed every minute of Jr growing up at our new home at North Goroka.
Our second son, Gedi, was also born in Goroka on February 13, 2002.
The laid-back lifestyle of Goroka, however, was to end later in 2002 when the CIC underwent a major retrenchment exercise in which about 75% of its staff, including me, was laid off.
We moved to the big smoke of Port Moresby, and although life was good, we never quite got to enjoy the privacy and happiness we once had in Goroka.
Hula, being the good wife that she was, stuck with me through thick and thin.
We were blessed with a third child, a girl named Moasing after my mother, in August 2004 and she brought so much joy to our hearts.
Keith came along last June to complete our hat-trick of boys and complete our basketball team.
At the end of last year, when my three-year contract was up, I decided – after consultation with Hula – to move on to The National where we both believed I could contribute more to the country.
To mark the occasion, we family celebrated by booking a room at the Holiday Inn, where we ate and drank as much as we wanted to.
At the beginning of this year, Hula started complaining of burning sensations in her body, which doctors said was heartburn brought about by child birth.
She was put on medication, however, the sensations continued, by which time Hula insisted that she go home to her village in Iruupi.
I tried to stop her, as she was due for an internal scan and x-ray, however, she would not be moved and flew to Daru, with a relative of hers as babysitter to take care of our children in Port Moresby.
I would never see her alive again.
On Easter Monday, my daughter Moasing and I traveled to Daru with Hula’s coffin, helped to dress her up, I kissed her for the last time, and it was homeward bound on the dinghy hearse for Iruupi.
I held Moasing and cried all the way from Daru Island to Iruupi on the mainland, as all those charming places Hula had told me so many times about, came into view.
We buried her the next morning, next to her beloved father, amidst a throng of mourners.
Before I very reluctantly let her off to Daru, Hula held me, and told me: “Darling, I love you very much.
“ If I do not come back, I want you to take the children to Church every Sunday, and to make sure that they all go to university, because I never went to university.”
I know Hula is in God’s arms, away from all the evil of this earth, and will do everything I can to honour her memory.
Minji, Mamne, Ato!