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A Wealth of Culture The culture of Papua New Guinea in the timeline

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Old 19-08-2002, 11:48 AM
Janelle Janelle is offline
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A Legend Story - Sineialoi


SINEIALOI was the last born in a family of seven girls. They were all pretty, delicate and soft spoken.
Sineialoi was the prettiest, her curly hair always fell neatly onto her back, her large round eyes always sparkled and her anti-sized waist made her the most talked about girl in the village.
The boys did everything and anything to win her attention but none succeeded. Despite this, the boys continued their struggle to marry her and always, she would turn down their proposals with a shy smile.
Sineialoi’s popularity with the boys brought hatred from her sisters and the other girls. She was always left out of their games.
The jealousy surfaced one day when the sisters decided to go fishing on a remote island. One the island, they waited for the low tides in the afternoons and taking advantage of the current, the seven sisters got into one canoe and paddled to the island.
One the island, they waited for the low tide. Sineialoi collected coconuts, husked them and left for the nearby rocks, leaving her sisters discussing their plans.
Sitting on the rocks she saw the mother dolphins teaching their little ones how to jump.


“Wilwili iabobo natum Kaposi iawooooooo,” she chanted and the dolphins performed their mother-child game, keeping their rhythm to her chant. Then, the dolphins swam closer to the rocks and were rewarded with coconuts from her.
High upon the branches an eagle silently watched Sineialoi.
“And what are you looking at?” Sineialoi asked the eagle as she took of her grass-skirts to have a bath.
The eagle said nothing. Instead it flew off and headed for the eagle’s island. She watched it until it disappeared into the distance.
After having her wash, Sineialoi began collecting shells as she made her way around the island to join with her sisters. The tide had gone down and the sisters were scattered on the reef also collecting shells. Sineialoi joined them.
“That’s a lot of shells you have collected,” said a sister. “Thank you,” Sineialoi said.
“Sineialoi?” another sister called. “Yes,” she replied.
“Come, help me get this octopus,” the sister said.
Sineialoi picked up her basket, walked over the coral to her sister and helped remove the octopus from a hole in the coral.
Then, she moved onto another sister – she was co-operative, not knowing that her sisters had a secret plan to desert her.
When the tide began to rise, the sisters returned to the shore where they emptied their baskets to clean the shells.
“Sineialoi?” said a sister. “What is it?” she replied.
“Those shells you’ve collected,” the sister commented. “Some thing wrong?” she asked. “Yes. They are poisonous,” the sister said.
Sineialoi was puzzled and looked at her shells all her life and she knew which shells were poisonous and which were not. Nonetheless, not wanting to hurt anybody, especially members of her family, she kept quiet. Her sisters had gathered around her saying, “Go get new shells, these are poisonous. You want boys to laugh at you?”
Without a word of protest, she picked up her basket and left but the tide had risen, making it almost impossible to collect shells. When she was out of sight the other sisters got into their canoe and left, leaving Sineialoi alone on the uninhabited island.


“They lied to me. They fooled me. All those shells I collected were not poisonous. They fooled me,” she said and collapsed in tears.
For several days, she waited for someone to come her way so she could be rescued but not a single soul came.
All alone, yet not lonely, she managed to live on the island, spending most of her time with dolphins and talking to eagle that had made a permanent sitting space on the branch of a nearby tree.
One evening she made up her mind to return to her village so she collected fallen coconuts and bundled them together. The sea was calm the next day as she paddled, inch by inch, to cover the long distance home. By late afternoon exhausted forced her to rest her paddle and earn a good rest. The current was against her and swept her out towards the ocean.
“Kwaaa, Kwaaa, Kwaaa,” a seagull cried above warning other creatures. A turtle, surfacing nearby heard the seagull’s warning and swam closer to her. It dived in again and came up through the bundle of the coconuts and swam towards a remote island, with stunted trees, where the eagles lived.


Coming to the turtle’s assistance were the dolphins that swam around Sineialoi, jumping into the air and plunging back into the sea happily. A few helped the turtle push Sineialoi along the bundle of coconuts. Others swam on the side chasing the hungry sharks away.
When Sineialoi was safe on the side of the island they all left.
“It’s the same girl I saw on the island,” the eagle said. That eagle was no ordinary eagle – it was a young man in an eagle’s feathers. Stepping out of the feathers, the eagle went down and carried Sineialoi onto the rocks. There he collected wood, made a fire, cooked food, baked taro and left them beside her. Then he left, got into his eagle feathers and watched from the treetop.
Sineialoi woke up, and was both surprised and pleased to find food, water and a fire.
“You are safe on this island,” the eagle said. “Who is it?” she replied almost immediately.
“Just a friend,” the eagle replied. “Who are you?” she asked. “A human in an eagle’s feathers,” the eagle added. “Oh, I see,” she commented.
The eagle, once again, took off his feathers, left them on the side of the rocks and walked down to join her and both start talking.
“So, you were watching me?” “Yes and I fell in love with you.”
“How extraordinary.” “Indeed, I didn’t think you’d end up here.”
“Me too, but I’m here.” “That’s right.” “Taken so far out, I’ll have to think of a better way to get home.” “I guess there is a way.”
“Do you have any ideas?” “Not at the moment.”
“Why can’t I ride on your back and you fly me home.” “Hummmmm.”
“Come on.” Why don’t we try it out tomorrow.” “Okay.”
Both went to sleep on the rocks, kept warm by the flames. The next day, they tried the idea out. Sineialoi got onto the eagle’s back but because the eagle had fallen in love with her, he pretended it was difficult flying with her on his back.
After a few attempts they gave up and remained on the island. During the day, the eagle flew away and returned in the evening with wood, food and water.
Sineialoi on the other hand remained on the island collecting fish and shells. Life somehow became so good for her that she forgot about returning home. Eventually she fell in love with the eagle, and married him.


“Know something?” “No.” “I’m pregnant.” “Are you?” “Yes.”
“So, I’m going to be a father. I must build a house.” Next day the eagle and Sineialoi began building a house on the rocks.”
The eagle flew in building materials in the mornings and in the afternoons and nights they build the house. It was completed within a few days and they lived in it.
Sineialoi eventually gave birth to a fine boy who grew up to be a handsome man and a strong eagle. He spent most of his days with the father. In the nights, they joined Sineialoi for dinner and a well-earned rest.
One day her son returned home unusually early, sad and in tears. He had lost his father – he had died.
In fact, while he was out hunting for food, someone burnt the grass where he had hidden his eagle feathers. As he ran to rescue them, a wild pig attacked him and he crawled into the flame and burnt to ashes like his feathers.
Several days passed, and loneliness forced Sineialoi to start thinking about returning to her village.
“Son, we must return to my village,” she said one night while they were having dinner. Her son agreed, so the next day they began preparations for the journey.
“My child, fly now to that island. Beside a big tree is your first auntie’s garden.
Bring back the best of her bananas,” she instructed. Her child flew away and returned in the afternoon with the best and biggest of his auntie’s bananas. Sineialoi knew her sister was still alive.
“Son, fly back to the island and beside a big rock is your second auntie’s garden. Get the best of her yams and come back,” she told her child the next day. Again he flew away and returned in the evening with the best yam. Sineialoi knew her second eldest sister was alive and well.
“Son, beside a red hill is your third auntie’s garden. Go and bring back the best of her taro,” she gave the orders on the third day. Her child flew away and returned that evening with the best taro confirming Sineialoi’s belief that her sister was alive and well.
“Son, Go back change into a human and go into the village and get me a paddle,” she instructed. Her child flew away and returned with her father’s paddle.
She embraced it and cried with joy for she knew her parents were still alive. “Tomorrow we return,” she said and went to sleep. Early the next day, she hopped onto her son’s back and away they flew to the island. They landed on the hill where the son changed out of feathers and hid them in a cave. Together they went into the village hoping for a warm welcome.
But the sisters turned their noses high and exchanged whispers of disgust as Sineialoi and her child entered her father’s house. There was a great commotion. The grandmother hugged the grandchild and cried. She was pleased her daughter had returned, not alone but with a child.
Life returned to normal until one day the thing she feared most happened – her son fought with one of her aunts.
“Your son is a son of an eagle. Take him back to where he belongs,” said the sister.
“My child is no eagle. He is a human,” Sineialoi said.
“He fights like an eagle,” the sister said.
In the days that followed, the same curses fell on her ears and offended her child. Each day forced her child further into loneliness, so that one day he ran away and left for his island in his eagle feathers.
When night fell and he did not return, Sineialoi went up to the hills and checked the caves. She found his feathers missing.
“My child come back to me. Please come back to me,” she cried. But her child had gone and did not return. She went back to the village and lived in isolation.
Then there came a day when her entire body felt strange. She felt like a fish trapped in a human body. Her warm blood had turned cold and her salt skin had begun to grow thicker.
Carrying a small bilum around her neck, she bid every-one good-bye, including her sisters and walked onto the beach under the shadows of the setting of the sun.
She looked back and saw the entire village population following but she continued walking to the sea and made for the reef.
Once the sea was up to her neck, her entire body changed into a fish and she submerged.
In her new form Sineialoi swam away to a new life, surroundings and friends. She made her home under the sea by the remote island. She lived happily below the sea, while above; her child also lived happily to in his eagle feathers.

Story Series by John Wils Kaniku.
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Last edited by Janelle; 19-08-2002 at 12:01 PM.
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