Kaiwa and Marumaru the Dwarf

29 October 2020



There once was a man named Kaiwa. He lived in Efogi, a Mountain Koiari village in Central Province. Kaiwa loved gardening and worked in his garden plot most days. Many a time, while he was at his garden, he would help other villagers make fences for their own gardens. Kaiwa was a smart and handsome man and was well liked in the village.

One fine day, like most other days, Kaiwa woke up and went to his garden after breakfast. As he reached his plot, he came upon a dwarf eating a pawpaw underneath the pawpaw tree he had picked it from. As noiselessly as he could, Kaiwa crouched and hid at the back of a mado tree and continued to observe this rare sight. The dwarf was relishing the juicy pawpaw and clearly thought it was so good that he climbed up the pawpaw tree and picked another pawpaw fruit to eat.

As the dwarf was climbing back down, new pawpaw in hand, Kaiwa jumped out of his hiding place and surprised it, “Hey! You!” said Kaiwa.

Startled, the dwarf jumped down from the pawpaw tree and ran as quick as he could towards the nearby trees to hide. Kaiwa was equally quick to react and took out his knife and ran after the dwarf. He came upon the patch of bush where the dwarf was hiding.

“I won’t hurt you. Please, come out. I don’t hurt people,” Kaiwa said as he lowered his knife and tucked it away back into his bilum (string bag).

“I’m scared,” replied the dwarf.

Kaiwa assured the dwarf that he would not hurt it and pleaded with it to come out.

Hesitantly, the dwarf came out from its hiding place and ambled closer to the man. Kaiwa introduced himself to the dwarf and asked for its name.

“My name is Marumaru,” answered the dwarf.

“It’s good to see you,” replied Kaiwa.

Marumaru nervously acknowledged Kaiwa and the two sauntered back to the pawpaw tree.

“That’s my pawpaw tree you climbed. You can help yourself to more pawpaw if you like,” offered Kaiwa.

“No, that’s okay. I don’t think I can eat anymore. I think I’ve had enough,” replied Marumaru.

“You can come with me and we can go to my home,” suggested Kaiwa.

But Marumaru said that his wife would be looking for him and that he should go back to his own village.  

So Marumaru waved goodbye to Kaiwa and cautiously left. Kaiwa went into his garden, dug up some kaukau (sweet potatoes), stuffed his bilum with them, then went back to his village later in the day. He cooked the kaukau, ate his dinner and went to sleep. Around midnight, Marumaru appeared in Kaiwa’s dream and pronounced that he will kill Kaiwa and all the other villagers of Efogi. Kaiwa woke up terrified and sat up from his sleeping position. The dream had given him the heebie-jeebies and he had a feeling of being watched. Kaiwa reached for his torch and turned it on and as soon as the beam partially lit up the space he saw a large figure staring at him from the corner of his room. It was Marumaru who seemed larger than he actually was because of the shadow cast by the torch light.

Alarmed by the unexpected visit, Kaiwa asked in the croaky voice of someone who had just been abruptly awoken, “What are you doing here?”

“I’m here to visit you,” replied Marumaru.

“For what reason?” asked Kaiwa.  

“No particular reason really, but I just wanted to see you,” replied Marumaru.

Kaiwa told him to wait while he made a fire for them. He picked up some firewood and got some flames burning. Kaiwa encouraged the fire to grow by blowing into it. Then the man and the dwarf sat around the fire to warm themselves.

Marumaru asked Kaiwa, “My family and I are hungry, can you please provide us some food?”

“I’ll certainly help provide food for you and your family,” replied Kaiwa.

Marumaru smiled and thanked Kaiwa and then left.

Kaiwa put out the fire and went back to sleep. But Marumaru appeared in his dream again. Looking at Kaiwa with a horrifically distorted face and pointing straight at him, Marumaru proclaimed, “I want to kill you!”

Kaiwa was frightened and asked why he wanted to kill him to which Marumaru replied, “Because we dwarves love eating human hearts.”

Kaiwa woke up panicked and panting heavily. He looked around to see if Marumaru had come back to his house but the first rays of dawn had cleared out his room already. Unsettled by the ominous dreams and the unexpected short visit by the dwarf, Kaiwa made sure to arm himself today – just in case – when he went to the gardens. He packed his axe, knife, and bow and arrows into his bilum and walked to the gardens but told no one about his dreams. When he arrived at his plot, he saw that all his garden food was gone. At first he thought it was one of the village boys. Kaiwa was furious but calmed himself down and tried to think of who might have raided his garden as he paced about looking down at the empty patch of mess and what evidence of the crime was left on the ground.

He had a gut feeling that this could have been the misdeed of a dwarf so Kaiwa decided to go to Marumaru’s village to see what the dwarf was up to. Kaiwa managed to find the dwarf village by following a trail of debris leading out from his garden patch. It wasn’t long before he came upon the village and then followed the trail straight to Marumaru’s house where the miscreant and his wife were feasting on kaukau, banana, yam, taro and greens.

Kaiwa was infuriated upon seeing this. He entered the house and questioned Marumaru, “Where did you get all this food from?”

“We harvested from our own garden yesterday,” scoffed Marumaru.

“Don’t come and interrupt our lunch! We want to enjoy eating our food,” added the dwarf.

But Kaiwa was not convinced.

“You are a liar! And you’re lying to me now. You stole all my garden food,” Kaiwa yelled his accusation at the short-statured deviant.

“I was very hungry so I got the food from your garden. Sorry for stealing your garden food but my fellow dwarves and I are planning to kill you and eat you and this is the bait because I knew you would come looking for me,” Marumaru revealed menacingly in an ignoble and brooding voice that now seemed unrecognizable to Kaiwa.

Kaiwa quickly realized his predicament and the danger he was in. He turned to run away but Marumaru grabbed a spear laying conveniently by his feet and threw it at the fleeing man. Before he could reach the door and get out, the spear pierced Kaiwa’s right leg behind his thigh and the man yelped in pain and fell to the floor.  

“Help! Help! Please help,” cried Kaiwa as he crawled out of the house, spear-in-thigh.

Kaiwa cried louder and screamed for help but no men were nearby to help him. He was alone in a dwarf village.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to eat another human. It’s been months since our last one and I’m tired of just eating garden food,” said Marumaru.

“Please, don’t do this,” Kaiwa begged.

“I’m sorry but we want to make a feast in our village,” replied Marumaru, “And you’re the main course.”

“Please, help me,” pleaded Kaiwa.

But other dwarves had gathered around him already. Some of the male dwarves helped Marumaru lift Kaiwa up and carried him to a shelter at the other end of their village. Inside the shelter was an altar on which the dwarves killed human sacrifices before eating. The dwarves sang and shouted in jubilation as they all exited the shelter. They knew they would be feasting soon. Atop the altar, Kaiwa heard them singing and noisily moving about their houses. The singing subsided and then stopped.

Most of the dwarves had gone to their nearby gardens to gather what scant food they had left for their planned feast. In their rush, no dwarf had tied up the man or secured the shelter. They may have assumed that a man with a spear in his leg was not going to be able to escape.

Kaiwa knew he did not have much time. He clenched his teeth and yanked out the spear from his leg, grimacing in pain as the spear came out. He knew he had to push through the pain and try to walk on his feet and make a quick escape. He opened the door quietly and peered out. Marumaru and his wife were in their house probably preparing their garden food. Some of the other dwarves were harvesting starch and greens from their gardens just outside on the fringes of the village perimeters. But no one had been told to guard the shelter. Kaiwa bolted out of the sacrificial hut, making his way around the back and into the bushes. He found his way to the main road and half ran, half limped as fast as he could back to his village. It was evening when he arrived home. Kaiwa boiled water and washed his leg then dressed his wound. Feeling drowsy, the man who had just made a lucky escape, plopped over and dozed off.

The next day Kaiwa informed the men in his village of his dreams, and his ordeal and lucky escape from almost being killed and eaten by the dwarves. They decided they would retaliate and Kaiwa would lead them since he was the only one who knew the location of the dwarf village. They grabbed their bows and arrows, knives, axes and spears and marched – Kaiwa limping. Kaiwa had dropped his bilum of other weapons yesterday when he was attacked so he carried a spare spear which he used as a support walking stick as they marched back to the dwarf village with ill intentions.

As they came upon their target, the men fanned out, plodding over garden plots and pushing through the shrubs that skirted the settlement to surround the dwarf village. The village seemed empty. All in sync, the men walked into the village, like a shrinking circle, brandishing their weapons, ready to attack at an instant. No one was around to resist or run away as they walked in, looking through windows and doors. Kaiwa motioned with his hand to some men near him, indicating that they follow him as he paced towards Marumaru’s house. Kaiwa peeked through the window and saw Marumaru sitting alone inside. The dwarf was thinking about the previous days’ happenings.

Then all of a sudden, Kaiwa appeared at the door, silhouetted by the sunlight trying to make its way into the hut. The dwarf looked up unsurprised, seemingly expecting the man’s return.  

“After what you did to me, this is payback time,” Kaiwa growled as he lunged his spear at Marumaru.

The spear went straight through Marumaru’s head and the dwarf fell off his stool – dead. The men searched all the other houses in the dwarf village but there were no other dwarves around. The dwarves had expected a retaliatory attack by the humans so had vacated their village in haste the previous evening. The men concealed themselves in the thickets surrounding the village and waited for some hours to see if any other dwarves would return but none ever did. The men then returned to Efogi Village and no human was ever bothered by a dwarf again.

*Sandrah is of a mixed parentage of Central and Simbu provinces and is in Grade 7 (Blue).

Published by Ples Singsing

Ples Singsing is envisioned to be a new platform for Papua Niuginian expressions of creativity, ingenuity and originality in art and culture. We deliberately highlight these two very broad themes as they can encompass the diverse subjects, from technology, medicine and architecture to linguistics, music, fishing, gardening et cetera. Papua Niuginian ways of thinking, living, believing, communicating, dying and so on can cover the gamut of academic, journalistic or opinionated writing and we believe that unless we give ourselves a platform to talk about and discuss these things in an open, free and non-exclusively academic space that they may remain the fodder for academics, journalists and other types of writers alone. New social media platforms have given every individual a personal space to share their feelings and ideas openly, sometimes without immediate censure. The Ples Singsing writer’s blog would like to provide another more structured platform for Papua Niuginian expressions in written, visual and audio formats while also providing some regulation of the type and content of materials to be shared publicly.

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