By Darolyn Havae
In the Baimuru area of the Gulf Province, there is a fish called Maiara and a plant called Ura, that grows on the river banks. Here is a traditional story about how Maiara, the fish and Ura, the plant came to be.
Along the Era river; there was a two sisters lived happily in a hamlet. The elder sister was called Maiara and the younger one was called Ura. One day, the elder sister gave birth to a baby boy. They called him Amou. They were so excited that they took turns in looking after the baby. At times, one of them would stay with the baby while the other would go to make sago, gardening or do other things that the Baimuru people do to these day.
One bright sunny day, Maiara saw it was a good day to fish so she took a fishing net, got into a wooden canoe and went up stream where the water was shallow. To her surprise, she saw all kinds of fish swimming around the algae and struggling to get to the bites.
Before Maiara left for her fishing trip, she told Ura to look after her baby Amou and left her with few instructions to follow. These instructions were things that Ura used to do on many occasions when Maiara went off so she knew exactly what to do that day. Ura carry Amou down to the bank of the river and waved Maiara off. They watched her paddled up stream until she disappear into the horizon and they walked up to the sago hatched roof house.
Ura play hide and seek with baby Amou all morning. At noon, they used a string to make Minaka, the string arts while baby Amou was feeling hungry and started crying. Ura quickly got some sago and cooked biguru, a sago syrup that used to cooked for babies. She fed baby Amou with biguru and coconut milk. The meal was so delicious and baby Amou ate it all and his little stomach was bugling out that it was difficult for Ura to hold him.
After eating biguru dripping, Ura carried Amou down to the river to wash him. Ura stood Amou on a log of wood and splashed water all over him. He was so excited and could not stay calm. The place was so wet and slippery, poor Ura had to struggle to hold baby Amou steady to washed him. All of a sudden, the baby Amou slipped out of her hand and sank into the river. In that instant, Ura try to jump into the river but she saw a crocodile surfacing just few metres away. She could not believe that baby Amou had gone and no longer with her. She knew that baby Amou have been eaten by a crocodile. She walked up and down the river banks looking for any signs of Amou but the river was so calm as if nothing had happened. She cried helplessly until she could not cry anymore. She walked to their house with heavy heart thinking how she would relay the news to her elder sister.
Suddenly, she heard a noise coming from the bank of the river. She knew Maiara had arrived from her fishing trip. She managed to put on a fake simle and rushed out of the house and down to the river. “There you are, where is Amou?” said Maiara. “He is sleeping, it will take a while for him to wake up,” replied Ura. “In the meantime, why not you washed yourself, cook some of those fish you caught,” said Ura. “Alright, then, let me cook these smaller one, I already cleaned while paddling home,” Maiara answered. “As soon as you are done cleaning, come up to the house cook,” she continued. When Ura came up to the house cook, Maiara asked for Amou. “He is sleeping in the house,” replied Ura. “He ate lots of biguru and coconut milk which he couldn’t wake up,” added Ura. “Clean up and come, let us eat while he’s still asleep,” said Ura. Ura was trying to find the most appropriate time to tell Maiara about what had happened. When they had finished eating, swept the house, had their bath and did everything that had to be done. Maiara was now getting more anxious and wanted to hold her baby.
My dear sister; I played with baby Amou all morning since you left, cooked biguru and fed him and took him down to the river to wash him. The place was so wet and he slipped into the river. I am sure a crocodile may have eaten him by now,” said Ura. Maiara couldn’t believe what she just heard. She fall down to the ground, rolled, turn, ran up and down the banks of the river crying for her baby. Poor Ura helplessly watched her sister going through the pain of losing her only child. Ura joined Maiara and cried again until dust came upon the little hamlet on the banks of Era river.
Maiara stopped crying and without saying anything, she set the little hamlet on fire and slowly walk towards the bank of the river. Finally Maiara said to Ura that she can go anywhere she want but as for her, she decided to go after her son. With these last words, she dived into the river and was never seen again. As for Ura, she walked back and forth, looking into the river, hopping to see her sister again. She kept crying and crying as darkness came over the once happy hamlet.
Today, the Baimuru people catch Maiara (fish), they collect the leaves of Ura, a plant that grows on the bank of the river. They then cook a delicious meal of pu pei, a sago porridge where they mix the Ura leaves with sago and eat it with Maiara.