She called over from across the street “Masta, masta”. I turned to see who it was; it was one of my buddy’s from the block’s wife. She waved, then crossed the road to me. We spoke for a while and as I was about to leave, she said wait pastem.
She then looked left and right, across the road like a criminal on the run looking over her shoulder, then took out a buai from her bilum, fake shook my hand and placed the buai and daga in my hand, I for a moment felt like I was buying one pack weed from a drug dealer. She smiled and said “Nogat samting lo gim lo you, buai tasol”.
She and her husband used to be stationed in front of Bintangor supermarket selling buai and smoke but today, she hid her sales things in her bilum and walked around selling them.
Just then a customer approached us and asked for the buai price, the woman said K2 for buai and K1 for Kavivi.
I was still holding onto the buai, when the buai buyer left, I gave the buai back to her and said “Mi ba nonap kaikai buai ya, you kisim na salim na mekim money”. I knew she and her husband were not working, they lived at one of the blocks (settlement) and made their living from selling buai and smoke in front of the shops in town. They always gave me buai and smoke when I met them. I understood their struggle to meet ends.
Normally at other time, I would have accepted the buai and probably a roll brus too but during this SoE and curfew with cops everywhere harassing people who just trying to earn a little money to feed their family, I felt like it was not the right thing to do.
She was here trying to earn a few bucks to feed her family and here I am getting buai from her for free. She was risking her life selling buai aound town, she was hiding from the police because if they confiscate her buai, she would go home empty handed that afternoon. I asked her how much she bought the betelnuts for, she told me she bought six for K8 and would make a K6 profit, she then insisted I chew the buai. I placed a K2 in her hand but she was reluctant to get it, instead she kept saying “Kaikai buai chol em orait. You masta eh, you no need lo baim”.
I placed the buai in my pocket and walked home, I didn’t chew the buai. That was yesterday, tonight I remembered the buai was still in my pocket so I took it out and chewed it. As I was chewing it, the family came to my mind. In this time of crisis when we’re all going through tough times, especially those who survive on the income from the informal sector. There are still people who are willing to give, even though they do not have much and I tell you, she gave it to me with all her heart.
Even though the buai was K2, she didn’t mind. I pray for those who are struggling in this tough times, especially the ones in the informal sector. Keep hustling!
To me, this is the true Pasin Melanesia. Sharing whatever little we have with wantoks.