The demise of Masta Bob

November 20, 2007 at 11:01 pm (Fiction) ()

In the early part of the year, the town was shocked by the sudden demise of Bob McDonald, distinguished rivercomber, raconteur, recruiter, returned soldier and amateur sexologist. One afternoon James Ward was sitting in his house when there was a frantic knock on his door. He answered it and there was Yum, Bob’s mankimasta (servant). Masta James, kam kwik, Masta Bob mi ting em dai pinisim. (Master James, come quickly. I think Master Bob is dead.) James rushed down to Bob’s shack and there he was stretched out on a sleeping mat as cold as ice and as naked as the day he was born. James sent up word for Des Murray to come. Des arrived and confirmed Bob’s death. Yum told Des that he just found him dead on the sleeping mat. Des concluded that he must have died in his sleep. This, Des thought, was in keeping with his known heart condition and his drinking habits. There were a number of empty beer cans around the shack. Des made arrangements to have the body taken to a temporary morgue in the hospital and for Norm Brown to make up a coffin. After Des left, Yum approached James and spoke to him: 

Mi laikim tok save long yu, Masta.Masta Bob dringim planti bia, nau em spak liklik.Nau em singaut long Maria.Masta Bob givim nem long Maria, Blackbokis, nu em singaut, Blackbokis kam hariap mi laik goapim, bel i kirap.Maria go long Masta. bihain em tok save long mi.Masta strongpela, wokim mi gutpela tru, nau wantu em dai pinis.Meri sori long Masta Bob.Mi sem liklik na mi liak tok save long yu, Masta James, tasol. Mi no laik tok long dokta. Masta Bob gutpela man tru, mi sori long em.


 (I want to talk to you about what happened.Master Bob drank a lot of beer and was a little drunk.He called out for Maria, the woman he called the Black Bat, to come quickly, as he was sexually aroused, and he wanted to enter her.Maria went to Master Bob and afterwards she told me what had happened.Master was very strong sexually, and then suddenly he died.The woman is very sorry about Master Bob.I’m a bit ashamed and I only want to talk to you, Master James.I don’t want to talk to the doctor.Master Bob was truly a good man and I’m sorry for him.) 

James thanked Yum for telling him. He knew that Yum would be going back to his home village after Bob’s funeral which would have to be in the next day or so. He gave Yum some money and also helped Maria financially. They had both been loyal to Bob over the years. Whatever was said of Bob, all agreed that he had not been an overtly religious man. He had been Presbyterian at birth and a Protestant all his life with a healthy suspicion of Catholicism. So it was considered inappropriate to ask Fr Brill to conduct the funeral service. The Assistant District Commissioner, John Barnes, fortunately stepped into the breach, and offered to selectively read from the order of burial in The Book of Common Prayer. Bob was to be buried at the end of the airstrip in a cemetery that held other expatriates who had ended their days in Angoram. Most of the town people assembled for the funeral. The coffin arrived in the Land Rover and was carried to the grave by Allen Warburton, James Ward, Bill Clayton and Norm Brown. John Barnes read the service well and the beauty of the interment words added a dignified formality to the proceedings: “…as it hath pleased Almighty God of his great mercy to take unto Himself the soul of our dear brother (Bob) here departed, we therefore commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life.” After all had paid their final respects, club members went to the club and fittingly toasted and drank Bob into eternity. James Ward reflected on Bob’s final passing in a theological sense. He knew that Bob’s demise had been brought on by a massive heart attack. Sex would have increased his heart rate and blood pressure to fatal levels, bringing on coronary thrombosis. The big question in James’s mind was: was Bob’s moment of physical bliss translated into eternal bliss? Would his physical contemplation of Maria be elevated to a supernatural contemplation of glory? Theologians tell us that the Beatific Vision renders one supremely happy. One could conclude that Bob was happy at the moment of his expiration, and James just could not believe that the Godhead would be such a spoil sport as to condemn Bob to eternal damnation in the next instant. The state of the soul at the moment of death and contrition and forgiveness James recognised as pertinent issues. He was quite sure that Bob would not have thought that the restoration of his sexual vigour was in anyway sinful. So the question of the penitent’s detestation of sin or if indeed any penitential rite was required in Bob’s situation was debatable. It was James’s firm belief that in that flicker of time between the natural and supernatural, there would have been ample time for Bob to make a perfect act of contrition. It would not have been such a gigantic leap from a pure love of Maria to a pure love of God. From the arms of Maria into the arms of Father Abraham, and like the saints of old, Bob would go marching home. 

Excerpt from Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk


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