A Red Woman Was Crying:

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Tricking Poreu

Told by Lalaga, 1971

 

 

     We Biroi used to live in the mountains, at Simbawa. Poreu chased our people from the place Simbawa and we came down to Biroi. This is how it happened.

     Poreu would disguise herself as a village woman, come up to a mother, and offer to look after her baby. This was so the mother could more easily go to her garden and work.

     While the mother was at her garden, Poreu would find a flying fox wing bone and from it make a certain bone dagger called mira. Poreu would pierce the infant’s fontanelle with the mira dagger, and it would die.

     The mother would return to her sleeping house and ask for her baby so she could nurse it, but Poreu would say, “Why don’t you go to the cookhouse and cook, and then afterwards come back and nurse.”

     The mother would do as Poreu asked. When the mother had finished cooking, Poreu would come to the sleeping house door, hand the mother her dead baby, and run away.

     After Poreu killed many children, the people understood her trick, and wanted to kill her. But they could not think how to do it.

     They decided to have a meeting in the feasting house to talk about it.

     They were thinking, “We’ll go and hide from her.” But how to get away?

     They went to the forest and got a piece of bamboo, not the kind for making knives, but the kind that people use to collect water. They cut the inside out so that it wouldn’t hold water.

     Poreu heard about the meeting, and she came to the feasting house. The people recognized her, but pretended they didn’t know who she was. They said they were thirsty, and asked her to go and get some water. They gave her the bamboo tube.

     Poreu went the spring, and began filling the bamboo tube.Of course, the water wouldn’t stay inside, but Poreu kept trying, and while she was trying and trying, waiting and waiting and waiting for it to fill up, the people ran away.

     She tried and waited for a very long time.

     Finally Poreu rapped on the bamboo and the sound told her it was empty. She put it to her eye and looked through it and realized that they had fooled her.

     So she went back to kill everybody, not just the babies, but the people had gone.

     She started to chase them.

     There is a bird called kuauau, which cries out like a person.

     One of these birds was in the village and it cried out and cried out. It cried out, and Poreu heard it. She thought that the people had returned.

     She gave up the chase and went to the village to kill them, but they were gone.

     That’s how the Biroi came to Biroi.