Tales from the Moluccas #1: MIA

1 Oct

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]In the village, they’re still a little mystified as to what happened to Jeff. He was a missionary, you see.

At least, he said he was. Spent years of his life tending his Togutil flock, only recently salvationed away from their nomadic, hunting-gathering life and corralled, more or (generally) less willingly, into government villages.

Then, one day, he just went, well, Missionarying In Action.

Maybe it’s just a case of job done, I think. Is the village Christian, I ask?

“Yes, yes, they Christian,” he says. “They all Christian now.”

“So they don’t do magic any more?” I ask him.

“Yes,” he says. “They do. Of course, they do. But not so much now. Only at important times.”

“Important times?” I prompt.

“Like when they want to go to war.”

“Oh,” I say. “But they go to church?”

“No,” he says.

“Not even on Sundays?” I ask.

“Not really,” he says.

That is not to say, however, that Jeff’s flock do not show a truly concern for their fellow man. Take the parents of the identical twin girls, a rare thing on Pulau Halmahera, a mountainous and under-populated island which sprawls across the Maluku Sea like a diseased starfish.

If the girls married they could land up tens of miles away from each other, which means they would not see each other for months, if not years, on end. An unbearable fate for identical twins who’d grown up together in a tiny community, unimpeded by socialization or school.

The parents’ solution? Find one man to marry both girls. He who wants one, takes them both.

I am not sure how this event fits into the chronology of Jeff’s departure.

It’s all a little hazy, and the villagers are, I think, a little hurt, and honestly bewildered.

You know. Why on earth would Jeff want to leave?

It’s not just that, though, my interlocutor explains. “He only just bought a new jet engine, like the ones they have on boats, for the village.”

“A belt drive generator?” I ask, miming the frantic, quasi-masturbatory tugging deployed across South-East Asia on belt drive boat propulsion systems when, as per usual, they refuse to start.

“Yes,” he says. “It was a good engine. A really good engine. And it’s still there, in the village, waiting for Jeff to come back.”

“Oh,” I say. “Maybe he got caught up in Australia? Family business? Maybe he’ll be back soon?”

“You know,” he says. “Some of the people in the village, they think he and the other guy were never really missionaries at all. They reckon they were like the big Australian companies, out looking for gold. And when they found it, they just went home.”

2 Responses to “Tales from the Moluccas #1: MIA”

  1. scotttraveler October 3, 2010 at 11:12 pm #

    a 2 for 1, huh? You must inquire with the groom and find out if it has been double the pleasure, or double trouble? LOL

    • MummyT October 4, 2010 at 12:53 am #

      Given entire families share an outdoor sleeping platform anyway, I guess the proximity is heinous…

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