Bemused Girl

Bemused Girl

“Yu nem blong yu huyia?” (“You, your name is who?“) Jenny can’t be more than 8 or 9 years old. Her face is a study in earnest concentration. She’s seen me walking down the road, and has stopped to wait for me.

I tell her my name as she adjusts her pace to mine, and she nods. Whether approvingly or not, I can’t tell. “Where are you from?”


“Ah… Canada.” I’m not sure what this signifies to her, but her next question takes me by surprise. “So you don’t have a God? You worship Allah?”

I refrain from correcting the first statement and simply tell her I was raised Catholic.

“So your sabbath is on Saturday?”

“Sunday,” I gently correct her.

“But your women, they’re very small, aren’t they?” I stifle a chuckle.

“My mother is very short, but that’s not common for us.”

Noting her white shirt and blue skirt, I ask her why she’s not in school right now.

“I’m not going to school today,” she replies in a matter-of-fact tone. Apparently the explanation suffices for her. I ask her where she’s going. She replies with the name of a village and nods down the road.

We reach the junction with the road uphill to Isangel and I take my leave, respectfully thanking her for the conversation.