Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Quote: Jim Baital

"In the army, Tali did not find life as simple as he had expected. There was very little freedom, and he could not do anything without someone telling him off.

"'All right you lazybones, get up and get a move on', ordered the sergeant. They bounced out of their beds, jumped to their feet, and as birds scatter, starting from one end to the other, so did the soldiers, as the sergeant marched down the corridor. The sound of fluttering clothes, of running feet, and of showers being turned on at full speed continued for about half an hour. Nudity was everywhere, as though God had just created them all from the earth. Some men stood shamelessly naked. Others only exposed their hairy chests and covered their thighs with either a towel or their torn underwear.

"Tali was a bit too shy to expose himself completely. Why should he be so shy, when all around him beamed the same picture by the same artist with the same brush and black-paint. Indeed, an immaculate piece of work! Why should he feel inferior to these men -- these soldiers who were going to do the same things and eat the same food. No. No it's not a question of feeling inferior, he thought to himself. It's just that I have got to get used to things first, and only then can I relate to the situation I find myself. 'Yes, that's it! That is just it!' Tali said aloud as he walked back from the barracks."

--Copyright © Jim Baital (1949-?), from Tali, in Three Short Novels from Papua New Guinea, Edited by Mike Greicus, with Illustrations by Grava Aura, Auckland: Longman Paul, 1976, pp. 125.

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