One Thousand One Papua New Guinean Nights

Long Ago, Dog and Kangaroo Were Friends
(Wantok 462, April 2, 1983, page 19)

Long, long ago, Dog and Kangaroo (Sikau) were very good friends. They often slept together, hunted wild game together, and played together. They became the best of friends.

If Dog was sick, Kangaroo would go and work hard at finding whatever kind of game that Dog liked to eat. Dog did the same kind of thing when Kangaroo was ill. They often did this good custom between themselves.

One time, in the very early morning, Kangaroo just woke up and did not wake Dog. Kangaroo went to hunt wild game in the forest without informing Dog where Kangaroo went.

Kangaroo went into the deep forest and Dog woke up at the bed. Dog looked for Kangaroo and began to call out Kangaroo’s name, “A... oooooo, friend Kangaroo. A... oooooo, Kangaroo.” But who could hear Dog’s call and reply to it? Kangaroo was in the deep forest.

The sun climbed high in the sky and Dog saw Kangaroo’s footprints and began to follow them into the deep forest.

At this time, Kangaroo was also following the wild game in the forest, but even after a while, Kangaroo did not find any game. The sun went up behind the clouds and Kangaroo tired and slept under a tree. The tree was a huge breadfruit. This breadfruit tree was bearing fruit and the fruits were falling to the ground.

Kangaroo hunted for food and became very hungry. There was no food and Kangaroo sat on the ground and began to eat the breadfruits. When the sun was setting, poor Dog found Kangaroo eating the breadfruits. Oh my, Kangaroo was quite surprised when Dog came to the base of the breadfruit tree.

Dog called out, “Hey friend, I’ve been looking for you since the early morning until now when the sun is setting.” Kangaroo looked for a time to reply to Dog. Dog asked Kangaroo, “What is that that you are eating?” Then he shut his mouth. “I want to eat some."

Kangaroo told Dog, “Friend, what I’m eating is the people’s shit from this place.” Oh my, Dog asked Kangaroo, “Is that good food?” Kangaroo told Dog, “O yoooo… Friend, this food is delicious. If you eat it, you’ll turn your back on your in-laws [i.e. not share it].”

It was nearly dark and the two friends went to their home. As they walked, they found two big feces on the trail. Kangaroo told Dog, “Will you eat that or not? I’m filled up."

Dog went over to the two big feces by the trail. As Dog ate, Dog told Kangaroo, “Oh my, friend, this food is most delicious. I like it a lot."

When they came to their house, Kangaroo revealed the lie to poor Dog. Kangaroo told Dog, “Hey friend, when you saw me eating something in the forest, it wasn’t shit. I was eating breadfruits. I’m very sorry that I lied to you and that you ate people’s shit on the trail."

This made Dog furious, but Dog did not speak angrily at Kangaroo. Dog just stayed quietly and kept his thoughts to himself.

After some time passed, Dog and Kangaroo went around again, this time to the beach where they looked for kina shells, fish and other things from the sea that we often eat. Kangaroo worked very hard at finding kina shells and Dog dug in the sand, covering over his front paws with sand. When Kangaroo turned and saw Dog, Dog’s front paws were completely shortened.

Oh my, Kangaroo threw away the kinas and fish that he was holding and came to see what it was that had happened to Dog. Kangaroo asked Dog, “Hey, friend, why have your front paws become so short?"

Dog told Kangaroo, “I cut them on a kina shell because I was tired of those long arms. I wanted my arms to be short, so I cut them."

Kangaroo told Dog, “I too will cut my arms so that they’re short like yours. Then we’ll be alike." Dog replied to Kangaroo, “Friend, if that’s what you want."

Kangaroo just got up, took a kina shell, and cut off the two front arms, shortening them in the way that we now see them. After Kangaroo cut off the legs, Dog slowly pulled his front legs out of the sand. When Kangaroo saw this, he was furious at his friend. He said, “Why did you trick me so that I cut off my arms?"

Dog told Kangaroo, “And you too, why did you trick me so that I ate human shit?"

They talked and talked and they had a big fight. Dog chased Kangaroo into the very deep forest. Their friendship ended at this time.

When you see dogs and kangaroos, they no longer live together. You will see dogs looking for feces and eating them. They are delicious to dogs. Also, you will see that kangaroos’ front legs are short. If you take a dog into the forest and you find a kangaroo, you will see that the kangaroo speeds right off. Their friendship is over and they are enemies.

Mathew Kapi (author)
c/- Wama Marine Products
P. O. Box 308
East Sepik Province

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© 1997 by Thomas H. Slone, translator.

Last modified December 10, 2001.