Why would a Pacific island under three miles square need a postman? When a third of that space (the other side of the dome like hill that dropped sheer) was designated hallowed ground by the islanders and uninhabited? When the population of under 200 couldn’t read or write (save for those who left to be educated on their larger neighbours rarely to return)? When the people were happily self-sufficient and mainly based in one main settlement on the bay by the water?
Crab Island did not need a postman, but it had one anyway. Pisiv had given himself the title, and became the islander’s contact with the outside world, whether they wanted it or not.
Everyone in the community had a role – they fished, built, grew, cooked and laughed. Pisiv did none of these things. Instead, he was the island grapevine, he delivered gossip. When he first appointed himself it was seen as a joke. The short funny man, desperate to please and be of use. If the islanders had heard of Napoleon perhaps they would have understood his complex better.
Then, the funny stories steadily became more addictive, and the little raconteur grew in stature. When his daughter left he became bitter, and people listened out of sympathy. To compensate for the hole in his life he took charge of setting tasks for people, and everyone went along for an easy life. It was always better to smile and nod than argue. They were helping him, not the other way round.
It was Pisiv who renamed their home of Io Crab Island, so called because of the proliferation of giant coconut crabs that engulfed its beaches every season. The crabs could be sold to their larger neighbours, where they were wolfed by rich tourists, along with flying foxes, as an exotic ugly delicacy.
Thus, the islanders became traders, and although they did not need the seasonal refreshing of brightly coloured T-shirts and shorts, these wares were always enjoyed as a fun change and a fresh novelty to laugh about. Pisiv organised the visiting boats in and out of the bay, delivering news of the outside world they brought. Whether his second-hand stories were true or not was irrelevant, they were enjoyed and, over time, eagerly anticipated.
So Pisiv carved his place in the community. It was an easy life for him, not having to swing a machete or fish the sea. Most days were spent under the shade of the nakamal, supping regular bowls of kava, the intoxicating sedative made from ground root mixed with water. A giddy session buzz was often the result of 1 to 3 bowls for most. Pisiv managed at least 8 to 10 a day.
It was in his usual inebriated state that the shouts of a boat approaching woke him from his stupor. Addled, he plopped his stumpy unfit legs down to the jetty, paunch rolling as he waddled.
His eyes widened when he recognised the ship, aghast that he did not understand why it was arriving. It hadn’t been agreed. His eyes popped further and brought a sweat when he saw the tall long haired captain, the lean blonde woman and the equally blonde child. Then he saw her, stepping off the boat and walking towards him.
“Hello father,” said Neri.