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Papu’s crooked hand

I’ve known my papu for as long as I can remember. As soon as we arrived in the village, she was always there to greet us; crying with joy to see us again. My mother always said that on the days that my papu knew we were arriving; she would not go to the garden, go collecting firewood or fetching water. She always wanted to be there when we arrived.

The visits were rare and lasted about three weeks because my parents were working in another province. But it wasn’t long before we were gone again for another two to three years.

Papu’s embrace was a safe haven; safe from the fury of my mother. I loved her attention and how she would scold my mother for being too harsh on me. As I sat in her lap, hugged in her embrace, I would poke around in her coconut frond-woven basket, looking for things to amuse myself. But it was her crooked hand that always caught my attention.
“Papu, blong wanem na han blong yu I kurugut?” (Grandma, why is it that one of your hands is crooked?) I would ask her in Tok Pisin.
“Em i olsem yet” (That’s just how it is) would always be her reply.

I grew up and following in the footsteps of my parents, I would only take two weeks off in two to three years to go back to the village where my papu would be, looking older and frailer with each visit; always waiting to embrace me with her hugs and her tears.

I never asked about papu’s crooked hand again.
“Papu’s hand was not always like that,” I remember my mother saying, out of the blue one day. My mother told me that when she was younger, my grandfather refused to pay for her school fees for high school, because the school was too far from the village and because my mother was a girl. So my grandmother worked hard everyday, collecting and cutting coconut in the coconut plantation to pay for my mothers four years of high school education. One day as she was cutting firewood to burn the coconut shells, the knife slipped and cut her hand, damaging a nerve leaving it crooked for the rest of her life. My grandmother’s crooked hand gave my mother a better education, which gave me a better life.



Jensine's picture

This story . . .

Makes me want to scream with love for your Papu!!! Your writing is tender and true. Thank you.

Jensine Larsen
World Pulse

Estella's picture

Thank you

Thank you...


abigail's picture

We need more people like Papu

We need more people like Papu to ensure that girls receive the right to education. God bless her.

pooza11's picture

There is so much of depth in

There is so much of depth in your writing. Yes god, Plz flood her with blessings

Matilda Moyo's picture


This is so touching, the sacrifices that mothers make for their daughters. It's such a beautiful account and a reminder that most of us would not be where we are today if our mothers had not believed in us and made sacrifices.

Thanks for this touching account. God bless you.'


Estella's picture

The visionaries..

Thank you ladies,..there are many women who see far, in that they vision what it would be like in the future.They work hard, pouring blood and sweat to realise those dreams ...I beleive my papu saw the future with her faith (God rest her soul)...


Carri Pence's picture

The crooked hands symbolizes

The crooked hands symbolizes the heart rather than hands. To work for the betterment of future generations, as your grandma did for your mom and your mom did for you, shows an ideal we should all follow. If we worked, as Papu did, for the love of our children, this world would truly change.

Nusrat Ara's picture

Your mom has been blessed to

Your mom has been blessed to have Papu, I wish more women were like her.


Your Papu's humility is truly heartwarming. She did not boast about what she had done to provide for you and your mother; she simply loved and encouraged you without expecting any recognition for her actions. That is an incredible display of unconditional love. What a special woman.

Amei's picture

Beautiful story = so much love

Thank you for sharing your Papu's love.

A very special person to be remembered forever :-)


rebecca.olul's picture

I Cried

Estelle I cried when I ready your story. I have a Papu just like that. The sacrifices that women make over generations and that we are yet making. Thank you for sharing that story.

Awesome story and a lesson for all mothers and daughters. I wish I could meet Papu. Infact there is always A PAPU IN EACH ONE'S LIFE.I salute her sacrifice.

Kingwa Kamencu's picture


This is beautiful Estella, it reminds me of the 'grain of wheat' principle that parents are ideally called to embody and your Papu went the extra mile. Sacrifice out of love, brings tears to one's eyes. Thank you for sharing.

Dear Estella,

Howdy? I reaaly appreciate and admire your story about your lola(grandmother),who really symbolizes all the mothers here on earth.They will did all the sacrifices for the sake and good of their children.All the mothers' have no retirement because they already born and let all the children grown-up and yet,when these children have their own family,they continue to take-care of their grandchildren.This reality happen especially if their child becomes single parents,whether hers is a woman or a man and We,mothers,are here, more willing and continue to support them.

May our future generations,may always willing to appreciate and acknowledge what our grandmothers/grandparents did to us!

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