Anyway, it was a pretty cool way to grow up. Running around barefoot everywhere. Pet monkeys and the whole nine yards. We had a pet pig too. She was wonderful, but we had to eat her. Sorry Sofie.
I was six when I went off to boarding school where all the other missionary kids went. I was the littlest kid there and the only one in my grade. That was a very difficult and lonely time for me. And formative. We moved from Sulawesi to Kalimantan (old Borneo) about a year after that and lived 15 miles or so outside the city of Pontianak, translated: “Ghost Child”. My parents took on the job of dorm parents at the missionary boarding school there called Wajok Hulu. They oversaw the welfare of all the missionary kids who, outside of the school semesters, lived in the interior tribes with their parents. When we first showed up there, the local police stopped by to see my dad. The month before Ramadan was a big month for thieving because all debts had to be paid before it started. “If you catch any penchuris (thieves), just kill them and throw them time the river.” They said. Proper guns were illegal in Indonesia because of the attempted Communist Coup in ‘65-’66 when a shitload of mass killings took place, so my dad made a gun out of a piece of lead pipe and loaded it with big M80 type firecrackers and marbles. He did shoot it at a penchuri or two but just over their heads to scare them off as they ran away into the jungle.
The river that the cops had referred to was the Kapuas River adjacent to our property. We called it the “Mighty Ka-poo-poo” because it was shit-gross but we still played in it. It was big and brown and slow and muddy, over 600 miles long and it drained much of Western Kalimantan. We were only ten miles or so from its mouth to the Indian Ocean. The ocean tide would come back up the river. Because the school property was sometimes under two to three feet of water, all the houses were built on stilts to keep out of the high tide. It was a little dicey when the tide would come up, because all the snakes and bugs and other creatures that lived on or in the ground or in the grass had to go somewhere, so they were all swimming around eating each other or climbing up the nearest tree and eating each other. All the while, my brothers and I were frolicking in the water. Of course.
I spent most of my time fishing, hunting with my pellet gun for coconut squirrels, launching firecrackers and bottle rockets into giant ant nests, or – my favorite pastime – throwing knives at the mud crabs. I had a parang (machete) when I was 8 years old. I got it for my birthday from my parents… a parang and a Bible. I became pretty good at throwing my knife. I killed a snake with it once. It was a good throw. 12 feet or so. The knife split his head down the middle, just off to one side, so when my buddy and I collected the snake his jaw was hanging off at a wonky angle. We buried the head so no one would step on it and get a dose of the venom, threw the wretched snake corpse into the river, and called the place “Snake’s Jaw” after that. But we kept it a secret because only kids nine years or older were allowed to kill snakes without adult supervision. The penalty was confiscation of our parangs and knives for a week. A sentence worse than shoes. So, I guess only he and I called it Snake’s Jaw since we were the only ones who knew about it.
We’d go into the tribes sometimes to see our school friends when they were home with their parents. These tribes were up to 2 hours into the jungle by air – a Cessna 185. The missionaries had hacked the little airstrips out of the jungle near their respective tribal villages the so the plane could land for monthly resupply or emergency medical evacuations. I always felt jealous of the kids that lived in the tribes. I remember on one of these trips interior we decided to go on a hunting trip, so our parents drove us 3 or 4 hours from the village on one of the few red dirt logging roads and dropped us off with nothing but what we could carry. Our parangs, pellet guns, and a cross bow for the “babi hutan” (wild jungle pigs) we were hunting. It was my two brothers and I, along with two brothers of one of the other missionary families. The oldest of us was probably 15 or 16 and my little brother was probably 10. I clearly remember wishing I had brought flip-flops because I kept stepping on thorns with my bare feet. We camped and hunted in the jungle for 3 days then hitched a ride back on a truck that happened to be going toward the village on the logging road.
We didn’t have a TV for a while, so my dad would read books to us every night instead. Dad was and still is an avid reader, historian, and overall lover of knowledge. So, to keep it interesting he read us the classics: The Killer Angels by Michael Shara, Beau Geste by P.C. Wren, C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower series, Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlett Pimpernel. The goods. We scraped up enough money somewhere along the way to buy a TV. I think it was a 10.5” Black and White jobber. There was only one channel. And it was only on for certain hours of the day, but Friday nights at 10:00 or 11:00 the A-Team was usually on and we would be woken up and enjoy our TV show for the week. It was around this time that I started writing poetry for the first time I can remember. I believe this was my first poem, I can remember none before it.
I want to be a pilot,
And fly up in the sky,
Just sitting in my airplane,
And watch the world go by,
It’s a nice way of transportation,
And lots of fun to me,
But what I like the most about it,
Is the way I fly so free.
A savant to be sure. I began writing more and more, such as it was.
NOTE: Finally Somehow Home is a separate book from The Perfect Fucking Life, and is not yet in publication at the time of this post.
All this shit is written and created by Jason Lee Morrison © 2022