Matai na Hilitai


This was a picture from the trail at Pagat in 2013.

There is no way I cannot feel philosophical about this sight.

A hilitai, crushed and flattened into the earth.

At a place no less which as been controversial for a variety of reasons the past few years.

I find it particularly interesting since hilitai have a habit of following me when I hike.

A farmer in the Pagat area once told me,

“Adahi un kekekonne’ i hilitai. Sa’ anggen un atotga lao ti un konne’, siempre un inichan.”

I didn’t think much of this at the time.

It sounded more like a philosophical saying than a rule of the jungle.

The first time I tried to catch a hilitai was at Hila’an.

In the area that I call the lemmai grove, I saw one standing atop a lusong.

I tiptoed as quietly as I could to try and reach it.

Naturally I’m not much of a ninja and so the hilitai immediately heard me.

Instead of running though, it just stared at me.

Watching me get closer and closer to it.

Once I was too close, it plodded off the lusong and started to crawl briskly into the jungle.

I raced after it, but couldn’t find it.

When the rest of my friends arrived I told them about how I had almost caught a hilitai.

As I spoke it started to rain.

My friends blamed the rain on me bothering the hilitai.

Implying that the hilitai was probably a taotaomo’na.

When I returned to that spot over a year later I found hilitai there again.

This time, there wasn’t just one.

There were dozens.

I was certain I was dreaming or hallucinating.

I have never seen so many in one place.

They ran off as soon as they heard me.

And then it started raining.

Since then every time I see a hilitai I am careful to be respectful.

When I saw this hilitai at the entrance to Pagat I couldn’t help but feel philosophical.

Earlier today while hiking at Pagat with my kids a hilitai once again appeared.

I was too late to see it, but my daughter Sumahi almost raced after it.

Instinctively I yelled to her “Para! Mungga mafalagu’i gui’!”

She turned to me, not understanding and asked me “Sa’ hafa?”

I told her the story of the hilitai at Hila’an and what the old man had told me.

“Kao magahet enao na hinengge?” she asked me.

I responded, “Buente, para Guahu kulang magahet.”

I told her about my experiences with hilitai and what the old man had said.

“Ti magahet enao” she responded sarcastically.

“Ti yan-niha hao i hilitai. Enao ha’.”

I asked her, “Yan i ichan? Hafa para un sangan put ayu?”

She smiled and responded “Buente i langhet ti ya-na hao lokkue’.”

I couldn’t help but laugh.

Otro fino’-ta.

“Matai na hilitai” would make an awesome, but morbid kid’s book.


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