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