Vila is quiet. The hospital gates are locked and guarded. There are about twenty officers lounging outside the police station. Most businesses are closed and the remainder are nearly deserted. Every passing group is scrutinised quietly.

Most of my family stayed with me last night, five of them in my house and about eight more in the storage shed across the yard. None of us wandered far, electing instead to fill up a plastic jug with kava and sit in my house watching movies.

To anyone not attuned to life in Vanuatu, things would appear perfectly normal, if a little cosy. Kids were being kids, the women prepared supper and chatted amongst themselves. A few of the men wandered off into the night, but most hid under the eaves, joking quietly and looking off into the rain.

The story goes like this: A Tannese woman died, apparently poisoned by her husband and his brother. The person who supplied the poison was a practitioner of nakaimas from Ambrym. Whether he was coerced or paid depends on who is telling the story.

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