And: "If blue was an animal or a plant or bird, it would be a seagull. It gets its sticky beak into everything."
What's more, says the old lady it has magical powers. "You watch a reef and tell me if I am lying. Blue crashes onto a reef and what colour does it release? It releases white! Now how does it do that?"
That picture's not taken in Bougainville, where his story is set, I snapped it in Fiji. But it's there all the same, that blue he writes about - the gap in the air of all things.