The Passed Note Issue 8 October 2018 - Page 33

I take my father’s canoe and enjoy the calm glass of the evening sea until I reach the lagoon. In school we learned about the unique life forms that can live where the fresh water meets the salt water. School never mentions spirits. The Gara believe that the Waiting Spirits, the spirits the ancestors do not yet want, live in these areas. They will have to prove themselves to be worthy of an invitation to the ancestral land. Sometimes, however, the Waiting Spirits are so angry, so tired of waiting, they will choose harm over help.

This is the first time I have paddled past here since I have become a woman. The spirits can communicate with me now and I beg them to keep quiet, to leave me alone. They do not listen. Although the air is still, I feel a wind use my back like a small child playing on its mother. I carry this spirit all the way to the tourist beach bar and together we spy from the sand.

I hide near the sea, where the bar's light does not reach. I am close, but hidden. I can see Deti, he is dancing. His female partners have bronzed skin and borrowed faces bound to wash off by morning. Our air does not favor painted faces.

Deti’s movements are choppy, purposely forced. All Gara men can dance. It is something they have done prior to their birth. Rounded-belly Gara women, swollen with son, can be the most graceful of the group. A son in the womb provides balance. A daughter causes jerks and spasms, for she is already trying to dance herself. Tonight, Deti is dancing like the burnt-faced visitors: unorganized, chaotic, clumsily. Women are smiling at him and he is making strange movements with his nose. I am embarrassed.