General Fiction posted June 19, 2016 Chapters:  ...13 14 -15- 16 


Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
Nature belongs to Nature

A chapter in the book Stories of the Dreamtime

The Song Bird

by Aussie




Background
Each chapter is complete in itself. The stories don't follow on.
Beside the Diamantina River, Ma-Ma, elder of the Kurria tribe, sat gazing into the flickering flames of the baanya. She had lived a long and fruitful life, now, she waited to pass over to Baiame, Great Spirit and maker of all living things.
Many children had passed through her life; she loved to sit in the shade of the white ghost gums. Telling stories of the beginnings of time; of animals that spoke to humans and legends of the dreamtime. How the land and it's creatures were brought into being.

As she gazed at the dying flames, she saw her grandchildren in spirit, making their way along the hunting track of their ancestors. The boy, Tungai and his younger sister Weemai made her heart glad.

Eventually, the children burst through the trees, to the delight of the old woman. Her old, rheumy eyes shone like unpolished opals.

"Well, how did your hunting go?" She smiled with pride.

The children were dressed in kangaroo-skin-aprons and over their brown shoulders, carried a wallaby each. Weemai the younger, carried two Krangalang in her dilly bag.

"I see you are great hunters, and we will eat well tonight." Ma-Ma cackled.

The Boy, Tungai threw his animal down and then helped his sister, Weemai with her tiny Paddy-Melon wallaby.

"These are for you grandmother," Weemai handed her the two Krangalang.


"Tungai, after you have skinned and gutted the animals, I will tell you a new story." Ma-Ma smiled her toothless smile.

"Grandmother, we are too old for childish stories," Tungai spread his feet and stood as tall as he could. He was soon to be initiated into the tribe as a man. Teenage boys became men around the age of fourteen.

"No, I want to hear the new story," wailed Weemai who was only eight years old.

"Go skin those animals Tungai, we will wait for you to come sit with us. You are not so old that you can't listen to your grandmother.
Did you stretch the skins in the sun?" Ma-Ma enquired.

"Yes, I have skinned and wet the skins down. The crows will eat the rest. Not much meat, still it will add to our men's hunt."

Tungai scuffed his broad feet in the dust, turned and dragged the meat away. Weemai sat beside Ma-Ma and cuddled into her warmth.

The Kurria tribe fished for barramundi when the river was not in drought; there had always been plenty of game to keep them going. Winter was approaching; time to move to their summer baanya.

Ma-Ma wriggled her self in the dust towards the tall ghost gum and sighed with relief as the tree gave her shade. The children sat either side of her, Tungai hugged his long legs and Weemai lay her curly head in Ma-Ma's lap.

"Long time ago, dreamtime place. Big animals that stood taller than two men, beautiful birds with colours of the rainbow and many spirits from the sea to the land," she coughed, spat blood.

There was one lonely spirit called err... I forgot that spirit name; so long ago now. Oh, I just remember his name, his name were Goomidgie."

"What did he look like?" The children questioned in unison.

"I tell you so many times that spirit has no body but can be anything that you feel happy with. Like this old gum tree we are sitting under. When ancestors finished making this land, they retired into all the trees that you see."

"What did Goomidgie do?" Weemai grinned at her favourite grandmother.

"Well, he was a good spirit, looking after all the bush and some pretty flowers too. No bad things, I think. That spirit fella, he was lonely and one day..." She started coughing more this time. Tungai ran for a water cup and filled it from a wild pig's bladder.

"You sick, grandmother?" Tungai lifted the empty pine-cone filled with water to her ageing lips.

"Ah, that's better," she cleared her throat and began the story again.

"Goomidgie was walking through the bush one day and he heard the most beautiful call of a songbird. He had never heard such beautiful singing in the bush. So, he went looking for that special bird."

"Looking up, he spied a blue bird singing to Baiame. He sat on an old rugged rock and when the bird had finished giving his praises in song, he spoke to that blue bird."

"Your singing is the most beautiful I have ever heard," Goomidgie sighed. He also thought he must have this bird sing for him, and him alone. So, Goomidgie cast a spell on the blue songbird.

He walked away knowing that he now owned his own singing bird. The next day he went back to hear the beautiful singing. There was silence.

The bird sat downcast in the tree and her feathers were falling out.

"Why don't you sing?" Goomidgie pleaded.
"I have no reason to sing," replied the bird.

Goomidgie grew angry, he had created a special forest and a tall tree for his captive bird.

"You are most ungrateful bird. I have made a special forest and a beautiful tree for you to perch upon."

"You have created these things, yes, but this is not my home. I am most unhappy," chirped bird.

"Well, if I let you go will you sing for me and me alone?" Goomidgie sighed.

"If you set me free I will not sing for you alone because my songs are for everyone. You have made me a captive of your greed."

"Alright, I will set you free because you don't belong to me alone. I was selfish to make you captive. Perhaps I will hear you sing in the forest often." Goomidgie lifted the spell and the blue bird flew to her home.

Ma-Ma sighed and told the children to go play.

"I have finished all my stories, now I will sleep. Learn the lesson, you cannot capture nature for your greed, it belongs to itself."

Ma-Ma slept, while she slept she heard the most beautiful song of the blue bird. She had passed from this life to her place in heaven. Goomidgie took her hand and led her to her new life in spirit.












Book of the Month contest entry

Recognized


Photo: Indigo blue bunting song bird.
Australian and Aboriginal language and grammar.
Baiame: The Creator of life.
Kurria: Crocodile
Jayawah: Water
Krangalang: Crab.
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