The Sorceress Part 2

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    Oct 05, 2012
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The sorceress had a dugout which was built for her by some of her relatives from the eastern village of Norauea and it provided her with the only means of transport from her isolated islet at the top end of the lagoon to the main village on the western side of the island.  Her islet is about 10 kilometres from Rawannawi village, and it was too far and difficult for her to travel on foot.  The best time for to traverse the lagoon waters was during the spring high tide during the new moon or full moon phases. 

It often bothered me to think that she could travel on her own at dusk when the tide was at its highest to reach us as the main village.  I guess with all her known powers with the spirits, she had nothing to be afraid of, especially the spirits with whom, it was widely whispered, she parleyed with.  She wasn’t however the only one who had contact with the ancestral spirits.  Others on the island also possessed the skills, but even they admitted that the sorceress’s skills were, by far, superior than theirs.

One particular day at dusk, the sorceress decided to visit us on her dugout.  She pushed her dugout to the water and paddled to Rawannawi village using both her arm as paddles.  She also carried a long stick for pushing her dugout along.  The visit had a reason.  Tony, my elder brother, had been suffering from an unknown ailment and was constantly crying out very loudly and sometimes his cries turned into agonizing shrieks.  No one was able to diagnose what was wrong with him, but there was a old blind man who lived near our house who carried on as if he knew what was happening to Tony, but failed to impart his knowledge to us. 

From memory, all he could say was, “They are pulling him apart, that’s why he is screaming out loud, he said.  “They do that to him every night, but wait till his grandmother gets here, she’ll fix them for sure.”  I, for one, couldn’t understand what he meant, but even if I did know, I doubt if I could have done anything about it. 

When the sorceress (grandma Kautakarawa) arrived, everyone around the neighbourhood gathered around to see what was going to happen. The blind man was in hysterics.  “At last!, At last!”, he said,  “she is here.”  “She is going to see them pulling him apart and she will chase them away,” she said.  “Just wait and see”.  It was past dusk and  it was difficult to see in the dark save for the illuminated area of the ‘buia’, a small rectangular structure built of local wood with a thatched roof, on which Tony was lying screaming his guts out. 

The sorceress approached the ‘buia’ in silence.  She took hold of Tony’s hands and fondled each one, she next held one of his legs and then the other; she turned him over, nothing.  Then she looked upwards and I can still remember the way her eyes took on a glazed appearance, her mouth taught and her face full of latent rage and hate as she appeared to have identified the cause of Tony’s screaming.  While all this was happening, the old, blind man was rambling on about what was happening to Tony.  

The sorceress looked at one interior upper corner of the buia, then the other, a third corner and the forth and then  shouted: “So!, “You are the ones who have doing this to my grandson,” and while she was shouting, she picked up a ‘taubare’, a bunch of mature coconut leave strands, all tied together with coconut husk sennit, (It was used for scattering flies, insects and smacking naughty children), she swung it sideways away from her and then swung it back upwards with all her strength towards the first upper corner of the buia.  She repeated the motion until she had hit all the four upper inner corners of the buia and then stopped.  

Something very strange and curious was happening while grandma was swinging the ‘taubare’ towards the buia corners. Tony’s screams began to subside with each swing until it became a light whimper and then nothing!  The old blind man was still rambling on. “They’ve gone,” he said, “she chased them away with the ‘taubare’.  Of course, I saw nothing there an neither did anyone else, but I was sure of several things; that Tony’s screams stopped for some unknown reason; that the old blind man had warned that “they” were pulling Tony; that the sorceress seemed to have seen something in the inner corners of the buia and that after she swung a few times with the ‘taubare’ Tony stopped screaming. 

Something must have happened.  No! Something did happen, but to this day, it remains a mystery which  I have never been able to unravel.

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