Fanny looks up in shock. Take off her clothes? Sit here naked? She sees Vetfaan turning to go.
“Wait…” She Holds up a restraining hand before turning to !Ka. “You have to help me here, !Ka. What is this all about? What does she want to do?”
!Ka confers with the old woman before answering.
“There must be a dance. A long dance, for as long as the full moon lasts. Round and round the fire, shuffling. She’ll teach you the words. After a while you’ll enter another world, a deep world, where you’ll see another Life. She calls it The Different Way. After that, your gift will develop. You’ll be able to see,” he taps his head, “up here.”
Fanny gets up and walks away from the circle of light around the fire. !Tung holds out an imploring hand as if wanting to stop her, but the younger woman ignores it. The events of the day are too surreal to digest in such a short period of time. To think the bones they buried here, were from her own family? And that coincidence after coincidence eventually brought her back to this place, these people? That, without the Busmen’s help, that little boy would have died and she wouldn’t have been here? The story is so absurd, so fantastic…and yet it has a ring of truth to it.
And now, old !Tung wants to dance her into a trance to awaken something she inherited from her mother, who received it from her grandfather?
Vetfaan walks over to her to put a protective arm around her shoulders.
“If you’re confused, girl, so am I. This day rates as the strangest I’ve ever lived through. I can’t tell you much about anything right now, but I can try to help. If you don’t feel like doing this dance…well, then, don’t. You’ve got a wonderful life as it is, why meddle with things we don’t understand…?”
“I don’t want to do this, Fanie. It must b scary to know what’ll happen tomorrow or the next day. What would I do if I knew you’d die next week? Or what’ll happen to you and me and Henry? These are strange, spiritual gifts and talents and abilities I don’t want to meddle with. We weren’t created to know the future until we arrive there. That’s the secret of Life, isn’t it? To seek, to find and never, never give up?”
Vetfaan nods. “I agree. You have everything you need.” He wants to add ‘including me’, but doesn’t. “Let’s go talk with them.”
“I’m not sure about this, !Ka,” she tells the two Bushmen at the fire. “It may be different in your culture, and I respect that. But I don’t think I’m comfortable with awakening things I don’t understand. Can’t I think about it and meet here again next month? This is all too sudden, too much.”
Vetfaan clears his throat. “You see, !Tung, we have a great Book that warns us about such things. For you it may be something you grew up with and accepted as normal. But we believe the spiritual world is forbidden. We don’t understand such things, see? That’s why the Book says we may only pray to God, and Him alone. If we listen to Him, He will provide all we need. That’s why we don’t have shamans. We don’t need them.” Although his tone is kind, there is a firmness to his words that brooks no argument. Fanny’s hand find his in the dark to give it a little squeeze. Suddenly Vetfaan feels ten feet tall.
!Tung smiles sadly. “A part of me believed this would happen, but I had to try. This thing must happen with the full moon, and this is my last. Look.” She slides the skirt made of soft skin to one side, to reveal large irregularities in the region of her groin. She also shows several more glands under her arms. “This disease does not go away with plants.” She asks !Ka to translate again.
My mother had this. So did my grandmother. It is something that happens. First you get weak. Then these swellings come. Then you die. Her tone is matter-of-fact, as if the words have nothing to do with her. Next month I’ll be in the New World.
“It must be some form of cancer,” Fanny whispers. They all sit down around the fire, each with a muddle of own thoughts. !Ka slumps back, tired after the day’s exhaustion and fatigued by pain. Vetfaan fishes out the last beer and shares it with Fanny.
“I must tell one more thing, then.” !Tung glances at !Ka who is soundly asleep. “To see in the mind is good and bad. Easy and hard. It gives you the respect of people. “ She sighs. “But it also makes you lonely. People fear me.”
“I can understand that, !Tung.” Fanny moves over to sit next to the old woman. “You have been very good to me. You taught me a lot while I was here. But this thing…I can’t do this. You understand? You were born into a certain way of life. With me, it is different. I don’t want to know…”
“You are wiser than I thought.” There is a glint of light in the old woman’s eyes. “Wiser.” She works her lips around the word as if it is something exquisitely foreign. “Then it will be so. My work is finished.”
She gets up to walk over to !Ka, shaking his shoulder gently to waken him. Vetfaan and Fanny listen to the steady stream of clicks as they talk. Then she returns to the fire.
“Mister Vetfaan, tomorrow !Ka will be better. You’ll take him to the doctor who will help him. Thank you for being his friend – he will need your help in the future many times. And Miss Fanny, I see you growing old as a happy woman. You’ll have a good husband. I can tell you who, but it will take away all the adventure of discovering.
“Now I have to go.”
She bows down slightly before allowing Fanny and Vetfaan to give her a hug. The night’s darkness folds around her like a cloak as she walks out of the light, with small, purposeful steps carrying her to her destiny.
“Will she be back?”
!Ka looks at her incredulously. “ Of course not.”