Ngarawundi stood pensively, spear in hand, left foot crooked gently on right knee, listening to the jabber of the Bleached Ones stumbling around like toddlers in Wirrado (Snake Valley) below.
How can these creatures communicate with each other, he wonders.
They never look into each other’s eyes.
As he watches their unruly brawling and aggressive shaking of identically shaped shards of quartz crystal water gourds, he starts to see a pattern in their strange lurches and gestures.
This must be some traditional dance to celebrate a past battle he concludes. Maybe a ceremony to determine who will be the leader in their next encounter?
The short, overfed one on the right appears to be the dominant character in this strange opera, shouting down each one of the group in turn, establishing his superiority.
The dance continues for several hours under the Ngarawundi’s careful gaze until the leader falls slowly and ceremoniously from the vertical, simultaneously pointing his magic quartz shard to the heavens, presumably to indicate the star path to their next planned battle.
The others gradually slump around the primitive and wasteful tea-tree camp-fire they have built. Clearly these creatures have no knowledge of the sacred timbers so vital to his own tribe’s rituals.
Are they human, or some curious tailless offspring of the Kangaroo totem?
They adorn themselves in ill-fitting and desperately permeable bark-like coverings.
The choreography of their dance appears complex yet naive to his trained eye. As if their elders have not properly coached them in the importance of each gesture, each sound, each step.
Maybe they are outlaws, tribal rejects who have transgressed some unspoken taboo and have been forced to leave the careful nurturing of their tribal elders before they were able to fully achieve initiation.
How many times since the last full moon had he watched them stumble aimlessly past waterhole after waterhole, nutritious plant after nutritious plant, seemingly oblivious of their value.
Ngarawundi felt he was beginning to know the whitefella. And he did not like what he saw.