SPIRIT TREE

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Not far along the path I reached the village shrine to the Lord of Land and Water. I reached up, standing on the tips of my toes and placed my bamboo dragonfly offering on the altar. Freshly lit incense curled skywards. Jackfruit and longan and sugarcane juice had been left the night before. I paid my respects and went on my way.

Soon I reached the tree that must never be cut down. The bpa day bpaw tree which protected the spirits of our children. I rubbed my hands against the bark, leant against it. Pattibuwah told me how when I was born my father cut the sacred cord with a small sliver of bamboo bark. This was wrapped in a special cloth and put in a bamboo shaft which my father brought to hang from this tree. This tree kept my spirit safe until I could talk and walk. Then the bamboo shaft was removed and buried at the roots of my kla tree which became my guardian tree. I knew this tree like I knew myself. It grew on the other side of the village. In the evening it sometimes whispered to me, stories from my past. Sometimes it sang to me of my future.

It was then I noticed how dark the sky was and I knew that a storm was coming. Y’wa sent the rain, I knew, for without it we would not have the rice which kept us alive. Y’wa had created the world, Pattibuwah told me. And when I looked at the clouds I could see Y’wa ‘s face.

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