Translation from the original story published in Blak Out in Wiradjuri by Yaliilan Windl
She walks toward the ochre pit. Her tired and weary heart, body and spirit beginning to relax as she sees her female Ancestors waiting patiently for her at the ochre pit, with their serene smiles. She stands inside the pit, with her bare feet, wearing only her singlet and shorts. The smell of the ochre is beginning to awaken her senses. Bending down, she takes some ochre in her hands, proceeding to crush the pieces with her hands, she then rubs the crushed ochre onto her face, her arms, her legs and even her stomach. She is transcended to another time and place—in this moment nothing and no one matters, as time stands still.. She stands in the middle the ochre pit, faintly aware of the birds singing around her, the wind beginning to pick up around where she stands, but all she is aware of is the feeling of the ochre touching her skin and how it feels, the calming effect it has on her heart and soul. The calming feeling of ochre which allows connection to her Ancestors will never get old or tiring.
As the wind begins to pick up more she hears on the wind her female Ancestors whispering to her “we have waited for you to come here for such a long time”. She smiles a soft smile to acknowledge her Ancestors words. Suddenly, the wind dies down and everything is silent. Her eyes are still closed as she takes in the silence around her. She knows she is safe; her Ancestors are always protecting her. She stands in the pit, her feet deep in ochre, her body still covered she feels the need to sing the language of her people.
She gets water from her drink bottle and mixes it with the ochre, placing the wet ochre over the top of the dry ochre. She feels the language gurgling around in her tummy, making its way up to her tongue, trying to escape – to be heard. She is now sitting with her legs crossed … She begins to sing, barely a whisper escapes from her mouth at first. As her confidence grows, and her voice becomes more visible, so does the wind around her. The birds are now sitting in the trees surrounding her, some are sitting on the ground nearby her, listening as they know the language she sings:
“My Ancestors, I hear you; I feel you and I see you in everything that I do and everywhere that I go.
You are the reason that I fight for opportunities you have afforded me.
My Ancestors, you are the reason that I am here.
My Ancestors, I love you for all that you have given me.
My Ancestors, I thank you for walking with me on this journey, for loving and guiding me.
Always being by myside in the good times and the bad.
My Ancestors, I thank you for leading and guiding me on the journey that I am on, for showing and teaching and placing many who I need on my journey.”
She is singing, the wind is like a little torpedo around her, her hair is whipping everywhere. The men that are were passing by on the track have turned around, as this is something that they have never seen. Each standby the truck and watch on in awe of what they are seeing occur before them. As her singing goes back to a whisper, the birds come closer, the blue fairy wren, the willy wag tail and the magpie are sitting in front of her, looking up intently. This is when she begins to use the clapsticks. As she is placing one clapstick on the other, the fairy wren jumps onto her right hand, this is where she stays. The magpie begins singing and the willy wag tail sits watching, fanning her tail every now and again. As she opens her eyes, her female Ancestors have gone. She thanks the birds for visiting, listening and singing with her.
All the birds fly off and she stands up to go back to her car. It is at that moment she turns and sees the men standing beside the truck. She says, “Good day” and smiles warmly as she is used to people looking at her or suddenly stopping when she is ochred up. The men all stay silent for a few seconds, when the young man of the group steps forward and walks toward her, wiping his eyes as he does so.
He repeats over and over, “Wow, just wow just breathtaking, so moving”. She smiles and thanks him shyly. The older man of the group steps forward and tells her that is the first time he has ever heard an Aboriginal language spoken and that he is blown away at the beauty that he witnessed. The men get back into the truck, continuing upon their journey, and she gets into her car. As she is waiting to get back on road, she sees an eagle sitting on the other side of the road. She looks beside him and she sees a crow sitting beside him, the crow knows she is being watched. At that moment, a Kookaburra flies down and sits between them. All she manages is a smile as tears begin falling down her face like the river she visits many times on Country…
Just as quick as the three birds appeared, they disappear. She knows the birds are her sign, she drives off with her spirit feeling lighter, her heart contented from the ochre healing her and knowing she has her Ancestors approval of what she is doing and will do on her journey. With that, she drives off into the afternoon sunset to meet her mob to do ceremony.