Tari didn’t know the ground could be so brutal. With her sandals off, she can feel the tiniest stones in the dirt. It’s as if someone took time to sharpen them, and for her inconvenience. Will she see blood if she looks under her feet?
She resists the urge to scratch her soles with every step. The hut they go to is a few meters away, but she dreads the pain in store for her. She feels every step like she walks through a field of thorns. Maybe if she had unshakable faith, she could walk the path as effortlessly as a religious zealot walks over a bed of smouldering coals.
They were told to remove their shoes by an elderly woman. She is dressed in what passes as traditional garb – a blue and green printed head scarf and a wraparound garment with green and beige prints. She wears seed and wooden bead jewellery around her ankles, wrists and neck. Although she too is barefoot, she doesn’t seem to suffer for it.
Tari wishes she could fare as well.
When she looks to Mr and Mrs Naka, she doesn’t find kindred spirits. They too just proceed like it’s a stroll in the park on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Mrs Naka’s face appears frozen in a frown, with the corners of her lips drooping slightly. Tari wishes not to look like that when she is her age, or any age for that matter.
When Mr Naka suggested they see a Shaman, the voice of reason only nudged her. When she was driving them to see Chiroveso, it nagged her. But now, barefoot and gullible like a toddler, it screams at her.
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