Gina, the child, is playing with itzi-bitzies of Ninija’s Lands. She can’t see or hear Lumaluma the way Ninija does. She rubs the flies out of her eyes, but she sees nothing. She pulls her ears, but hears nothing. ‘Lumaluma. Lumaluma. This very strange name.’
She talks inside like Ninija.
‘Never talk-talk-talk like this before. Not need talk in desert. But white-fella make Ninija talk and I do what Ninija do. Gina great Landowner one day like Ninija. She say it “Land business” this talk-talk-talk.’ She picks up her favourite stones and speaks to them in turn.
‘Gina of Ginger. Ginger of Ninija. Ninija grandmother. Great Landowner. Strong and wise woman. Lumaluma got into her through Ginger. She weak with white-fella poison. With his “Easy-Happy-Sexy.” She not fight him, not send strong elders with spear to kick white-fella, undibi, trespasser, away our Lands. And Sky Heroes not make storm make Fire so he run scared back to him city.’
‘Maybe this rite, lesson for Ninija. Not just saying galiya, goodbye, to her Ginger like our people say when someone travels on to campfires in the Sky. Maybe Sky Heroes need know white-fella’s big trouble. He drive us out of desert to him settlement. It make him feeeeeel better! Then he try make us like him.’
She throws a handful of the red Earth, and tumbles after it. Then, jumps straight into the air, copying Ninija’s anger.
‘Ninija. Gina. My people. All want go back desert heart. Not stay here at settlement. But we stay. Ninija say we must. But why some of white-fella badness it get into her? Maybe it happen when we go to big city to bring Ginger father back.’
Ninija and Gina, and their people are sad. Ginger, son of Ninija and father of Gina, straightback of the tribe, has been taken away by Lumaluma to his city. The white bosses came to get him. They gave him bundles of green papers, Lumaluma money. Then, they showed him where to buy grog, alcohol. Now Ginger is dead, like all the straightbacks. They are prisoners in city-concrete.
Gina talks on to her stone friends. She stands straight, strong limbs bright orange against the dark blue sky of Sundown. She stares at the single casuarina tree towering above all the dog boxes. Her favourite stones are fitted perfectly one in between every two fingers close to the knuckles. They listen to her inside speech. Gina is ‘tree’ while she talk-talk-talks like white-fella, talk-talk-talks silent like Ninija.
‘White-fella they come before, talking on and on. They tell Ninija what “best.” We not understand “best”. We not choose. We no choice. White-fella choose, count, talk and point with long-long white finger.’
She points both her index fingers over in the direction of invisible Lumaluma.
‘Ninija say he always want change what is. They not listen never to Ninija and Ginger and the clever fellas about us black-skins. They choose “best” for us, then give many gifts like tin houses and hot shiny dresses and trousers to cover ourselves. And magic Fire to cook roo and emu. And big shiny tin camel to take us fast-fast, and carry everything we buy with green papers.’
She runs quickly round and round the trunk of the giant tree.
‘Ninija angry. Gina never see it before white-fella come to Lands. She not angry when we “Now” and “Here” with Lands. Never.’
She stretches taller, stands on her toes and brings her arms out to the sides. She offers her pale palms up to Sky. She has become the casuarina tree poking up to Sun and down deep in red Earth. She talks with the important voice of the tree.
‘Somehow, Lumaluma choosing and counting and looking and waiting got inside Ninija. And she got into the counting and choosing and waiting and looking. And always she talking to him Lumaluma. Always he pull her away from us and the Lands with longing, with questions, with white-fella advice. And when she sleep she wake me with strange no-sleep talk. “Easy”……”Happy”…..’’Sexy’’…and she giggle. Maybe that Lumaluma paid green papers to get into her sleep. Maybe to talk-talk-talk deep in her ear.’
Gina slowly turns. She searches for Ninija’s eyes lost in her tousled hair. She implores with the silent words of wise ‘tree.’
‘Without words, what Lumaluma like Ninija? Make picture for me. You look black angry, first over there, then over here, hopping and slapping mad. Ninija! Ninija!’
Gina throws down the stones she holds between her fanned fingers, and stops being ‘tree.’ She runs to Ninija outside the dog box. But Ninija stares on into the red dust of her Lands unaware of Gina. Her fingers drum the alien metal. Any moment she might lash out against white-fella’s ‘flat’ and ‘straight’. Gina grabs her grandmother’s other hand. Shakes it. Screams to get her grandmother’s eyes back from Lumaluma. A child. Just-knowing about Lands’ business, about ‘talk-talk-talk.’ But wanting things as they were before with Ninija and the Lands and stories and songs, and with Ginger father.
‘Where he Lumaluma? What he Lumaluma? How he white-fella ghost got inside big black Ninija pulling you away to him “Money” Lands, him “There” Lands, him “Then” Lands. Him “Easy-Happy-Sexy” Lands!’
Now Gina is angry like her grandmother.
‘Now he get inside Gina with talk-talk-talk, white talk-talk-talk.’
She growls like Ninija and turns round and round in a tight circle.
Tiny tears settle in the corners of her eyes attracting even more thirsty flies.
‘Why lands business? Why change coz white-fella come?’
She quickly picks up her stones again and runs away. She drops rare questions behind her. Drops them like all white-fella things. Tears. Stones. The completeness of child.