Ninija, Traditional Landowner and most spiritually evolved of her tribe, has had many skirmishes with white man as the leader and advocate of her people, and as imagined, has an amazing story of this relationship to tell which has never been truly told. The story begins as Ninija is in mourning for her son Ginger, prey to alcohol and drug abuse, and at the same time plagued by white ghost Lumaluma who is in hot pursuit of her as his concubine, and whom only Ninija can see and hear. The twelve days of preparations have begun for the greatest ceremony of all in tribal life, Ginger’s burial ceremony, the Djang, but Ninija is continuously distracted from her duties by white-fella. She is steadily seduced by his gifts and attentions, and intermittently torn out of her desert life. Eventually, she does not know how to find her way back from his ‘Easy-Happy-Sexy’ to the sweetness of ‘Now-and-Here’ in her desert lands.
The four main voices which provide the narrative are:
- Ninija, protagonist, narrator, playing the roles Traditional Landowner or tribal leader, mother, grandmother, and also white-fella Lumaluma’s desert concubine
- Gina, ninija’s young granddaughter, co-narrator, understudy to Traditional Landowner and heiress to Ninija’s Lands, daughter to dead Ginger
- Ginger, Ninja’s son and Gina’s father, leader of the Emu totem clan, one of Lumaluma’s straightbacks, who falls prey to alcohol and drug addiction and dies at the beginning of the story
- Lumaluma, the embodiment of and metaphor for all white Europeans, who takes the form of an invisible white ghost only visible to and communicable with Ninija.
The story plays out in Ninija’s desert lands, from which white-fella has been excluded in physical form, and concerns the 12 days leading up to the burial ceremony of dead Ginger, each chapter constituting one of the lead-up days. Six of them are in the Dry, the inhumanly hot season of the desert, and 6 of them in the Wet, when torrential rains flood and transform it. The illicit relationship between Ninija and Lumaluma as he puts increasing pressure on her to betray her traditional life and come away to his city with him, is closely witnessed by young Gina, granddaughter. She tries to understand Ninija’s strange behaviour grappling with white-fella’s sensual and escapist ways, while at the same time trying to keep the strict tribal Law regarding Mortuary Rites, and the Djang, on schedule. In time, Ninija finds herself between two worlds. Those of her Lands and Dreaming stories, where there are no notions of time or space, called the ‘Here-and–Now;’ and the so-called ‘civilised’ Lands ruled by materialism, a spiritual wilderness where people live in their minds and are consumed by a great fear of death and disease, which she calls ‘Easy-Happy-Sexy.’ Lumaluma pursues Ninija relentlessly and lustily, trying to tear her away from pristine morals and natural goodness of ancient traditional life. At first she cannot understand his ways, but gradually through visits to white-fella’s city and through her constant dialogue with him, she understands why he behaves so badly, and vows to help his people find their way back to sincerity and a pure life. But white man must pay the price for all his bullying and lack of respect.