‘No plastic, no packaged food, no knives or sharp metal, any man made stuff leave on the boat, and most important, no talking…I will do all the talking. Clear?’ Both the nurses nodded. The man Panila, their guide to the island, started stripping and soon was butt naked.
‘Get used to’ Panila said irritated as they looked at him horrified, ‘on this island they do not trust men in cloths’ he added and took out a bow hidden behind the plank of the boat.
‘Arrows?’ Flora, one of the nurses got curious.
‘No…arrows would keep them on edge but the bow will make them sing. Err…not literary. For these people singing is sacred’
By the time the boat touched the shore, Panila, powdered in ash, was unrecognizable. He asked the nurses to stay put while he advanced making strange noises.
Faces appeared out of woods like isotopes. One by one, men, women, and their children hiding behind, all naked and chalky, gathered around Panila.
Eyes started turning towards the boat, staring the only two in clothes.
‘I am not sure anymore if volunteering for this was a good idea’ Siva, the other nurse, said to Flora.
They all sat in a circle. Men and women talked in their strange language. One, who looked like their chief, spoke. Panila turned to the nurses, ‘They don’t want to take our vaccines and want us to leave and never come back’
Flora was not listening. She was smiling and making faces to a tiny girl peeking from behind her mother. Soon the girl started reciprocating Flora and gained enough courage to leave her mother and walk towards her.
Panila was horrified. If the men see an outsider with their child even a small misunderstanding would result in a blood bath. ‘They will take our skulls to drink water out of it’ he hissed in Siva’s ear.
‘We are so dead’ Panila said as the little girl stood in front of Flora.
Before they could get a grasp of the situation, Flora brought out a packet of chocolate from her pocket unwrapped it and handed it to the girl with an action to eat. Panic burst like a broken dam. Furious, they all ran towards the girl. Bows were out, arrow heads pointing at Flora.
It was too late. The girl had taken a bite. The whites of her moony eyes grew large. They all gasped.
In that ongoing chaos the little jovial girl sang, ‘Mouliiiiiiii’ and twirled.
The song acted like a pause. Her mother hugged the little girl. Men picked Flora up and they all sang.
Siva, awestruck by the events, turned to Panila.
Panila beamed, ‘She sang the song of Moulii, the divine magic’
In the next hour they all got vaccinated while the kids had chocolates and sang the song of divine magic.
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