By late autumn Joko was on the road again leading the gypsies across the North Italian plain toward the promised land of the Spanish Gitanos. It was now an easy journey across one of the richest valleys in the world, offering green pastures and abundant water. The Gypsies trusted their leader, who had promised a safe journey to their new home.
In October the gypsy’s caravan crossed the Italian Riviera with only a few hills, the Appennini Liguri, separating them from France.
They journeyed along the French Riviera, one of the most prestigious regions of Europe. This region was seldom crossed by nomadic people. The local government laws are forbidding the use of main roads by traveling horse vans, so the Gypsies were using secondary country roads. They were searching for a suitable winter camp offering good pasture for the animals and water for their needs. They finally found an encampment on the outskirts of Aubogne, a country town in the vicinity of Marseille. It was the ideal place for the horses and goats to graze, having at the end of the field a creek meandering gently, and allowing fresh pastures.
From the Mediterranean a soft breeze constantly blew, easing the cold of the winter.
It was there that Joko’s adopted daughter, Ida, celebrated her sixteenth birthday and entered her adult life as a gypsy woman. It had become Yoko’s duty, during the winter season, to prepare her for her future public life in the Gypsy community and to teach her the basic simple rules to govern their tribe. He also taught Ida the legends and folklore, part of their inheritance, which she would have to transmit, by word of mouth, to future generations.
Joko thought that Marika would be proud of her daughter in her new woman’s roles and therefore Marika’s spirit would stay with them to further guide her child through her adult life.
He was pleased to see how the child of only a few months before, was definitely growing into an attractive woman, and her mature attitude in taking on her new responsibilities.
She was taller than the average gypsy woman, with long black hair dressed into a plait. Her blood wasn’t gypsy and showed in her fair skin in contrast to the olive complexion of the average gypsy woman. Her eyes sparkled with a deep topaz light, and she had a straightforward look, somewhat arrogant but suited to her as the person born to be in command of her people in the future. Her voice was crystal clear, echoing constantly with her cheerful laugh.
Ida, even if she was young, she looked regal wearing the traditional gypsy clothes completed with red calf-skin boots, as dictated by the traditional Balkan Gypsy costume.
The clan of gypsies loved her, not so much for the fact she was Joko’s daughter, but because Ida was well known to the others for her friendly approach and her willingness in sharing the communal work.
She passionately sang Gypsy tunes and let herself go in the rhythm of their spirited dances at their celebrations. She was particularly taken by the Flamingo’s tunes, that she came to love meeting a group of the Spaniard’s Gitano.
Many times in their wondering Gitanos and Gypsies met. It happened on that very morning, and Ida met a group of Spanish Gitanos that also were in town.
On those special times when they occasionally met, they exchanged visits and partied.
Ida first thought, meeting them, was that it would be a good opportunity, of having one of those Gitanos guide her into the ways of the spirited Flamingo’s dance and properly learn the ways of dancing it.
Over the past months, Joko felt extremely tired. He couldn’t enjoy life and more than ever missed Marika, his beloved wife. The responsibilities for the welfare of his people became more demanding and the physical stress was difficult to cope with. He prayed to be capable of fulfilling the promises made to his people and safely taking them into the Promised Land before his strength abandoned him completely.
Under this condition, he neglected the good healthy rules and forgot to eat proper meals, and lost weight rapidly. At night he became restless and incapable of formulating plans for the morrow. He was mentally stressed and free from pain. He thought he was in need of some rest to restore him to his physical best.
Joko thought of himself, “Isn’t much wrong with me. I’ll go to the forest and ask the help of the Spirits of the Ancestors. They will guide me through this difficult time and restore the energy that I need to lead my people to join the Andalusia Gypsies in Spain.”
He went the next day into the forest. He lit the sacred fire and threw into it a satchel containing the magical herbs of mugwort and rosemary, to assist in the call of his Ancestors. He meditated and fell into a trance and began, in this way, his mystical meeting with his forefathers.
He stared into the flames and called the sacred spirits. They appeared to him in the vestiges of the sacred people of the past. His Ancestors were now with him, ready to listen to his words and to give him their oracles to evaluate and judged. Joko looked deeply into the crackling flames, concentrating and trying to recognize the spirits of the dead floating in the sacred fire. Then Yag’s spirit, his Puro Moosh (old man, grandfather) who had been his mentor when alive, and respected by Joko as his master came to him.
Yag’s spirit drew Joko into the flames. They mixed together in the contortion of the fire, dancing for a while and joining their spirits. Joko became part of the smoke and fire and purified himself, ready to hear the words of his Puro Moosh. He had become a shadow himself, and to be able to join the other spirit’s shadows. In front of him, it was clear the visions of the future. It was his future and the future of his people.
He clearly saw them joining the group of Andalusia’s Gitanos returning to Spain, and saw them safely reaching the end of their journey.
But Joko wasn’t leading them. The leader was a stranger, a strong young man with unmatchable strength. He led at the front of the caravan and a young woman, with equal strength emanating from her, was at his side.
Suddenly Joko heard a terrifying noise and a tremor shook the ground around him opening wide smoking cracks. A hand stretched from one of the earth’s openings, trying to reach him. A ghostly woman’s face appeared to rise from the smoldering crack. She soon mutated into familiar semblances coming closer to Joko, who was still part of the mythical fire and smoke. He was only a soul, separated from his body. The spirit of the woman rapidly took on the look of his adored Marika. He jubilantly tried to hug her. She smiled back, stretched her hand, and in a begging gesture asked him to follow her.
Joko muttered an incomprehensible sound… till the vision suddenly disappeared and Joko was no longer a spirit, and again he was sitting in front of the sacred fire. The spell was broken. The Spirits of the Ancestors had spoken and had predicted his future and the future of his people.
End part 6