Part 9 Conclusion
Weeks passed rapidly and Joko became weaker, consumed by the illness that was destroying him. No longer was he the strong man of the past. The old remedies used by his people, beverages made with medicinal herbs collected in the forest, could not help him to regain the lost vitality. For the first time, he needed help.
He knew that life was running rapidly away from him. Ravnos visited him and frankly told him that he had evident symptoms of cancer which were spreading through the vital organs of his body.
Joko accepted his fate, and thought, “The time has come for me, but as a Gypsy, I must not be afraid to die. I have to accept the fate.”
The caravans were slowly moving on mountain roads separating them from Spain. At the horizon the white Pyrenees’ peaks became visible.
Joko thought that would be the right place where to farewell his people, and in earnest talk to them before his human strength left him.
One evening the convoy reached Andorra’s border. This is a little territory inhabited by fierce people on the saddle of the Pyrenees.
It was over here that Joko thought it was time to farewell his people and called the caravans to a halt. On that evening he summoned his people and spoke to them,
“My people, never before like now I felt like all of you are part of my family and the heavy responsibilities I have for you. In the many years, we have been together it has been a pleasure to be your leader and adviser.
“When we started this journey I promised to take you to Andalusia, where your life will be safer. Unfortunately, I cannot fulfill the oath I made to you.
“It is time for me to depart. My Ancestors are calling, therefore I will not be able to guide and help you over the last part of the journey. The time has come to say goodbye.
“Tomorrow you will cross into Spain and still have a long way to go. I’ve selected the new leaders who will take you safely on the last part of your peregrination. My daughters Ida with Ravnos, her new husband, are the one who has inherited this privilege. I know that they are young, but today to survive you need more intelligence than was needed in the past, and they have that. Ravnos is an educated person and he’s capable of protecting your interest in front of the gaujo.
“If anybody has any objection to what I said, this is the time to do so, or else, approve them as your leaders.
“This is my last stop. I wish to spend the last days of my life in the forest over this mountain. I’ll ask permission of the Great Forest Mother to live in the woods till my end comes and to let my bones rest in peace forever in the forest.
“Go in peace, my people. I wish your dreams in life will always be fulfilled.”
The Gypsies’ caravan departed at dawn. Joko moved soon after into the forest. He lit the sacred fire. He threw into the fire, the satchel with the magical herbs to call his Ancestors. He became smoke and fire and danced once more with the Spirit of his Boro Dad. (grandfather spirit).
He waited then for Marika to come for him. She came at his call, and she was as beautiful as a dream.
She extended her hands saying, “Come, my dear Joko. I have waited for you for so long. Come with me now and we will share our journey into eternal happiness.”