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NaAgu

For the days of the feasting Blenbu became the teacher of NaAgu. His purpose in attending the the New Abbots' Initiation ceremony was to convince Mpho and Yunio that it was necessary for them to understand the ways of the NaAgu, and they were sufficiently interested that they also persuaded Sarpo and Tanbo to come with them.

"I love the hills, I always have - long before our journey," enthused Blenbu. "Back home before the times became dark, the hills were my friends, my comfort, and my solace. In those times of decadence few would make the efforts to escape the confines of urban living, even many who claimed green never walked that extra mile that brought them into the countryside where Gaia was dominant - and not man. Or so it seemed to me," he added.

"An old man doesn't change what he has found right for him so when I came here - even though I was welcomed - I preferred the solace of the hills. They bring me peace . Do you know?" he asked.

"We get it," smiled Mpho laughing at his profusion.

"A man of the hills can also lose social skills," he said wistfully, more to himself. "You must forgive me," he added gently.

"Nothing to be forgiven," remarked Sarpo "when I am deep in writing I am so full I blurt out to those who listen. I wonder whether they are truly interested." He searched the others but gained no answer. They cared for him too much to let his excesses cloud their relationship.

"OK to business," Blenbu began his account "The NaAgu is a tradition that has existed here in Mubanrao since people began remembering. Some people in the town called it Agu Kajaa but the Naakon themselves call it NaAgu. Agu means hills as you know, and naa is an old word for walking. But it is walking that is reflecting. It is walking that is pure walking - Nakon are those who focus on the walk. The word "naa" stopped being used as walking from A to B out of respect for the Naakon.

"Anyway, get that it is walking in the hills," he smiled embarrassed at his excess again. "Through the centuries these people have passed on this tradition, knowledge of the power of the land, plants and animals. They love it all. The land as it is feeds and heals them. There is no attempt at cultivation. They eat what they find, they know what to do to heal themselves, and they use ancient knowledge of how to increase their energy using the energy that Nature provides for all. Some even describe the Naakon as searchers for energy, and for some that is true as their walking is just a search for more powerful places to receive that energy."

He paused and then blurted "The Mubans have forgotten the NaAgu tradition, and it must not be forgotten. The Mubans have a peaceful and gentle life but it is a mistake that they are not in tune as the Naakon. I sometimes wonder how much of a mistake yet Nature enjoys their peace. Maybe the Harmony is maintained because there is NaAgu, I don't know, but without NaAgu there is not true balance in Mubanrao."

He could see their incredulity, understandable as they had embraced the way of Mubanrao, and had found a happiness that their dark countrymen had made it impossible to ever achieve. "You cannot know the way of NaAgu without being a Naakon so I am asking you to join me for a few days whilst your people are feasting to learn something of NaAgu."

So after staying several years in the town, for the first time the Link began to learn about the land that they now knew as home. They wandered up and down the hills, at first experiencing the beauty. But then Blenbu taught them more, beauty only touched the surface of the tradition that was NaAgu. They had walked far over the mountains to find Mubanrao, and in their flight had discovered personal energy. But walking here in the hills they were soon tired. Blenbu smiled, let them rest, and then taught them how to walk so that the land fed their walking. By the end of the third day they had learnt some of how to walk, enough to know there was something to learn.

He taught them of places of power, places where the land was good and bad for them yet bad and good for other life. They knew something of this as the Link but places had a quality in all things. Again by the end of the third day they knew little but they knew enough to know that Blenbu's claim that NaAgu helped create the harmony of Mubanrao could not be ignored.

During the three days there was an ongoing discussion between Sarpo and Blenbu for Sarpo wanted to record the tradition and asked Blenbu to stay with him at Dom Kajaa to complete a section in the Annals. Blenbu refused. On a note of personal discomfort he could not imagine being cooped up in the Dom for such a long period of time, but he told Sarpo "you are the recorder, you must record that tradition as you experience it." But Sarpo had the opposite problem, he was ageing and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the Dom. In the end their arguments led to mockery and derision of the elderly, and it remained an important section of the Annals that was not complete - yet recorded sufficiently for those with an eye to read.

After three days they were changed people. They had learnt of their homeland in a way that staying in Mubanrao could never teach. They were not Naakon, but they understood being NaAgu and they began to learn something of the harmony that NaAgu and Kajaa brought to the Mubans. They had learnt respect for the hills, a respect that could never leave them no matter whether they remained in the Dom or not. They parted, and left Blenbu by what he called his favourite rock. They walked down the mountainside, and looked back. Blenbu was still staring at them and waved. Then they watched as it seemed that Blenbu melted into his rock. Mpho blinked and looked again, he had disappeared.

In the days that followed their return home Mpho and Yunio became very busy. In their new roles they were faced by people who wanted to impress. This was difficult as for some it was sycophancy yet not all, but the whole process was very tiring. Despite this they couldn't help being impressed by the warmth of the Mubans. On occasions they would raise NaAgu. Typical was with Andow. He simply said "Ah yes, the ways of the hills. You have been speaking with Kakangpokao? Those are the old ways of Agu Kajaa but Kajaa moves on, doesn't it?"

"That is true, Andow, Kajaa changes with time, but at its root Kajaa is as it always has been," advised Mpho.

"Thank you, Merkangnam. Do we not live in Mubanrao, now? In older times many more lived in the hills and Agu Kajaa was very strong then, but it naturally died out when more Mubans began to stay in the town," answered Andow, "Kajaa moves on."

Everything Andow said made sense, but she remembered Blenbu saying Harmony was maintained because there is NaAgu, without NaAgu is there true balance in Mubanrao? This held portents she was sure, but what?

In the early days after the inauguration the Link fundamentally supplied sustenance for the weariness of Mpho and Yunio, but as time wore on that was not needed. Mubanrao settled down with their new Abbots, and so the demands lessened. As it should the pace returned to what it had been with the old Abbot, Mubans got on with their lives.

Sarpo would often ask of visitors to the Dom for stories of Kakangpokao, and he recorded as many as he could make sense of. This was with much circumspection as he soon discovered that for those who still had an interest in NaAgu, it had taken on the stuff of legend especially the talk of Kakangpokao. After they learned of his interest when Mubans from outlying lands visited the town they would visit Dom Kajaa as was the traditional respect, and they would then spend time with Sarpo. They liked to talk of the hills yet many in the town had lost interest, or simply did not understand; in Sarpo they had an ear.

But they spoke mostly of the feats of Kakangpokao, how the outsider would bring in their cheewits, how he had taken on the ways of the Naakon, and how the spirits of the hills protected him. Always they would mention Namzo's Relics, and how they had given signs when the weather was changing, when accidents would happen. But for Sarpo it was so hard to distinguish myth and storytelling from what he might term truth.

Storytelling has its place, he thought. But he held confusion, and he smiled ruefully as that too had its place.

More than 6 months after they had visited Blenbu he resolved to raise NaAgu in the Link, and the moment he did they felt it had been an issue they had sidelined intentionally. Yet even in the Link they could not feel comfortable with it, the words of Blenbu rang with great strength and awe - without NaAgu is there true balance in Mubanrao? But at the same time they could not understand even in the Link as NaAgu was done; Naakons did NaAgu, and the Link was not Naakon. Through Yunio they resolved to talk with Far about NaAgu and how it fitted into Muban education, and it soon became a feature of Muban education that all students had a taste of the hills. It became a requirement of all even though for many they were of the land, and already had a feel for land. But the land and NaAgu were not the same, and NaAgu could not be taught in schools. But the Link knew that NaAgu could not be lost, although they were not Naakons they knew that NaAgu provided some Harmony that was not part of mainstream Muban life. Soon for the Link NaAgu became part of the way of others, although the Abbots encouraged all who wanted to learn. But what was that learning? It was not a school, it was not meditation, it was a practice. Mubans needed to go to the hills and feel the land, feel the energy, live NaAgu. Sarpo continued to try to learn but the stories became legend and his Annals were not to be a mythology but a source of knowledge, and his section on NaAgu had great import but not in the writing.

The next time he resolved to raise NaAgu in the Link it failed. And this was a symbol of the final change, the final acceptance. The Link had been needed to bring them to Mubanrao, but now their unity was with the Mubans. There was no survival that needed a Link, yet there was a strength needed in daily life to hold to the traditions of Kajaa. This was a Link but a Link with the Mubans, and they worked towards that. But the Abbots had always done that, the Doms had always done that, Mubans in daily life always did that although only a few took the path of meditation. The travellers had accepted and had been accepted in Mubanrao, and as time moved forward that acceptance was not even remarked upon as tales in families placed less and less emphasis on the influx of the outsiders, and on how they had become Abbots evolving Kajaakaya. But there were always the Annals of Samsarapho.

And there was one final act, one act of finality to ensure that the other world remained distant. Nearing his death Blenbu made a final Naa into the hills. He had never retraced the steps the 10 had followed, it seemed not of good omen, but there came a time when he kept observing Relics. He could not ignore the signs but he could not read them. As is the way it came in a dream and he made his way back to the cave entrance that had led them to Mubanrao. It was unlikely to be found but he made sure it would not. He looked around and felt the Relics smile, he loved the peace of Mubanrao - he loved his hills.