Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Excerpt: Accomodation

By the time we reached the house, the sun was rising behind the Blackwall. Dawn was filling the city like clear water. Akshedhen went at once to his rooms; I felt very tired, but wakeful.

All the slaves except Minkatar were gathered in the kitchen. Old Fi’alasheï was sitting by the unlit fire, rocking and staring into the hearth. The other three women were grouped motionless around the table. Loïne sat in a corner of the room, arms folded across his chest. I hesitated at the door, but Temeraiao said: “Come in, Nitsuri, it’s all right.”

I joined the women at the table, feeling awkward. “I’m... I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

Temeraiao opened her hand, palm away from me; it’s past, it’s of no consequence. “Every year they perform this... ceremony. They make us attend. After, we come home and beg the Mother’s forgiveness.”

“For what good it does,” muttered Loïne.

Temeraiao said, with uncharacteristic sharpness: “That isn’t the point. We have to witness this desecration, but we don’t have to accede to it!”

Loïne subsided into sullen silence. I offered: “The temples, they were built by your people?”

“Yes.” Temeraiao smiled with private satisfaction. “The one they use for the Boy: the dome represents an egg, the Mother in potential.. The one they’ve converted to the Old Man represents the Mother realized, her bounty—a cow’s horns. Of course the Kesse’ got it wrong.”

“And the third?”

“The spiral roof represents the Mother as mystery.”

Loïne burst out, “Why do you bother? Why do you keep hanging on to the Mother’s worship? She’s abandoned us! She left us to be enslaved by the Kesset!”

Ajalē was on her feet. “So you say. You have no faith in the Mother—typical man!”

“No, no,” whispered Ng’ara. “Hush, someone will hear us...”

Fi’alasheï said hoarsely: “We betrayed the Mother. We enslaved the Great Snake and his children. The fields turned barren, plagues came on the wind, and the Moon sent his sons to punish us.”

There was a horrified silence. After a moment, Temeraiao said quietly, “It’s morning; the vigil is over. Go get some sleep, all of you, there’ll be work to do in a few hours.”

Loïne and I left the kitchen together, heading to the men’s quarters. “Are there many Ta’arane who believe what Fi’ala said?” I whispered. Loïne shook his head; he didn’t know. “Most won’t say it. Fi’ala’s so old, she doesn’t care. It’s no concern of yours, anyway.” He went to his room without another word.


Anonymous said...

Oh now I want to know more! Maybe it's the aspiring anthropologist in me.

Becca said...

This raises lots of questions in the readers mind, so it really piqued my interest in the rest of the story.

Jodi Cleghorn said...

I'm hooked - anything that gives page space to the Mother religion has me in.