The Rites Afforded Us
Charlie stood at the mouth of the wadi, her people gathered on the sides, all gripping their spears tight in silence. The wind whispered through the rocks and brushed sand over her boots. For what was meant to be life giving this riverbed showed little in the way of providing. All that stood before Charlie was the vast opens of the steppes before her.
That morning she’d cried. Now there were no tears. She couldn’t afford them. But her father had no such prohibition. He openly wept and had to be steadied by her dad. The two held one another, knowing that this was necessary, and that the odds were they would see Charlie again.
Charlie had argued otherwise that morning, saying “This is stupid!”
“You’ll learn a lot and in time thank us.”
“Thank the community.”
She huffed in response, “Look at you! You’re crying and you’re saying this is a good a thing?”
Her father smiled and nodded. “You’re leaving for the first time, how could I not be sad?”
“But I don’t want to! So you’re crying over nothing.” Her dad set a plate before her, filled with her favorites - spiced rice, beans, fried plantains, curried chicken, tomatoes. Charlie didn’t look at it, and pushed it away.
“I don’t want this, you don’t want this, so why are we doing this!” she said to her father.
Her dad placed a hand on her shoulder and slid the plate back towards her, “We all did this. It’s not so much tradition… more…”
“Can’t this just be one of those moments where we all agree you’ll thank us later.”
“Well I won’t!”
“Whoah, what?” snapped Charlie’s dad, “What are you saying?”
Charlie’s father wiped away his tears, “Come now. It’s an expression. It’s a thing. You know, you say it when people are being unreasonable.”
“It’s a thing?”
“Yes, a thing,” replied Charlie’s father.
“That people say?”
“I just did.”
“I’ve never heard you say that before.”
Under her breathe Charlie said, “Not outside the bedroom.”
Charlie’s dad did not look amused. “That’s hardly the talk to be having at the breakfast table.”
Charlie hid her smile behind a forkful of rice and left it at that.
Out in the open with the village gathered and her parents at a distance she didn’t have any more opportunities to object. She had to just set out.
Today’s art is courtesy of Wayne Haag from Sydney, Australia.