The transport rolled to a stop in front of Gilaw and Wisa’s home. Daval came running to the window and pressed his face close. “mama, mama, let me hold her please.”
Wisa smiled without feeling and opened the door. Daval stroked the baby Anetti on the head while humming a little song that could only come from a contented child. “I wuv baby Anetti, mama.” Then he ran quickly to the house and told the others of their arrival.
Excited children came to the door of the house. There were six of the seven children there and waiting to see number eight come in. Leeden, the first child and eldest son, had already left the home and was in training to become a speaker in the house of El Olam. Wisa and Gilaw were very proud of Leeden and treasured his resolve to carry on their convictions.
“Come mother, let us help you with the baby,” said Bekay. “You should rest and we will take watch over little Anetti.” Bekay swooped Anetti from Wisa’s arms while Gilaw grappled with the bags and latched the doors of the transport. Judan helped Wisa carefully walk through the open door of her home while all the children disappeared into the small domicile. The doors closed behind Anetti for the first time in this life.
Judan peered wearily upon the child as though some part of her could see her fate to come. One of her alternate lives was beckoning her to come into a realm she barely knew existed. Judan was to become the surrogate mother of Anetti and one of the many victims of Gilaw. She saw it coming and could do nothing but walk toward it.
“Judan, what do you think of Anetti?” whispered Gilaw. “Isn’t she sweet?”
“Yes, Pader, she is very sweet.”
“Not so unlike you, I think.” Gilaw spoke in a tone that insisted you agree with him… “No, not so unlike me.”
Bekay was close in age to Judan and was her best friend. She knew Judan’s heart at times more than Judan did. She also saw Gilaw too near. Bekay spoke with her innocent playfulness that easily escaped Gilaw’s indecency.
“Judan, please come help with baby Anetti. We must prepare a bath to baptize the new gift. Judan saw this as a relief from Gilaw and came hurriedly to assist Bekay. Judan and Bekay began humming the chant as they prepared the bath. Baby Anetti lay still as Daval counted her toes. Jogil was in the shadow of the room, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. He stayed silently there and watched as the ritual began.
They sang in quiet time and rhythmic lulls.
“All Children of the Earth,
Sing the healing song, rising.
Will the healing fire, changing,
Swim the healing deep, feeling.
Walk the healing Earth, being.”
Judan and Bekay held Anetti’s body in the warm water as Wisa came to press her oiled finger onto her forehead. Her finger dragged lightly from temple to temple. Wisa was tired but held fast to the old ways of Bulaq in honor of her mother. Bulaq had done this very same ritual with Wisa when she was born, there on the eating table of their shack house some thirty-eight years before. And Wisa had watched as many more children Bulaq would knowingly pass this curse to. The words Wisa spoke then were illegible to the rest. It was the passing of the curse in ritual. It was the spoken word of what breathed in their blood. It was a confirmation ceremony so simple and quick and so deadly. It was one this baby would finally break. “Doon ka-tek nye pun Quing.”
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