(In which an unexpected but hoped-for development changes the way the game is played.)
The difference between I and them is obvious to me in this moment. They are more intelligent than I, being in their own element. They are better equipped to understand. They are more aware of the obvious. And certainly they have more experience. So what do they need of me? They need the catalyst, that which forces change. That’s all I am. I have to put myself in the center of this latent force to create the explosion. I am the mine that causes the avalanche; the detonator that causes the charge to blow.
End blog post #88
Begin blog post #89
So I say, “Good, we talk. Now I tell you truth. You women, you know answers to question already. Is all in heart, I say true. This I know. What you say is only little bit what each one know deep in heart. Afraid you are say stupid thing, other women make fun, get angry, think stupid. So now I stupid speak for all. I speak heart stupid for all women. Listen.
“Is possible love all men. Is possible be only good, not do evil to men like men ask. Is possible everything. But not safe to do, not always wise to do. If women refuse obey men, women all killed, yes?” They grunt agreement.
“Agree. Not good thing. But if evil in man come from hidden beast, how to fight evil? Must find other way. Satisfy men, satisfy women. How Anti beat evil Warmo?”
“Fight Warmo. Kill Warmo. This we know. This we do always. No good. More Warmo men come. Same thing happen.”
“If Warmo say, ‘Sorry, I do this no more.’ What Antierra do now?”
“Kill. Warmo lie to save life. Anyone lie to save life.”
“If Warmo say truth and I kill, who wrong now?”
“Warmo do wrong, die. Cannot live. Do more evil. Truth not important. Kill Warmo important.”
“Wrong. Truth important. If Warmo tell truth, Anti let live, Anti die. Warmo different now. Spirit of Anti in Warmo. Try to help women. Change many things. See King, see good doctor. Powerful man make life better for all women. Is possible.”
“This stupid speak, Anti?” The question comes from a very young, newly arrived trainee, a gorok.
I reply emphatically seeing a real opportunity to reveal the ‘humble’ and totally honest/innocent side of the Teaching: “Yes this stupid speak – my stupid speak. Say what many afraid to say. Say that maybe woman can hear man talk in heart; understand man. Love man. Not for favour from man, but make man feel good. Say that maybe man good too. Say push evil out into shadow, speak with man as speak with woman. Kind. Stupid speak say even if man hit woman, not understand, woman still love man; not hate; not fear. This stupid speak from old, stupid Anti. I know no more. You – all you – decide how you live. As always same… or try stupid speak.”
The young trainee gorok speaks again. “I be #1341-15-07. Tieka is name I give goddess to know by. I not want be fighter. I thinking maybe I die, not kill man. See too many evil things. I no want do bad to man. Now I stupid speak too, to all women,” She indicates all the cages with her arms, “kill me if no like. I be having love with man. Special good feeling. He be having love with me. He no take other women, only me. He touch me, I feel good. I touch him, he say he feel good too. He look at me, I feel good. I have love for man. He have love for Tieka. I keep this now. If I kill man, I kill love feeling too. So must die to keep. This he know. He very sad for me. Cry. I see water on face. He good man; he very good man. I too very sad for him.”
I hear gasps and grumblings all over the cages at this revelation. But this is an omen, much more powerful than anything I could have said or done, more powerful than any storm that could bring this keep down. This is the key to our victory. After all the years I spent here, this is the first public expression of a woman’s love for a man, or a man’s for a woman (taking her words for it and I entertain not a moment’s doubt that this child is telling the whole truth – she has put her life on the line for it among her peers.)
Now it’s my turn. To be perfectly understood I choose pidgin talk again. “Gorok Tieka doing stupid speak for all us. Listen from heart now, women. Listen to girl-woman Tieka with love in heart. This I say is great gift from goddess now. This Tieka strong woman, stronger than all us. Ready to die for love of man. Die terrible death you all know – flogging for not obeying. And maybe if man found, he too die terrible death. Evil now ready to destroy this love. Is like little green thing grow by stone wall near wash trough. Do we pull little green thing and give to trainers to destroy? Do we hide, protect? What we do now?”
Silence greets my question. Then from farther in the cages a woman speaks: “Kill gorok. She make big trouble for all. Stupid. Make gorok tell of man, report man to handlers. Then I say kill gorok. This big, big trouble.”
Hate. Fear. Jealousy. Reactions to something new, challenging, dangerous, and the basic pseudo-human selfishness that resents something that could benefit another but not the self. I must counter this thought with logical reasoning, not emotion.
“Listen women. This from toughest fighter you see ever. I say we take gorok in heart. She be new change for us, this place. I say we find power to keep Tieka from arena. I say we protect love, all us, do what can to save from evil. I say we make vow. We protect, hide Tieka and man. Say we find heart way for escape from here, take man with her, go into desert, into south far, far away from men, from evil eye.
“Now must know. Must hear from fighter who say ‘kill gorok’ – need know how woman feel now. Must know deep heart truth from woman; if fighter talk to trainers, if have Tieka and man killed. Must all know.”
I hear guttural noises deep in the cages. Angry talking. I wait, trying not to listen to the arguments. I hold Tiki close to me, wondering what she is thinking. She hasn’t said a word, yet this was the same argument we had had long ago. How do you love in such a place?
The same condemning voice is raised above the wind and sound of whipped rain on the tiled roof far above. “I be woman who say ‘kill gorok.’ Friend and I talk. We think this change dangerous but maybe good like Teacher say. I be Gonda. On name I promise protect gorok Tieka. Promise to help if can. Understand why must do this now. I think time for change come for us all. I think Desert Beast coming awake for us.”
The effect is electric. General agreement is voiced throughout the compound and all those near Tieka put their hands on her. In their hearts they are intoning a protection chant over her. We have unity of spirit. I squeeze Tiki’s hand and whisper to her, “Things changing Tiki. Much sorrow yet to have but things changing for good now.” She wraps her arms around me and squeezes hard, holding on and sharing her joy at being part of this, not, I sense, understanding it all and a bit lost in the process. After all, she is one of those purebred fighters, the result of the breeding of certain lines for qualities desired. In some ways she is much like the Cholradil with little latitude for choice. How could she understand Tieka’s abhorrence of killing? In the worlds of compromised morality… well, I have to admit, there be different levels of ‘love’ evidently. Antierra old girl, there’s hope for you to learn new tricks yet.
Now the truly difficult part: to detach from these momentous events so as not to get devastated if disaster strikes ‘tomorrow’ – if someone recants and sells out Tieka or if the lovers do something truly stupid. Win, lose or draw, I must carry on. Other matters to attend to.
End blog post #89