NOTE: I have been truly derelict in posting segments of the Manifesto this month. So much happening and so much to talk about, and one has to wonder, in retrospect, what all that talk accomplishes. But be that as it may be, I intend to be much more disciplined in posting the rest of this story. I’ll give it 3-4 days in between each post, no more. So here goes with blog post 95. I hope you can re-connect with what was going on. Thanks!]
“Now hold your weapons high and salute life. Salute victory. Salute the goddess who slowly awakens to you as you awaken to her. Our days are coming, as surely as the seasons change. Hail to the weapons!”
Each time we go through this ritual the women barely restrain themselves from cheering. These are the moments that inexorably change the face of Malefactus.
End blog post #94
Begin blog post #95
I am beginning to sense what the Teaching is accomplishing. Without making any significant change to the external conditions of things here, since we do not have the power to do so, and if we attempted it the suffering would bring unimaginable terror upon us all, it is causing changes within. It is making these helpless individuals aware there are some forms of power no amount of repression can take away. Repression has its limits whereas personal power does not know the meaning of limit!
What are Avatari Teachings but methods to make an individual mind aware of this power within itself? They are that which defines us, as individual ISSA beings, and collectively as humans. What the Melkiars attempted to do; what they may well be involved in doing here, the force of mind-life is always stronger, always survives and eventually always overcomes. The Teaching does not have to be pure, complete, ‘right’ or perfect. It is a can opener, a ram, a hammer, a simple ice pick, a fly in the ointment; “un sabot dans l’engrenage,” anything that breaks the carapace of an oppressive force and drains it of power so life can express itself again, however much it may have changed in nature during the times of oppression. What these women are feeling; what they want to cheer to, is the latent force that oppression has so tightly bottled inside their minds with the power of fear. And this I now demonstrate for them.
Again, using a low voice pitched for us alone, I call their attention before we begin our training for the day. “Now listen to this again and learn it, it is a powerful magic force hidden in words. The following words change life:
“I will not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will let it pass over me and through me. When it has gone, I will look with the inner eye at its passage and nothing will remain. Only I will be standing there.”
“I will continue to repeat those words to you as often as you need to hear them to learn, know and understand their meaning. The way men control you here is through fear. The way they are controlled is also through fear. Men do not own the power they use. It is given to them only to hurt us. They fear if they stop hurting women they will lose that power. So we all need to kill the fear that feeds the power. That is much harder to do than fight in the arena. Fear is our greatest challenger and we must all defeat it, leave it dead in the sand until there is no longer any blood flowing into that sand, understand?
All the Teaching does is create the individual weapon a woman uses to kill fear. When the fear is gone, the woman will experience no more suffering, even in pain. Remember this, fighters of the goddess: the fear you fight, it is not your fear. It is your challenger; your enemy. Fear is that which hurts you before you are actually hurt. It seeks to kill you by disempowering you. You defeat it by facing it and letting it pass through you so you can see what lies behind it; what it is hiding. Always fear hides the power that can defeat it. Fear drags its own defeat, always. Let the first wave of hurt pass so you may see you have not been hurt. Then the physical aspect of pain is of little consequence.”
I repeat the mantra for them, explaining the word ‘obliteration’ which they fail to grasp at first. They are quick to understand because all of us know fear everyday.
“If we banish fear from our lives, who can hurt us before they hurt us? Our disempowerment does not come from the physical mistreatment we must endure and eventually succumb to, but from our fear of such treatment; from the fear of what they can do to those we love. Do you think they give us lovers because the care about us? No! They give us lovers so they can frighten us, cause us to snitch on one-another and do many servile things so our lover isn’t hurt. Is that not so?” There is much agreement and awakening to this truth.
I have decided not to use their pidgin in some cases when applying the Teaching. Force them to listen to new words and insert them in their vocabulary. Add to their sense of self-esteem. I know they hate sex-slaves because many have better education. Perhaps if they feel they can speak as well, there will be less hate, greater acceptance?
It’s back to our training and the difference is palpable. A victory of sorts was scored here today. A victory over collective darkness. Now back to some personal details involving promises of help.
I work my way to the one I nickname Zel, Huntu’s lover. She knows I want to talk to her and switches position, still working her long sword without missing a beat. Finally we face each other and I signal a pretend point jab where she scores a hit and gets to stand over me as I kneel on the stones. I say to her,
“I call you ‘Zel’ so keep secret name. You, Tieka, have plan yet?”
“No sir, cannot make. Not know how. Need to run away but many troubles. Gates, doors, alarms. Guards with guns. With carriages. What we do?”
“Nothing I know now. Plan. Think. Think, not how to escape. Think what you do when in desert far away. No food. No water. No shelter from sand storm or hiding from evil eye. No man to give drink, food, care. How you survive, huh? Think that. Maybe other problems not so big, eh? Think power, Zel. Think love for man. That be miracle already. That already be escape from hate. Understand? Already I speak to Hudu and Huntu. They thinking too. Find escape plan.”
“Yes sir. Understand. Thank you.”
The day does get oppressively hot again but no breaks are called. We fight fiercely in sweat and dust, drinking tepid water to stay on our feet. Guards, handlers and trainers drink cool home-made brew in the shade under awnings and ogle us. Today they are not keen on taking the young ones to rape in their huts. I see the overseer cabin is open and empty. No one has replaced Achnarr yet. I’m sure the judge I spoke to yesterday will see to it that the next overseer is a stickler for rules. That will make the men tense and angry. They will be more inclined to find fault and to carry out ‘official’ punishments. It will be more difficult to curry favours with any of them. Hudu and Huntu sit together at a small trainer table and watch Zel go through her routines. I assume Tieka is working in the kitchens.
I feel it before I can turn to look. A woman has fallen down from heat stroke. Fortunately for us, Hudu jumps quickly to be the one to investigate. As he approaches, two women have revived the other and she is sitting, then with surreptitious help manages to stand, leaning on a staff she was quietly handed. Hudu goes through the motion of warning us about slacking off.
“Know rules: anyone falls, stays down, flogged. Good for nothing goras! Cannot stand little heat? How stand fight in arena? Lazy! Lazy! Now continue training, now!” He yells but wants us to know his heart is not in it. It does save the girl’s life though. She recovers enough to walk to the water trough with two others who throw water on her and help her drink. Then she goes back to the training, her partner taking care not to force her to move fast. It’s ridiculous to keep us in the heat and cause heat stroke. This doesn’t make us tougher or better at fighting, just weaker. We need food and shade. I signal for attention and motion for a general subtle slow down of movement to save our strength. In the heat waves it’s unlikely the men will notice our subterfuge.
And that is the thing about becoming a real leader. From the ordinary you make it appear as if you create the extraordinary. You make ‘stuff’ happen because you care. You forget yourself in the drama and crises around you and incarnate it all. Of necessity. You don’t resent any of it. You just do it. Sometimes I feel I’ve been graduated to that rather unenviable position.
True to his word, judge Algomo rescheduled the fight and as he warned, he was unable to rescind the plan to have me fight two trained challengers. The two men choose late afternoon to come and let me see their choice of weapon. They deliberate, then ask a handler if they could watch me work with each one. It’s late, I’m tired and the heat is beyond oppressive now. Would I get a reprieve from the handlers?
“Slave, you show challenger skill in weapons. Start with staff.” So much for that. A male trainer is assigned to be my sparring partner. If I play dumb this time, I’ll get thrashed. So I must ‘demonstrate’ my abilities on the poor trainer. He’s good but not in league with bionic implants. I lay the staff on him twice and he quits. I guess they won’t choose the staff now. Another trainer is sent forth for the sword routine. The sweat is pouring off him and no wonder. There he sat, through the heat of the day, drinking cooled beverages and in the shade while I was in the sun and by now my bony frame is practically dry of sweat, just covered with dust streaks. I fear he’ll drop from heat stroke himself before I can lay a hand on him.
He takes his stance and does his best, I’ll grant him that. A few well-chosen thrusts and while he parries one I lay into him and drop him with a hilt blow to the shoulder. I put my foot on his belly and lift my sword. It’s comical to see the look on their faces when I do that. He cannot know I won’t follow through. What if I’m dikfol? There’s real terror there. My challengers are frowning. Good. Got them a bit confused as to their choice. I lift my foot from the trainer’s belly and help him up, patting him on the back as he turns to leave, adding insult to injury but this one had it coming. He mistreats the young ones.
The sword still lies on the stones. In a moment of stupid bravado, I pick it up, walk within two meters of the challengers and offer either of them the sword.
Any other slave had done that she would have been instantly dragged to the flogging post by handlers. But I know their thinking, and their limits. They’ve got money riding on me and the more I intimidate the challengers, the greater the chance they’ll lose. Also, I’m running out of time and they know this. The day of their retribution will come. I cannot win, according to their view. I can never win.
The challengers at first look nonplussed by my offer. Then they gather their thoughts and sneer, turning to the handlers and motioning for them to set me straight. The handlers don’t care, just snort and laugh. We have to settle it then. I pull the sword back, turn submissively and return to the rack where I file both weapons and take out two axes. I wait where I am supposed to stand, one axe in hand, the other’s pointed handle set in a crack between the pavers. Finally another trainer reluctantly takes his position. He has put on the required armour and looks as miserable as anyone can. I remain naked, not having enough strength left to handle both the axe and the weight and friction heat of the cheelth skin. In the last four years they haven’t had a trainer who could come even close to matching my strokes and they all know it. I’m not worried on that score. I recognize the trainer as he moves close to me before he picks up the axe to ask in low tones,
“Please no hurt, I not hate you. Only do what must, see? Make you look good, I do, then let me go?”
“I no hurt you Tarnat. You good man. We fight fake, I win, go back to shade. Now loud, you curse me. Look angry. Fight crazy Desert Beast. Be brave.”
Always the necessity to make those men look good in their peers’ eyes. He curses me loudly, spits, yells ‘krosspeeg’ and attacks. I take several steps back deliberately for our little play, parry each stroke, then go on the attack in turn. Several swings, neither intended to connect fly around cleverly. Finally he lays the side of his axe against my side. I flinch and go to one knee. He charges and I throw him off balance with a hook in his armour skirt, spinning him and laying him flat down. I throw my right foot on his chest, raise my axe… then lower it. I move off him and offer to help him up. He refuses, stands up, throws the axe apparently in disgust and walks away. There’s one relieved trainer.
I have to rack the weapons again. I take the last in the acceptable series. Rapier and dagger combination. I put on my belt with the dagger and again I wait. But the challengers have seen enough. They choose the one weapon they have not seen me handle. Perhaps they want to keep an illusion that in a two on one competition four blades to my two is a greater advantage. I’ll grant them that: it is. A wise choice, not so good for me. I wonder if the Cedric is available tomorrow and if I have a date?
That’s no way to think, girl. You can beat those anal-retentive drooks. After all, it is the drooks who more often than not refuse to acknowledge our superior speed and skill with any type of weapon cleared for use in the arena. They are the ones who are the most likely to sneer when our skills are mentioned. However many we kill, they keep coming. And why not? Over all they do kill more women than we get of them simply because in fixed fights, as most of their fights are, they get the young or the weaker ones. Some of these drooks take months to investigate a group of fighters and pick the ones they will fight. Of course the law as written does not allow challengers to choose their fighters, only the Fighter Council judges can do that. But then laws are made to be broken and law enforcers are equally made to be bought. All a part of the game. Had Achnarr been in charge the game would have gone much more in their favour and that’s what they had counted on.
You may wonder why they did not just back out of the event? They can’t. Once the bets begin to go in and are registered, no challenger can change his mind. Since a fight depends entirely on the bets made on it, challengers are forced to declare their intentions long before the actual match is scheduled and set. Bit of a catch-22 for the drooks. But that does not help us much. They know our weaknesses. Mine is age. That’s what they bet on, that I won’t be able to endure a sustained bout. I shouldn’t be except for two things: my desire to see things to their end, and the amazing Cedric.
End blog post #95