The Aphorisms of
geles [ geh LESS ], (noun) . contrasting note; that which,
against a backdrop of similar feelings, items or things offers a distinct
counter without which one would lose the appreciation of that which one is
The sun warmed my head as I left the
market with a basket of fruit, cheese, tea and a turquoise scarf for a
cousin who collected them. As I entered the public square, the fresh
fragrance of the blooms on the decorative trees perfumed the breeze, and
there amid their nodding grace I found the pedestal that had been empty
this morning in use. A half-dressed Ai-Naidari stood on it, arms
outstretched and palms up, head cast down and teeth clenched on a golden
disc. Arranged in a semi-circle around the pedestal were broad bowls: fine
fabrics, books, jewelry, perfume oils... any of which would have cost more
than my entire morning's shopping.
Nearby several Ai-Naidar looked through
the bowls while three priests of Kulind in their storm-gray robes watched.
As I approached, one of the priests greeted me.
"Priest," I said. We were both Public
Servants, so our speech was merely polite, not ranked. "What is this?"
"A Correction," the priest said. He nodded
toward the male on the pedestal. "One of our number was caught using
temple funds for his own aggrandizement. He is displayed here for public
censure, and the items he bought with temple money are available for any
to claim or donate to the temple, if they so desire. Even to the very
clothes he wears... he is to keep none of it. Will you add your voice to
I did not desire it, but it was my duty:
civilization requires ikul
, public censure, the condemnation of
The priest had had extravagant desires... in
the bowls were several scarves that would have made my cousin the talk of
the province, and not just for their notorious past. I lifted one, a blue
so deep and so bright it made my eyes water when contrasted against the
warm creams and golds of the buildings bordering the square.
I walked closer, looked up at the male;
his eyes opened, just enough to shade the lower eye-lid. If there was
remorse there, there was not light enough to see... nor, perhaps, would I
have anyway. His harsh Correction suggested a resistance to gentler means
of persuasion, and working through the emotions raised by it would take
time. Pity swelled in my heart and I draped the scarf over his bare feet,
covering them, before backing away.
When I chanced one last look at the errant
priest's face, there was something of a twisted smile on what I could see
of his mouth. He dipped his head almost imperceptibly to me.
I walked home, feeling as if I had shirked
my duty, and yet I could have done nothing else. It was not in me to be
the voice of discipline. I returned to my work and prayed that I had
helped, somehow... even in my weakness. My pen found the words.
A strong society turns all responses to
May it be so.
Previous | Next
© 2007, M. C. A. Hogarth