The Aphorisms of Kherishdar
M.C.A. Hogarth

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 experiencing
      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 the rebuke?"
      I did not desire it, but it was my duty: civilization requires ikul, public censure, the condemnation of wrongful behavior.
     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 its uses.
      May it be so.


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© 2007, M. C. A. Hogarth