The Aphorisms of Kherishdar
M.C.A. Hogarth

PAUSER
pauser [ pow SEHR ], (verb) -- to allow what must be, to be; to acquiesce without rancor, resentment or struggle. Often mistakenly translated by aliens with an implication of victimhood

      "Will you never go back to the Summer Tryst and find yourself another wife?" asked my great-aunt, head of our family.
      My daughter, my only daughter, was sitting in an oval of sunlight on the studio floor, combing the hair on her doll. She had inherited her mother's elegant curls and golden fur, soft and fine as a mist on her skin. I watched her self-possessed grace and turned back to my family's head. "I loved Sejzena."
      "And Sejzena loved you," Great-aunt said. "But she's been gone ten years now, and she gave you only this one child."
      I smiled. "She is enough."
      "She is treasure," Great-aunt said. "But surely you wonder why I've brought her to the city."
      I did... my family was irimked to a country family, a good family, rithked and thus above the Wall of Birth but fairly low in that heirarchy. We had served them for generations; I was one of the few who had left the country, following the demands of my ishas--my caste-rank spirit--to become a public servant artist. After Marul's birth we had split our time between home and the city, but once Sejzena died I sent Marul to the family. My solitary life was no way for a child to live.
      Great-aunt brought her to see the city every season's turn. It was now the middle of summer. I glanced at Marul and saw again that dignified manner. "You had her ishas evaluated."
      "I took her before our lord," my head of family said, "Who sent me to her lord. They are in agreement."
      I looked at her.
      "Her ishas is not irimkedi, but fathrikedi."
      I sat back. "A decoration."
      "Dancer, living statue, bed-warmer," Great-Aunt said. "Still in the Servant caste, but... not one of us. Our lord's lord thinks she will be an amazing sight once she is done being schooled and has offered to sponsor her. She will be a rank below us, but she will live in one of the finest Houses in the city, dress more richly than ever we could afford, want for nothing. It needs only your acquiescence and we will begin the preparations."
      Fathriked were true prizes to their masters, but they parted from their families to belong to them. They did not even keep their names. "We will not see her again," I whispered.
      "Rarely," Great-aunt said.
      I understood her remark then about the Summer Tryst. If I married again, I would have other children to comfort me and enrich the family.
      "You do acquiesce, yes?" the head of family said.
      It was not a formality--I could say no, particularly since this represented a downgrade in rank. But if her ishas truly was fathrikedi...
      "Yes," I said.
      "And you'll think about another wife."
      "I'll consider it," I said, and went to play with my daughter while she was still mine. Later, after they'd gone, I thought of the mist-sweet softness of her fur and wrote: There is no love greater than family.
      And perhaps I wept, a little... but only for myself.


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© 2007, M. C. A. Hogarth