This character, Selilsela, just rose up out of nowhere and insisted I post her letter.
I read now. I write now. I can. I am blessed. I look and look and look at you. Blue eyes, mine daughter. By law I write now and you too.
Seliama Kuriren, aitza. That is you. Not a Masker. Not a child alone like so many in the city after when women like me leave babies like you in the street. Like they are garbage. Not you. I love you. You do not know any bad thing. You are a good girl.
I write. I write because I can not say out loud. Mother Masker says ‘speak it and it hurts less’. I can’t but one day you should know your father. So I write.
Sellie, your father... he is a Yeoli. He is living in the house where I grew up. He is living in House Kuriren. He killed your grandfather. I can not write. I will write later.
The Yeoli. His name. Isichenga Shae-Kalanin. He came and killed my father and my brothers. Your Grandfather said ‘They’ve won and are our aitzas now. If they command I, by Selestialis, will obey.’ He knelt and the Yeoli asked ‘Do you own this place?’
Father said ‘Yes.’
He said ‘Sign this paper or I will kill you and your family.’
Father signed. And the Yeoli killed him anyway. He hit him more than once with his sword. Father never cried out.
Mother and I. Mama... they made mama lie down right in the hall to try and save Filas but they raped her and killed him anyway. They lied. Then they killed her because she was older than they wanted.
He didn’t lie he just said ‘come here.’ Always. ‘Come here. You can’t run. There is no where to run.’ He drank because he hated me. He raped me. Hating me. Hating my... purity. He said. ‘I have to get drunk to bear touching you.’
Then leave me alone I wanted to scream. Working in the house. Washing him. Washing his clothes. Cooking when I didn’t know how. Work and work and lie down and lie down. Bleed and heal and bleed again. I wanted to die. I prayed. Then I started throwing up.
I did not know it was you. My child. Blessing child. Blessing girl. Old woman down the street told me what was wrong. I didn’t go back. He might not let me keep you. He might beat me to make me miscarry you.
I took my basket from the market and walked to the House of Masks on Red Leaves. I had a place to go. No mama no papa to be sad. No brothers to be angry. Aunties. Cousins girls and boys. All lying down and bleeding.
So I came here, baby. I walked to the line at the door and said ‘I want in.’
And they say ‘You want to?’
And I say ‘Yes.’
And they say ‘We didn’t force you? Seduce you? Coerce you?’ I asked Mother, later, how to spell ‘seduce’ and ‘coerce’.
And I say ‘I was Selilsela Kuriren, aitza. I’m free and want to come in.’
‘Witnessed’ they say and let me in. Mother says I am not a whore no matter what the Yeoli made me do. I find the lost babies in waste bins and in the streets. I try to find them alive. Arkan/Lakan babies Arkan/Enchian babies Arkan/somebody else’s babies. And I birth them. All the girls who were raped and raped until pregnant.
I write so you know why you are growing up in the Masker-run Child House and why you still have a mama when the other children don’t. I love you my daughter. Babies are all good babies. It is wrong that some cannot love their child but Mother says... Mother says... they can not set the act and the father separate from the baby. The baby, rising out of that man’s loins and that act of rape.
That is not right. A baby is born, as any other, with all the sin people have. They do not need to have more put on them.
Seliama, my Sellie, with your curly hair. I name you after my mother. All of us Kuriren women begin our names with Seli and we are still Kuriren even if everyone else is dead. You are my life now and I need to stay alive for I am yours. You are only a baby so when you are more old I will show you this.
Your father’s leader. The Imperator now. He says I can read. He says I can write. He says I can own property. Even if I am a Masker midwife now. I am writing to keep it straight, for you and for the Advocate. I will go and I will ask the law if a woman can take back her father’s property. If it is taken in conquest. Will the law give me our home back?
Sellie. I will try this for you and for me, even though I am afraid.