Tuesday, May 18, 2010

273 - School on Haiu Menshir

Lesatren is fun to play with. She has a room that has lots of toys. Part of the room has really really thick seasponges everywhere… it’s small with a low ceiling and round so people can crawl in and pull a curtain across so you can hide. She says that way some children can talk better because they feel safe if you can’t see them.

Min came the first time and she talked to him a lot too. She knows I’m Ilesias Aan and it’s safe because she’s a Haian. I still have to pretend to be Ilesias Akam for everybody else though.

I showed her my bear corps and even popped Indispensible Bear’s tummy open to show her my treasures that he swallowed. And my dayan. I could tell her that I didn’t like playing hide and seek because everything was hide and seek.

Sometimes I’d cuddle on her lap and tell her stuff and sometimes I’d set up the dolls she has and sometimes I draw her pictures. She says my pictures are really good. I had to explain what the orrery was in the picture I drew of it. And what it looked like when Father killed my donkey.

I remember how hard Minis hugged me then. He was scared too. I think he was afraid that Father would throw one of us.

“Do you think he would have done something like that, Ili?” Sometimes Haians are soooooo innocent.

“Oh, yeah. Father needs to kill people sometimes. It made him feel better. Oh, needed to... sometimes I forget he's dead."

“But you don’t need to feel better that way.” She’s right. I nodded.  
“You said that Minis told you something that made you feel better about the donkey?” I nodded again. “What was it?”

“He told me the Gods needed a donkey and my donkey wouldn’t be lost because the Gods ‘took advantage’ of Father’s anger and took my Bumpy donkey straight up to Selestialis, where he has wings and a bright, shiny halo and nobody can hurt him at all… and he gets clouds to drink and strands of sun to nibble on like hay.”

“That sounds like a good afterlife for a donkey.”



The schoolteacher doesn’t cough like Ailadas did. Her name is Jeramaer. She was happy to find out I could read already… in Arkan and some Enchian words and even a few of the Yeoli symbols… the fancy ones.

But Haians teach school really differently than Arko. Every day the teacher asks us all what we are interested in today an’ then we find out about it.

I’ve learned about bone-crabs. Haians raise ‘em for their shells. They don’t kill them, that wouldn’t be Haian. They wait till the crabs get too big and split their backs and climb out… then the Haians get the empty shells and cut them into pins and plates to help people’s broken bones heal together.

I’ve learned about all the plants on the road between our hostel rooms and the school and down to the beach.

There’s three hundred twenty trees along the beach board-walk and how to fish for yellowtail and baby octopuses can change colour if you poke them and that Jeramaer doesn’t like me to poke things with sticks. She’s sooooo Haian.

There are fifty-three different kinds of sea-birds nesting on the little island outside the Haian harbor.

I’ve learned about fire-mountains and that they aren’t always mountains and that the islands are being made by the fire pushing stone that gets hot enough to get runny and run up from the earthsphere’s middle and cooling off and hardening in the sea.

My class and I… there are eighteen other foreign kids near my age and more older kids with another teacher… and we went all around the island and collected all the different kinds of sand and made a big, huge round pattern on the beach as a gift to anyone who walked by, to see it.  

I thought it would be a gift to the Ten Gods too, because they’d be able to see it easily from Selestialis. One of my best friends, a Hyerne girl whose mama is here to get fixed in a way that only Haians could help… she got hurt in the war and the Haians are helping her, like they’re helping Min and Uncle Gan and me, but with surgery instead of talk healing… her name is Sayaporo and she was mad that the wind and the rain that night washed our art away.

Nikiaj, another friend of ours, told her it was supposed to get washed away, and Jeramaer said so too. I don’t like the idea of art that washes away because it’s only beautiful for a little bit… but then other art can burn, or be broken. Like in Arko. So I guess all art is kinda meant to go away. That makes me sad instead of mad. We get to swim in the lagoon and there’s some Haian kids who come to play and talk to us in all our languages. They’re older.

Something that everybody does is sing. We’re learning each other’s songs and we’re all learning how to drum. Hitting a drum hard feels really good and we pretend like we’re thunder or fire-mountains or rocks rolling downhill.

Sayaporo whispered to me that drumming is war training at her home, so her arms can get strong enough to throw spears really far. But we don’t say that in front of the Haians. She showed me a drum dance. She set up a bunch of drums all around her and hanging from trees and stuff and when she danced with these two little sticks it was really fun. She says that boys can’t learn it but I showed her I could so she’s showing me how… and not going to tell her Mother. Mothers in Hyerne are a lot like Fathers in Arko I guess.

I’m showing her what Min and Uncle Gan showed me, with a stick. Hyerne don’t work a lot with swords. I’m not telling anybody that either. It’s our secret.

I shake Kefas Bear hard to get the sand out of his fur. Maybe I might start carrying ‘Sini, my stuffed dayan instead because he doesn’t have fur and wouldn’t get so sandy. Kefas can keep Indispensible company. I scratch my nose and shift my sunhat. I have to sit in the shade a lot or I’d be sunburned all the time. Nik says the sun burned the Haians and the Lakans and the Niah and the Hyerne all brown and I say that’s dumb or Arkans would be brown too and we’re not. And Srian’s aren’t just brown, they’re black like ink and they have a hot sun too. Falarmen, he’s from Sriah and he’s black. He’s so black the whites of his eyes have a little colour. In class we all compared our arms and faces and we’re all people. Haians heal everybody the same. Everybody’s coloured the same inside. We’re going to go to visit the University hospital as a class and see a lot of stuff as long as people being healed give permission, Jeramaer says.

Next moon, if we’re still here – lots of the kids might be gone because their parents have been fixed up and new kids come in -- we’re going to visit a ‘surgical’ tool-maker. She makes a lot of the glass knives the Haians use.

I love lying on the beach and watch the flying couriers come and go, and there’s a flying school on the cliffs but you can only see them once they’re high enough, or if the wind’s the right way. I’d like to fly. I’m going to ask Min if we can learn to fly. He’s said he’d like to. And Uncle Gan, too. I’ll ask if we can add flying school to regular Haian foreign school tomorrow.


  1. YAY! I love Ili posts. They are a great change of pace, and I admire how well you show the skewed POV of the very young.

    “Oh, yeah. Father need to kill people sometimes. It made him feel better.”

    Should it be 'needed', or 'needs?' Past tense would imply that Ili KNOWS that Father is dead and does not have lingering fears of him coming back, while 'needs' is a more common kid-thing of constant use of present tense.

    Or of course, leave in a 5 yr old's grammer faults without comment.

    Mean of me to pick on Ili.

  2. Not mean in the slightest! I made the change, had him comment on it, too, that he doesn't always remember that Father is gone.

    The trick is trying to remember what kinds of things I thought when I was five. What was important. Of course Ili isn't a sheltered as I was so he's a bit ahead of some five-year olds.

    I'm going to have to do more kid's perspective storied from this little gang while it exists. Nik is going to have to go home soon... Falar's father has more physio to do... Saya's mama... is going to be a while...

    I'm told I write children well, so I'll keep on.

    Thanks for commenting!

  3. If you can remember being five, there's no surprise you're able to write children well. I deal with enough tykes that I have good mental models for juvenile thought processes, but I don't remember being fifteen, let alone kindergarten.

  4. Hmm. My earliest memory is pre-verbal. Only the one. A lot of Ili [and little Megan from Shadown's Daughter] is drawn from my early memories.

  5. This should be printed in gold:

    I remember how hard Minis hugged me then. He was scared too. I think he was afraid that Father would throw one of us.

    “Do you think he would have done something like that, Ili?” Sometimes Haians are soooooo innocent.

    Those may be the two best paragraphs I've ever read.


  6. Why thank you, RR! That gives me such a glow!