Aiyana fought back yet another huge, jaw-cracking yawn as she walked through the village, carrying rickety wood buckets of water from the stream on each arm. They were outrageously heavy. She kept her eyes down swept as she voyaged to the first of innumerable tents. Once a week, she would hand out water to each family in the village, a painstaking task that all servants had their turn at.
With a mild greeting, Aiyana opened the first tent flap and clunked the barrel of water down, drops splashing over the rim. She pardoned the disdain sent her way and hurriedly left, avoiding all eye contact. She liked to keep conversation to a minimum when she was at work, for it was optimal.
The people in her tribe thought of servants as little more than dirt. They were mindless creatures, useless except for labor. Aiyana vehemently disapproved of their prejudice, but it had no benefit. Servants, unfortunately, had little say in concerns of the tribe.
She tiredly proceeded to deliver water to thirty more tents and cabins housing leaders, stretching her strained arms in agony after each delivery. It was a monstrous relief when she finished, able to slump down for even the slightest break. Aiyana had a full day ahead of her- she was leading the preparations for the moon ritual that night.
At the beginning of each month, a ritual was held praising nature and rejoicing in good fortune. There was plenty of laughing and dancing, but not without loads of work. There was a feast needing made - smoked deer, fish, and wild bird, fresh herbs and berries, cultivated crops like maize, wild rice, and potatoes. She felt exhausted just thinking of all the work she subjected to her today.
Aiyana joined the sparse grouping of women near a kindling bonfire, receiving only mild glances at her arrival. Containing her sigh, Aiyana knelt and cleansed her hands in a dirtied bucket of water before grabbing a slender skinning knife. Standing awkwardly in the midst of the working women, she craned her head looking for a task needing her doing. One of the women, Sarya, brusquely guided her towards a heaping mound of potatoes and roots, barking, "We don't have time for your foolish tallying, Ana!"
There was that word again, foolish. Aiyana's eyebrows furrowed as she contemplated the complex word. While only two syllables, how could such a word inspire a number of vague meanings? Foolish symbolized ignorance and lack of judgment, her connotation was. Aiyana failed to see how her actions had earned her the name twice in two days. Was she truly foolish?
Was she destined to forever fear the term? Life in a village that placed knowledge above all values - compassion, strength, faith - had set her heart in stone. The Yakima elders had taught her, as a child, to always trust her mind. However, for once, Aiyana wished for disconnection from the world she had grown up in. Perhaps Aiyana wasn't a true Yakima.
In the recesses of her mind, Aiyana recalled a memory from her childhood. One day, her youngest sister had come running to her, sobbing incessantly. "Ana, one of the boys pushed me! He s-said..." With gentle encouraging, Catori blubbered, "He called me a stupid girl." Aiyana had comforted her sister with an old legend.
It told of a Cherokee man teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, pain, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too." The grandson had thought a moment and asked, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
Now, as Aiyana felt lost in her life, she remembered Catori's teary smile at the old tale. Catori was her place here. Aiyana merely needed to find her calling.
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