Title: Lauretta imagined and written by amira (5 Pure Science)
DONG-DONGG-DONDONGGG-DONGG!!!! The loud drumming sounds could be heard for miles around in the vast wasteland. I looked up. All the girls did the same. We were far, far away from the source of the loud music. But still, the noises could be captured by our ears clearly from here.
“Lauretta!” my mother called out to me. I turned to her direction. She was waving her hands towards me.
“I have to go” I wiped away the dirt which had stained my hands using my raggedy- rags dark green skirt. I bade goodbye to my girlfriends, especially to Kanee, my best friend. Then, I ran to my mother’s place. My aunty,Chula was with her, holding a big basket full of hays for the horses in the stables. She smiled at me. I greeted her by kissing her at the cheeks. So did my mother.
“Lauretta…” my mother inspected me closely and carefully with her sharp like eagle’s eyes “what had happened to the nice skirt I just sewn for you?” her eyes were locked on the dirty brown stain on my skirt. She bent down and held the respective part up for a better look. She shook her head slowly; her braided black hair followed the rhyme and stared at me with a cold gaze.
“I’m sorry, mother” I apologized. Truthfully, I didn’t mean to make myself dirty, especially when I am wearing the skirt my mother just sewn up for me less than two days ago.
“It was usual for girls of her age to play that way…”my aunty came to the rescue; obviously pitying me. My mother wanted to protest; she had opened her mouth but closed it back again. It was impolite of her to nag at me in front of others. I knew it; she intended to lay her hands on me later, in a private place; our house which was made from straws. I kept quiet and still. There was no point in arguing; it was clearly my own fault. I admitted that.
“Excuse me” she said to Aunt Chula and greeted her again, the same I just did, just now. I didn’t dare to look up; I’m so scared. When my mother was angry, she will use the old method, exactly the way my grandmothers had done to their daughters when they went out of control, acting beyond a woman’s expectation. But, I can’t help it myself. I’m just too…boyish.
“Come with me” she pulled my right hand roughly, grasping it tightly, my frail and small body shook, trembling all the way home. The other women we met on the way just stared at me and my mother with their keen eyes. They must have known. I’m famous for being the most outrageous girl in the village. I acted like a boy, I talked like one, but I only portrayed it in front of my friends: Kanee, Ada Deer, Raven…I’ve never even show the unacceptable qualities towards Chato, Dahteste and Dohosan, my brothers. Somehow, my parents found out about it and they were really mad at me for that. I’m supposed to be a ladylike girl and grow up to be a feebly- minded woman. But my, how I hate all these pretences I have to go through!
I’ve heard from Hawkeye, another friend of mine that, in the outside world, there was a better place than here. She used to say and boast about to us that over there, it is always free to act as yourself. You don’t have to be afraid or worried of such threatens and scolds the old women used upon us; you can just be yourselves and still led a happy life with it throughout your life. You see, Hawkeye was the village’s head chief’s only daughter and she always get a chance to be out from here when her father has an important business to be settled down somewhere else. She doesn’t have to work in the kitchen, rarely get her smooth hands dirty with the house chores and such things. Despite being the most popular girl among us, she was less favourable by everyone; she was too snobbish. There was no doubt about that.
My mind stopped wandering. I have reached my house, much to my dismay. I wanted to slow down, but my mother kept pulling me along and I failed. I’m not used to pleading and crying as what the other girls used to do when they were in my shoes. Although it was a good trick to be played in front of our silly mothers’ eyes, I refused to do so due to my stubbornness and what I called it as…a principle. “A good man…”, once I heard my grandfather said before his soul departed from his weakened body “…was a man of strong spirit and will…” As soon as he said it in one breath, his soul flew, away from us. And, I still remembered that I cried myself sick on that particular night. He was a good grandfather, a man full of wisdom and thoughts and I felt that I just lost a part of me.
“Sit down” my mother instructed. I jumped a little, all this while I’ve been day- dreaming. My body was there; my mind was not. However, I’m glad because I’m pretty much calmer now. I sat myself down quietly. No one was around except for me and my mother. Strangely, our presence didn’t seem to enlighten the place; we darkened it more. Xilia, my fluffy pet cat jumped onto my lap out of nowhere. I was about to stroke it, but my mother’s stern look stopped me abruptly. I put Xilia down on her feet. She meowed sadly as if saying, Why, don’t you love me anymore? I didn’t say anything; what she had said was merely my thought, a little girl’s wild imagination.
Suddenly, as my eyes drifted from my cat to my mother who had sat down in front of me, I heard sobs escaping from her mouth. Her head was bent slightly forward, and she was crying silently. I was surprised; my mother has never cries her heart out before, not in front of me though.A pang of guilt grew deep within my heart. Was it me, who had just made her tears, flowed?
“Why…can’t you be…just like any other girls…” she stopped at regular intervals. I figured it was hard for her to speak properly in that depressing situation. I said nothing. It was extremely rude to go against your mother’s words while she was talking. I will have to wait till it is my turn to say something sensible.Nothing came up shortly after that. I guessed now was the right time to say something at the least.
“Mother…” only one word managed to be blurted out directly from my mouth. I shouted at myself, Was that all?!
She had calmed herself down now, thanks to my only word. As she brought her face to meet mine, she used her long- sleeve blouse to wipe away all the tears. Then, she ambled slowly towards me. I shut my eyes. Maybe she had got the better of herself, maybe she think that no words can change me. Maybe she was going to slap me, hard on the cheeks. I waited for the slap to come, it never seemed to arrive. Slowly, I peeked out of my brown eyes
No…she was not going to slap me. Instead, she laid both her hands on my shoulder. And I will never forget those words she had said till today.
“Lauretta dear…my only daughter. My only sunshine…my only baby girl. All these years…I’ve been expecting you. And all these years, God had disappointed me. He never grants my prayers. Until I have you…the solution to all my problems and unmerciful nights of tears and sorrow. But, what have I reared for these previous 7 years? A boy…another boy…apart from your older brothers…” she spilled out. And she said nothing more. Only her pair of eyes gazed at me expectantly. Then, she got up and walked outside of the hut. I am...amazed. I’ve never known what she had on her mind when she had been so angry with me all these time. And…now I knew. I knew what she had hoped for…longed for. And…I just crushed that dreams of her.
* * * *
I have changed into my wedding gown. It was so simple…in the eyes of others. But, it sure meant a lot to me. It was my mother’s own wedding dress, something that she had wanted to pass down to her only daughter. And, her wish was fulfilled today. I smiled. I have finally made her happy. And I closed my eyes, isolated my mind from the busy surroundings and people. My memory drifted to a scene, happened 15 years ago.
* * * *
“And now…I shall call…those names” Chickookka, an old man who was believed to have super powers, magical…or whatever he was supposed to be, was standing in front of us, helped by two other strong men to stand up.
“He was soooo…slow…” Hawkeye chuckled. She was sitting behind me, talking and backbiting about our ancient tradition, and claimed it was worn- out to be practised today. It was a common tradition practised among us, the native Red Indians living in a small area in Chihuahua, in The United States of America. Kanee, who sat beside me, nudged at me; she was sure annoyed at Hawkeye’s spiteful remarks. Usually, I would respond to her and most probably cause a chaos in the important ceremony. But today, Kanee…even the others were in for a surprise. They stared at me; Raven, who was the greatest talker among us kept still for awhile, her eyes were fixed on me as she tried her best to interpret my sudden change. But, I cared less for them; my attention was only meant for Chickookka and his holy book, his voice rung clearly in my mind. And I folded my hands and prayed hard, closing my eyes all the time. In my mind, penetrating through my ear drums, “Kachina…Karana…Olienda…and Hawkeye” it ended. My eyes shot open!
Hawkeye gasped. Her mouth was wide- gaped, her eyes almost bulge out from her eye- sockets and soon she was hugging whoever near her that she could reach for. After all, all of us, the American Indian young girls do trust the old man’s prediction. He rarely committed mistakes. Hawkeye…and the other unfortunate girls… were destined by God, as Chickookka claimednot to be married for the rest of their lives…
My name…my name…beautiful, wonderful Lauretta. Rivers of crystal clear tears flowed out of my eyes, down my hot cheeks for the first time ever.
I was so relieved when my name was not called…
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