Gods and Little Girls
What is worse? To die silently, as life seeps from your wrinkles or to walk panic stricken through the streets worried about the meal for your little chicks? From one side of the river the other looks so enticing. You have a meal in front of you now. Life is good isn't it little chicken? And I can stroke your hair and help you braid it. I can be here with you. Before, I worked while servants prepared your meal on a silver platter and you ate in solitude. Is that better?
I like that you're here.
I do too. Tonight I like it. Tomorrow, I will wake up gaunt of worry before the sun rises and roam the streets in fear that there will be no food for you. I will beg in doorways for work and scour the sea floor for crabs with the net of my hands. And I will not rest until there is enough to fatten you like dough.
And then we can be together?
Yes, then we can be together again. Beneath the stars, and I can share with you more secrets of life.
What is the biggest secret?
The biggest secret is that comfort is meaningless. Comfort is like trying to hold water in your hands. People work their lives to keep the water from leaking through their fingers. No matter how much money they make, or how much comfort they have, they always find more worries. Everywhere they turn, there will be a worry waiting, like a skull smiling at them. The great masters knew this and painted it on canvases that once donned our foyer walls. But some ignore this secret, and they will ruin themselves and the rest of us trying to be comfortable. But no matter how much they toss and turn, their beds will never feel right. They may live longer than I, even though I am old, and they may look young with balms, but they are dying inside as the air seeps from them.
Do they love?
You want to talk of love little chick? Everybody should love. Let me tell you a story about love. Your grandpapa and I loved across a thousand years. I think we loved each other before we were born. When our love was already written, and welcomed us to it. That is how old love is. Yes, chicken everybody should love. When we are born, angels wait for us to open our eyes and drape love around us like a velvet robe. And they are happy because love wants nothing more than to share itself.
Like me and you? Like when we nuzzle each other? Like when you wrap your shawl around me at night?
Yes chicken. Like that. Are you finished eating? You go ahead and finish. I want you fat. I am old, and have already had my fill. Your grandmother needs just a few morsels, nothing more than a mouthful. Let me tell you more about love. When you were born, I heard angels. They were on either side of my ears, and they whispered over me to each other about your beautiful brown eyes. I said, I know, she has her mother’s eyes. And they said, her smile, look at the dimples her smile makes. And I said, yes, she has her mother's dimples. They said, it’s as if her eyes and mouth smile at once. And I whispered to you, because I didn't want to seem like I was eavesdropping, the world is smiling with you.
Was mama beautiful?
She was beautiful. A mother always thinks her children are beautiful. But I have ears too. I heard them say as they walked on the path outside our home that she was the most beautiful girl in the whole valley. Some of the old superstitious ones said she was too beautiful. They came and said a prayer at our doorstep to keep out jealous spirits. You know, some people believe that spirits are easily tempted. Beautiful girls, they say, cause trouble in the heavens between gods. Jealous spirits like that are very dangerous. Some say they will put a scar across a beautiful girl's face to make her ugly, or cast them with disease or lure them into the water and drown them. Then they will try to take the form of the beautiful ones. But they cannot take human form and become even angrier and more jealous. That's why old superstitious women say prayers and light votive candles at the church. They say beautiful girls make spirits even more dangerous which is hard on the village. Don't look so frightened chicken. Those are just old tales. But that's part of life and you should know this.
Is that what happened to mama? Was she so beautiful that a jealous spirit hurt her?
No. Your mama died while you were being born. Those are just stories. The only spirits I believe in are good ones: angels who watch over all of us. I told your mama just after you were born that I would look after you. I told her that you would never have to worry. I would make sure you had a full belly, and the rain would stay off your head and the ground would not cut your feet because you would always have a pair of shoes. I told her I would also teach you about life, and teach you how to live a good, rich life that would be meaningful. And when you fell in love and married, that's when I would leave this life, and not a moment before.
Will jealous spirits hurt me too?
No, that's enough talk of that. You are beautiful like your mother. There are no jealous spirits, so wipe that worried look off your face. You're through with your plate? Okay, I'll have the rest. Why did you only eat half a piece of bread? You finish this bread, and I'll take the rest of this drumstick. Okay. Besides, there's another tale if you care to believe it, that children who are watched over by their grandmothers are especially protected from jealous spirits. It's one of the most powerful medicines in the world. Grandmothers are the best protection for little girls in the world. So you have nothing to worry about. Do you have enough blanket? Okay. Now let’s go to sleep before you start worrying again. I want to be awake before the household finds us in their doorway. Tomorrow I will find us a better place to sleep and a bed for you my darling chicken. Tomorrow we will have our own dinners and a roof over our heads. There, close your eyes and nuzzle your head in my chest. That's good. Let's dream about angels and love.