Today started and ended like a cyclone. Sometimes, I feel like everything in my skull has been compressed like a springing ball, and it was just released. My thoughts are a haze in my head, racing this way and that. I want to make something in the kitchen, to check the kipana fruit’s freshness in the refrigerator, to pace back and forth over whether I will have enough money to visit one of the Dream Gardens this week. I haven’t eaten at the satellite home enough.
These are all anxious thoughts, and I don’t know which ones to isolate. O Salus, your handwriting is like unbound hair, blocky, without any style or tradition keeping to together. Hopefully, something will jump out at me, something that I can do. The Tveshi letters are so messy that Liga likely cannot read them.*
Gyetsuk wants me to attend the family home for breakfast within the next few weeks because the woman has arrived from the Canyons, Kitesrati. The former vidded me this morning about half an hour after I awoke, and we set plans for me to eat there later this week to meet lim. Gyetsuk pushed a photograph of Kitesrati onto the screen: Dark skin and eyes, high cheekbones, and an unblemished face, ler gyena ending in coiled ribbons over ler shoulders. Le must come from Daläzin. Gyetsuk says that Kitesrati placed near the top of ler class in the final examinations, and le attends the Menarka Academy of Rhetoric and Civil Service, which I graduated from two years ago. Kitesrati is seventeen.
Le wouldn’t have told me so much about this woman if the family had no designs. I cannot believe that the satelliters would make a match for me without our matriarch’s approval. This doesn’t sit well with the agreement that my grandmother made with the grief therapist, that I move away for several years and not consider marriage for at least three. I should have told my grandmother that I should still wear mourning red. Now my relatives here have the wrong idea about everything.
But how, Salus, is this different from Aneti? I am falling in love with Aneti, but Aneti would never be material for marriage. I can steel my heart against lim, except with every day that passes, I am less certain. I think that Kitesrati makes me panic because le has the kind of background that we would want to bring into my family.
We are one of the greatest families in Narahja, and because I told my grandmother that I would not like any men in my matches, the trick is to find an ambitious woman who would be worth the bride-price offered to ler family. There can be no ambiguity about which family has the higher status. … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …
This is not the only thing that happened today. Imagine, if you will, Liga: My heart racing as I went out the door, all of these emotions tearing this way and that in my head. I needed to pause and breathe, but I couldn’t. This was the worst day for a message like that. Akah Khera retired today, and I needed to manage so much at work.
We made a last-minute change to the retirement video collage this morning, and I ran halfway across the city to have it recompiled using a vendor that we haven’t used before, so I had to file paperwork. We paid 234 lh. for the last-minute change, and it was ready by 9h.
I had to manage that from a table while several of us on staff coordinated the decorating crew for the receiving room. We made it look like the opaque and clear sky, day and night, as a covert symbol of our attention to the High Wilds. The sky-opaque banners looked like a cloudless sky at noon, and the clear sky banners studded with stars and nebulae seemed almost real. Above everything, the Progressive Movement’s seven-pointed star shone in interlocked silver and gold.
The event planner and I spent most of the afternoon going through the program. We have only met in person several times, as le travels all over Tveshė for the Movement’s events.
I also met Akah Kara’s previous assistant, a man in ler early 30s who currently leads the men’s minority contingent in the Senate. Le helped me move some furniture. Le spent seven years in my position. It sounds like an eternity.
The guests began arriving at 8h75. Adviser Tenes came about five minutes after the first guest. Le smiled at me and kissed my hands. I tried to smile back because the deference was entirely uncalled for, and it made me feel like a toddler. Le greeted an older woman beside me — someone whom I do not yet know — and kissed ler hands as well.
Perhaps le does this because le is a tesekhaira. People greet one another like this in old plays from the 13th century because it is in the queuing.
Adviser Tenes approached Akah Khera, and le called lim Kherañi. Adviser Tenes held out ler hands, and Akah Khera squeezed them. Le kissed Adviser Tenes’ hands, and as le did so, I noticed something lonely in the adviser’s eyes. I thought about lim in those older photographs, when both of them looked about the same age. Akah Khera will die within the next two or three decades. I wonder what it must be like to interact with non-tesekhaira, to hear the time ticking away in the back of one’s head, to know intimately how fragile and impermanent interactions and friendships truly are. I don’t know how one couldn’t sink into a deep depression.
“You should be proud of the work you have done,” Adviser Tenes said slowly, “especially because your initiative began everything that we now have.”
Akah Khera pushed ler hand away dismissively and laughed. Ler gaze passed over me and doubled back. Akah Khera’s smile faltered as if le had seen an apparition.
Akah Kara, at that moment, touched Akah Khera on the shoulder and handed lim and Adviser Tenes flukes of puatuamė wine. “That’s my new assistant,” le said, “Salus Kobsarka-Nitañi Niksubvya. I apologize for not introducing you two, but my schedule has been hectic, and le made the surprise from the Movement for you.”
Akah Khera nodded and took a fluke from ler hand. Le drank it quickly. My heart sank slowly down towards my feet, and my temples hammered. Aneti came up behind me and handed me alcohol. I thanked lim and tried to remember not to put my arm around ler waist.
I went up to the second-tier balcony and outside — without Aneti, and with no one following me. The guests streamed towards the building from outside, and I had them in full view. No one could see me crying like this with the angle of sunlight. It wasn’t fair, not knowing.
My vision cleared by the time I needed to go back to start the video.
Liga, I need to talk to you.** You have barely answered any of my comm messages, either by voice or by text. Why won’t you say anything to me about what I need to do? Am I meant to figure this out? I feel like I am being ripped in multiple directions. I am not sure I can do this, and you won’t do much more than silently wait there, you with your nuamua associations and cryptic, encouraging words. I need more than encouragement. I need to know what is happening here. I don’t know which thoughts to focus on because I need structure and guidance from someone. How could I bring this up to my matriarch or to my boss? How could I inform the police without evidence? Should I gather it by force, and if I do, what ensures that I will not find myself endangered and a target myself?
Who is watching, and who are you, O cousin of my Gods-sworn friend?
* I have read handwriting worse than yours …↩
** I apologize for how busy I have been. You don’t deserve that. My recommendations are as follows: Continue to fashion a relationship with Akah Sehutañi. Call lim Aneti only to ler face, not in your journals. That is too intimate, and I think that it accounts for your problem! Don’t worry about gaining access to the documents for now — it sounds like you have had a hard time. Of course, I cannot force you to do anything. Don’t inform your matriarch or the Progressive Movement about any of this because we will lose access to Akah Sehutañi if you do. That means that we will have no information at all. As for my associations with the nuamua, as I have said before, Okiyot is not one of the nuamua. I can call you tomorrow, but I don’t have the time to address that topic during our conversation.↩