‘Why me?’ At some point, I suppose everyone asks ‘why me?’ I have come to the conclusion that the only appropriate answer is ‘why not?’
When I was younger, the answer was easy, the question rarely asked, because we were born to it. We knew no other life. And as the adults did not talk much about the past, not to us, anyway, most of us born of the desert knew little of what the alternatives were.
What is there to say? I was born to a mother who had herself lived her entire life in the desert. She never saw anything else. All she ever knew was the sand and the wind. And me? I never knew her. She died before I was old enough to remember anything at all. But then, so many died. We wandered for more than a lifetime. Eighty years. There are people with us today whose grandparents were born in the desert. Eighty years. I wonder if any of those who fell under the [i]armaya[/i] ever expected to see its end.
Giernon, my mentor, friend, and, at least in every way that counts, my father. He would never give me a straight answer to whether or not he [b]really[/b] was my father, though I carry his name. Perhaps noone knows. But that matters little to me. I grew up with a father, and it matters little who gave the seed. He taught me, whenever he could. And I came to cherish the nights we huddled together for warmth, for the desert grows cold in the night. We spent long hours talking, or I spent them listening to his tales of the world that was.
Like my mother, he too never lived to see the day we left the desert behind. He died almost ten years ago. But he knew the time was coming, and did his best to prepare me. I am not sure what the others were told, those others who were, like me, born and raised in the desert, or those few who joined us during those years.
“They will need you,” he told me. “When the curse ends, when you finally walk out of the desert, they will need to know things about the world beyond the sand. They will need someone to guide them, to teach them to be kind. In the desert, there is no room for mercy, the desert is a harsh mistress. But you are young enough and strong enough that you should live to see the end of the curse. So remember what I teach you. Hide it in your heart, and some day, by Mitra’s grace, you will be able to drink from a river, to rest in the shadow of a tree, to taste life as we once knew it.”
He tried, as best he could, to prepare me for what was coming. “Be strong. Hide your heart. And when you get out of the desert, remember that the world has changed. What I knew might no longer be true.”
When the [i]armaya[/i] fell on the Company, he was very young. Younger than I am now, though wiser in the ways of men, and the world. He tried to teach me what he knew, of the world, of men, of the dangers that are not born of sand and dust. And of Mitra.
He was an old man before I was born. Why he chose me, I will never now know. Sometimes, when I asked, he would just smile and ruffle my hair. At other times, he would tell me that he did not choose me. Mitra did. But I never got a proper answer.
Mitra is the one true god. Saints, yes. Prophets, that too. But the other beings people claim are gods, they are either demons, spirits, or frauds. Honesty, truth, friendship, and forgiveness. This he tried to teach me.
But he also taught me of other things, of other beliefs. “People’s beliefs vary. Even that of those of the Company. They are no less your brothers and sisters, and you need to know about their beliefs as well, to avoid insulting them. Just never tell another priest of Mitra, or anyone outside the Company, about this.”
I was still little more than a child when he decided to leave us, and let the Company claim his waters. I cried that night, the only time I can remember doing so, when he told me of his decision. He chided me, gently, for that. For wasting the water, and for loving him too much. There is little room for love in the desert. Then he held me, comforting me for the last time, whispering to me.
His last words: “Walk with care, daughter mine, for my ways are not the ways of the world. What I remember as truth might have changed, or might be no more than the dreams of an old man. Even Mitra. I was never conventional, even when I was young, even before the [i]armaya[/i], and some might find your ways offensive, or blasphemous even. But believe in yourself, and believe in Mitra, and trust noone but your brothers and sisters of the Rose. Carry the Rose and Swords with pride, child. Mitra watch over you.”
So close, no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
and nothing else matters
-Nothing else matters, Metallica