Story for the Day: Tyferrim Guilt
|Boudicca and Sheamas in Tyferrim|
With everyone arrived at the cottage, they began dividing the various rooms with regard to the great number of occupants who would be present for the entirety of the stay. It was decided that those from the islands would be situated on the lower floor and those from Frewyn would be on the upper. The kitchen was large enough to accommodate the whole of the gathered party and everything was done in a matter of a few moments with tolerable comfort to every guest.
They welcomed one another with what the twins called a proper meal at the table: cured meats and cold pies, smoked fish and cheeses, fresh breads and roasted potatoes were laid out upon the table for everyone’s enjoyment. Once seeing the impressive display in the kitchen, many forgot their business of unpacking and settling themselves before the warmth of fires and were obliged to take a seat at the table to enjoy the flavors of the kingdom and the temperateness of the furnace instead. There were many hearty hellos and affectionate greetings, embraces and talk of how they had not seen one another in longer than was advisable for such close family, and while everyone sat down to carouse and relish the good company and excellent food, Kai Linaa was determined to be the observer and draw everything she saw. She wished to preserve this moment: the instant in which everyone she loved best in the world was gathered together and sitting in one room, laughing, talking, making bustle and pleasant noise. It was a pictorial scene, one which she hoped would prevail in her cottage, and she would capture it. She grabbed her drawing implements as soon as she could tear herself away from the prying assertions of Mrs Cuineill, who claimed she did not enough and whose remonstrations drew the attention of Mrs Donnegal who declared the same, and she tucked herself into the corner of the kitchen with her back to the wall, staring over her page and drawing in secret.
Soledhan, being the curious and insistent child that he was, noticed Kai Linaa’s clandestine disappearance in the crowd around the table and went to hunt for her immediately. When he found her scribbling furiously in the corner, he put on an adorable face and shifted closer to her with shuffling and unassuming steps. “What are you drawing, Linaa?” he said in his tiny voice.
Kai Linaa pulled her parchment paper toward her stomach to screen it from his view and gave the child a diffident smile. “It’s not finished, Soledhan,” she laughed nervously. “I promise to show you when it’s done.”
Soledhan would not be deterred by these paltry excuses. He held his hands behind his back, oscillated on his toes and widened his eyes in preparation of breaking Kai Linaa’s resolve. “But what are you drawing, Linaa?”
The expectant sparkle in Soledhan’s bright yellow and black eyes began to weaken her. Kai Linaa grimaced in mental agony as she was compelled to devote her attention to the child. She would not yield. She shifted closer into the corner to screen her art from view and insisted that the picture would not be shown until declared perfect by herself.
Soledhan tried numerous other tactics he had learned from Otenohi, such as asking whether Kai Linaa loved him, quivering his lip, welling tears in his darling eyes, and making promises of not telling anyone else what she was illustrating, and though these were sure and tried procedures he had perfected, Kai Linaa would not concede.
The battle of wills continued for some time, Kai Linaa proclaiming she would not exhibit her art and Soledhan making warbling entreaties as a counterattack. It had gained the attention of Obhantaa Leraa who, knowing Kai Linaa well enough to understand her fears on the subject of her own supposed deficiencies, decided to assist Soledhan. He was endeavoring with every piece of his little soul and Leraa, as the savior of all small creatures everywhere, was compelled to come to his aid. He neared their corner of the kitchen with the same wide eyes and pleading pout Soledhan had been parading, having also learned the same tactics from Otenohi while both of them had lived together in the temple. He was certain two mellifluous expressions would make her feel that even her smallest of sketches were worth lauding, but Kai Linaa remained constant in her resolve and would not confirm Leraa’s positive assertions. His eyes widened, his hands pressed together in supplication, but all their efforts came to nothing.
Soledhan and Obhantaa Leraa returned to the table and their barren return drew the awareness of the commander, the twins, Jaicobh and Sheamas, who were sitting at the end of the table closest to the furnace. Soledhan scurried into his mother’s lap, complaining of how his Linaa refused to share with him after he had asked so nicely. Jaicobh comforted him by reminding him that art was subjective and when Kai Linaa was ready to show then everyone would be able to see. Soledhan pouted and sulked, gaining a smile from Sheamas and chuckles from Adaoire and Aiden, who had other methods of persuasion they were certain would break Kai Linaa’s steadfastness.
“Naw, young one,” Adaoire fleered. “You gotta give her the old Tyferrim guilt.”
“Sure, your Ma’s from Tyferrim,” Aiden said. “You musta inherited it.”
Soledhan looked at his uncles in confusion and he begged them to tell him their meaning.
“Alas, you, my love, have not been educated in the Frewyn Church,” the commander said, tenderly pinching her child’s cheeks. “Haanta temples do not teach the time-honored traditions of using guilt to further one’s own desires. For those of us who have suffered such disingenuous machinations, we have learned how to direct painful remorse toward others in order to obtain what we desire.”
Soledhan was still bemused at hearing of such a foreign practice and turned to Hathanta for further explanation. “Themari,” he entreated his teacher in his tiny voice while tugging on his robes. “What is guilt?”
Hathanta turned from his conversation with Unghaahi to acknowledge his student and both giants smiled at the child, giving him their undivided attention. Hathanta explained the sentiment of remorse as a feeling of doing something one ought not to be doing and knowing the incorrectness of such actions. He maintained that one could bask in guilt or one could turn away from it, and the Haanta as a whole chose to turn away, focusing their duties toward goodness and rightness instead. Hathanta asked why the question had arisen, and when he was told, Unghaahi blushed and smiled for his mate being oblivious of her own capabilities.
“My Kai Linaa does not understand the power her art holds,” he said warmly. “She is most inhibited and will not even show me unless I submit to using devices I do not take pleasure in using often.”
“Bribery is also taught in our Churches, Unghaahi,” the commander simpered. “Whether it is the promise of Khopra or the promise of a copper in the collection plate, it is bribery all the same.”
Unghaahi affirmed that his methods of enticement were only pleasing to his mate where as guilt was detrimental and could only seek to make her feel horrid, but these conjectures were brushed aside by the twins, who were now determined to see what she was drawing.
“You gotta know your birthright, young one,” Adaoire said, springing one of Soledhan’s white curls. “I’ll show you how it’s done.” The farmer cleared his throat, adjusted his overalls, and marched toward Kai Linaa with confidence in his stride.
Unghaahi moved to impede him, wishing for Kai Linaa to be undisturbed, but it was too late: he had gone, he was nearing her, he was making polite smiles and inquiries, and her peace was ruined. Unghaahi chided himself for not acting sooner. “Amhadhri Anonnaa,” he said to the commander in a gentle tone, “Why is this practice of incurring remorse attributed to Tyferrim when many of your people are educated in your Church?”
“Many of those in Tyferrim only attend Church due to the feelings of guilt impressed upon them as children. Mostly everyone in Frewyn’s countryside is a farmer or belongs to a farmer’s family.”
“Aye,” Aiden declared with a curt nod. “We’re real busy providin’ for the kingdom and all. We don’t have time to be wastin’ in murmurin’ a few passages from the Good Book when we should be out workin’. Reverend Mother can say all she wants about us bein’ improper, but it’s our crops that feed her. We go on holidays but just to see our friends and family, not for worshippin’ or nothin’. We do our part by givin’ food to the kingdom. We know the Gods, if they are around, approve of that.”
Unghaahi and Hathanta hummed in support of the farmer’s simple claim and watched intently as Kai Linaa looked up at Adaoire making his inconspicuous approach.
“You must remark your Utaa Adaoire well, my love,” the commander whispered in Soledhan’s ear. “He shall show you the secrets of your Frewyn heritage.”
Soledhan noted Adaoire’s subtle sidling, his humble appearance, listed to the modesty in his voice while he asked simple questions that at first had little to do with his object. His eyes glowed when he realized Adaoire was leading her into believing he was there for another reason whilst attempting to sneak a look at her drawing, He failed in one respect of obtaining a view but he succeeded in having her tell him the subject of her piece: it was a mural of the whole party that would take her some time to finish and she must be left alone to do so. He asked if he might have a preview, not of whole piece of course but only the portion that depicted him and his wife if there was one. Kai Linaa exclaimed that there certainly was, but she could not show him anything that would do him and his wife justice. She must have time to sketch and consider and erase and redraw, and her refutations only succeeded in provoking the celebrated Tyferrim guilt.
Adaoire gave Kai Linaa a dark grin once she turned back to her parchment; she would be all tears and agonizing sorrow once he had done with her unyielding sensibilities. He positioned himself firmly in front of her, took his cap from his head and held it at his chest in supplication. She looked up at him in time to see his altered countenance: he was dejected and solemn, and his brow furrowed in severe contemplation. With a quavering lip and quiet voice, he began: “I know I’m just a poor farmer, girl. The only thing I got to give any one is appreciation. Sure, I may be a musician in the evenin’s and I know it ain’t the same sort of art and all, but I can still appreciate what you do.” He paused and watched Kai Linaa’s lips part as though she wish to say something in retaliation, but Adaoire’s beseeching eyes and saddened demeanor had silenced her. He caught her, he had her, and now he would destroy her. “Give a poor old farmer somethin’ nice to look forward to?” he whimpered. “I know I ain’t as skilled at playin’ as you are at drawin’ and all, but I’ll play for you anyway if you show me that there picture of me and my girl.”
Kai Linaa felt the aggrievement of his words rush on her. She tried to resist, but no. His last whispering words of begging her to have a heart for his cause had done for her. Tears culled, ruefulness raged, and Kai Linaa had lost the battle of wills to a poor old farmer. She showed him the section of the portrait depicting him and his wife in the corner together, enjoying one another’s revelrous and depraved company on a neat little chair, and all the despondency in Adaoire’s character turned instantly to jubilation. She had been duped, and not in the pleasurable manner usually conveyed by her mate, but in a manner that teased her sympathies and had plunged her emotions into ruin. She slapped Adaoire’s leg, shouting at him for using such machinations as to prey upon her need to have everyone always in agreement with herself, and told him to leave her corner of the room so that she may continue feeling guilty without him poring over her.
Adaoire made an arch reply, stating he would not go now that he had been so invited. He sat beside her and was determined to praise every line she drew and remark every piece of the illustration with favour. She was an exquisite artist indeed, and he would not have her malign herself when her talent was more than evident.
The commander laughed and shook her head, unbelieving of how Adaoire had done what two impressing Haanta could not with all their petitions and quiet looks.
Jaicobh was inclined to call Adaoire back to the table, but once he saw Kai Linaa’s cheerfulness restored by Adaoire’s commendations, he sighed and left the two alone. “Aye,” he said to himself in reverie. He looked his daughter and his grandson and smiled. “Your mother would murder me with those pleas of hers. You’ll see, Bou. Next he’ll be usin’ it on you.”
“I believe I am immune to such appeals,” the commander said smilingly. “Your brother performed so famously, Aiden, I thought Kai Linaa should cry.”
“Aye, we Donnegals are good at layin’ it on,” Aiden agreed with a fervent expression. “We got eight brothers and sister we grew up with. Sure, Ma’s a tough one to crack, but we learned how to stand out and all. Martje would claim Ma didn’t love her no more, I’d tell her what a sad soul I was with nine fingers, Adaoire always had a sob story about how hard it was bein’ the oldest and settin’ and example, but Shea was worst of ‘em all.”
Sheamas looked at Aiden in injured bemusement. “I never guilted Ma into anythin’,” he contended.
“You didn’t have to, Shea. You were the youngest. The babes of the family always have free guilt to give away. Anythin’ your heart wanted, Ma would give you.”
“Not to worry, Sheamas,” the commander laughed, rubbing his arm. “It my understanding that every youngest child and only child has a particular claim with his parents.”
“Aye, just like you did with me when you were small,” Jaicobh asserted, pointing his finger at his daughter’s nose.
“Well, now that there are two of us, father, I believe my powers have quite gone.”
Jaicobh wished that were so, but in seeing the eyes of his daughter and grandson looking at him, he found the commander’s argument to be the contrary. He sighed and smiled at them with deep attachment, and he only hoped that Soledhan would bestow on his daughter all the guilty appeals she had given him when she was her son’s age.