We gather around Jeng Ma Tsia in the tent. We know it is hers for the many Ourings traced on the old cloth that makes up the tent. There are more Ourings than anyone. My tent has only ten Ourings, for I am ten rituals old. No one knows how old Jeng Ma Tsia is, and no one really visits her. Except us. Me and Pili Do Eurig, my brother. No one questions why we prefer to go to Jeng Ma Tsia's tent instead of Dzia Mi Alabesh, the Storyteller of our tribe. But our reason is simple. Jeng Ma Tsia is older and has more tales -and those tales are more interesting- than the Storyteller's tales which she tells over and over again.

Jeng Ma Tsia looks me in the eye, her gaze steely. Every time we come, she reveals something new about herself.

"I was the Storyteller for tribe Montonu, before the raids began, and I fled to this tribe, tribe Zuwena. Before that, I was a Member of tribe Kwanza, the First."

"You were part of Kwanza? Really? I don't believe you." Pili Do Eurig tells Jen Ma Tsia. I grab his shoulder holding on tight enough for it to hurt.

"Do not speak like that to the Jeng, you know better."

"Listen to the girl." Jeng Ma Tsia grins, showing off her yellow teeth.

"I'm in the Cuna," Pili Do Eurig states proudly. "I can do whatever I want."

"As Jeng, Jeng Ma Tsia has a higher rank than you, even if you were Russom. But you are not even Russom. You are a Zuwena, the rank third from last on the scale of several ranks. And even so, Cuna was made with the thoughts of keeping boys like you busy. So keep your mouth shut. Do you want to hear Jeng Ma Tsia's story or not?"

Pili Do Eurig blushes furiously. "Fine. I'll listen to Jeng Ma Tsia's story, but only if you don't ever say that I'm a Zuwena, ok? I have a bad enough reputation as it is."


"Jeng Ma Tsia is a too long name," Jeng Ma Tsia intrupps.

"Then what do we call you?" Pili Do Euring asks, curious.

"Mama Tsia works for both of us quite nicely, don't you think?"

"But you're a Jeng, Jeng is one of the highest honors!" I protest

"But it adds too much. As you told your brother, you want to hear the story, or no."

"Yes-but," I stammer.

"Then let your Jeng speak. I am still Jeng whether it is in my name or not."

"Fine." At that moment, I decide to call Pili Do Euring, Euring. It's shorter.

"Well, a hundred years ago-"

"How old are you?" Euring asks quietly.

"I'm old, boy. I found a special brew that keeps me alive a little longer. I take it as often as possible to keep me alive for as long as possible. But I can only make it once a year. So once a year, I stockpile it, and it has gotten me here."

"What's in the brew?"

"Do you really think I'm gonna tell you, boy?"

"No. Never mind. And my name's Euring, not boy."

"I call you what I want to call you. Anyway, a hundred years ago, one hundred forty-nine to be exact, there was in the Tendaji rebellion. I befriended Musa and Nalah, the Orphan and the Lioness, who lead the Tendaji rebellion, and they dragged me into it. I didn't know better myself."

Mama Tsia smiles at the memory.

"I went against Asafa Di Aza, and I herded him to Musa and Nalah, so they could finish him off. They hoped it would discourage Landon Da Jaali, and help them win the war. But Landon Da Jaali didn't care for his son. So he became Kaluwa, the forgotten ones."

"Can you tell us more about the Tendaji rebellion?" Euring asks.

'Hmmm." Mama Tsia peers out the tent flap. "We have enough time for me to tell you the entire story, I suppose. But I will tell you the story until we dine."

"One more question," Euring says carefully. "Do you have any kids?"

Mama Tsia's face clouds for a second.

"Mosi Du Ahadi and Pili Mu Salim. Nalla Du Ahadi died in battle. Pili Mu Salim was assassinated to get to me, like I did to Asafa Kaluwa Du Aza."

"Oh." Euring's voice is small. 

"Death is never a good thing, but you have to talk about it sometime." Tsia smiles grimly.

Euring nods quickly.

"I had one other child. She is lost though."


"In the war. She was Asani, a rebellion against the Mtupeni tyranny."

Euring glances at me, before gaping at Mama Tsia. "You were part of the Siwatu tyranny."

Mama Tsia glares at him. "I was not part of the Siwatu tyranny. I fought against it. I detested it. To me, it is the Mtupeni tyranny."

"No-no I didn't mean it like that." Euring chooses his words carefully. "I meant that it is surprising that you were under the rule of the Mtupeni tyranny because not many people were in the tribe."

"I was part of a small rebellion against the Mtupeni tyranny that was small, insignificant, and didn't work. But I was good enough to train Ashon Du Panya, and Anan Mu Akil, seventh born and fourth born, a mouse and a scholar, both of who became known for their attack against the Mtupeni. I trained them. They proposed that I become Second in command, but I refused. I was a fighter, yes, but I did not want to lead. If even one died, their blood would be on my hands. I did not want that. But I was a part of it. I fought for freedom, and I killed for freedom, I won freedom. And in that time, I became a part of the rebellion, I became part of a historical movement. I will show you."

Mama Tsia leads us out of the tent and shows us one of the Ourings. It is of a man standing on a boulder, rousing a crowd, an army in a distance. But one of the people in the crowd is more detailed, with long flowing grey hair, a world-weary face, and an oak staff that showed her of no rank but high importance.

That was my Ouring for that year. Euring nods. Suddenly the town bell rings, signaling for a gathering.

"Thank you for listening." She says, bowing low.

"Thank you for sharing." Me and Euring bow right back.

As we're leaving, she grips my shoulder, ad I turn around. "I know the boy's name, but what's yours?"

"Mosi Mo Asani."

She pales. "You're her," she breathes.

"I have another family now," I tell her. "I do not need you."

And I do not. I survived when she left me.

I do not belong to her, I belong to nobody but myself. So I walk away, toward the bell ringing in the distance, away from my birth mother.

February 06, 2021 02:58

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Danit Schleman
00:53 Feb 18, 2021

Great world building!


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I loved this story. I really don't have any feedback though because this was well done.


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Palak Shah
15:38 Feb 14, 2021

Great story with a fantastic message. Well done !!! Keep up the great work. Please can you read my latest story and give me some feedback on it. It would be appreciated a lot. Thank you :))


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