PART five: diin
Chapter 32: The Sunset
CREFY, within the span of a few days, became an integral part of DIIN’s inner circle. Neither could remember a time where they existed without each other. Neither felt like there had ever been a period in their life during which their SKIMMA, and their canine and feline companions, did not exist. They took turns looking after their SKIMMA, just like their parents took turns hosting each other’s family for dinner.
Their friendship blossomed, just as did their parents’. A few months later, they all made their way to the largest trash heap in their town. DIIN and CREFY ran around the trash heap, exploring as much of it as they could while staying in their parents’ line of sight as they had promised, marveling at how tall many of its towers were. They ran back to their parents when they were finally called for, and DIIN watched in awe, equally stuck by the beauty of the three setting suns and the mesmerizing prayer rituals CREFY and his family performed to break their fast.
They all ate the biggest meal DIIN and CREFY had ever seen, one that neither child realized was barely sufficient to feed even two fully grown OSZA, as the sky turned black, and the mysterious objects in it began to twinkle and shine.
After they had eaten, DIIN and CREFY lay their heads against their canine’s torso, while their felines climbed on top of their bellies. They watched the funny dots in the sky, trying to decipher what they were and why they showed up every night, whispering to each other so that they didn’t disturb their parents’ conversation.
Their ears perked up when their parents began to whisper.
“Are you sure about this?” DIIN’s father asked.
“Yes, big brother. It is the only way for a better future,” CREFY’s mother answered, as she rubbed her belly.
“But the risk we are taking…” DIIN’s father muttered.
“Scavenging is become tougher with each passing day. We may not be able to feed them every day at this rate. And then there’s the disease… It takes more of the town every day,” CREFY’s father whispered.
“And then there’s… them…” DIIN’s mother said.
“The gangs were just passing through. There is nothing for them here,” DIIN’s father said.
“They have been returning. Taking whatever they can from whoever they can. And I heard a few of them talking about DIIN… About how beautiful she would be in a few years, and how they couldn’t wait to have their way…” DIIN’s mother murmured.
“They’ve been talking to CREFY as well. Telling him all about how he can be one of them in a few more years,” CREFY’s mother whispered.
“If we stay here, brother… our children… I can’t even imagine…” CREFY’s father began. “They will not take no for an answer! They will take what they want, and who they want, by force! We cannot let that happen to these little…” he said through gritted teeth, a few seconds later.
“There is nowhere else we can go, big brother. All the nearby towns are in a similar state. The ones that are a little better off in terms of food and disease are infested with even more gang members. We may get more to eat there, but we will not be safe. Our chil…” CREFY’s mother said, pausing as her head tilted in their direction, “they need stability.”
“It is our duty to give them at least that much,” CREFY’s father added.
DIIN’s mother looked at her husband, who remained silent, thinking deeply for a few minutes.
“I don’t like it. But you are right. There is no real choice. We will manage for what… a year? Two at most at this rate? It is a long journey to this utopia of yours, a risky one… But we must try… For their sake. For their future,” he said.
“I’m glad to hear it, brother. And grateful too. Thank you, to you and your family for joining us. We shall begin our preparations starting tomorrow,” CREFY’s father said, as he embraced DIIN’s father.
Both children listened keenly to the entire discussion, but said nothing. They heard every word that was uttered. However, neither understood most of it despite their best efforts. Most of what their parents had said made no sense to them. There was talk of things becoming tougher with each passing day, of daily meals becoming a problem, something that neither child understood, since they had just eaten more food than they had laid eyes on for a long time. There was also talk of someone called DISEASE, and this DISEASE seemed to be a really mean OSZA that was making many of the town residents unable to go to work for many days at a time. Why DISEASE was so mean was not discussed. And then there were all those other words. Gangs. Members. Violence. Initiation. Journey. Risky. What did they all mean? And who was this UTOPIA? Was this a magical OSZA of some kind? One who fixed everybody’s problems if you asked it to? Like the ones their parents constantly prayed to? And why was this OSZA called UTOPIA so far away? Why did it have to be found in order for you to avail its help? These were the thoughts that ran through DIIN and CREFY’s minds until they fell asleep.
“What’s wrong, children? Why are you both not working?” DIIN’s mother asked, when they hesitatingly approached her the next day.
“CREFY… My little baby… Spit it out, child,” CREFY’s mother said, holding her belly as she sat down next to him.
“Will the OSZA named DISEASE come after us also?” CREFY finally mumbled after a few minutes of silence.
“What? Who told you that?” his mother asked, as she pulled him to her.
“We heard you,” DIIN said softly, her eyes lowered by the guilt she felt.
“No. No. There is no OSZA called DISEASE. Nobody is coming after you children,” her mother said, as she picked DIIN up and gave her a kiss.
“But we heard you,” CREFY muttered, hoping desperately that his words wouldn’t anger their mothers.
“Oh! You sweet little things. You children misunderstood. Your fathers have found a new town for us to go to. One where you can eat as much as you want. One where there is no trash to collect,” DIIN’s mother said gently.
“Really, Mommy? So what will we do all day?” DIIN asked.
“Mommy and Daddy will find other work to do. You will eat, and play, and go to school,” her mother answered.
“School? What is that?” CREFY asked.
“You’ll see when we get there. You’ll love it,” his mother replied, as she stroked his hair.
“Ok. That’s enough. Back to work now. And remember, children, the harder you work, the faster we can leave for the new town,” DIIN’s mother said.
“Yes. That’s right. Go on now. Bring me back as much as you can to sort. Go on. Run. Run! Run!” CREFY’s mother said, as she shooed them away lovingly.
Neither DIIN nor CREFY noticed the relieved glances their mothers exchanged as they ran back into the trash mountains they had come from.