history contest prompt:a girl prepared to be sacrifice and what it changes in her life.
|A bright day floats above the procession. The snow blinds me and my feet twist on rocks by moment. I am so nervous! I can not fall. I keep my chin up and my gait steady. I tug on this llantu Panamo, the last panaqa I visited, gave me. I desire to preserve the black woven alpaca and the condor feathers ornament, even if this garment is way too lengthy for me. In the qera I carry, there are leather bags I collected as we toured the land from my ayllu to Qosqo. I could certainly not enter in Hananpacha with a tattered finery or broken gifts. What would they think of me?|
In this last portion of the path, I do not feel my limbs any more. Cold reigns on the apu, but warmth in my inside. People are chanting as I pass. I am glad I am going all this way for them. It gives me courage to see so many of them gathered.
My eyes catch my features on the icy wall.
Oh! How beautiful I am, me; Huhua, the humble hatunruna, servant of even the least!
I can not help but to feel my chest inflated of pride. I never saw myself so pretty before: my face paint in red makes my dark brown hair plaited with wool and condor feathers more striking. I rounded up too.
I am covered with jewels.
Really, I will give a good impression for once, IF I can keep that robe from tearing on the way. I have to be careful. It is an important man robe that is meant to cover me in my future years of service to Pachamama.
I never thought I would, one day, be here; ready to step in this opening a few paces in front of me.
What a chance I have!
It was not meant to be that way.
Oh, my heart pounds hard to my temples. My childhood in Yaolt seems so pale. The recent months' events had blinked out those days.
Two years ago, if I had said I would meet the Sapa, no one would have believed me. His majesty met me, nevertheless. We talked of many things. Rather, he talked and I listened. What does a hatunruna know about the king or gods affairs?
-I am but a humble servant, I told him. I guarded llamas with my brothers and my sisters. We had but a few.
Sapa promised that my family would be rewarded with more llamas.
What was my father name?
-Tata? Oh, I forgot. No. I remember: Ajachupa. From Yaolt.
Suddenly, I was proud of where I came from. I had to specify it. What if there was more than one Ajachupa in the Sapa's realm? There was more than one Huhua I had been introduced to, after all.
Sapa guaranteed he could, if he wished so, become a kipu kamayok. He must have seen the excitement in my eyes when he said this. I had not to mouth a single word.
-It will be, thus, as I said.
He commanded for a scribe and a messenger to come while I was standing there. I heard him dictate the message that will insure a brighter, way brighter, future in my siblings and parents.
- And they could keep the llamas too. He assured me.
All the time, he maintained his left hand hidden in his cloak and waved from his right. No one would know, but I saw the Sapa secret that day: the Sapa, no matter how of godly descent he is, has only one hand and his countenance one of the ugliest I had been given to see. I quickly forgot his human flaws as he spoke with such eloquence and calm.
I could hardly believe it when he asked me what I would wish for myself. I found nothing to ask for. Why should I? In the past months leading to that meeting, I had passed from an unknown llama herder daughter, undervalued by her mama, to an emissary-to-be. Was it not enough? My answer made him laugh.
I had walked a lot. We, me, my sister and Tlemama, followed the same trail Manqo Quapac and his brothers did. We saw the same lakes, we saw the same roads, we saw the same huacas, but different people. Manqo Quapac was the great great great grandfather, at least of our Sapa. Inti son's or not, he was gone for a long time.
As we journey, both my sister and I were given gifts, load of cocoa seeds, learned new songs and received gifts:those leather bags I am carrying in the qero right now? They content hairs and nails and conopas offered for protection. So I am as important than they are. I feel responsible because I felt like I was the sister of all the ones I met. I particularly valued the insight of the elders I met as well as the confidence some people made to me.
I can not fail up to the last step. I ought to stay calm and accepting. I ought to stay firm and true even when they will throw dirt back on me, and I will see the sky disappear. I love this life, but I have to let it go; for them that I serve.
One fond memory was that I also ate like I never ate before. It was like everywhere I went, there were reasons to celebrate. I sorrowed when we left the place because we never stayed long enough for me to get to know anyone better. We have so many nice people, even if we are so different one from the others.
I even had a hair cut, twice.
In my ayllu, it is not something we had often.
Then we arrived at Qosqo.
What a city! I lack of words to say how I felt. Trying to compare it to anything I experienced before, I failed. The closest I could get is when I saw the landscape from a mountain pick the first time. So much to soak in that. I just could not feel my tongue could be nimble enough to transmit accurately in words the impression it did in my mind. One only word so empty but so adequate would come: huge.
Then Tlemama asked my sister and me about those months we just lived. She listened patiently to both of us.
-Why as she asked us that? Asked Allichay, my sister.
- How do you think I did?
- And you?
- You think it is a test to know who is returning to Yaolt?
My heart sank.
- I hope not! What does a herder daughter can do for her countrymen if she only guard llama and weave fabrics?
- We’re going to the Aqllawasi, that’s for what we have been selected for, no? To do pretty much the same as in Yaolt. And make chicha.
I nodded, my hope renewed a bit.
- Then it is either being a hama-aqlla, a mamaconas, become wives to some curaca or other panaqua, someone important anyway or…
- Sacrifice? Allichay said.
We laughed. Then I regained my seriousness.
-Us? No. I do not think so. We are herder daughters. Remember how Anqamama used to tell us we were not even useful enough to marry a farmer. We already achieved a lot by being here.
Tlemama would not let us linger very long. When she came back, she leads us to the Aqllacasa. Then, just then, she told us a bit. I knew only at that time that we would be separated: Allichay would be Mama-aqlla and I would meet the Sapa, tomorrow. Separation was not the hardest. My stomach tightens only at the idea of going where I never went before. I thought I had to get used to that along the months of our pilgrimage. My night was a sleepless one.
We had some more preparation to make. I just did not know what sort of fate justified, I, a common girl just turning my thirteen, would meet the Sapa.
Days after days until today, I was treated differently, fed differently, dressed differently as well.
And yesterday, only, I learned why. How thrilled I was! Once more, I hardly slept.
This morning, we started the long walk up to the huaca, up, up and endlessly up.
Now, just one more step. I reach for the hand of Tlemama. I hardly know anyone but her. I draw strength and confidence from her acceptance of my thin fingers in her chubby palm.
All proud, she helps me down and makes me sit. Then Yulimali, the villacorna, hands me some chicha. I drink. My fingers tingle, my cheeks flush red. Maybe it is for this reason I had been wearing this red paint? To hide what reaction, I would get drinking chicha for the first time?
Villacorna gives me some coca leaves, now. Tlemama opens my mouth by pressing on my cheeks lightly, and she places them underneath my tongue.
-Do not chew them right away. She whispers in my ear. Wait until you are half covered up.
Then she helps me lay on my side. Tenderly, she holds my knees on my breast. I fold my arms around, inclines my head and waits. She takes the twice large llantu and waves it over me, in the wind. It lays at last on me, black with tiny points of light like the starry night. I lose sight because it covers me entirely. I do feel so calm, I do feel so well.
-Everything now is done and completed. I whisper to myself.
I am so calm. Satisfied. I will forget no one I have met.
Not a day will pass without me pleading for their safekeeping.
Tomorrow I will wake up in Hananpacha and, me: Huhua, the humble hatunruna, servant of even the least will begin my emissary life.
My heavy eyelids close merrily, my breath slows down...for now I will sleep.