Ranofer Essay

"Father, what was your childhood like?" my son asked me. Well, it's a story of great length, but I'll tell you it if you insist.

When I was about your age, my father Thutra, who was your grandfather, had passed away into the afterlife. He shall be jocular in his 3,000 years of joy. Unfortunately, when my father died, I had to go live with Gebu, whom my father never told me about. Gebu was my evil, mean, surly half brother who's more like a kheft than a human being. He would beat me when he got angry, leaving me with horrible bruises across my back, and he hardly left any food for me except leftovers like an onion from his meals.

While I was living with Gebu, I would work at the gold shop. My job as a porter was to pour ingots in the crucibles, and sweep up specks of gold. Ibni, a Babylonian and a friend of Gebu's, would always hand me a wineskin to take home every few weeks.

What Gebu did with the wineskins puzzled me. At night when he believed I was asleep, Gebu would pour the wine outside onto the courtyard and keep the wineskins for himself.

Then one morning at the gold shop, Rekh, the goldsmith, told me "Gold has been missing…it is not the scales."

I gasped in surprise. Who would dare steal gold from Rekh? As I pondered about it, a sudden thought hit me. What if Ibni and Gebu were the criminals? Ibni could easily slip pieces of gold into the wineskins, and I would be ordered to bring them to the "dungeon" Gebu calls home, where he would pour out the wine just to get the gold.

Realizing that's what was exactly happening, I wanted to tell Rekh so badly, but I was frightened. I didn't want Gebu to get mad at me and beat me up, or worse, feed me to the crocodiles in the Nile, and I didn't want to be accused to be the one stealing and get in trouble with Rekh.

But luckily, I met Heqet, a boy about the same age as me and who was apprenticed to Rekh, meaning he also worked in the gold shop. We became friends the day after I snapped at him because he was asking questions about my life, but he forgave me.

I decided to ask him if he could tell Rekh about the wineskins instead of me asking, and since Heqet was such a good friend, he agreed, and I was never accused.

But sorry to say, I learned I was only placed in the gold shop to help them steal. So when Ibni got fired, Gebu sent me away to the stonecutting shop to be apprenticed to him.

And during that time, that was when Gebu was stealing again, though not from the gold shop.

The stonecutting shop was very tiring, boring, and I did not like it one bit. In fact I hated it. All I did was just cut and shape stone and put cutting sand into the holes that were drilled. Also, Pai the foreman would beat if I made mistakes. But the main reason why I hated it was because it would sometimes ruin my hands and make them bleed. There was even a man whose thumb was cut off!

My entire life, I wanted to be apprenticed to Zau, the master goldsmith who can make anything beautiful out of gold. He can make jewelry, collars, and amulets for the pharaoh himself. Once when I was young when Father was still alive, Zau visited us and told me I have talent and that he would accept me as his pupil one day. Now because of my hands, I'm afraid that will never be, since gold work requires perfect and steady hands.

Well one tedious day at the stonecutting shop, Pai sent me to the scroll room to organize the shelves, when I saw a particular scroll with a drawing of a tomb that had a small room that seemed pointless. I looked around for Pai, but instead found Gebu. I questioned him about the purpose of the room and he ended up striking me on the head, sending me to the floor. I was confused why he acted that way, but later on, I learned it was because the room is a secret entrance to a tomb he was robbing from. But before I get to that, let me quickly tell you about the goblet.

When Gebu went out one night (I don't know where), I sneaked into his bedroom to find food since I was starving. I didn't, but I did discover a wooden trunk that contained a treasure: a golden goblet that was so beautiful, only a master goldsmith could have made it, like Zau. The goblet was in the shape of a lotus blossom and lined with costly silver. Then noticing a few hieroglyphics, I read them, shocked, and realized at once Gebu had robbed a tomb for the goblet had read Thutmose-Nefer-Kheperu, who was Pharaoh more than 100 years ago. The goblet made me certainthat Gebu was robbing a tomb. That was why the golden goblet was so important.

One afternoon after work at the stonecutting shop, I felt too miserable to go home, knowing Gebu was a tomb robber, so I made the decision to go to the papyrus marsh to visit one of my friends: The Ancient, who was an old man who cut papyrus for a living. Suddenly, an old memory came back to me. I was walking home from the gold shop to see two men about to be executed for robbing a tomb. "I-I was only thinking of those wicked ones we saw hanging there that day. Ancient, how was their crime found out?" I asked the Ancient, wanting Gebu to get caught. To my surprise the Ancient replied they were followed. I then realized I had to follow that demon Gebu to the tomb located in The Valley of the Kings.

Disappointedly, the day I followed Gebu was the day of the Festival, when the Nile gave a huge flood. The Festival had tons of food such as honey cakes and salted fish. The moment I heard the hinges on the front door squeak, I was soon behind Gebu. I was terrified for my life. What would Gebu do if he caught me following him? What if Gebu was never caught? But happily, Gebu and Wenamon the mason (Gebu's companion also involved in the theft) were captured and brought to the palace.

There were few close calls, however. Walking along the path to The Valley of the Kings, Wenamon almost spotted me, but I hid on a rock shelf just above him. Also, just as Gebu was heading towards my hiding spot in the tomb, I hurled a jewel box at Gebu, making him back up into Wenamon. Then I hurriedly poured wine from a wine jug onto the torch, making it go out and causing darkness to enter. But I escaped out of the tomb to the palace where Queen Tiy believed my shocking story.

In the end, everything turned out to be well. I asked Queen Tiy for a donkey to help me cut papyrus for a living like the Ancient since I won't be staying with Gebu anymore, and she gave the finest one. I got new leather sandals, two rings for Heqet and the Ancient. But most importantly, with Gebu being gone, I can finally be apprenticed to Zau.

I believe perseverance played a major role in these events. Without it, I would have been still living with Gebu, still have been starving, and I would have been still apprenticed to Gebu at the stonecutting shop; delaying my apprenticeship to Zau. Have perseverance. I think that is the purpose of this story.