You know what I've thought about? I don't care if I get reviews by the ton, or a million favorites. To me, writing is something so sanctified that I can't see myself getting upset for lack of reception. To you who is a lurker, by all means continue lurking, for all that I care about is that my writing makes you happy and interests you. Thank you for reading.
"Non est vivere sed valere vita est."
Life is not being alive, but being well.
Early the next morning, Sana was awoken by the sound of Bijun's tentative whining beside her, and she tiredly opened her eyes to see that Jir was getting ready to slide off the roof of the abode and prepare to go to the fields and work. She shifted and tightened her shawl around herself, for the morning was slightly cool that day, surprising Jir.
Just as he swung down one leg, he looked up at his sister and murmured, "I've left goat milk and yogurt by the set inside. Dilsad gave them to me yesterday." And then, he was gone in the darkness of very early morning with a landing thump.
Sana tried to cradle Bijun the best she could, but she gave up readily in trying to cease his crying, her patience very easily run out.
She took him down and inside, preparing the milk to be warmed up. Her eyes felt tired and heavy, although it was nearly time for her to go fetch the day's water in the clay jug. After feeding Bijun milk and yogurt, and having some of it herself with flatbread, she got a sling ready made by her shawl to carry the baby on her back, making sure the knots were tied tightly around her body so that he wouldn't slip out accidentally.
She grabbed the jug and the basket of peeled sugar beets from the other day and left the home, where the sky was showing signs of the first slivers of daylight.
The morning was cool and light, however that meant very little for whatever heat came down when noon struck, which was intense enough to burn any lightened skin. A wispy blue and yellow hue crept up from behind the mountains in the horizon, expanding its light in all directions and bringing in the morning from the mountain range.
Sana first took the sugar beets down to the abode of an elderly woman who grew crops during all the seasons, Sehnaz, who offered tomatoes in turn for them, which she accepted.
Sehnaz was a nice woman, a widow, who often enjoyed chatting to whomever would listen to her, which in some cases turned out to be Sana herself on mornings such as these. She spoke of the weather, cooed at Bijun and admired Sana's beauty, although the girl wasn't sure what she thought of the poor widow in all her attentiveness and caring. A long woman she was, strong for her age with leathery and weather-beaten skin that showed in the creases around her homely face.
She reminded Sana of someone. It had taken her the entire walk to the well to realize who it was that resembled Sehnaz, and when she did, she halted with the jug in her hands and furrowed her blond brows.
Her late grandmother, of course. How could she forget such a person? Sana frowned and resumed her pace, the soles of her slippers scraping against the dry land beneath them. She felt her head. Her dear, lovely grandmother that died of old age just a year ago had been the most beautiful person in Sana's life. Why was she forgetting her?
Now disturbed and upset with herself, Sana shook away the thoughts and went back to her obligations.
After filling the jug with cool water from the village well, Sana dragged its weight home for keeping. She washed her face with a moist cloth and Bijun's as well, sighing in impatience as the boy squirmed against her care.
As the morning wore on, Sana was finishing up one of her baskets, Bijun off somewhere with Keyna, who had stopped by to ask if she could take him out and play with him. The silence was greeted warmly and comfortably. She was grateful for Keyna, who often had no one to play with, for all the other orphans worked all day and left her by her lonesome. The only other ready option was enjoying the company of the toddler.
Sana secretly wished Keyna would keep playing with him all day and night, allowing her a few hours' peace.
Once noon arrived, along with its scalding sun and harsh temperatures, Sana heard a noise outside that sounded as though someone was speaking through a microphone to amplify their voice. Still, the voice was gurgled in the distance, so she draped a scarf over her head and went out to see what was happening.
Standing on a scaffold improvised by multiple wooden crates, was Amud Radio with a megaphone in his gloved hands and speaking through it, squinting down at a small crowd of children surrounding him.
In essence, the megaphone was hardly necessary with such a sized crowd, although it was clear that Amud enjoyed his voice being heard above all else.
Nihad, the boy with the permanent limp, and Simku, the silly little boy with the questions from yesterday, were holding onto the tower of crates to prevent a possible fall. Sana slinked towards them but stood a bit further away, curiously listening to what he had to say.
"My kids, I have come to you today in order to deem the minefield as safe to work in!" he said, causing a mindful cheer to erupt from the orphan children, "This way, an extra income is created with very little hours of work, in comparison to what you all normally do. I'm the organizer of the field, so listen closely. Whoever wants to work with me, will follow Nihad towards the minefield with your baskets or crates. There, he shall instruct you on properly disabling the mines and collecting them. At the end of the week, I shall collect them all and try to arrange the best price possible from the outer market, and split the money evenly amongst all of you."
Then, he had an afterthought. "Very small children are prohibited from the mines. That means six years and under. I don't want to see any of you sneaking around where you don't belong. The mines are dangerous."
Simku could be heard shouting from below in his childish, small voice, "What if we don't have a basket?"
Amud directed his megaphone downwards, nearly in front of the poor boy's face. "Find one, then. I'm not responsible for weaving baskets... You and your questions, Simku."
Sana found her brother Jir coming back from the pastures, hauling a small crate of recently-shaved wool with his able hand, and his other arm clutching a bottle of milk by the elbow. He stopped upon seeing his sister approach him, and listened to her telling of the minefields that had been opened by Amud Radio.
"I didn't know there was a minefield nearby," he said absentmindedly, thinking, "We know how to disable mines, Sana."
She took the milk from him to carry, although he wouldn't let her burden herself with the crate of wool. They began walking back as Jir was silently pensive for a few moments, until he muttered, "It'll be a help if we also take the mines during the afternoon, after I'm back from tending Dilsad's goats and sheep. But only when I'm back. And then we'll go together. How does that sound?"
"Good," she agreed, nodding.
"Where is the child, Sana?" His eyes searched her face evenly, narrowed and harsh beneath the sun.
"With Keyna, playing."
Once they returned home and put away the wool and milk, Jir went ahead to the minefield with the recently finished basket of that morning while he told Sana to check on Bijun quickly to see if things were fine. She found him and Keyna sitting outside of the orphan tent, playing with a brightly-colored top wheel on the ground, giggling, so she let them be and went back to the minefield to find her brother.
Many children were huddled together with Nihad, baskets on their backs, who was instructing them loudly on how to disable a mine. Sana could hear him as he pointed to his left leg, "You see this? I have a terrible limp, all because of an idiot who messed up on a mine. Be very careful and if your eyes get too tired, leave immediately and don't try any further."
Jir was nowhere near this crowd of children, and instead had stationed quite far off behind a small dry hill. Sana joined him where he was concentrated on removing a mine, using his skilled hand expertly to pop it out of the ground.
She sat there with him a long while, using her own slowed and careful pace with the mines, until Keyna came by, carrying him on her back to avoid any accident.
"You guys are so far off from the other kids," said Keyna, using her palm to block the sunlight from her eyes and setting Bijun down on his feet. "I can't stay with him any longer; I'm to help Sehnaz with her sugar beets. Bye."
With that, the ruddy child took off, leaving Bijun to crawl up Sana's back and cling to her neck as she resumed working. "Watch him," warned Jir, "Make sure he's always on your back."
The sun was awfully hot, so Jir recommended that Sana removed her scarf from her head to place it over Bijun and protect him from it, which she did with a lack of interest.
Not twenty minutes have gone by before Jir was squinting up a hill further up the land, frowning. Sana watched him curiously as he stood up and went over to the mines ahead to examine them, as he was looking quite skeptical. He returned, but didn't stop to explain himself to Sana, and instead made way over to Nihad, who was gathering his own mines further down.
Nihad looked surprised when Jir approached him, but the two conversed normally before the boy stood and hobbled out of the field quickly.
"The mines further up the hill are built differently. The won't disable the way these do," Jir said when he came back. However, he returned to work without another word.
Sana didn't inquire any further, mostly because it wasn't necessary. Within moments, Nihad staggered back to the field with Amud Radio in tow, his gloved hands balled into fists and with an irritated squint in his eyes.
"Who is the clueless child who spoke about the northern mines?" Amud Radio asked loudly, "I've verified them myself - they'll disable just fine! Who was it that called me a liar?"
"You called him a liar?" Sana asked her brother in a low tone, her hands frozen over a mine.
Jir didn't even look up. "He is. He didn't verify those mines at all."
In the distance, Amud turned on Nihad. "Who was it, Nihad?"
The boy hopelessly looked up in the direction of the hill where Jir and Sana were; his words needn't be spent, for Amud Radio already picked up on the action.
He sauntered up a short distance but stopped and did more yelling instead, "Hey, you! You're the one that called me a liar, aren't you?"
Jir merely glanced carelessly at him before ignoring him once again. "Don't ignore me; I'm speaking to you, you brat! How dare you call me a liar. At least stand and tell it to my face like a man!"
The silence reciprocated seemed to annoy the boy even further, as he raised his hoarse voice even more, "Don't make me go over there and cut off your other arm!" Jir flinched angrily at this, but Sana seized his shoulder readily. "If you're lucky, I'll maybe spare your hand for the sake of your sister!"
Now, Jir yanked himself out of Sana's grip. "Jir, don't do it," she said quickly, but she was ignored as he stood up and began making his way over to the loud-mouthed boy.
Sana stood hastily, gripping Bijun's legs over her waist, but stopped, realizing that she wouldn't know what to say or do to calm the situation anyway. Instead, she watched from afar as Jir approached Amud in a firm stance. The lanky boy had a satisfied smirk on his face.
"Will you face me now?" he asked slyly.
"Who are you speaking to that way?" Jir grumbled, eyes narrowed.
Amud straightened his back to order to match Jir's squared shoulders. "Well, well..."
Again, Jir repeated himself, "Who are you speaking to that way, I said?"
This time, he waited for no response, and Sana only saw her brother's fist swing as fast as lightening from his side, and Amud falling backwards onto the ground like a sack of potatoes.
Jir turned his back on him and retreated as the crowd of children circled Amud Radio in despaired cries of worry. Sana waited, tense, but Amud suddenly moved, lifting his hand to his nose and drawing blood on his hand.
"Blood!" he cried, "That armless boy made me bleed!"
Sana didn't have time to see what Amud did next, for Jir jerked his chin at her in motion for her to follow him out of the field.
Thank you for reading! Constructive criticism is always welcome.