Kalaya was such an intelligent little girl and she made Manika so proud. Manika tried to spend as much time as possible with her daughter and heiress and often they found themselves playing chess. It was Kalaya’s favourite game.
“Mom, why do Kahio and Baato sleep in a hut?”, she asked one day without looking up from the chessboard. Manika sighed. She knew that one day she would have to explain Amazon culture to her daughter but she had hoped to protect her childly innocence a while longer.
“They work for us, sweetheart”, she told her, “And to make sure that nothing inappropriate happens, they sleep in another house. It’s Amazon Culture to make sure that the men know their place.”
Kalaya really had her cornered. Manika went for a risky move.
“Oh, okay. What’s inappropriate, mommy?”, she asked bluntly. Manika blushed. Now this was not a conversation she would have now.
“I’ll tell you more when you are older. Just remember that Kahio and Baato are slaves, like all men. We are kind to them but we also have to punish them if they behave badly. If they are loyal, they will live an honorable life with our tribe.”
“I think, I get it”, Kalaya said. She understood things really fast. “Also, checkmate.”
The little girl smiled at her mother and Manika could not help but smile back.
“You are so smart, little one. Now go to bed, it’s time”, Manika shooed her daughter downstairs.
But Kalaya didn’t even think about going to bed. She snuck outside.
She played at the monkey bars for a while without getting caught. Rules don’t seem too harsh here, she thought. She decided to test out how much mischief she could make without getting caught. But not today. For now, she went to bed.
The next morning, Kalaya was very tired and ate silently at the table. Her nightly monkey bar adventure took it’s toll. Nieva on the other hand, had something to say.
“Creator, I wanted to ask something of you”, she began, looking around sheepishly as if to make sure no one was listening.
“Go on”, Manika encouraged her.
“I would like to ask permission to propose marriage to Tahia!”, Nieva blurted out. She was extremely anxious for the Creator’s approval. She loved Tahia so much and wanted to make their relationship even more special.
“I hope you have considered this thouroughly. The tribe would not take it well if you seperated again later. I want you to think about it for one more day, and I will tell you my decision tomorrow”, Manika decreed. Nieva was a bit disappointed. But it was not a ‘no’ either so she remained hopeful.
Manika went upstairs to think about Nieva’s request. She could only allow it if they were 100% sure. If they seperated again later, the whole tribe would suffer and she would most likely have to find a new Scholar and Gatherer.
Suddenly, Tahia came from the bathroom and approached her.
“Creator! If you allow, I would like to ask permission for something”, Tahia said.
Manika had a feeling where this was going and smiled. She nodded.
“I want to propose to Nieva! I love her and I’m sure it is the right decision. Will you give us your blessing, Creator?”
Manika eyed her for a moment. Tahia was glowing with excitement and it was obvious to Manika that her love for Nieva was genuine. She wasn’t sure about Nieva, but on the other hand, the tribe’s gatherer had never worn her emotions on her sleeves. Manika told Tahia the same as she had told Nieva.
“I am inclined to say yes but you will have to think this through! I’ll give you one more day to really consider all options and then tell you my decision tomorrow.”
Tahias face fell a bit, but she wanted to remain hopeful. Surely, the Creator would see that Nieva and her never wanted to seperate.
Manika returned to her chamber and thought about the funny conincidence that both women had asked for marriage rights without each other knowing. It must be love…