The day of her birthday came sooner than Manika would have liked. Weren’t you supposed to get wiser and more confident with age? She felt neither. The main source of her worries was her daughter. In the morning, Kalaya had been so tired that she had almost fallen face first into her breakfast.
Manika could tell that she had snuck out at night to play again. She sighed. It was no use in lecturing her daughter, she just wouldn’t listen. Manika had settled for letting her learn her own lesson. She would realise the effects of sleep deprivation soon enough. When she walked into the kitchen she found Baato already preparing the cake.
„That does look delicious, Baato“, she smiled at him. She really liked Baato. He had been around when her mother had founded the tribe and really had a lot of skills and experience. Even in cooking by now. She was really glad that she didn’t choose him for breeding… thinking of that tugged at her heartstrings again. Taam had been on her mind a lot lately. And seeing Baato prepare cake like he had once done did not help. She hadn’t seen Taam’s ghost in what felt like ages. Was he gone? Baato brought her back from her thoughts.
„Thank you, Creator, I hope you will like it“, he said light-heartedly and brought the cake to the table.
Soon everyone had gathered in their party clothes to celebrate, even Kalaya who still looked like she needed a bed desperately.
„You can make a wish, Creator“, Nieva said happily. Manika frowned. A wish? As if it would be of any use. Nevertheless she blew out the candles and wished that her daughter would finally find the Creator’s path and inner peace. She didn’t feel any different after celebrating her birthday and she doubted that things would change soon.
Much to her surprise, as everyone was busy eating cake, Kalaya came up to her.
„Mother, I have a question“, the little girl began. Manika nodded to encourage her to go on.
„Why did you fall in love?“
Manika tilted her head. Where did that come from? She never had the feeling that Kalaya cared much for her love story.
„Well, I didn’t choose to fall in love you know. It just happens. You can’t control something like love“, she tried to explain. Kalaya shook her head.
„But why did you love that slave?“, she demanded. Manika felt anger building up inside of her again.
„That slave has a name and happens to be your father. I expect some more respect, young lady“, she said harshly, but then her tone turned soft as she thought about the question, „He was very sweet you know. Very considerate, funny and handsome. I could take to him about everything.“
Manika’s eyes shone when she remembered those happy days she had spent with Taam. Kalaya rolled her eyes and seemed to lose interest.
„Pfft, boring. If it’s just that…can I go play?“
Manika squinted at her.
„You look like you should rather sleep. But fine, go play, you will see what good that brings soon enough.“
Manika refused to get dragged down by her daughter’s rebellious ways again and again. Not today.
As Kalaya ran outside to play at the monkey bars she felt the exhaustion. Her mother might have been right that she should have slept, but she didn’t care to admit it. She was the heiress, she was strong! But her energy just wasn’t enough to swing around as usual so she just sat on top of the bars and looked at the landscape. It was so boring that she had no other children to play with. Why didn’t Tahia and Nieva get a baby? Then things might be more fun around here.
She found herself thinking about the conversation with her mother. Love still sounded very boring to her, but her mother had looked so happy while talking about that slave, her father, she corrected herself in thought. Might as well get used to it. She still didn’t understand. One moment her mother looked so happy and the next she would cry about him. That didn’t seem very desirable to her.
Anyways, she realised that she really did need sleep. Next time she might restrict herself to playing in the day. Carefully, she slid off the monkey bars and made sure no one witnessed her shame as she snuck into her room. If no one knew, then no one could think her weak, she thought as she drifted off to sleep.