Kanan sighed. He wasn’t even sure why he hadn’t said anything. He was sure that Kahio was his son – a dark skinned, black haired young slave coming from Tribe Arayeo, it had to be him. He saw it in his eyes. He was excited and felt proud of his son, and happy to finally meet him. How many slaves could say that for themselves? But he was also sure that Kahio had no idea who he was. He wondered if they had ever told him about his father. Probably not. Who cared for breeding slaves anyway?
Even though he longed to tell Kahio that he was his father, something was holding him back. Would Kahio believe him? Would he like him? So far he didn’t feel like it. But there was something else… the masters would make sure that they would never work together and separate them as far as they could. And as much Kanan wanted Kahio to acknowledge him as his father, he didn’t want to lose him again so soon. It would hurt to see Kahio every day not being able to tell him anything, but Kanan was sure he could manage. Maybe he could even set up that they were chosen for the same tribe together? It was wishful thinking, Kanan knew. Slaves were rarely taken in pairs. But there is hope, he thought as he watched Kahio disappear into the main house.
Kahio’s behaviour did not change over time. Kanan would always try to work near him or talk to him, but the young slave always suddenly found something else to do. Kanan couldn’t be mad, of course it had to look strange to Kahio that he followed him around. But he couldn’t help but wanting to be near his son. Today, Kanan felt especially downcast as Kahio had downright walked away from him as he had taken to gardening next to him although he was clearly not finished.
Suddenly, there was a loud crash following by extensive swearing coming from behind him. Kanan jumped up and ran over to see what happened. He found Kahio still cursing, standing in front of the remains of what once had been a big vase. There were broken fragments of it lying around the earthen floor and a wooden table that the vase had stood on. A few boxes were strewn around, too.
„What did you do?“, Kanan knitted his eyebrows and frowned at his son. This did not fit well into his plan of having them going to a new tribe together. Kahio would be punished. Severely. And he obviously knew it, because he had tears of rage in his eyes and his voice was shaking.
„I was carrying the boxes and lost balance! They are going to kill me“, he called out and Kanan sensed a hint of fright in his voice.
„They won’t“, he said in a serious tone.
„How would you know?!“, Kahio growled angrily at him. He didn’t want the other slaves company right now, he just wanted to face his punishment alone.
„Believe me, they won’t“, Kanan said sternly just as one of the masters came hurrying around the corner.
„What happened? Explain yourself, slave!“, he demanded, the look of anger obvious on his face. Kahio opened his mouth, but before he could say anything, Kanan cut in.
„I apologize, master, I wasn’t paying attention and ran into this young slave.“
Kahio turned to object, but Kanan didn’t let him speak.
„The boxes he was carrying fell down and broke the vase“, he told the master. There wasn’t a hint of anger or fright in his voice.
Kahio just stared at him blankly unable to speak. The master’s voice and face were full of anger which now unleashed at Kanan.
„I will not have it! This vase was very valuable. You will face punishment tonight!“, he pressed through his lips and stormed off. Kanan was looking after him and frowned while Kahio was still staring at him, unable to speak. Finally, Kanan turned towards him.
„Don’t mention it. I can bear more than you might think. I’m used to it. You’re still young and your reputation doesn’t need to be tainted by such things. It doesn’t matter to me anymore.“
Kahio opened his mouth and closed it again. Maybe he had misjudged the older man after all. Finally, he smiled.
„Thank you“, he said. A slight smile crept to Kanan’s lips. Even if he couldn’t tell him that he was his father, there was hope that they might become friends. And for Kanan, that was more than he could have hoped for.