There was a boy, he was dark skinned and lived in a small village. There was a lake nearby, but they were in a hot dry area where the sun beat down and little would grow from the earth. He wore a cloth around his groin.
Mama was serving up some rice meal, a kind of rice soup that was normal for breakfast. His large family all seated around a small table eat with a small bowl. The rice soup congeals into a liquid but still has the properties of being rice, so it is a bit slimy, but it feels nourishing to feel the soup go down.
He spoons a bite into his mouth slowly, savouring. Willing it to fill his stomach. Eating is a meditation. By eating slowly and savouring it, you feel fuller. You learn this. And we eat slow. We savour. We dwell on it in spiritual terms. There is a thing that is said where a spirit dwells in the rice and when we eat we are then filled with the spirit. I imagine as it hits my stomach I am being filled with the spirit. I look also at the family members. For us eating is more than living. The people we have all suffered but in our suffering we are strong. I see the faces of many people in my family. My father smiles.
My mother and my grandparents though both have their heads down cast.
They are focusing. It is rude to bother someone who is thinking. I look up at my father and I smile at him and he smiles back, a large engaging smile, and I feel warm.
After breakfast I go outside. I have a stick and I move it along the ground and making a wave pattern, and I feel a sense of awe at having changed the ground. Having the power to control it, with my stick and it is receptive so I move with the stick and the stick with me.
Daddy comes out of the hut and sits staring at the sun. I am happy he is here and I dance in excitement, knowing he is seeing me.
Later I help make dinner with ma. She is stern and quiet. And I am curious and I want to speak but I know not to. She says here wash this, and hands me a bowl. Her arm thrusts out in a harsh way, her eyes are edgy and sharp like an eagles and I reach for the bowl as fast as I can.
I am washing. We have a certain amount of water we keep in the house and I take the bowl and fill it halfway with the water, then I swirl the food off with my fingers. I like the feel of the food on my fingers and I gently push it off with my fingers. The water cools my hot hands. I am praying to the gods a prayer of thanks for this beautiful feeling.
Mother speaks and my happy thoughts go away, being replaced with something else. “Son, you have had it good, but times have been hard, we have food enough to get by now but we won’t make it through winter at this rate unless we get some more money. You will have to work at the sewing factory for the family.”
“Oh ok yes.” My voice is weak. I am afraid. My sister and other family go there, and when we do ever see again them, they come back tired lacking in the life force. Like the walking zombie, they move but their eyes are dead. No more playing with the stick in the dirt, or seeing papa smile at the table.
I will move into the factory. At the end of this week. I stand looking over the hill. I see dirt and all the land that won’t grow plants and food. And I want things to be better. Better for me, and for sister, and for family not to be hungry.
On the last day my dad doesn’t smile. He is looking dowl at his bowl. He is now not to be disturbed. So I look at my rice too. Everyone is quiet. No one talks even a little bit.