Almost 9 months have gone by without any updates to Honor Thy Father, during which I was constantly nagged and urged by my good friend and constant collaborator, The Bos to resume production. I did feel indebted to his loyalty and support, so I did my best to produce a segue in the midst of an almost chaotic turn in my personal life. Piece by piece I struggled with a slow, long, complicated piece which seemed to go nowhere until two weeks ago...
I was then surprised by a particularly clamorous request by The Bos to resume production, since I was nominated for the Fanon Awards. How is it that people still remember my work after nearly a year's absence is something I find both mind-boggling and inspiring. I felt that my debt to the readership had just experienced a quantum leap, so I felt more motivated than ever to continue writing. Now - no promises of a riveting, earth shattering piece - that will have to wait until the close of Book 2. But I do have work nearly completed on a two-parter called REDEMPTION.
To all fans out there, here is an excerpt, called "Devotion:"
“Woe is me.”
Aye, came the echo from the audience…
“You will not find many people who can tell that that they’ve seen their Father or Mother die twice, leaving them twice an orphan. You see, The Great War took my parents from me at an early age. They were both killed during a Fire Nation raid to our village. After that, my brother, my sister and I were left to fend off for ourselves: wandering, foraging, begging, and even stealing to survive. I still remember clearly how, after having thrown in our luck with the Eastern Gypsies for the best part of two years, we were abandoned at the Gates of Ba Sing Se with nothing more than half a bag of rice, three silver pieces and a hastily written note: ‘Sorry, not enough to go around - must trim dead weight.’
I remember taking up two jobs to support my younger kin. My brother was of working age, but I would never forgive myself for not allowing him to complete one of our Father’s greatest wishes, which was to see him study and get a career as far removed from the military as possible. I was a cleaning girl during the day and a laundry girl during the evenings, serving two different households in the middle ring. As much as I begged for board on their comfortable, spacious homes, I was denied, receiving only meager pay with which to buy food and pay rent in the Lower Ring.
Two years passed – then the War was over. My brother was finally safe from the danger of early recruitment, but we were not completely out of harm’s way. I remember the hoodlums constantly threatening to meddle with my younger brother and sister. The prospect alone would drive me to tears at night. I was forced to offer my body to the low lives in order for them to spare my family. My brother and sister found out. They never forgave me. I was able to secure them a good foster home before removing myself from their lives. The lady I did laundry for found it in her heart to make room for them in her home. We both agreed, though, that it was best for me to spare them my shame, so I left them there and never saw them again.
And so there I was: tainted, broken, in complete and utter despair. I felt completely unworthy of love or forgiveness, the weight of loneliness and reproach crushing my heart and obliterating my spirit. It was then that I heard about the news of a call for volunteers to become the new Air Nomads. Even in my bleak mood, I felt that 18 was too young an age for my life to be over, so I opted for a fresh start, as many of us did.
And it was here that I met my second parents, FuJin and MuJin. They saw a beauty in me that I could no longer see in myself. You see, they made it a point to do their best to see inside of me, as opposed to seeing only the outside. They had a special wisdom, which helped them see past the insults, the attitude and the bitterness that I constantly spewed at them. They knew my toughness was only skin deep, and that beneath the surface, there was nothing but a hurt, angry, lonely child. Day after day, they mended my broken soul and nurtured and guided my spirit until it was strong again. Their love and their acceptance vested me with the power to forgive myself and start anew. And they did it selflessly, with so many of us! They sowed into the earth of our misfortune and pain, and to reap what?”
She paused briefly, and gave off a slight, playful smile…
“Alas! Here I would dare say lays the beauty of being a wise sower: of being one who knows where the good earth lies and casts his seed accordingly, for they were taken without lamentation, suffering, or pain. Once their time upon this Earth was due, the Spirits simply collected them and placed them yonder to where their reward awaited.”
“They leave us, but not until having set an example for raising the banner of truth and conviction even in the face of certain death. For we all know that they served with dignity, integrity and love even when they were beset and surrounded by chaos, confusion, hatred, and discord. And it was so, even in their later years, that after having fought evil in many battlefields - in their minds, in their home, in their ministry – that they were forced to face it with their bare hands. When evil showed its face at our doorstep, they did not run away, they did not hide, nor did they look for a corner in which to crouch and whimper. They grit their teeth and balled their fists and faced it head-on, like the headstrong earthbenders they once were – ‘You shall not pass!’”
A fierce determination had taken over the young Nun’s words. Emboldened by the memories of her brave old mentors, she raised her voice, allowing the fire that set her heart ablaze reach the ears of her audience:
“In their old age, where one would think their strength would fail or their heart would cower, they stood by their word and called evil to its face and cast it out –‘You shall not pass!’”
Aang and Tengu sprung from their seats, and began clapping, tears strolling down their faces.
“You shall not pass!” Kuen Yin cried into the mountains, bellowing feverishly, as more of the Nomads stood up and joined the Avatar and the Chief Counselor.
“We are old, we are gray, we are well past our prime, but we will not stand down! We refuse to conveniently remove ourselves from the way! YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”
After a brief moment of exaltation, Kuen Yin was able to resume her eulogy, once against in the midst of a peaceable, reverent silence.
“And today, we celebrate their strength and their courage, their love and their wisdom, and ultimately, their legacy. Bless you, FuJin and MuJin. May your memory live forever.”
Tseng and Huang then blew upon the bundled bodies of their parents. Their corpses, wrapped in coarse linen, like human-sized cocoons, flew high among the mountains, awaiting their final metamorphosis while moving ever closer to their eternal home…