- Akosua Biraa
Dimelda stood over the now tepid Aga cooker, staring blindly as the ladle rose effortlessly. It was forgotten, floating in a frothing concoction made in a special cauldron that she only used for the worst of circumstances. There she brooded, wax-like, so deep in thought, which paved furrows on her young forehead. Tufts of her wild, wiry and prematurely grey hair lay softly about her face, speaking silently of dangerous times much like what she was about to face.
So caught up in thought was Dimelda that she was oblivious to Midnight coiling himself fondly around her right leg, making random creases in her long robe and basically tangling himself in swathes of wool-mix lined with some kind of silk-cotton hybrid. Tonight, not even Midnight’s fussing could coax Dimelda out of her intense considerations. The situation was grave and this time, she was uncertain she would come out of it unscathed.
The triPhone on the kitchen counter flashed, then, beeped three times, acting as a reminder of its incongruous place within this enforced exile from civilization. The innocuous bleeping broke Dimelda’s reverie and had Midnight darting—surprisingly managing to untangle himself from under his mistress’ robe—in a bid to get to the safety behind the coal-pots in the pantry.
Dimelda shivered, turned and headed to the front door just as her doorbell chimed the familiar Oath to the Mystical Arts that a cheeky friend had insisted on installing, despite her many protests. The supposed humor of it was lost on Dimelda every time the silly thing went off, even more so now it was a harbinger of doom.
Purposefully and with grace, Dimelda walked barefoot across the warm clay-brick kitchen floor, her underskirts and robe flapping softly against her legs. Up three mahogany wooden steps she pattered and then stepped into the large anteroom that housed her potions library with its many remedies in Chwi, Sanscript, Gregorian, Norrish, Morabic and a dozen other languages, all recorded onto paper, tape, film and even stone. Barely hesitating, she continued walking across her rustic rugs that framed the sparse but functional furniture in her most utilized room. As she neared the bureau, her eyes caught the neatly laid out rows of kasapa root and akoko wild grass, which she had put out earlier whilst cataloguing their properties for transculturation. The ordered presence of the roots and grass, belied the traumatic associations they immediately raised in her.
When Dimelda was exiled by the two Soloist covenants, she was in the midst of the Forgotten Valley gathering this very same rare vegetation for a major commission she had been given by the Grand Task Force. Little did she know then that she would never be able to return to neither that location nor her homeland. Her exile was the result of excommunication from both Soloist covenants, neither of which cared for the fact that Dimelda kept deep and non-exclusive connections to them both, when they demanded of her to make distinctions and to choose one over the other.
It all started when the purity measures commenced and were used to deny many Truekind of their existing rights to multiple belonging, and with the serious cases, the likes of Dimelda were forced into the dubious category of half-breeds. Her kind were considered to be dangerous, and so were damned and driven out into an eternity of pointless hide-and-seek. Similarly, the members of the Grand Task Force were also hunted down one-by-one for extermination, simply for being a voice of reason.
Times were very much at their worst. Now, many of them remain underground, realizing that their death served no useful purpose. Instead, they have learnt to survive, so as to regroup and plan for a return to the unity in diversity, which they had fostered for many centuries before.
Dimelda’s hands clenched as these and other painful memories flooded in. Her acute sense of justice meant that she could not accept the abuse that many had experienced simply because they chose to believe in the oneness of origin of all Truekind. It was the reality of this simple belief that raised the ire of the two Soloist covenants, who sought to foment ideas of difference in order to control many by turning them into Others. For several years, each of the Soloists had worked clandestinely to establish segregation, including with enslavement. And once they consolidated their power, they no longer used furtive magic to connive and cajole; instead, terror and tyranny was their staple, and much had changed as a consequence. These purists arose with a clear and certain desire to create Colonies of Oneness, where little distinguished inhabitants from each other, neither in appearance, deed, devotion, nor aura. All dissension had been slowly carved out; first, by simple shunning, but now, literally, with the cutting out of tongues and the removal of heel tendons.
For Dimelda, such segregation was untenable because her very skin embodied diversity; being of Basante and Norrish parentage. Beyond this mixed heritage, she had been born in the far easternmost peninsula among a minority Clavic community in which her mother had dedicated her healing abilities for three decades. Her father, in contrast, endlessly travelled western Tuwafrica and the Dacific-rim in search of the Oracle of Dignity. Much of Dimelda’s life was spent in a perpetual state of movement between these two homes, one stationary and the other transmigratory; however, both requiring of her an indigenous-foreigner status – so much so that the world had become her hearth in the absence of singular rootedness. This ambiguous existence resonated with what Dimelda had come to learn about the unitary gene-atomic composition of Truekind, which had remained the same ever since the first few inquisitive descendants migrated out of Nipa Valley, then, dispersed and populated the terrestrial sphere.
Picking up a furious pace as she drew closer to the front door, Dimelda drew comfort from the rage she now felt.
But her eyes fell upon her collection of rescued artifacts that glorified the origin myth of Truekind; particularly, the large composition by Rasmunessen that showed the Wise Old Woman, mother of all Truekind, standing amidst a pixelated interpretation of Nipa Valley. The image was not drawn as it actually had been, since no one had ever seen it. Instead, Rasmunessen had depicted the fecundity it represented through rich color and detail. On close inspection of the pixels, the landscape revealed the faint outlines of the many faces of Truekind that constituted its detail. It was comprised of rows upon rows of different melanin-inflected individuals, variegated and diverse, diminishing into the depths of the painting’s perspective. This was Truekind’s ancestry: grainy and homogenous from a distance, yet simultaneously detailed, unique and heterogeneous when close up.
“This is my strength,” Dimelda thought, coming up to the large mahogany front door. She adjusted her robe, straightened up and reached out for the brass doorknob. At the same time, she muttered: “I am true. I am kind.”
“I am true.”
“I am kind.”
“I am Truekind.”
And with this prayerful incantation, she opened the door—letting in a cold sharp wind.