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An Egyptian and A Nubian
Our country was large and we had many people in it. As the bells rang I knew I wasn't in the streets of Kerma anymore. No I was in the palace of Kerma. Still every part of me was afraid of threats and bugs. Every part of me was scared of being robbed by night bandits. I had slept on hard concrete floor. When the fire went out at night our hut was cold and I was always so lonely. My mother was always gone off somewhere.
Not now though.
The bells rang. Heb kneeled down to the ground. I remained sitting by the water. I had put some linen over my skin. I didn't want to be naked in front of the king. Or did I? Maybe if I curled my lips a little bit more he'd noticed me. Maybe if I smiled a little brighter. Would you notice then? My king...
My words barely even left my mouth before I saw the lines and lines of servants begin to pile in. He needed plentiful servants now. He was no longer a prince but now he was a King. I counted 20 line the rooms. Most of them were women and some young boys and girls.
On the other side of the room entered the body guards. My heart raced when they entered. They were all military men no doubt and all handpicked to serve the king.
To the left were two advisors that walked in. They were older. They must have served Taharqa's father. I wasn't quite sure though because I had never really seen the men. It was very possible that I had not seen them as I had never really seen the king face to face. It was not unheard of for common people...even servants in the palace never to have seen the king. The old king was a military king who was set on conquests. Kerma was a budding metropolis and a capital. There was no reason for him to be there.
"Here are your new chambers your highness..."
The voice came from a random priestess. She escorted Taharqa into the room. Taharqa looked different then he did before. He carried with him all the evidence that his coronation as complete. He had the double crown on his head which meant he ruled upper and lower Egypt. He had the staff of the serpent which represented his position over the people of Nubia as well.
I should have saw a king there as I looked at him. The way he looked back, I knew I should have saw a king. I should have trembled in fear, but I only saw traces of a boy that I once knew dressed as a king. He should have held his shoulders up higher. He should have looked out into nothingness. He should have not have had a fear in the world. He wasn't a man any longer. He was a God. These people would all die for him if he wished it. If he wished it they'd kill themselves now. Life meant nothing to these people. He neck glimmered with a huge golden necklace that almost blinded me. He had a false beard... Instead of the man he should have been however...he was just...afraid.
He didn't notice me at first.
"And what now?" Taharqa said.
His voice sounded strong but I could tell he was tired. He walked into the room looking around at the huge walls. I hid underneath the branches of an inside tree beside the bath. He still hadn't noticed me.
"You have been facilitated with the gifts of Ra," a man told him.
I assumed the man was an advisor but I had no way to know. He had so many advisors. He would have more than he knew what to do with.
He didn't seem to entertain the man. He removed the fake beard and the scepters handing it out to a willing assistant. He removed the heavy gold trinket from around his neck. Then he removed his gold bracelets. He removed his gold rings and anklets. He removed the golden belt and girdles. He removed everything until all he had was his white linen skirt and sandals and for the first time since I was a child I felt something thump in my soul.
"And I suppose we leave then?" He asked.
"What if I don't want to?" he asked them.
The look on his face was something that seemed to look little worried. His eyes looked heavy. His face was rippled with some sort of sense of duty. I didn't know if he was afraid or just worried. Was there even a difference? I held my breath trying my best to conceal. Heb didn't announce me either. Everyone seemed so afraid to speak to Taharqa unless addressed officially.
"You can do little to rule your empire from Kerma. Your father unified Egypt and Nubia. He unified the north and the south, but the powers are in the North."
`If the powers were in the North, then why would they be so easily defeated?"
advisor started up, "There was nothing easy about your father's exploits.
We must go to Thebes.
That is where the power is.
That is where you must begin to protect your
There was his face again. He had that same burdened face. It was the same face that said a weight had been placed on his shoulders that he wasn't sure if he could bare or not. It was fear. I recognized it now. I had seen it in my reflection several times. If I could recognize it then I was sure that his advisors could recognize it. I wondered if that was why they were pushing him so hard to go up North. For the most part, Kerma was peaceful. It was surrounded by the desert and that desert had protected it for many years against invaders. Thebes however was the key of Egypt. Once had to enter Thebes if they wanted to control it.
"And if I refuse?" Taharqa asked.
The advisors looked at one another. None really said anything for a long while. I wondered if they were surprised by Taharqa's boldness all of a sudden. It would make sense. He was the new king. They were vultures. I could see it in their eyes. Now all of a sudden they were scared to speak.
I had said it. I had said it before my mind really caught up to my body. My mouth just splattered out the words.
I had never seen so many men move so quickly as they assembled around Taharqa. They formed a perfect bubble around him. If I were an assassin I wouldn't have gotten anywhere close to him. They had circulated him so quickly that I couldn't even see him any longer. It was almost as though they had swallowed him hole in their huge bodies and long shields.
"Your majesty," Heb convened, "Allow me to remove this pest from your sight."
He spoke so low of me. Just as I thought I was going to answer back to me, Heb lunged at me! I made a move to get away but I was too slow. I struggled against him but I was too weak. He grabbed me up by my neck and flung me to the ground.
I couldn't help but to smirk.
My smirk slowly became a slow steady roll of laughter.
"What's so funny?"
The voice was Taharqa. I watched as he moved past the guards toward me. I hadn't seen him up close like this in so long. His skin was rich copper. He had a long full face and strong focused eyes. His chin seemed leveled and when he lowered his face to me I wondered how he managed to be so handsome. He could make someone fall in love.
Of course I couldn't fall in love though. That was my mother's firsit rule...
"I almost got my head chopped off earlier for not knowing when to get off my feet and look...it was inevitable here I am now...on the ground for you."
He didn't return my smile. Heb started towards me again but for some reason didn't grab me. Maybe it was because of how close Taharqa had managed to get to me. He was standing there and looking down on me.
"I saved you because you reminded me someone," he stated.
He looked at me. His hand rushed past my face and lifted it. His eyes looked into my eyes but not for long. In just a second his glance wandered away from me.
"You stopped looking at me..."
He had turned his back on me and dropped his hands from me. It was almost as though he had come to some type of conclusion! Without me knowing of course.
do with him what you like. I may have
had him confused with someone else."
He ignored me. He kept walking. I watched as Heb signaled the guards to come get me. Who knew what they would do with me? Whether they took me outside and hung me or just let me go wouldn't matter. I would have failed and failure wasn't an option with a mother like mine. I couldn't stand to look at her face and see her disappointment.
They grabbed me and started to drag me through the marble. Each inch that I moved seemed to be bringing me closer and closer to some unexpected fate. The scorn I felt was undeniable. I began to hate myself. I began to hate the fact that he wouldn't recognize me. Had I changed so much from back then? Had I become so different. My mother had tried so desperately to keep me the same but you can't really help it can you?
I had given up and all of a sudden I was seeing stars again...
"What did you just say?" the king asked.
The guards stopped. Everything stopped just in time. The memories came flashing back to me. We were kids and he had taken me into the desert. He was taking me to a small shrine of Ra that was just outside the city. I didn't know if it still existed. Together we watched a meteor shower together.
"To this day I still search the ground. I still look for those meteorites that fell that night."
Heb turned to the king, "What does this mean?"
"Leave us...all of you."
"The king cannot be left alone," one of the advisors stated, "Under any circumstances."
"All of you..."
I waited outside on the patio for him to prepare himself. It was night time. It was far into the night. All of Kerma has fallen asleep.
"You can see so much of Kerma from here," his voice slightly startled me as Taharqa joined me no the balcony, "Closest to us are the palace grounds. Beyond the palace grounds are other palaces belonging to the elite in society. The further out you go the less lavish you get. Far out there are the farmlands...but all of it is Kerma. Even the farmer struggling day to day to fertilize his land is Kerma. And even now I am his protector."
He said it in such a proud way. I didn't know if he was speaking to me. For years I had wondered what the first thing he would say to me when we were alone would be. All these years and the first thing he said to me was not even about me. I didn't know how to feel about it.
"Kerma is beautiful."
There was an awkward silence.
At least it was awkward for me. He seemed to be staring out into his city. He was astonished by it. He was astonished by the fire brick houses, the religious buildings, the marketplace and the tall acacia trees. It didn't impress me at all. He saw it from the beautiful of a palace walls. I had lived in those streets. They were a land of struggle...
"Are you going to have them kill me?" I asked.
"I don't know..." he replied honestly, "To save face many of my advisors have demanded it. Many of my spectators are waiting to see that I have the strength to demand respect. I should lose face..."
they'd lose respect to. I'd be seen as a
weak king. There are so many who are
after my throne. You saw what happened
to my father. He was slaughtered. They
are already starting to wonder if I had anything to do with it."
"Yes people would get so suspicious. They'd question you."
"Aren't you going to persuade me to keep you alive?"
I shrugged my shoulders, "I could try. I could beg and plead. What would the word of a commoner mean to the man-god Emer?"
He slightly turned to me. For a moment our eyes met but just for a moment. Both of us looked back towards the city. From the city you could see the Delgo Reach of the Nile. There were quarries by the rocks that led to most of mining of the Nile.
"You're right. Still, I don't understand you. I wish I did. You see all this would make so much more sense if I understood you, yes...just even a little bit. Just let me in your mind ok? Just let me see as you see. What would condemn you not to bow at the coronation of the King?"
There was silence again.
"I guess I was shocked that I'd see you again."
are him...aren't you?" he asked shaking his head and crossing his arms, "My
childhood friend. Sometimes I thought
you were like a dream or an imagination that I scurried up to escape my life."
"Why would you want to do that?"
"Escape your life?"
He backed away and sat on the bench. He didn't sit like a king. He was strong and delicate. He flopped himself lazily on the bench. His posture was all wrong. I knew he had been trained on the proper way that a reincarnation of Ra should sit on a bench, but he didn't use it. He was a sloppy thing. He was such a beautiful mess.
couldn't imagine," he stated and then turned his eyes up to me, "You look so
different. You got so much taller.
We were kids back then weren't we? Weren't we
so happy back then?"
He was reminiscing. I could see it in his eyes. I thought about the days that we spent together as well. They were prime examples of childhood. We played together as friends. We were best friends. Whether we had known each other a few days or an entire lifetime didn't make a difference. We trusted each other in ways that only kids could trust one another.
I agreed, "No one could steal our smiles."
He crossed his arms, "Now where is my smile now? The Nubians all look to me for guidance while in every corner my livelihood is being threatened. I don't know much. I barely speak my native language. Nyla speaks 12 languages. The eunuchs all sponsored her as their leader. Then there is my brother. I have to leave Kerma but I can't leave Kerma because one of the two may set a coo. Where's my smile in all of this?"
His political issues flew right over my head. I had no idea what he meant by any of them. Why would he be afraid of his own brother or sister? Why would it matter.
I flashed him a mouth full of teeth, "You must have given me your smile to borrow. I'd be happy to give it back to you if you let me."
He didn't find it even slightly amusing as I thought he would. His face was so faded with worry. So this was what was on his mind. The king was just overwhelmed.
crossed my arms, "We aren't children anymore I guess."
"No we aren't," he shook his arms, "Don't expect me to spare you because of who we were once. We aren't those people anymore. I don't even know who you are any longer."
"I am not begging for my life."
"You speak so boldly, aren't you afraid of death? I have the power to push you from that ledge right now and you cannot refuse me that because I am Taharqa...I AM THE RA!"
The way he said it was so forceful. He was trying to distance himself to me. He was trying to let me know how powerful he had become. He was trying to remind me to keep my distance and I knew it. There was no turning back now though. There was no saving face. To bow down and beg for my life would be what he wanted. Whether he granted it or let me go would only mean that I was no longer a threat to him.
I didn't know why my mother sent me here but I was sure she didn't send me to beg.
No. Not Beg.
I was here to conquer.
"If that was your wish sir...all you had to do was think it and it would be done...oh great Taharqa..."
I bowed and began to back up. At first he didn't notice me. I kicked off my slippers. The ledge was high above the city. We were many stories high. We could barely see a person from below at this height. Nothing would survive if thrown from a height so high.
Maybe the Nubians had built their palace to rival the Egyptians. Maybe they wanted to scrape the sky. Or maybe they built their palace just for me. They built these walls so high just for this occasion.
Yes...that had to be it.
I climbed up on the ledge. My back was to the city. My eyes were set on Taharqa. I spread out my hands and reached to him. Only he could save me now.
"Oh my god...oh my god!"
Just at that moment I leaned back and closed my eyes.
I felt myself falling.
I hit the floor with a thud and turned to my side only to see Taharqa next to me. He had grabbed me from the ledge and we had fallen onto the ground of the patio together. He was by my side. Now look Taharqa head was next to mine. He was so close I could reach out and kiss him if I wanted to. I could smell him now.
Now he wasn't Taharqa...the god King. He was Taharqa the man...
I smiled, "My hero...again."
"I can see it now. You aren't afraid to die. You've lost your senses," he explained shaking his head, "I'm afraid you must leave. The palace is no place for a mad man."
"The floor is no place for a king...but here we are..."
At that moment he did something that I didn't expect him to do. He smiled. It was a wide smile but it was still a smile. He was so damn handsome when he smiled. It was like he was able to somehow capture the entire meaning of a smile in his curved full lip. I'd almost died twice in one night and I'd do it again just to earn the same reaction.
"Your name...it was Menice wasn't it. You are the son of a priestess..."
A priestess...not exactly...if only he knew who my mother really was...
It was the only honest answer now. I was the son of a woman who PORTRAYED herself to be a priestess. I wondered if it would have mattered. I was sure it would have.
If he knew who I was the son of, he would have to kill me now. I'm sure of it...
"You are Nubian and I am Egyptian," he stated crossing his arms, "Few know this except the royal family. My father adopted an Egyptian son from the past Egyptian Dynasty. I was that son. I was raised as a Nubian but still...I am Egyptian. I can reunite the lands. The Egyptians don't take well from getting bossed around by Nubians. Maybe they will listen to me. Look at this though. Here we are on the border of the two lands...meeting up once again like we did years ago. An Egyptian and a Nubian. How strange it is isn't it?
very strange," I stated, "That must be why the Nubians don't want you to have
the throne isn't it. You aren't a blood
relative of the past king."
"No I'm not. I am his adopted son."
"How interesting...I never knew that..."
sat up on the marble. I stretched my
legs out and looked up at the sky, "You promised me you would find those meteorites
that fell in that meteor shower."
He sat up, "I will...and I'll give you half of whatever I find."
I was surprised by it. I was halfway surprised that if he was keeping his promise than that meant I wouldn't be getting killed for disrespecting his coronation. Another meant that he was going to see me again. It was promising even though it didn't mean much.
He sat up too mimicking me. He stretched his legs out the same way that I did.
"You don't have to keep your promise. We've changed. Look at us. You said it yourself. You have transformed into a grown man and I remain a little boy."
Purposely. My mother fucked with my appearance keeping me as this androgynous child like creature. I couldn't get past it.
"We aren't so different. I am a king and you aren't. Yet look at us. We aren't so different. Our skin is made of the same thing. Mine is lighter and yours is darker. What's so different? I'm going to travel into Egypt soon... I'm going to show them these things."
"Not everyone is so open minded."
I could imagine the Egyptians were already planning to regain control of their country. The thought of having Nubians ruling Egypt threatened their very existence. Racial tensions were climbing so high at this time. Everything was a stand still. Egypt was threatened.
"It all starts here," he stated his eyes full of stars.
There were hard knocks on the door.
"They probably think I've kidnapped you. I should leave..."
He laughed and took a few steps close, "Wait..."
"Must you go?"
"I believe so... unless you wish otherwise."
"No you may be right. It's best that you go. I suppose...you think? Yes, it's probably the best thing. But wait. Will you come back? Tomorrow? I'll have an escort waiting all day at the gate to guide you into the palace safely."
By the time I had gotten home I was muddied from rain. I hadn't missed the long two hour walk to the outskirts of the city where our hut was. The rats were so active at night around the hut. They angrily bickered among themselves for who would take the nights food. It still amazed me how that all worked out. The vermin of Kerma was the worst.
The fire had almost gone out. The dust had been piling up. It only meant Mother hadn't cleaned. She barely did. I started to clean as soon as I walked in the house. There wasn't much to clean with. Everything was dirty including the dishrags.
"You cough in this house and you can see it..."
She wasn't asleep bout she sounded very tired from the other side of the room. My mother moved slowly. Underneath all the grime and intent, she was a very beautiful woman. She was almost too beautiful.
"Maybe if you clean up it wouldn't be so bad."
that what slaves are for?"
"Do we have any slaves? Do you see slaves?"
"There were slaves there in that palace wasn't there? There were so many we would never have to lift a finger again. No. You would be set for life, my pretty son."
your handsome son. Pretty is for the girls mother...I told you that."
She always wanted a daughter. She would never get it through her head that I wasn't that and could never be. I had no desire to be less than a man. Still she tried...and still she pushed and pushed.
"You will lead the Emeric Dynasty once day...and it won't matter what you have between your legs...because you'll be doing it alone."
She said the strangest things but she by the way she gave me a look and smiled I knew she meant it. She continued to whistle and disappeared into the darkness running away from the house. She wouldn't be back anytime soon. I knew my mother. She was disappearing with her secrets.
No...my mother was no one's priestess.
I only had a few hints of my mother's past life. She kept it very secretive.
Again it wasn't who my mother was, but it was who my mother believed that I was that scared me most of all.