whatungarongaro te tangata toitū te whenua (a man disappears from sight, the land remains)
september 6, 2006
the air is brisk and bitter on sunday morning, clouds rolling over the hills as the people awaken with the livestock, in tune with them as they were with each other. as a child, mischa (then destiny) believed that everyone operated on the same timetable out of dedication and love. that they woke for worship with the spirit of god in their hearts, propelling them forward in their adventures. it isn't until she's an adult, as mischa that she realizes - the ramifications of missing out were the same as exiling oneself in ones community.
during worship she wriggles in her seat the discomfort of the small, children's wedding dress itching into her skin. she stared longingly at her sister, temperance, who had recently and finally married whom destiny believed to be the love of her sister's life. a stocky youth named steady pride who worked with the animals, and had hair as white as the snow that capped the mountain tops. destiny missed her dear temperance, but she knew that such a love was pertinent under the eyes of god. their mother had told all of her children that it was the highest honour in the community to begin a family, and as a little girl she had no choice but to believe it or to want the best for temperance. that day, destiny noticed her sister seemed unhappy, but it was probably because she had to sit with steady's family, and destiny wouldn't want to spend time with seven children under the age of five, either.
the ceremony passed with the usual flamboyance and flair of a 75 year-old man trying to keep his flock in line, and then it became the children's time to shine. they were ushered together by girls like temperance, the motherly sisters who felt like a warm blanket compared to the cool indifference of the boys in the path. destiny took the stage with the other girls in her age group, they were all dressed in wedding dresses; scratchy, itchy numbers that had been circulating throughout the community for the past twenty years since its conception. they sang a hymn, of the father's love begotten.
destiny mouths the words to "and the babe, the world's redeemer, first revealed his sacred face," losing the words quickly as her comprehension of them dwindles. the older girl standing behind her named watchful diligence, ironically, pinches destiny on the back of the neck as a warning, and she jumps, sweaty and embarrassed that she should appear to be a disobedient member of the flock. before long, the song ends and the haze that destiny occupies disappears as the old man takes the podium again.
he introduces the purpose for the deviation in normal worship for the day. it's father's day, a near holy day to celebrate some of the most fortuitous of men in the community. destiny has stopped listening, however. she's staring at her family, her father for whom they are gathered for and when her name is called alongside his she doesn't hear it. it isn't until watchful diligence pinches her on the back of the neck again that she propels forward, meeting her father at the other end of the stage.
the old man recites vows, talks about how this is the first step of a journey to which destiny is bound to her father, and one day it will be his job to ensure she is bound to someone else. at the end of the vows, destiny hugs her father, feeling as though she was on the exact path that she should be on, and one day she would be able to create her own family like temperance had begun to.
when she's older, mischa looks back on the clouded memory, grasps onto it and absorbs however little of it that she has left, to immortalise her own father. time progresses, the memory fades but the desperation to hold on to what little she knows does not.