The Tree of Wisdom

The Tree of Wisdom

A Chapter by YouoweYoupay

But the gods were also fair and they indeed rewarded patient mortals.

2.The Tree of Wisdom

In one corner of our parlour, hung with chains above the fireplace, the cooking pot bubbled and taunted us with the delicious aroma. It had been written in my destiny that I should have cabbage and carrot soup yesterday. But the gods were also fair and they indeed rewarded patient mortals, for tonight, it was zucchini and potato stew with shredded chicken. Smooth and rich, it warms the belly and puts you to sleep, accompanied by buttered thyme bread that crackles a little as you break it, and melts in your mouth.
I slurped from the large wooden spoon, pretending to check for the quality of flavor, I also nodded to make my act more believable.

"Beya," I jolted at hearing my name being called. I slowly turned to Lumio with a sheepish smile. He lowered the bucket he had just refilled with more firewood and raised a warning finger at me, "Don't glug the entire cauldron by yourself. Wait for everyone." After staring at me quietly, he spoke again, "What more did you add to the stew?" 

"Minced onions." I licked my fingers, "I was just about to throw them in." 

Lumio nodded with strong agreement as he rolled down his sleeves, "And don't forget: a grain of cayenne powder." he made a sign with his fingers, to indicate smallness, but we all knew Lumio wanted more than a grain of zest and we did not indulge in his desires, or else we would end up breathing dragon fire from our mouths after dinner. But we did remind him that he was always free to add more demonic fury in his own bowl. 

"Right you are, Lumio." Our father chorused from afar, "You read my mind." He was pleased by Lumio's return to this house, and as we all were, he was also calmed by the sound of the murmuring and simmering of the cooking pot, but he wasn't smiling. His eyes behind the spectacles were absorbed in his schooling books and his ears were attuned with our chatter.

Mother was scrubbing her dough-pasted hands in a basin of warm water, "Have you no fear of the gods?" she murmured solemnly, "I cannot bear the burn of more spice."

"The night before, we abided by your rules!" I exclaimed holding the wooden spoon defensively in her direction, "Today the tables turn!"

My father coughed a chuckle and my mother shook her head and withdrew from battle. Lumio roamed around the bubbling pot with initial self-discipline only to break the rule he warned me about earlier. He ladled the sputtering stew and took a sip with his eyes closed as if in a dream. He scattered a tad of salt and complained that the texture was too thick, proceeding to fill a jug with water and pour it into the pot. I was sent out on the quest of checking the herbed bread in the baking oven in our frontyard. Having been allowed to participate in a family cooking night, I still raced and scooped and chopped with the giddiness of a fresh adventurer, grateful that I was not anymore limited to 'peeling the boring potatoes' or 'bringing more firewood, like a good lad.' Two years ago, I was forbidden from even standing too close to the popping firewood, and now that I have grown, I took part in the election of the next twig of herbs or the most appetizing filling for pastry night. 

When Lumio handed my mother a bowl of hot stew with a loaf of bread, she smiled at him tenderly and prayed, "May our Lord Tambeir bless you with the wife you deserve and the children who will make you proud." 

Two springs ago, she prayed for very different things. I remember how she buried her eyes in her apron and wept in the night lamenting over and over again: "My Lumio, my Lumio." Now she has moved to the stage all Memahs have reached; coaxing their sons who have come of age to go on a treasure hunt for an incomparable bride. (although I would never make the lethal mistake of calling her a memah).

 Lumio had once failed my parents more devastatingly than I ever had. Although each one of us carried the duty of representing our birth names, Lumio had innovatively transformed the meaning of his name from 'guiding light' to 'scandlemonger' or sometimes 'drunkard' and other times, according the village gossip that drifted in the air, Lumio also meant 'squandrer'. He not only wasted time and vigor, but he also lavished hardly-earned copper coins; twenty ochons at the wrong place, forty ochons at the wrong hour. Eventually, my older brother opened his eyes to my mother's breaking heart and my father's burning blood and he disappeared in the woods.

When he'd returned a month after, Lumio's face had become thinner and his hands were calloused with flesh-pink scars. He had embraced my parents with gratitude I had never seen before. My mother thought he had been remorseful and deprived of food, but that was not the case. Lumio told us the story of his fated encounter with the traveling obi under the large wisdom tree. The obi sat him down and whispered to him the secrets of life, love and light. My brother listened to him for days. When it was time for the traveling obi to depart and continue his journey in the vast world, he swept his wrinkled thumb over Lumio's forehead, between his eyes and kissed him there. My brother remained seated under the shade of the tree. Its leaves rustled gently as he wept for a period of time he had lost track of. 

Whenever I joked about this extraordinary meeting, Lumio would look around, make sure my parents were not paying attention, then he would twist his face in a ridiculous expression. When I was a little younger, and my body was still small and light, my brother would drag me by my legs, turn me upside down like a bag of flour and I would scream in panic and joy all at once and he would walk around the house calling: "Monkey for sale. Get your monkey fresh and support local catchers."

Tonight as I soaked a chunk of bread in creamy broth, I repeated the same question and I instantly regretted it: "That day, did you really meet with the wise obi under the tree?" 

Lumio swallowed a mouthful of velvety stew. The bowl still near his mouth, he could not juggle an investigation and a dinner together. His face broke into a smile and he lowered his eyes in an attempt to hide it. 

"Or were you sprawled on the forest floor feverish after feeding on gods-know-what mushrooms--AHH!"

Like a fish on a hook, he had already caught me by my ankle again and I fought the pulling force that almost swept me off my chair. The entire wooden table trembled. Our mother dropped her spoon in the bowl of stew, mortified at our brawl. Our father was immersed in tearing the brusque bread with his teeth.

"Mother!" I gasped, torn between, uncontrolled laughter and grunts of endurance, "Make him stop!"

But before mother had the chance to insult our maturity, our father clanked his copper drinking jug and cleared his throat. We turned to him, frozen in our positions; my leg in Lumio's grip, raised in the air, and his face squashed between my fingers.

"Wife, dear. Beloved children," he turned to each one of us with a twinkle of bliss in his eyes despite the absence of the smile, "I am delighted to inform you that Jeyut's eldest son had passed the entry examination and is now eligible to enroll in any of Peham's finest universities. He will be-Wait, let me finish.."

The three of us beamed loudly over father's voice. He let us stir some noise and distribute glances of triumph before he continued, "With your ceaseless support and fondness, I have been chosen by the village counsel to be the first educator in Guloc to be granted an honorary grade and an emblem of appreciation."

"By the grace of Tambier!" my mother gazed at the ceiling, where the gods supposedly dwell.

"Father!" I shot up from my seat with a curious grin, "Does that mean, Harun will be moving to Peham? Can we visit him? Please, can we?"

The city of Peham, beyond the Guloc river, was where all your unimaginable heart desires became a reality, where once could live in fairytale manors, and where it was possible, if one so wished and if once could bear the brilliance, ascend in the light of day and shake hands with the gods, celestial monsters and guarding spirits of the heavens.

However, once my father opened his mouth to eagerly explain to me, an oddly urgent knock sounded against our door.

© 2020 YouoweYoupay

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About the middle of this chapter: "he also lavished hardly-earned copper coins" -- I think you mean "hard-earned" . . .

Another well-written chapter, even more impactful than the last. Your ability to bring scenes alive with fun & frolicking, full of original ideas for bantering back-and-forth, and this all makes the reading lively, as well as making us fall in love with your characters. I believe that readers are most dedicated to a book when they fall in love with the characters. You've injected so much irresistible personality into your characters, all done by SHOWING instead of telling, this is why people will fall in love with them (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 7 Months Ago

Now I'm hungry. Curses! I both love and hate when authors put lavish descriptions of food in their fiction. It makes me want to try a sip...
Anyways, this was a warm, heartfelt, awesome piece. It felt like being home. Nicely done!

Posted 7 Months Ago

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Added on December 5, 2020
Last Updated on December 5, 2020
Tags: poem, poetry, love, romance, dawn, meadow, nature, story, poet, writing, writer, write



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