Saturday, September 23, 2023

XERXES - Childhood Mischief


First I submit gratitude to all who receive my words. In reaching out there are many who receive. Many not aware. It is not my intention to spread an egoic recital of my worth. Rather my intention is to share my own words. My own experience. My own story through my eyes.

Persia was more than an empire. It was a land of pastoral beauty. The farms and fields were interspersed with forests. It is true that record of this perception of Persia is lacking. It is true that the lands of this former empire are fraught with dust and sand and endless war. The winds of change come. The recompense for all that was done at the hands of all who caused pain and suffering is now. In this I am complicit. I too caused pain and suffering in my adult years. But it is my youth that I wish to share now.

The setting is a small field of poppy bright. Fragrant. Cool winds shuffling through the foliage surrounding the field. It was a secret paradise. Not far through the trees was a small stream. A pebbled bottom. Small fish darting through the swirling waters. It was here I first saw her. And that is where I end this part of my story to go backward further. To my early youth. Before I was trained in the brutal ways of war.

I was a boy of eight or nine. I was half the size of a full grown man. My cohorts were the same in size and stature. I was of average height. My hair left to grow. Often tied back or plaited. It was below my shoulders. Thick. My companions were always around. Sons of great advisors. Sons of field hands. We did not discriminate then between us. Each one who could run and climb and participate in our mischief and games was always welcomed. There was not a girl at that time who desired to run and climb. Had there been one. She would have been welcomed. The girls were interested in the household and care of family and friends. Pressed in the art of beauty and nurture.

We boys had other lofty ideals. Slipping in to the field and chasing the stallions. Riding the sheep. No the thought of tipping a cow was not present. The care of the herd was sacred. It was the very food that sustained the strong warriors for which we were all destined to become.

We ran to the orchards for cover. For treats. For respite from the very few chores that were imposed upon us. We were treated as royalty. All of us children. And laughter permeated nearly every moment.

There are few occasions of displeasure. Of spying on the adults to overhear the grim news of a far distant attack. Of the rare occasion that a loved member of the troupe we called family returned on the back of horse. Or in the bed of an old wooden cart. The deaths were far and few between as i recall. Yet now in retrospect and reflection we children were protected from it. From this vantage of all seen the death was a daily diversion for many of the adults. Death both natural and not. Dealt with immediately with reverence and yet without reverie. Nearly always kept hidden from the children.

This brief digression is complete. It sets the scene for the pure joy and comfort we children obtained. So why the mischief? Why not the mischief? There was always an urge to push boundaries of joy. And occasionally that included playing the adults for fools and fools pardon.

To the mischief. 

What would one do if all the days work of fig harvest was removed from view? The burden of revealing the theft of such harvest would fall to the youngest of workers. Taken to the emperor and guards this worker would be shaking with fear of reprisals for such a loss.

What if in the early morning of the last harvest day the youth stole into the sheds and removed the harvest to the palace?

What if in the boredom of the afternoon quiet ten or so half sized men stalked the orchards and removed the last of the baskets of figs. What if these baskets were carried one by one quietly without reprisal to the grand meeting hall?

What if these baskets were hidden under cover of the richest garments and blankets?

And then to the utmost regret of those men in the position of harvest and storage realizing the harvest has gone missing? Off to the palace the youngest worker was sent.

And upon entrance to a grand hall filled with grand adults in grand attire this young harvester was ushered to the front of the emperor and guard?

The moment of stillness as all watched is clear and present for me even in this now. And those adults holding back the mirth is one of pure delight.

And the emperor, bringing the young worker to the front of the bulk of garments and the children tearing away the colorful fabrics to reveal the figs!

The uproar of laughter and music and the flat leather soles of the sandals as the children ran circles around the worker.

I do not take complete credit for the grand scheme. But to the adults it was a great wonder. That the children would expend such energy to devise and implement such mischief.

A feast was prepared for all and spilled out into the courtyard as all of the people joined the merriment.

And this is but one moment of pleasure recalled now. Mischief in the palace and without. To the edges of the palace grounds was our field of play.

And we learned more than once that playing tricks on the goats was folly at best.

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