Lion Now, Emancipation Later
Dreamed 2000/5/5 by Wayan
I feel weak and heavy. My mom left a message: my dad's back in the hospital. A drug reaction? Condition stable, but terribly weak. I feel a flood of sympathetic fatigue and realize my strange illness has been a long-distance response to his. For years I've gotten sick when my sisters have, even before I heard news of illness or injury. Now it's my dad.
Call my mom back. She says he's worse. Doctors don't know what it is. Can't feed himself. She sounds guilty and aplologetic for taking him in, says "I just couldn't care for him at home any more, he couldn't stand up." Like her mom--relying on others is shameful.
Afternoon: she calls with an update. Worse. It's a virus, Guillain-Barré? He's nearly paralyzed from the neck down.
Evening. In intensive care, difficulty breathing, going on an artificial lung. Doctor says he may die, come in tomorrow if you want to see him. Can't tonight. Only two allowed at a time, my sisters are booked for the morning. Please come 2PM. So orderly.
When my friend Yirko hears, he tries to get me to "forgive" my dad, whatever that means; I don't know. Loved him as a kid, but not now. Wary and with good reason. Don't know what I have to say to him. Sure don't want any more demands from him. Or more energy stolen. I can barely stand, barely breathe--with him in the next county.
DREAM 1: DRAFTED!
My dad is driving himself to the hospital. I'm in the car. He drives fast and dangerously. I keep saying "Slow down!" but he won't. Cars honk and swerve.
He flirts a bit with the woman in the parking toll-booth. Parks and enters a sort of giant trailer. I follow.
My friend Li is there. She says "You have a part-time job waiting for you, have you checked your email?" I say truthfully "You're the second person in an hour to tell me, but the first one was vague. Why's everyone know but me? What is it?"
She won't answer. I yell "WHAT JOB, EXACTLY?" and everyone grows silent, looks away.
I know what that silence means. My family's arranged for me to take care of my paralyzed dad, however long he takes to die--weeks, months... years.
I storm furiously out of the trailer. I have a key to a car, though it's not mine--my housemate Alder's? But I'm so upset I lock the key in!
Total lockout? No! The back hatch is unlocked. I crawl in. But I can't reach the front seat and drive away--a bike's in the way. Pull it out... no, two bikes, one tangled with the steering wheel. Jammed in too tight for me to free it.
Fine. If I can't drive, I'll steal the other bike, and ride away. Laboriously pull it over seats and out the back hatch...
I will NOT stay here, not after they set me up like that.
I'm a slave-owner in an African tribal society where the majority wear the distinctive slave-armlet. It isn't like Confederate plantations--individuals owning legal nonpersons. In our tribe, owners are arbitrators, judges, broad policy-setters, but not detailed overseers--meddling in individuals' lives is forbidden. Slaves are more like a caste, with complex obligations, but legal rights too.
It's still unjust; I give orders, but never have to take them.
A man-eating lion's been attacking our village and I have to organize the hunt along with our village's best lion hunter--a slave. Yet he has the best weapons and skills in the village. Could beat any owner; could be free if he just fought. Since everyone knows it, he hasn't bothered--yet. For him, protecting the village is paramount. Professional pride won't let him rebel till his loved ones are safe.
We finally find the lion. Asleep. We can't just kill him as he sleeps, of course! Tribal custom would call us dishonorable. No, we have to wake him and challenge him--even though he could kill us.
Still, the hunter's right. Lion now, emancipation later.
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