Ashan 98th, 697th Arc
Hush now, my stóirín
Close your eyes and sleep
Waltzing the waves
Diving in the deep
Stars are shining bright
The wind is on the rise
of long lost lullabies
Oh won't you come with me
Where the moon is made of gold
And in the morning sun
We'll be sailing
Oh won't you come with me
Where the ocean meets the sky
And as the clouds roll by
We'll sing the song of the sea
(Nolwenn Leroy ~ Song of the Sea)
The waves gently crashed against the ship's sides, swaying them like the cot of the world, a cradle of mother's arms to whom they all belonged. Afternoon sun was beginning to warm their chilled bodies in the later Ashan trials. Into the rhythm of the ocean, the hushing sound of stories of countless ships strung among the currents, Sonja sang her lullaby with love like no other. On her left arm was Nair. On her right arm, she had Therris. Next to Sonja was her eldest child, Ayissi, who held the third of the triplets - Jotzah. All three of them slept tenderly in their mother's and sister's embrace.
Gazing at her mother, Ayissi was drinking in the image of the beauty that was both external and inner. Locks of hair like gold were tied away from Sonja's face with only few stray strands falling down like the finest curtain. With the picture of perfection in Ayissi's eyes, the girl has never heard a more beautiful song. Those were the words she remembered were sung to her too. The words of a lullaby that was passed down from mother to daughter in Sonja's family. For a reason or another, the girl's eyes misted over with emotions she could hardly control at seven arcs, nor did she want to. She loved her mother eternally. She loved everything about her. At her age, Ayissi's ultimate wish was to be as pretty as her mother, but most importantly to sing like her too for Sonja's voice was the embodiment of Immortals in the girl's mind.
But in that moment, as the breeze swirled around Sonja's lips to carry the words to the ears of her baby boys, Ayissi was quietly, almost shyly humming the tune as well. The familiar melody was never far from her mind. She still asked her mother sometimes to sing it to her. Just occasionally. She couldn't ask for it that often. She was meant to be all grown so that father would show her how to climb up the mizzenmast. However, it was still a tune she fell in love with as a child and knew she would keep on loving. What could be more perfect than this? Nothing, the young Biqaj thought in immediate response. Nothing could be better than this, surely.
Well, that was so until Therris's began to squirm suddenly causing mother to stop enchanting the world into a fairy tale with her song. Not long after, the boy began to grumpily whimper.
"What is it, little sailor? Don't tell me you're getting sea sick." Mother spoke gently, smile on her lips as she beheld the miracle of life that she and her husband created. Almost as an answer, Therris only squirmed more, his tiny face contorted in strange effort that Ayissi could only...
"Ew! Mother! That stinks!" Nappy or no nappy, Therris just processed his mid-morning snack, deciding to oppress everyone with how breast milk smelled after it was digested. Taking one look at Ayissi with her wrinkled nose and her own largely incomplete understanding of babies, the odour was worse than when the first mate went to have a dump. Stomach bug he told her. Apparently, he ate one somewhere when young and now the bug was living in his tummy, making his poops smelly. How silly, right? Who would want to live in his stomach? Ayissi knew that she wouldn't.
"You didn't smell much better, Ayissi. If anything, your nappies were even worse!" "No, they weren't!" The two women engaged in a short word exchange that ended with mother laughing heartily and Ayissi was grumbling something about the smell of all the mates put together that didn't live up to Therris's stench. She didn't stink, though! Never had! As far as she could tell. Whenever she went to the loo, she couldn't smell a thing!
"Very well then. Hold Nair for me, will you? I'll go and change this little fish." With those words, Ayissi held both boys with sudden surge of responsibility the straightened her back with attention, whilst Sonja took her leave. But really, her brothers were quite strange. So tiny, with funny faces and weird moods. Though, she loved them dearly, she also couldn't wait for them to be old enough to play with her. She'd show them everything! She'd definitely show them how to tie perfection loop! Oh yes! She has just learnt that one from father after many failures, but she wouldn't give up. Oh no, she would never give up. Even if father laughed at her each time she got it wrong, because at the end, she ran to him with a superb knot, if a little messy, and he was so happy, he even gave her a sip from his captain mug!
Having long forgotten that she was called stinky, Ayissi gave in to the rocking of the boat again. Then, with little else on her mind, the girl began humming again the well known melody that even the boys would remember until they were seventy arcs. Given that the salty sea wouldn't wash their brains white. Rikshur said that happens sometimes. He told her that's why some people are so blank faced whatever that meant. But he did cause Ayissi to fear the salt in the air for a few days, until mother convinced her that Rikshur was talking about people who were not Biqaj.
Yet, there and then, with her brother's safely deposited in her arms, she was taken by the mood her mother set up. The song lodged deep inside her mind and throat, the little girl opened her mouth to produce an imitation of mother's excellence. She was quiet at first as if tasting the words on her tongue. She often sang the lullaby to herself when there was no one around. This was the first time she sang it to her brothers. The first time she took over mother after seeing her sing to them every night. She wanted to do well.
At first, it was going good and with each moment that Nair and Jotzah were sleeping peacefully, Ayissi's confidence grew, and so did the volume of her voice. She got so caught up in the music that soon, she was loud enough for mates in the middle of the deck to hear her from her place at the ship's stern where she sat on a chair brought from one of the cabins. Unbeknown to her, these men were already having a hard time suppressing laughter.
They didn't need to for long, however, for Ayissi in her passion for the song did not notice Jotzah stirring slightly. In her oblivion to the world and devotion to the illusion that the lyrics were constructing in her fantasy, the girl didn't really think her voice was like that of a man whose balls were squeezed. Of course, it wouldn't and couldn't go for much longer. The boys surely didn't like it, because soon Jotzah began uttering a few cries, kicking his little legs. That finally caught Ayissi's attention, causing the girl to stop in the solo just like her mother was forced to not so long ago. Unfortunate for the girl, the baby boy kicked his brother, not only once, who was also already waking too.
One wave came and left, the boys were crying their hearts out. Perhaps, they were hoping to join the choir of singing hyenas, or more likely they wanted it to stop. Now that it has, they were comfortable in their screaming, declaring their unhappiness to the world. It was not surprising that the young girl was suddenly found dumb-struck. "No, no, why you crying?" She looked from one brother to another confusedly, but having only two little arms with two bundles nestled on each with fear of dropping them, Ayissi just sat there frozen. Horror was spreading across her features. Did she do this? How? She sang just like her mother! Or not? She liked it, so why?
"What's it here?" A deep voice boomed over her head, laughter bubbling just beneath the layer of the words. Father must have come from the front of the ship. He must have heard her and if he heard her... Her cheeks immediately went on fire, golden-pink eyes shooting upwards to look at the man she loved most. She saw the brown skin, messy chestnut hair pulled from the face by a bandanna. Even his shirt was open at the top revealing a tuft of curly chest hair.
"I didn't do it. They just...They..." He only snickered, stroking his daughter's head and planting a kiss on top of the sun bleached hair. "Of course you didn't, Ayi." He told her in the gruff voice of a man who has shouted a lot during his life, usually orders at his men.
"Now let me see. Maybe they want to be with proper men and not little girls." He teased her, carefully retrieving the boys at the moment that mother was coming back from lower down. He bantered with Ayissi, knowing the girl has wanted to be included in the big man's world too. Whenever she was denied that...well, just look at her pouting face with cheeks as red as the sun drowning in the sea each evening, her arms defiantly crossed across her chest. It was clear above all else what was going on through her mind.
He can take them, all right! They were getting heavy anyway...