Two Wonder-Kids And A Female Cannibal

The jurist Matei Monorai lives nearby. If you'd hear him plead in court, you would not hesitate to call him Matei Golden Mouth. Ambrozie is on his way over, to ask Matei to plead for Vornicu, who has been sentenced to death. He arrives. Matei`s kids are playing outside, in front of the block of flats. Diana, the girl, is 6 years old and Dan, the boy, is 5. He asks whether their father is at home. The two kids answer in one voice that their father is at the courthouse. "This early?" "Oh! He usually leaves even earlier," little Diana answers. "We'll tell you a secret. We've never seen our father. We don't know what he looks like. He comes home late, after we've fallen asleep; he leaves for work early, before we wake up. That's what our mother says. But we don't know if he exists. Mum says he does; she shows us his shirts, in the wardrobe, she shows us his socks. But I've started having doubts: do we really have a father? Couldn't it be that we are just love children[1]?" "You know what copii din flori means?" "Of course," the little girl answers. "It comes from the Latin fluores, which means menses, even if a lot of people think it comes from flores... We also know the whole story with the stork." "You are young, but know so much!" "Good things come in small boxes!" the little girl answers who no doubt knows her proverbs. "And, as I was saying, we've never seen our dad. I think we were born by accident or something. A happy accident, somewhere in a glade. It was because of negligence that mum gave birth to us, or so it must have been. We understand her. Because we children, we can understand and forgive adults` transgressions. We won't be saints ourselves, when we grow up. We wouldn't even consider becoming saints." Ambrozie is very amused by the earnestness with which she speaks, the little girl who will not become a saint. He tells the children that he knows Matei Monorai. He testifies to his actual existence, although the kids are mistrustful, skeptical. He strokes their hair, what dear creatures they are! Little Diana asks: "Aren't you our natural father? Are you seeing our mother in secret? Come on, tell us. We won't mind, you know. Besides, we'll have to be sure one day whether we have a father or not." Ambrozie can tell that this is a scenario made up out of frustration. He understands. "If you wish, we can accept you as our father!" Little Diana says. "Come, say 'yes'!" "On condition you don't come anywell neal mum!" Little Dan says. "Don't you make love to hel or I'll bite you!" "Don't worry; he's only got milk teeth. What kind of a bite is that, if you only have milk teeth?" This amuses Ambrozie. Then he asks: "Why aren't you in kindergarten at this time of day?" "We ran away. We're skipping it today." "Why?" "To play." "Don't you get to play in kindergarten?" "No! All day long we only have classes and community activities." "What classes do you have?" "Today we have The Technology of Relationships, Revolutionary Semiotics and, arghhhm… I forget!" "Maclomoleculal genetics," the boy intervenes. "And Ultla-Advanced Political Clyogeny. " "Okay… and how do you learn? Do you have student books?" "We do, but we can't read. We don't know the letters." "Why is that?" "We don't study the alphabet in kindergarten." "Why?" "There are no teachers," the girl explains. "They're negotiating to import an old woman, a teacher from Hedland. The negotiations have been lasting for years, while, in the meantime, no one has even seen a primer. Have you ever seen a primer?" "Yes I have," Ambrozie answers. "Has it got any pictures?" "It has." "Wow, great! We'd really want one too."
"I'll get you one," Ambrozie promises. "You could?" "Yes, gladly." But then he can't get one, for such a book is nowhere to be found. "I'll write it myself. And I'll let you know when it's done." "You'd really do that?" Diana marvels. Ambrozie nods. He will. This way, he will have left something behind. "Thank you. Now be honest, are you by any chance our biological father, the one we've never seen?" "I would have loved to have been him. You are both wonderful. Still, what news is there about this teacher from Hedland? Why can't they reach an agreement so that she could come and teach here?" Little Diana, who knows it all, explains: "This woman, the teacher, comes from a tribe of cannibals. It was stipulated in the contract that she must not eat any of the children. She doesn't agree, says she won't change tradition. She says tradition is sacred; says she eats children not so much to feed herself – she's actually a vegetarian – as to respect tradition and fulfill a ritual. But years go by, and, as she is growing older, it is expected that she will eventually lose all her teeth; when that happens, she will come here to teach, as she won't be able to devour any of the children." "I see," Ambrozie says. "But until then, which subject do you enjoy the most?" "None. Foolish little Dan here likes Syrius, that programming language of which he doesn't understand the first thing." "Do you skip kindergarten classes often?" "Yes, every time we get the chance. But they find us, wherever we might hide. We have some very good hiding places adults wouldn't ever find. But our class mates tell on us, and they divulge the secret of the hiding places, out of envy and corruption. But we discover new hiding places each time. Still, they find us out anyway: recently, after our becoming seniors, they've given us micro-chips implants, to be able to locate us." In the next moment, the kids start shuddering with fear, for they glimpse two preceptors. The children try to run away, but the preceptors are faster, and about to catch them. They have lassos and harpoons, so resistance isn't advisable. The poor kids will be caught in no time. "Father, father, help us!" they yell. Ambrozie runs to their rescue; he stops somewhere between them and the preceptors. He pleads, negotiates their release. He tells them he will himself escort the kids back to kindergarten. "Escort them yourself? That would mean we'd lose our bounty! We are after them precisely because we've been promised a bountiful ransom. That's what we do: we're bounty hunters." "Exactly," the second 'preceptor' confirms. "We even have badges, on which stands written: bounty hunters." And as Ambrozie seemed determined to help the children, one of the 'preceptors', with his fist as hard as a rock, hits Ambrozie right over the head. As Ambrozie is falling to the ground, he can still faintly hear the children yelling from afar: "Save us, father!" excerpted from The Hidden Gardens, Paralela 45, 2006
[1] The translation of the Romanian expression would be "flower children."

by Vasile Andru (b. 1942)