The halaso, or turtle, comes upon shore to lay her eggs every two years. In the middle of the night, when the moon is out many females will find a beach, and crawl their way to find a place to bury her eggs. She will use her back flippers to dig a hole, proceed to lay her eggs, and then bury them up, all the while rustling the sand within the area to make her nest harder for predators to find. The halaso will return to the fironiábo, big water, as if she was never there. My people call this the Season of the Halaso.
It is believed that a boy will become a man only after his tenth Season of the Halaso. Father’s will decorate their sons with signs of strength as either a warrior or a hunter, depending on their father’s position, and each boy’s characteristics. Hunters have strong legs for running and feet that tread softly. A warrior on the other hand has broad shoulders. Then there are mean whom have both swift legs, and wide shoulders. These men are few and far between, but are extremely valued. These men are made to be a chief in war; they lead the warriors in the gruesome battles of slaughtering the enemies when they try to take advantage of the peace (thinking we are unprepared).
After the boy is decorated in his symbols that declare his tribal duties, he then is put into a line with the rest of his comrades that had the same tribal duties. From there, all of the boys then play various games that help with their future tasks. Hunters will partake in many swift running games, sneaking up on live targets, and taking them out with spears. Warriors will practice tactics of attack and kill, with spears, rocks, and other various tools we used in killing our enemies. This is what I will do.
My name is soon to be known as Xanthe (pronounced, Zah-n-tay). I’m about to become a man, the first of my father’s children, and the only one unless another son is born in my family. Besides myself, there are three younger daughters that also reside in my father’s hut. Their names are unimportant, as we mostly only give proper and important names to the men in our clan. Even boys don’t have much of a significance until they are considered a man, however they do partake in a higher status compared to the girls and women of our society. A girl is given a name once she has becomes a woman by marrying a man (the man who finds favor with a girl will pay the father in gifts of meat and other various things he may find profitable in his desire).
My father took great care in painting in a symbol of the halaso on each of my adinas, arms. Halasos symbolize strength because of their outer hardness and resistance to predators. It is also a symbol of long life. The stories that are told, which are much older than my father and even his father’s father’s father, say that the halaso will make it through a hundred seasons. More seasons than I will ever make it through. My father, a warrior, and an extraordinary one who has taken down many enemies, made sure to place each of his hands on my chest in a dark paste. These hand prints of his would make me stand out as a son of a high and mighty warrior; Benamuckee is said to notice those symbols , and in hopes would cause him to have favor upon me as a great warrior. It is also said that Benamuckee takes a particularly higher interest in darker colors more so than other colors.
As I stand in a line with many other boys becoming men, I await my chance to prove that I am a mighty warrior, that I am my father’s son, and that I will prove to be as mighty as he. It is now my turn to slay the tightly strung up grass “men.” The first man I took out with a spear, the next one I hurled a rock at where the head would be if it were a real enemy, my final target I grabbed a hold of and slit where the neck would be. I truly felt like I had favor poured out on me, and that Benamuckee had noticed me and provided a great deal of strength to bind to me.
The ceremony ends near the fironiábo, with a great fire where the elder men share stories with the newly come-of-age men. The elders also give the new-men advice on how to hunt and be a warrior skillfully. It was there that, Xen, a man who has lived through the Season of the Halaso 35 times, the oldest man within our people, told me of my future.
“You are a great warrior.” I look at the old man with a deep respect.
“You are your father’s son. And exactly like him in every single way. He passed on his great strength to you, and you too will prosper as a warrior just like him.” He pauses. His face is mapped with cracks, some deep and some just visible. The fire flickers across his face, giving him this youthful glow surrounding the years of aging. He looks into the fire, staring for several minutes before continuing, “You will have a great strength overcome you, because you have received favor from Benamuckee.”
He stops suddenly as if a spirit beyond what I can see is dancing in the fire, showing him my great story. He nods his head as if he is understanding. A small smile flickers on his face, but only for a brief moment. “Xanthe, you will soon face something that none of us know about. A great battle. A great storm, with powerful thunder that makes a man shake as if he will be taken down. You will face this all alone. And in that time you cannot show any weakness. You must be brave, and strong like your father always was in battle. During this great storm there will emerge something, a man. I believe it will be a man sent from Benamuckee himself, for this man will be great and mighty and powerful.” Then as if he realizes he has spoken too much, he stops speaking. For the rest of the time we sit in silence, as Xen gazes into the fire.
I ponder at what he has told me. A great storm? A man? A great thunder? I stare off into the fire, waiting for it all to make sense.