Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Heart of Quetzalcoatl

I ignored the protracted scratching at the door in favour of the splendid wine that had just been delivered.
The fine glassware, unmistakeably European, cast sparks against the shadowed wall and I followed them with my eyes until the wine came to temperature. It was more of a ruse to ignore the persistence that was beginning to gnaw at my inner calm rather than the knowledge of how a fine wine should be treated. Although, it has to be said, that I had learned more about the ways of the world in this last month than I would for the whole of my life.
'You don't have to do this' the whispered voice said intermittently.
I swished my hand through my silk bed covers and helped myself to another couple of chocolate- dipped strawberries; a request that I am sure had led the staff on a merry dance.
'Go away,' I whispered back 'I am un-changed.'
The scratching and tapping faded away with the last of the afternoon sun and I looked forward to the feast that would surely outdo the efforts of the previous day. The glorious food, that had made me sick to my stomach in the first few weeks, was now more than welcome and I had noticed as time went on that the dishes got more exotic, more diverse and more daring. I had even been offered a hamburger, with fries as golden as ripened wheat. I knew these foreign foods now. I had looked them up and ordered them as the fancy took me.

The dying day brought the electricity. I could hear the hum of the generator starting up. The sound, like the muffled voices from the kitchen, came up the hollow shaft that brought the treats. I waited until I had counted to twenty slowly, allowing the electricity to work its way up and then I settled myself at the desk. The computer sang as it started its warm-up, a small jingle that I would miss, strangely. This small piece of technology had not been a part of my life until a few weeks ago and it was the one thing that had opened my eyes to the Gods more than anything. I had learned the basics at school but we were never allowed to explore like this.
As I dipped once more into the mysterious unconquered world, I heard the lock on the door slide back, signifying the rise of the moon. I reluctantly left my warm seat and washed, taking care to remove every stain that the strawberries had left around my mouth. I checked my robes before stepping outside into the pale light that was just peeping over the city. Far below I heard the soft cheer of the crowd and I dutifully filled the urns with the blessed water before hurrying back inside to my waiting screen.
There were no lockouts on the computer, no barriers that kept knowledge and wisdom at bay. I soaked it up and now laughed at my initial horror of the freedom that was now offered, pushing the questions that rose like gall to the back of my well-trained head. In the last four weeks I had learned enough, but I still would have liked more.

The tapping started again just before breakfast came. I had managed to drag my eyes away from the screen in order to feed my belly. When the sun hit the Ehecatl Gate, my source of power would die and the screen would be blank until tonight. The tapping was just another irritation.
'Clariztl, are you there?'
I was tempted to ignore him but he had been more than brave. Not every soul would risk the climb, day in and day out, for four weeks.
'You will get caught' I tried.
'I don't care, you must stop this.'
'I will not stop until it's over' I said wearily.
It was the same every time, same words, different order.
'Please' he said quietly.
'Go home John, the sun will be up soon.'
I heard him sigh through the shutters. This was the first time I had any sign that he was starting to accept my choices. Our friendship had begun a thousand miles away, a world away from here. It was always going to be hard for him to let it go.

I was attending a summit in Texalatl when I first met John Jefferson Blake. Senator Huatitzoa saw it as something of a status symbol to drape himself with my kind and he had dragged us from Palenque to be exposed to the outside world.
'You bring purebloods,' Senator Moava said 'will they help you make decisions? I do not see a brain cell between them.'
Huatitzoa smiled, he knew green eyes when he saw them 'I will be closer to the Gods, Moava, it is enough.'
Moava had snorted but we had continued to escort the ambitious Huatitzoa all through the talks with the unconquered allies of the civilised states.

John Blake was from those unconquered Europs but he spoke Mayan with an ease that I had rarely heard in my own countries. Many visiting dignitaries choked rudely on our melodic syllables in their vain attempts to curry favour with the heart of society. John had no such trouble and when he had first spoken my name I was transported back to the conservatory in Yaxchilan where I grew up.
'And you are a friend of Senator Huatitzoa?' he asked
He was being impertinent. I knew that and he knew that, but still he persisted and it was something that I began to like about this Maya-like foreigner. He was not even supposed to be talking to me but somehow he always found me when I was completely alone. His talk was as refreshing as the Chac given rain and I let him question me freely. He called himself a journalist, a term that I had difficulty in grasping at first. I had noticed that he always kept his writing tools with him, and his stangely written words were interspersed with well-formed Mayanic glyphs. He had obviously studied somewhere within the Supreme Powers, leading me to trust him more than I should. He also had the look of my people, except for his dull clothes. In the garb of a visiting dignitary he could easily pass for a lower class Maya, thin nose or not.

He followed me to Belmopan, where the Senator was opening a new park dedicated to Itzanna. It was here that I had told him of my plans and I could not escape the look of disgust on his face.
'But you do not believe most of this stuff' he said.
'My reasons are my own John Blake, and you should respect them.'

I did not see him again until I had entered the Teotihuacan, in our spirtual capital of Chichen Itza. He was, by this time, a desperate man. He risked life and limb in the heart of my ancestors to try and get me to change my mind.
'A useless task' I said, as my fingers danced over the keys one last time.

As the sun had set, I had pulled the neatly folded piece of paper from under the mattress. John had pushed it under the door just before he left and I had spent the day trying to make sense of it. Now that the electricity was on, I could see the simplicity of the instructions and I put them to good use.

I know that you do not understand my actions and as a foreigner from an uncivilised world it is not surprising that you have such trouble coming to terms with my chosen fate.
My people are dying John Blake, and our faith in the great God Quetzalcoatl dilutes with each passing year. Only the offering that a pureblood can give will keep the people believeing in the Supreme Power.
The Mayan have held this world together for two-thousand years and if one drop of blood from an insignificant life can help sustain this, then I am ready. Tell this to the readers from your Godless lands and they will understand how one straw can hold the bale together.
Before you get this electronic mail my beating heart will have been plucked from my willing chest and the fate of the Mayan will have been sealed for another ten years. It is my hope to leave this world in continuing peace.
From Clariztl, the new heart of Quetzalcoatl.

Just as the sun rose on Teotihuacan, the Pyramid of the Sun, I pressed the 'send' key and stepped outside to save my people.