Remembering Turinam

by N.A. Ratnayake

Remembering Turinam tells the tale of Salai, a scholar-monk who lives in Turinam, a colonized territory occupied by the Rytari Republic. Salai returns to his childhood home to reconcile with his dying grandfather, who fought in defense of Turinam during the Rytari invasion many decades ago. He comes with turbulent questions — he leaves with a mission. The Future Fire published this short story as part of the colonialism-themed, speculative fiction anthology We See a Different Frontier in September 2013. It received an honorable mention in Gardner Dozois’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction, 31st Edition.

I also composed a companion essay on the power of language to control how we think about the world.

The story is copyright 2013 by Nalin A. Ratnayake. The cover art is copyright 2014 by Stephanie Hoover.

Outside, the sun was setting. Salai’s journey had started in the cold peaks of the Dorhal Mountains, at the Temple of Heremi built on where the River Khem found its source. He had descended with the Khem to the west, into the secluded valley-basin sandwiched between the curve of the Dorhal range and the Western Sea. Salai had grown nervous as he approached the the Rytari checkpoint at the bottom of the mountain pass. Brown-skinned Turians like Salai were easy to spot among the Rytari and were often stopped. But the soldiers had noted Salai’s simple robe, the orange sash at his waist, and the single small pack on his back, and waved him on without so much as a word.

Salai had left the Khem the previous day and tracked north of the river, down from the irrigated, tea-growing communes of the foothills into the lower, rolling hills of farmland that made up the northern part of the valley. It was late summer. The grass was dry and a deep reddish brown, replaced in patches by swaths of yellow and green where Turians grew acres of corn, squash, lentils, and beans.

After three days on foot, the end of Salai’s journey was at last in sight. His pack was lighter than when he had started, since he had been slowly eating the food carefully packed within and drinking measured amounts of water. He took a careful sip to wet his dry mouth and throat and looked to the south.

Salai could see the main town of Turinam straddling the Khem in the middle of the valley. Turinam had served as the independent center of Turian commerce, culture, and government in the valley for generations. Now it flew a Rytari flag and served as the regional capitol for the Lord Governor, who reported directly to the Rytari Senate.

On the far side of the town, Salai could see the new Rytari settlements, as easy to spot against the backdrop of Turinam as his own skin stood out to the Rytari. Built haphazardly, with an eye towards only time efficiency, the structures paid no heed to Turian custom or the traditions that had kept the land and people in a sustainable cycle for generations. This river valley being the latest addition to a vast empire, there was plenty of land to be had—or reallocated.

Rytari kept moving in. Every month, a transport airship arrived in Turinam from the Rytari-conquered city-state of Aish, on the other side of the Dorhal Mountains. Each landing would bring more settlers, escorted by soldiers and carrying new machinery. The airship would stay a week, then depart with Turian grains, beans, lentils, and tea as well as fish from the village of Korasca where the Khem met the Western Sea.

The new settlers had an insatiable need for fields to be leveled, domiciles to be built, and machine shops to be outfitted to repair their technology. Last month the Governor had ordered the construction of a new railway from Turinam to Aish, planning to bore straight through the Dorhal range. Most Turians were skeptical that anyone could accomplish this, even the Rytari with their machines. But it meant jobs, and the settlers kept moving in.

At the top of the hill, surrounded by fallow fields and ill-used, simple equipment, Salai paused to remember a part of his childhood. Though it had been almost fifteen years since he had been to this place, and he was now a young man instead of a boy, it still felt familiar with the twinge of home. He approached and entered the small farmhouse without knocking. A woman dressed in a healer’s robe looked up from the wood stove on the corner. A brown, fired-clay pot simmered with a substance to which Salai attributed the pungent odor of the room. The woman looked Salai up and down and, recognizing the sash tied at Salai’s waist, raised her eyebrows.

Auyashti, brother. You are in the Heremitian Anushasan, by your sash.” She looked somewhat older than he. Her face, while still smooth, bore the signs of having seen long hours of work for a long time.

Auyashti, sister. You must be Jaeda of the Altharian Anushasan?” She nodded, but said nothing. Salai continued, “I received your letter, but it was difficult to leave Heremi until three days ago. I am here now, and I hope I am not too late.”

Jaeda’s expression was difficult to read. She gestured to the door leading out of the kitchen into a small room beyond and turned back to her pungent stew—a professional at work, who saw little benefit to small talk. Salai watched her for a few moments and then stepped through the door to which she had pointed.

The room was dim, being lit only by a candle burning on the writing table set against the far wall, where a window looked out at the Dorhal Mountains fading into the last deep purple throes of dusk. A shelf on the side wall was triple-stacked with books, and a wooden bed frame held up a pallet against the near wall. On the pallet, Salai could make out the crumpled figure of an old man. The old man’s breathing was slow and deliberate—occasionally an unnerving rattle betrayed how laboriously the air filled and exited the lungs.

“Jaeda?” the old man asked. His voice was faint, but it did not waver. “No more of the samahin. I would rather have a hastier death than any life lengthened by this taste in my mouth.” The old man’s words were appropriately clipped and cadenced, his sentences adhering to flawless Rytari spoken grammar. Each syllable was distinct, cold, and efficient—interlocking with its partners like the metal links in a chain stretched taut.

The younger pulled back his hood and spoke—though in a different tongue. Salai’s voice rose and fell, lilting and flowing like a stream through a forest on a summer day. The old man started at the sound of this language, and was silent for several moments after the younger man stopped speaking.

“Salai,” he finally said.


“I do not know from whence you learned these words, and I do not want to know. My life is near an end, and you would be wise to take care of yours.”

Salai spoke again, new beautiful syllables weaving in with the old.

The old man’s response startled Salai with its forcefulness. “Stop,” Grandfather snapped, which reduced him to a fit of coughing for a few minutes. “Salai. I am overjoyed to hear your voice. But if you still love me at all, do not speak Turian to me. I will not speak to you if you say another word in Turian. They will kill you.”

Salai said nothing for a moment and waited in the room. The old man didn’t move. Salai opened his mouth to speak again, and his next words were in Rytari—though his sentences were less structured than Grandfather’s.

“There are no soldiers here. The new settlements are across the river. The Rytari will not hear us. Those words I spoke… I do not know Turian. I was only quoting what I memorized from a book I found at Heremi.”

“Not among those left in the library I presume?”

“No. I was put in charge of restoring the shelves in the lower chamber of the library. When I tore out one of the shelves, I found the book. It is old, and in pieces. The cover is gone, so I don’t know the title. It had both Turian and Rytari writing.”

“I recognize the words. It is the work of Azdara, a Heremtian philosopher. How did you know how to sing the Turian glyphs?”

“You taught me, Grandfather.”

Grandfather said nothing, but tried to sit up slowly. Salai saw him struggling and moved closer to help him lift his body a little higher into a new position. When he was stable, Salai moved to the writing table and sat down in the chair. He turned it around to look at Grandfather, who spoke. “I do not recall ever doing such a thing in your early schooling. I could not have. Your generation is forbidden from even hearing Turian, let alone learning it. It is a capital offense.”

“It was not in my formal schooling. You sang me a song about the Turian alphabet when I was a child.” Grandfather paused, and Salai could see him straining his memory. A slow realization broke on his face and then a look of puzzled wonder.

“Salai,” he said, “That was over twenty years ago. You were no more than two years old.”

“I know. But I remember. I have used my required study of meditative practices to focus on the unearthing of memories.”

There was a light tap at the door. Salai glanced at the door, then at the bed. Grandfather nodded and raised his voice. “Come in, Jaeda.” The added energy of his speech caused more coughing. Jaeda entered and placed a steaming bowl of the pungent stew and a cup of tea on the side table next to the bed. Grandfather reached for the tea first and sipped it, soothing the cough in his throat.

Jaeda turned to Salai. “I doubt you want the samahin, since you are in good health. There are rice, beans, and lentils in your grandfather’s pantry, fresh produce on the table, and I have brought in more water. As you are not ill, you are welcome to cook them yourself.” She then turned her head to address them both. “I bid you good night brothers.”

“Good night, sister,” both men responded in unison. Jaeda left, and Grandfather began eating. Salai watched and waited. He wasn’t hungry.

“So,” said Grandfather between bites. “You are now a Heremitian scholar. What do you study, Salai?”

“You should know Grandfather. You were at Heremi, before you left.”

Grandfather stopped eating briefly and looked up, a strange expression on his face. “It is true that I was at Heremi. You were not even born—times have changed. With what does the anushasan occupy itself these days, now that the temple is run by a Rytari chancellor?”

 Salai continued. “I don’t think much has changed. We study the same long tradition of subjects that have been contemplated at Heremi for centuries.”

Grandfather countered gruffly. “Ah, I see. So languages? You study the languages of those states not yet absorbed into the Republic, so as to enable the Rytari to trade with and spy on them. And of course you study the Rytari language itself. History? No doubt solely the history of the Rytar Republic, and its version of the story of all other peoples. And translation? No doubt you translate Rytari books into other languages for dissemination.”

Salai tensed at the tone in Grandfather’s voice. “And we apply the laws of mathematics and physics to design new machines or improve existing ones.”

“And in so doing you become a part of their machine. Your studies are not pure.”

As he resumed eating, Grandfather muttered something that sounded suspiciously like a curse from the tone and inflection. Salai paused and breathed, reminding himself of the benefits of a calm mind.

“What do you mean pure, Grandfather?”

“Theoretical. Abstract. Without an immediate application, and no obvious concrete return.”

Salai glanced down at the old man incredulously, looking to see if it were possible that his grandfather could be joking. It was hard to read faces in the candlelight. “But to what end, Grandfather? What did the Heremitians do with that knowledge, if it had no application?”

Grandfather snorted angrily. “Even if there were no Rytari flag flying over Heremi, your words would stamp that temple as an arm of the Rytari state just as clearly. For generations, the Heremitian Anushasan were the keepers of what our Turian culture considered to be the highest questions: the exploration of identity—the unending search for who we are and the nature of our place in the web of existence.”

“But Grandfather, what is that worth?”

“Here you are beside my deathbed, seeking answers to something unresolved inside. Perhaps I should be asking that question of you.”

The two men were silent. Salai didn’t know what to say, and retreated from the debate to think. Outside, dusk had faded into night. Salai listened for Jaeda in the other room, but the house had gone quiet.

“It’s hasn’t been half an hour Grandfather, and we are back to our endless semantics,” Salai said. “I came for you. And I came for… knowledge. Ever since I found that book… I want to know about the fall of Turinam. And I want to hear the story in Turian.”

“No,” Grandfather said. “Clearly you have studied the history in Rytari. There is no point in going back to old wounds. It would be inefficient. And why in Turian? You said yourself that you do not even know the language.”

“I have trained my memory Grandfather, I will remember it until I can write it down. And then I will keep it until I can translate it. You are one of the last of our people who remembers that day, who can tell it from how our people saw it. Tell me of the people who were there, which ones you loved and why. Tell me of your friends who died and of the part of who we are that died with them.”

Salai felt uncomfortable making such a plea—emotions always made him feel as if he were not in control. But he saw that he had made an impression on Grandfather’s thinking, and that gears were turning in the old head, so he waited.

“It is hard,” Grandfather finally said slowly. “I have not talked or thought about that day in decades, except in my nightmares. And I am ashamed to say that after all these years of being denied my own language even in my own home, I find it easier to think in Rytari. Huh! Here is a dying man, Salai, who cannot think in his own native tongue.”

Grandfather simply breathed for a few minuets, and Salai didn’t say anything. Their eyes met, and two hardened visages for a moment let go of their stubbornness. It was Grandfather who broke his gaze first as he began, in a voice that was soft and strong and sad.

“For days we had been watching the siege of Aish, on the eastern side of the Dorhal Mountains. We saw Rytar’s legions of armored soldiers, some on foot and some riding mechanical beasts, and in the distance their artillery lining the horizon. Aish fought bravely, but they fell like corn stalks before the scythe against… against the mautkatai.”

The inflection and tone of the word made Salai shiver in the warm night. “What are the… those things?”

 “Mautkatai are a horrid form of mechanized infantry, Salai—brainless machines that are sent in waves before the living Rytari soldiers in order to soften the enemy. They are as big as a man, and, how shall I say it, unwind when released.”

“Perhaps a heavy clockwork spring mechanism inside.”

“If you say so. I watched from the mountains through the telescopes at Heremi as the mautkatai flew forward and spun, with a dozen arms each holding a blade. The defenders’ ranks broke, whole swaths reduced to piles of screaming meat. I could not watch it long, but the Rytari soldiers had an easy time mopping up the remainder with their skirmishers and projectile infantry.”

Salai tried in vain to suppress the slight nausea he felt at the description of the killing machines. “Rytari troops are everywhere today. Why have I not seen these mautkatai?”

“That was our word for them. I do not even know what the Rytari word is. I have not seen them in decades, not since the invasion. Perhaps when the Rytari discovered our countermeasures, they were deprecated and replaced with something even more efficient at killing, machines too expensive to waste on display for the utterly conquered people that we are. Or perhaps even the Rytari do not like seeing them; they are not a cruel people afterall—merely ambitious ones.”

“So what did our people do after seeing the slaughter? Surely it was clear that the Rytari would come for Turinam next? We are the next and last point west on the map.”

“The conquest of Aish relied on ground forces, and we knew that the peaks of the Dorhal would give us an advantage. The passes are narrow, and the roads are hardly adequate for facilitating the march of large armies. And it was winter—we felt confident that the snows that were just beginning would buy us time to construct defenses. So we began. Scouts kept an eye on the Rytari armies massing at makeshift forts in the eastern foothills, while we trained with rocks, slings, bows, and spears. The Rytari artillery occasionally fired on the mountains, but the projectiles rarely came close to us. We learned how to ambush in the passes. We carefully set up large boulders, placed to crush advancing lines of troops who would have no way to escape from the path. Piles of stones were staggered in clearings to act as fouls for the mautkatai, which, though deadly, were after all were incapable of guiding themselves around an obstacle. “

“I am impressed at your tactics Grandfather.”

“So were we. Ah, we were so impressed with ourselves, and—may our elders forgive us—we actually wished for battle. We, a peaceful people, when faced with death looked forward to killing.” Here Grandfather shook his head in disgust. “But our hubris showed its worth. Our preparations were for nothing. After weeks of these drills and shoring up of defenses, they came.

“The written history records a glorious charge up the mountain by Rytari infantry, generals bravely in the fore.”

“The written history is wrong. In the earliest hours of the morning, while it was still dark after one of the midwinter storms had passed, a scout cried out. We ran out from the encampment and looked up. Above us, emerging from the night fog like ghostly leviathans in the great deep of the sky were the agents of our downfall.”

“Airships! They used airships?”

“It was the first time we had seen such things. They had not used them on Aish, perhaps knowing that they could keep such vehicles in reserve. Our puny projectiles, struggling against the height of the Rytari craft, only bounced off of the armored hulls. But the airship assault was deadly for us. Some dropped mautkatai among us, others dropped fire. And not a one stopped to tarry with the mountain defenders; all sailed leisurely and imperviously over our lines, our boulders, our carefully laid defenses.”

“They went straight for Turinam. And no defenders were in the city?”

Grandfather nodded bitterly. “We hadn’t thought to station anyone back in the valley in reserve; it seemed preposterous to have defenses in the valley behind us. If the enemy infantry could break through in the passes of the Dorhal, we knew that we stood no chance on open ground. We had never even considered air power. The airships rappelled down thousands of soldiers directly into Turinam. They took the Council Chambers, the marketplace, the main bridges, and the fishery docks in Korasca in a matter of hours. Any who resisted were slaughtered outright. The airships returned for us, and we had little choice but to surrender. Rytar took Turinam and the valley without so much as a single certain Republic casualty.”

Salai’s lip curled. “I can’t believe it. That such a learned culture could fall so easily to such an ignorant oppressor. Why did we not start studying the arts of war when Rytar was on the horizon for decades? What were you and your anushasan wasting your time on when war was coming?”

Grandfather furrowed his brow and coughed, but continued. “We are not a violent people Salai. When we took up arms, we were destroyed utterly by those who had been studying nothing but war and exploitative machinery for generations. And all for what? Our land is fertile, but merely one dot on a map of a thousand cities that live under a Rytari flag. We have no wealth that the Rytari would recognize as such. Our wealth lies in knowledge, but it is not even of the sort that they value; it is theoretical, meditative, contemplative. They stole hundreds of volumes of our more advanced mathematics and physics, with which they now use the likes of you, Salai, to improve their machines of profit and conquest. But they have no use for it otherwise. We are a conquered people because of a principle, nothing more. The principle that the Rytari should control all of this continent from sea to sea, simply because it sounded like a grand idea and meant more land. Every scholar of history and language who chose to defend Heremi was rounded up and executed.”

“Except for you and a handful of others. How did you escape  death Grandfather?”

This time Grandfather was silent for a long time. “Here is my last confession, Salai. And I can only hope that my shame can be forgiven by our elders and your generation. You seem to know that I was in the Heremitian Anushasan before the fall of Turinam. Do you know why I never returned after?”

Salai frowned. “I always thought that you left to teach Rytari language in the new schools. That’s what you did for the last few decades right? I’ve never known you to be anything else but a teacher of Rytari literature and grammar. I thought you wanted to.”

 “I had to say so every day of my life. In time I came to believe it. You see Salai, the Rytari are a practical people. They would not throw away a linguist by killing me if they could derive some use from me. In exchange for my life I became a tool of their occupation, a deculturalizer of my own people. I taught the language of our oppressor, and in so doing replaced our natural mode of structuring thought and knowledge with a foreigner’s.”

“And the other Heremitians? Were they not linguists and mathematicians as well?”

“They refused. And they were killed. Heremi banished me, but could not publicize why. Do you see? I am the lone traitor, living a lie because I was a coward. And I have paid for it in my private moments. Now nearly all books in Turian have been destroyed. You, my grandson, study your own history in the Rytari language, the language of the people who destroyed your history. Do you see? We do not have a history anymore. This is what it means to be a footnote to someone else’s story.”

“I… I don’t understand Grandfather. Why was our culture and language targeted? There are so many other conquered peoples whose languages are not even questioned, whose traditions are not outlawed in the slightest under Rytari law. Why Turinam?”

“Think about it, Salai. Our anushasan were for communal benefit, like Jaeda’s healing knowledge from the Altharian Anushasan, and for the study of higher thought at the temple at Heremi. What is the single biggest threat to a nation that thrives on war and competition? Ideas. The idea that people can live successfully in cooperation for mutual sustainability. The idea that the pursuit of higher knowledge for its own sake is valuable for the soul. The idea that there is another way. The Rytari fear this, because it undermines everything their society is built on. So our culture was destroyed.”

Here the old man restarted his coughing fit, this time hacking. Salai blinked back tears and rushed to hold a cloth to Grandfather’s mouth, catching the blood that dripped from his lips. When the fit subsided, Salai spoke again, quietly. “I am sorry to cause you pain Grandfather. You should not be speaking so much now.”

Grandfather was curled into a crumpled heap, Salai’s hand on his head. “No, I must. Now I see how little time I have to say these things.” He gripped his grandson’s arm, and with great effort, continued. “Salai. The language we speak affects how we think. Language shapes how we view the world. Without our language we do not have our whole culture. Without our culture we are not a people. I am complicit in a form of genocide of my own people.”

Salai fought against the bile rising in his throat. “I will kill the Rytari, and drive them out.”

“No! When we took up arms, we were destroyed utterly. You are foolish, as we were, if you think you can stand up to Rytar with force.”

“They are passive now, not expecting a resurgence.”

Grandfather gripped the younger man’s arm harder, and tears filled his eyes. “Salai! Turinam was not a battle but a massacre. We turned our backs on everything our elders had taught us about the fruits of violence being illusory and temporary at best. Do not make the same mistake I did.”

Salai flared in anger and desperation. “But then how shall we resist? Or are you saying that I should simply accept our fate? That I should stand by and allow my people’s history to be raped, as you did?”

Grandfather’s hand dropped from Salai’s and the younger man felt a rush of hot blood pounding in his ears. He swallowed hard and struggled to clear the anger from his mind. As he felt himself start to drown in anger, he grasped at the lifelines dangling from his meditative practice. His heart slowly stopped pounding. When he came back to his senses he was confused by a shuddering noise from beside him. Salai looked down to see Grandfather sobbing and coughing. Cheeks burning now with shame instead of anger, Salai gently put his hand on Grandfather’s shoulder.

“I am sorry Grandfather. I am sorry. Forgive me.” He let Grandfather just breathe for awhile. When Salai spoke again it was with deliberate calm. “I don’t know what I should do, Grandfather. What should I do?”

There was a long silence before Grandfather responded, his breathing now very ragged. His words were strained.

“Learn,” Grandfather said. “Learn Turian, our language and culture, and spread your learning. Give us a language again. Undo what I have spent the last half of my life doing.”

“Where do I start?”

Grandfather gestured weakly to the bookshelf. “Behind there. A journal I wrote after our defeat—I only hope it has stood the wear of years. I had planned to leave it there to decay after my death, but now… I think you should take it. It is some of my old work, what I could remember, handwritten side by side in Turian and Rytari.”

“You never told me the story of the fall of Turinam in our language.”

“It is written there too, in both languages. If you remember the song I sang for you as a child, that is well. Then you can tell the story on your own. Maybe what you do with my work will one day make up for my cowardice. Good bye Salai.”

“Grandfather, I—”

“Stop. Thank you for coming to me. You have my love.”

After that, Grandfather never spoke again. He lived for some time longer, into the still hours before dawn, but Salai never knew whether it was minutes or hours or days. He simply knelt and wept and when he was done weeping he sang the song that Grandfather had sung for him decades ago, the lullaby in Turian from his childhood.

In the morning, Salai awoke to find he had fallen asleep while knelt in meditation by the bedside, his whole body slumped forward, face mashed into the pallet. His knees and back ached. Grandfather’s cold form lay on the bed, eyes closed. With pained slowness, Salai raised himself by pushing down on the bed frame with his arms, leveraging his stiff body up on to the pallet to sit. He muttered softly, massaging life back into his legs.

He heard soft noises from the kitchen and continued rubbing painfully. When his legs felt ready to support him, Salai left the bedroom and walked into the kitchen. The sun had not yet risen, and the pale, pre-dawn morning was cool and dry.

Auyashti, brother,” said Jaeda. She was seated quietly at the table. Salai paused. Jaeda pushed a steaming earthenware mug on the table towards him.

Auyashti, sister,” said Salai, who moved to sit down at the table. Salai’s tired fingers slipped, and he dropped the mug, spilling some hot water on his hand. He spat out a curse and reached for a cloth with which to mop up the spilled tea. Jaeda touched his hand.

Salai looked up at the healer in surprise, but she was not looking at him. Her gaze was fixed on the hand that had been holding the mug. “The burn is only minor,” she said. “Would you like a salve for it anyway?” Salai considered more the feel of her hand than the pain in his own, and he was tempted to answer her in the affirmative simply to retain her proximity.

“No,” he said finally. “But thank you.” He withdrew his hand and sipped from the remaining tea in the mug. It was spicy with a hint of sweetness, but dark and strong to the core. Turinam tea. “You must have paid a lot for this. My grandfather likes the best.”

Jaeda’s look softened, and she looked down. “The Lord Governor was healed of a serious illness last year. In gratitude he decreed that we Altharians may purchase domestic tea at cost for the comfort of the ill. It seems a small comfort, when thousands of our own people can no longer afford the daily joy of their own traditional drink, which they still must grow for others. But it is something.”

Salai nodded and sipped quietly. His gut felt turbulent. Jaeda was looking at him closely. She started to say something, caught herself, and then started again. “I am sorry for your loss today. But know it was good for him to see you before he died. He asked after you often.”

“I wish I had come sooner.” As he said it, the wall in his chest holding back the tears broke, and Salai cried. Jaeda did not move to comfort him, but sat quietly and let him weep. After awhile, Salai’s tears slowed.

“Brother Salai,” said Jaeda as the room slipped back into quiet, “I heard you last night… you sang in a beautiful language.”

“Forget it.”

“I think… No, I know it is Turian. I had a sudden flash back to when I was small child. A lullaby or a child’s playful tune. A memory I had forgotten. It’s funny how song can pull us back to emotions long buried.”

 Jaeda put her hand on his again, and Salai looked at her. Though her features were relatively plain by Turinam standards, Jaeda did have an air of unassuming strength and intelligent kindness from which Salai felt the prickles of early attraction. He frowned and buried the thought. Now was not the time for such feelings. He spoke of Grandfather instead.

“He was one of the last who remembered our history before the oppressor.”

“Teach me.”

“Teach you what?”


“I don’t know Turian. We will have to learn it together. And it is forbidden. Risking my own life is one choice—”

“—And risking mine is another. It’s my choice, not yours.”

Salai looked hard at her. “Why do you want this?”

“I am Turian too. I too long for something within me, as if something inside were taken from me—even though I may have never had it. It’s like a painting that has been torn to pieces, and we are trying to pick them up from the floor. If enough of us carry enough pieces, maybe someday we will be able to put them back together. This is how we can fight.”

Salai nodded and managed a weak smile. “If ideas are our weapons, then maybe our only shield can be memories—the knowledge of who we are.”

She smiled too, for the first time since he had met her. They sipped their tea, her hand on his.

Outside, the sun was rising.