Wave Two: The School
The School is a delightful place to be at, when it is quiet in the early morning, before the bulk of students arrives. There is a small fountain built in the middle of the courtyard, all blue and cream tiles and splashing clear water. I know Auri has it built, because she is of the sea too. It is in her blood. We cannot bear to be far away from water.
The breathing and visualization classes are held next to the fountain. The sound of the water plays a part in the lessons as it serves as both auditory distraction and calming device. The students learn by focusing their breathing to the rhythm of their heartbeats, stilling their minds so that they are able to channel their abilities. I sometimes end up supervising the younger children, the pre-adolescents, when they have their classes. There are boys in these classes, many of them from the Innerlands where they are forbidden to practice magic. It is the reverse of what I have experienced and I find myself watching Benyi, a boy from one of the Innerlands towns.
“Women practice magic openly,” he told me once, after a class. “They can speak to the earth and listen to its movements, its murmurs. When I showed that I could do it, the grandmothers wailed and made it sound as if I had done something really terrible.” His smile was sad and I knew that smile as deeply as mine. “When I showed them the power lines, they shook their heads and told me to stop. I managed to leave my town after last sun-circle.”
“I do miss home,” Benyi continued wistfully and I could only nod. Here we were, kindred spirits. “At least I can listen to the earth now and touch it without hearing the tsks-tsks-tsks and seeing the eye-rolling.”
“What do you plan to do after finishing your studies?” I asked him then and he looked at me, all thirteen sun-circles old. He was still a child, growing out of the stage but a child nonetheless.
“Help the farmers,” he answered clearly. Our land is prone to earthquakes and we often experience slight tremors, even in the stability of the City. “They need to know where to plant their vegetables in the right place.”
So I watch him when he meditates and hones his abilities. We have similar stories, similar sadness and despair. His scars are not visible, but they are there.
Sometimes, the School has a draining effect on me, simply because I see so many people who are like me, who are forced to leave their homes. Auri has taught me a delicious Innerlanders recipe and cooking it helps relieve some of the grief.
Ayam (Chicken) Stew
Two pieces of breast meat (or thigh, depending on your choice).
Ayam bones (for the stock).
One large onion.
A small calamondin orange (ordinary orange rind will do the trick).
Soya sauce, both light and dark.
1. Remove the skin (if the ayam has skin) and rinse the meat thoroughly, before putting the ayam (drumsticks, breast meat and bones) into a pot.
2. Fill the pot with water until the water level covers the ayam bits. Bring the water to a boil and remove the scum. This will form the stock base for the stew.
3. While the stock is being made, wash the vegetables, peel them if necessary and chop them up into chunks. Save the peels and shavings for the compost if you have one.
4. When the stock is done, remove ayam bits into a separate pot (or plate). Pour the stock into a clean pot.
5. Pour a teas-spoonful of olive oil in the pot (used for the stock) and add in the onion. Stir until it is golden-brown.
6. Add the ayam bits in slowly and gently stir.
7. Add in the vegetables and stir (use a big wooden spoon if possible). A few dashes of light soya sauce.
8. Gently pour in the stock and stir until everything is mixed.
9. Bring it to a boil, removing the scum constantly. Around this time, add in the dark soya sauce.
10. Bring down the heat and simmer for a couple of hours. You can add in the orange/peel and the nutmeg powder.
11. Watch the stew and stir it regularly.
12. After a couple of hours, you can serve the stew hot, with river rice or warm bread.