Chapter 2. The Market Day

The Market Day

Year of the Lilies

Torrid Season

The Hut



TODAY DAY is a market day which means that most of the adults will be going to the market to buy and sell some much needed goods. I sleep in a little and wait just long enough for my parents to leave for the market.

I pull my fur blanket tighter over me and wait to hear my parents' departing footsteps. The Torrid Season is characterized by freezing cold nights and scorching hot days.

Mavli lays snoring softly beside me, I sit up and watch her sleep for a while. I notice the way her chest rises and falls at intervals and the way she breaths out through slightly parted lips, she looks so frail and vulnerable in her sleep as she curls up into a ball. By the way her fists clench and unclench I can tell she's dreaming.

I hate to wake her up but daylight is wasting. I shake her bony shoulders as gently as I can manage.

"Mavy," I say in a sing-song voice," it's time to wake up."

She mutters something and turns the other way, giving me her back. Grinning sinisterly, I turn the other way so I'm facing her again," wake up, sleepyhead."

She groans but keeps her eyes shut. I was hoping she'd do that. I pinch her nose in between my thumb and index finger and watch her toss and struggle to get my hand off. 

"Get off me!" She exclaims amidst sputtering.

I can't help laughing as I jump to my feet, leaving her on the mat. She mutters a few words and stands up stretching.

"Come on, Mavy. You're slept half of the morning away," I say.

"Says the girl who woke up a second before me," she retorts after an open-mouthed yawn.

I roll my eyes," I was awake the whole morning, just didn't bring myself to stand up."

"Sure." She gives me a mocking grin," I believe you." I decide to let it slide. 

I can't wait to be out of the rumbled calico dress. Commoners like us can only afford calico and the poorest of us wear sackcloth or homemade animal hide. The nobles and royals wear the finest silks, satin and velvet. I've always dreamt of the day I'll be free of the rough clothing I was born into and don the softest silk instead.


Mavli and I sit on the mat with a bowl of roasted maize cobs and a bowl of goat milk mother had milk from our nanny goat — Valri at dawn.

I was given the honour of naming her when she was just a newborn kid. When I first laid on her frail and scrawny form, I knew just the perfect name for her; Small which translates as Valri in Kintilese. Mother had immediately agreed with me. But now, Valri is anything but frail, scrawny or small; she's strong, stubborn and friendly.

We also have a few hens whose eggs we consume as we please. We let the hens and Valri roam free during the day looking for food and once it's evening, they loyal animals return home to the back of our hut where father had built a shed-like structure out of bundles of dried grass for them.

I eat without tasting the food, Mavy and I take healthy sips of the milk till we see the bottom of the bowl. We finish our breakfast before the twinkle of an eye. And we head out to the river to have our bath carrying only a jar of the gel-like soap father had made from fronds and resins in a pouch which also holds a change of clothes neatly folded.

"Mavy," I say while we take the common path to the stream," it seems you are angry with me."

I run my dry tongue over my gritty teeth and cracked lips. My lips sting in response and I stifle a wince. We only stepped out of the house a few minutes ago and my lips are already dry and cracked. I need to get to the river as soon as possible.

Mavli only scoffs and tugs at the tall thick grasses along the narrow path. She doesn't say anything and we walk on a few more minutes. I try to distract myself with the sounds of crowing cocks, mooing cattle I can sight amongst the tall grasses. The pungent stench of dung is carried to my nostrils by the hot dry torrid breeze. If only... I shake my thoughts away like a dog would shake water off its coat.

The merciless sun sits high above our heads and sends it's unforgiving heat to us in hard waves. My underarms are damp and sweat runs down my forehead in rivulets. My calico dress is damp from perspiration and some of my hair sticks to my forehead. I wipe salty sweat off my brows and turn to my sister who seems unmoved by the heat. My throat is blistering and my tongue is as dry as wood.


My sister and I whirl around at the same time to the sound of her name. I narrow my eyes at the running figure as it makes it way to us running unbelievably fast for the heat.

"Cirok!" Mavli's face lit up as the lean male catches up with us and bends at his waist panting like a dog. 

"Hello, Isla." He greets me amidst pants.

I give him a stiff nod. My eyes travel along the length of his body; he is lean and tall, the bones of his face are angular and sharp. His hair exists in tiny curls and are bleached copper by the sun. My gaze rests on his lips, they are cracked and dry as I'll guess mine to be but they are really plump, as plump as a woman's. Tearing my eyes away, I force myself to look anywhere else except the male in front of me. I notice a flock of egrets flying south — to where the mooing cattle are grazing.

"I saw you girls from afar, was trying to call out to you-" he says as he wipes sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand.

"So you ran to catch up with us?" Mavli smiles at him," that's so sweet of you!"

I roll my eyes, forcing my body to turn around and move I continue our journey to the stream. I'm starting to stink, I can't wait to be immersed in the cold water, sadly it's going to be very shallow thanks to the blistering season.

I can hear the now distant chatters of my sister and Cirok. I'm not patient enough to wait for them, they'll just have to meet me at the river.

Surprisingly, the bridged river is empty. I expected to see a crowd of people and then I remember; It's a market day and it's almost noon, must people had their baths hours ago.

We usually have our baths at a smaller stream which is hidden by the human-length grasses and weeds. Unfortunately, it's waters wasn't a match for the reckless Torrid heat.

Peeling off my stinky dirty dress, I drop my pouch containing our soap and new change of dresses by the bank before wadding my way in. The water is cold, my toes curl up and a chill is sent up my spine.

I sigh wistfully and walk in. Squatting, I scoop a handful of water and wash my face with it. The feeling is refreshing and I feel renew, revitalized almost immediately. I scoop some into my dry mouth and swish it around before spitting it out downstream. I try to make every inch of me wet by scooping water and pouring on my dry skin and immersing my hair in the water 

I rub the sweet smelling soap all over my body and extra on my face. And my hair making it lather. I scrub my hair fast and vigorously, not wanting anyone — even Mavli and especially not Cirok — to see me in such a vulnerable position.

Once I'm convinced my scalp is clean, I immerse my head again and rinse the lather off. My wild, shoulder-length tresses shrinks and darkens, it forms a mop of ringlets and corkscrew curls. I proceed to wash my face and rinse soap of my body when I'm interrupted.

I hear the slap of feet on the ground before I see the person.

Related chapters

Latest chapter Protection Status