“The rites are complete. Now, Kidlat, son of Ramil and Atay, which god do you choose to light your path, to bless your actions, to devote your entire being?”
That was a very good question.
My fifteenth birthday was just two weeks before the Ceremony of Devotion. My parents were already planning the celebratory feast while my older brother kept nagging me to figure out which god I would pick. I was lucky that it was sacrilegious to reveal the answer before the ceremony, because I hadn’t the faintest clue. Some fry knew which god they wanted to choose from the moment they could formulate thoughts. Others would pick what their parents chose or what their best friends were going for. I had not thought about it once until my birthday.
Choosing a god was one of the most important days of an osyatao’s life, alongside their wedding day and the day they died. By choosing a god, you set in stone the path in life you were going to take, so that your god can lead you and bless you throughout. There is no taking back the god you choose without serious consequences.
My parents had chosen Arawa, the goddess of the sun, as well as work, fire and sacrifice. She held the sun up to light the world for the working osyatao. My mother is one of the hardest workers at the salt basins and my father helps build and fix homes. The path of Arawa was the path of manual workers, who break their backs under her holy light. I hate manual labor. I refuse to spend the rest of my life hauling salt around, not like I would say that to my mother’s face.
For my birthday, my brother Gani came back from the human island of Kisaevin to visit. He had been living there for a few months, selling his alcohol to the inhabitants.
Gani had chosen Buwen, god of the moon. He also governed over celebrations, refined goods and the ocean. He worked as a brewer, making the drinks that were downed each night when the work was done. He was currently dating another follower of Buwen, who used his blessing to become a fisherman. They lived happily, but their life just wasn’t for me. I had tried to work with my brother once in brewing alcohol, and nearly poisoned the taste tester. The idea of fishing bored me. Going out to the great ocean only to come back at the end of the day, Buwen was not for me.
A week before the ceremony, my best friend Dalisay and I went to assist at the egg pools. She was expecting a new sibling soon. Working at the egg pools was a job blessed by Ulapu, god of the clouds, protection and art. His blessing ensured the wellbeing of the fry. This was Dalisay’s calling, to raise the new generation. As proud as I was of her, I didn’t have the same vision. Whenever I thought of working, my stomach filled with dread. Kakaisda, this wonderful isle, home to all I’ve ever known, simply wasn’t enough.
The night before the ceremony, I sat out on the beach, gazing up at the twinkling stars, panic building in every passing moment.
“It’s hard, isn’t it?”
Behind me, her wrinkled hands clutching an intricately carved cane, her eye fixed on the sky was ambassador Liwliwa, the Osyaba who found a way beyond the Ring and discovered the humans. “The ceremony is tomorrow, isn’t it? I remember how I felt that day… it’s a lot of pressure for a small fry like you.”
“...I don’t know who to choose. I don’t know what I want to do with my life! Nothing on this island seems right for me… what can I do?”
“Nothing on this island, hm?” She sat down next to me. “Have you considered that perhaps your future is not on this island?”
The stars twinkled in agreement. “I sat here once, looking up at these very stars. They led me to my destiny… they could do the same for you.”
“I choose Ituin, goddess of the stars.”
Gasps from the crowd, who could have foretold?
The head priest nodded. “The necklace.”
An Osyat in lilac robes came forward, holding a necklace with yellow and purple clay beads. It was tied around my neck, announcing my alignment to the world.
“Kidlat has chosen Ituin, the goddess of stars, exploration, and wishes. May she watch over you.”
The crowd burst into applause for all the newly assigned fry. Gani let out a loud wolf whistle from the front. My parents hugged me once I came down from the gazebo, showering me in affection.
Once the sun set over the horizon, the celebrations kicked into full swing. At the feast, no one left with an empty stomach. As I was piling my plate full of my mother’s salt baked fish, I was approached by Liwliwa once more.
“So,” she said, ambling to my side. “Was this the right decision?”
I nodded. I had never felt more secure than I did now with the weight of the clay necklace around my neck.
Liwliwa smiled. “I hope the stars lead you somewhere wonderful.”
Very nice story, but the idea of an Osyatao going fishing just seems wrong to me haha