“Hah!” she snorted to herself, “Men know nothing.” She stirred the great cauldron, moving back and forth to the rhythm in her head.
They think their work is hard, Ourita thought. They drink the old palm juice. They kill the great beasts. They bring home the meat. Then they congratulate themselves and drink the old palm juice.
But, then the women take the meat from the bones. The women put aside the portion, climb the hill, and sink it into the cold lake. Then the women cut the meat and boil the bones. These are the women who tend the crops and the children. Women’s work is never done.
Once, Dim Chango told Ourita he could outwork, her. She laughed and told him if he could stir the great cauldron all the day of the Summer Feast, he could have her to be his wife. He did not even see it to noon.
She laughed in remembering, but Chango had a good heart. She would relent to him this night, or so she thought.
The pain was building in the small of her back and her heavy forearms screamed for a rest. She shook her head and smiled. She remembered her strength. Had she not trounced that pale northerner, who mistook her for a whore? Had she not bested Tall Bo-dan in a game of two sticks? She was Ourita,
She had shoulders, wide like a man’s and a strong, straight back. Her hands could crack through to the golden nut alone; she needed no stone.
How could she be bested by the Summer Feast?
Ourita found a new rhythm and was about to start her work chant when she heard the first screams. The men would be in the hills. She grabbed the great staff from the pot and dashed into the fray.
Years later she would often think of that day. When she wandered in foreign places with metal draped on her shoulders, she would remember that day. She would remember her life that died. She would remember her second birth in blood and fire.