Saga of Bohok-Chapter 5

Chapter 5

Bohok reached down and scooped up the figurine out of the sand. He knew he had just been tested. He knew he had just failed that test, horribly. Bohok shook his head, it seemed like he would never learn the Way of the River. He turned to face the tribe. They all stared at him, some faces smiling and some frowning. To Bohok’s surprise Chief Yoosin was smiling.

“I think Bohok is right. It is a long way back to the village, we should leave. Tann and Mik,” The chief pointed to two young men Bohok’s age. “You will camp here tonight. Make sure that the great fish is protected from birds and beasts. Keep a large fire lit. The bears will be here soon.” The young men nodded and went to their boat, pulling out their packs and long bear spears.  “Bohok, it is a long paddle up the river. Will you help me row upstream? I would like to speak with you before you leave.”

Bohok nodded as the chief passed him and climbed into the boat. The men of the village all went to their boats as well. Bohok shoved the chief’s boat off the sandbar and climbed into the back of the boat. He grabbed a paddle from the bottom of the canoe and started rowing.

The current was strong enough that he if he stopped rowing it quickly halted the boat and reversed its direction.  Chief Yoosin sat in the bow watching Bohok paddle. Bohok had expected the chief to help; it was almost too much for one man to keep the boat moving forward alone. All the other boats were rowed by two or more men and they quickly passed Bohok and the chief. Bohok paddled furiously, but soon they were alone on the river, the torches on the bows of the other boats disappearing around bends in the river ahead.

Sweat began to roll down Bohok’s brow. His shoulders and arms began to burn. He looked up at the chief, who was still sitting backwards in the boat watching Bohok work. “Aren’t you going to help?” He finally asked.

“It is difficult isn’t it?” The chief asked quietly.

“Of course it is difficult. You aren’t helping.” He growled as he pulled the paddle along the boat and up for another stroke.

“No Bohok it is difficult because you are fighting the current. When we were going down the river I let you row, yet you never complained.”

“I didn’t have to paddle constantly going down the river. I didn’t have to paddle at all only steer.” Bohok took another stroke. His arms were on fire. He didn’t know how much longer he could keep the boat moving forward alone.

“Thus is the Way of the River. It is always easiest to work with the current. If you follow the current you do not work so hard. You need only to steer yourself down the proper course.” Chief Yoosin mimicked a boat floating down a river with his hand. “You must learn this lesson, you must learn to go with the currents of your life and guide yourself through it.”

Panting Bohok kept paddling; he didn’t need lectures about the Way of the River right now; it took all his effort to keep the boat going upstream. “Sometimes,” he grunted as he pulled out another stroke, “you have to go upstream, Chief Yoosin.  You talk like it is so easy. It isn’t easy for me.”

The old chief smiled at Bohok and pulled another paddle from the bottom of the boat. “Yes, Bohok, that too is part of the Way. The part that you must learn, it is the easiest part for most of us because we know the secret.”

Bohok looked up at the Chief; sweat trickled from his hair and burned his eyes. “What secret?” He asked. He always wondered if there was some secret knowledge that had been denied because of his heritage, the Way of the River was supposed to be so easy, but it had always been so hard for him.

“The secret is,” The chief dipped his paddle into the water and took a stroke, “when you have to go upstream, and sometimes it is unavoidable both in the Way and in life, it is better if you have someone to help.”

“That’s no secret!” Bohok yelled, anger surging up inside him. “You don’t think I know that?” He couldn’t believe that was what the chief’s stupid secret was.

“No Bohok. I don’t” The chief said sadly taking another stroke. “When we got in this boat you rowed until your strength nearly failed you before you asked me to help you.” He pointed at Bohok’s chest. “You have been going upstream your entire life; even more so since your father died, but you have never sought out another to help you with that burden either. When you hit Kirso with the rock and I exiled you from the tribe I hoped that you would travel to another one of the tribes. Perhaps find a friend among them, someone who could help you. You did not do that, you chose to go live alone down the river and keep paddling upstream alone.”

Bohok was stunned, he hadn’t even thought about going to another tribe. “I thought I was supposed to be alone, to learn my lesson.” He mumbled.

“You were to leave the tribe, I didn’t say what you were to do, I had hoped that you would follow the way of your Father. I hoped you would be a traveler like him” He pulled the paddle out of water and made a grand gesture with it. “The whole world to explore, like your father.”

“My father?” Bohok asked.

“Your father was a great traveler. He left the people when he was young and visited all the people. We had thought he was lost to us he had been gone so long. Did he not tell you of his travels?”

“No.” Bohok answered. His father never said anything about travelling. Bohok had assumed that his mother had come to the Fish-Eater’s not the other way around.

The chief frowned and thought for a second. “Your father told me his stories. I thought he would have told you too, I am sure he would have told you in time, if the fever hadn’t taken him.”

“Well he didn’t.” Bohok grunted. He wondered why his father would keep that a secret from him.

“It does not matter. After you return from the Bug-Eater camp I will tell you the stories he told me. What matters is you need to ask people for help Bohok. Even the strongest man needs help sometimes.”

“Who would help some half-blood boy with no family, no house, and no boat.” Bohok growled.

“I would.” The chief said.  “Many men of the village respect and like you. They too would be willing to help you Bohok, but you do not ask for their help. You have to make friends. But before you can be friends with someone you need to be a friend to yourself. If you see a half blood boy not worthy of help and friendship when you look into the river, that is what others will see. You must learn that you are more than your blood line, you must learn to be the man that you want to be, not the man that others say you are.”

“If it were only that easy.” Bohok said, finally able to wipe the sweat from his brow with the chief helping with the rowing. “Everyone in the village knows me as the half blood. I cannot change that.”

“Yes, you can, I will help you if you ask.”

“What do you mean?”

“Do you want to be known as something other than half blood?”

Bohok looked the chief in the eye, there was nothing in the world he wanted so much as that, he wanted it so much that he couldn’t even answer in a full voice. “Yes.” He whispered. “Please, yes.”

“Good.” The chief anwswered. “Then it is settled. When you return with the Bug-Eaters I will give you a new calling. Never again will any of my people call you half blood.”

“Thank you Chief Yoosin.” Bohok said earnestly. “Thank you.”

“There is one thing you must do to earn this new name Bohok.” The chief cut in wagging a long wrinkled finger at the boy.

“What is it? I will do anything.”

“Really?” The chief asked, cocking an eyebrow. “Anything? This will be no easy task, quite possibly the hardest task I have ever given anyone in the entire tribe.”

Bohok was so eager to erase the stain of his heritage he knew in his heart that he could perform any task the chief could ask of him. “I am sure Chief Yoosin. What would you have me do? Tell me and I will do it.”

“Before you return with the Bug-Eaters you must.” The chief stopped and pulled the oar out of the water forcing Bohok to paddle alone again. He watched Bohok work the paddle for a long while, long enough for Bohok to feel the burning in his shoulders again. Unexpectedly the chief dipped his paddle back in the water and started rowing again.

He looked at Bohok and with a serious look upon his face he continued, “You must make a friend. You must make a true friend. A friend who will help you without you asking.”

Published in: on December 31, 2009 at 9:37 am  Comments (1)  

One Comment


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: