Shumani had awoken early that morning. It was just another day, or as her people called it, a jum, but Shumani was used to awaking with the rising of the sun and that habit had not changed in spite of her captivity. Shumani sat up in her bed and her hand moved to her neck. Sighing softly, Shumani pushed the bed cover off to one side and swung her legs over the side of the bed, or sobba, in her native tongue. How long had she been here, wherever here was, Shumani wondered? The human colander was so different from the one her people had been using for as long as anyone remembered.
Would today be the day, Shumani wondered as she stood. Would a human come for her today? Where would she go? Would she have a kind master or mistress, or both? There was so much she did not know about the human language, still. It was complex, and it had rules; which it always did not follow. Then there was the cooking, which poor Shumani was still pretty bad at, although she was able to prepare a few dishes, one of them called ‘macaroni and cheese’.
The man who owned the place she was kept did not seem all that pleased with her progress, although he put on a good face for the other humans who came to view Shumani and other Demeterians. Shumani was trying her best, though, and felt she did better with every rising of the sun. She still missed her home terribly. Being kept indoors so much made Shumani feel even more bound. She would have been happy with even a small window to look out of.
Shumani dreamed almost every night about her home. The large grassy meadows, streams of crystal clear water. Trees that were so tall they seemed as though the reached all the way to the clear blue skies above. She dreamed about her family, her mother, father and her brothers and sisters. Her parents were no more. They had fallen ill and nothing could be done to save them, in spite of her villages’ medicine woman’s knowledge, and efforts. They were in the next world now, where the goddesses’ of sun and moon lived.
Shumani was sitting quietly on the edge of the bed, thinking of her siblings, when Tschida came for her. Shumani did as she was told and followed the large, sweaty human to the room where she knew a human or humans would be waiting to look at her while Tschida talked. Shumani did not like Tschida. Tschida was mean, even for a human. He was quick to use force to correct mistakes, and often yelled at Shumani and other Demeterians, using a wide variety of human ‘curse words’. Shumani would be happy to leave Tschida.
The human who was looking at her today was a younger one, and he was alone. He seemed to like her, and so Shumani was ushered away and taken to what was called a ‘car.’ Shumani was in awe of the things called cars. They were large, and looked heavy, and yet they floated on air and moved about faster then any animal or bird Shumani had ever seen. How could they float in the air? How did they move? Was it some kind of magics only humans were able to use? To Shumani, cars were amazing, but scary at the same time.
Shumani was put in the car and a short time later the human, who was now her master appeared and got in the car as well. Shumani knew he was her master because she had been told by a pleased looking Tschida as he had called a assistant to take Shumani to the human’s car. Her master’s name was Nathanael Tassinari. It was a long name and Shumani had been repeating it over and over again to herself as she had waited... “Nay – thane – a –el, Tay – see – nary –ee?” Was that how her new master’s name was said?
Her master appeared to be waiting for her to say something, and so Shumani took a deep breath, thought back to her lessons, and said softly, “Hello, master.” Hers was a good attempt, though Shumani still placed too much emphasis on the vowels, and said them, more often the naught, with their long sounds. Shumani’s ears lowered and tilted forward as she realised her mistakes. Her master would probably be angry with her now, and they had been together not even one moons rise. Taking a quick breath, Shumani tried again.
Her second attempt was better, although it was probably still not as good as some of the other Demeterians, Shumani had heard... Shumani felt unhappy and scared. Would her new master beat her for making a mistake? Would he yell at her? He might even return her to Tschida. Shumani looked hopefully up at her master. Maybe he was a nice human. Shumani had seen a few who appeared to be that way. This human, her master, Nathanael Tassinari, had a look to him that was different then Tschida. He had kinder eyes.
Shumani swallowed and waited for her master’s response. She was feeling a little hot and was beginning to feel quite thirsty. Shumani was getting more used to the climate in the lowlands, but her body had yet to fully adjust to the warmer temperature, compared to the cooler temperature of her old home in the mountains. Taking quick, silent breaths, Shumani looked longingly at the container of sparkling water, sitting in a raised round circle next to her master.