Gabriela Viseur



A group of parakeets flew above the village,and Kanduri woke up, disturbed by the birds' loud and noisy calls.

She looked around at the small, dark cell with its massive stonewalls. After a first moment of confusion, she recognized the place and remembered her sad present: the Queen, "her" Queen, was dead. The servant girl had been charged with the sad task of dressing the corpse
and combing for a last time the long braids. Later, like one blow after another, the priests had chosen Kanduri as the victim to honour the leader's spirit. Two guards had seized the young servant and thrown her into the cell.

The condemned girl knew it was all a treachery: the priests were influenced by the Lord of Jequetepeque, the Queen's husband. He was a noble man who loved his wife and daughter, but hated Kanduri. He was jealous of the affection the Queen felt for her; he couldn't reach the Queen's heart and blamed the servant for it.

As long as the Queen lived, he could do nothing: he was just the Consort Prince, whereas his wife held the power as sole heiress to the throne. But now he could rule and do whatever he wanted, at least until little Madariwa, the eight-year-old princess, would come of age. And so, the Lord decided to get rid of Kanduri..
The poor girl started sobbing and crying as she thought, "Oh, Gods! I prayed to you... I BEGGED to you that you would heal my Queen, but you didn't hear me! Why...? WHY...? Why were you so cruel? Why did you take her away from me?"

The sound of voices and music coming from outside the cell interrupted her thoughts. She looked through the thick bars of the small window, and saw a procession. The High Priest and the two Priestesses wore long dresses embroidered with gold ornaments. The
other priests were more plainly dressed but wore masks: the Bat and the Owl, symbols of night and death; the Jaguar, the royal emblem of power; and the Condor, the messenger of the Gods and guide to the World of the Spirits. They were followed by impressive looking
warriors with painted faces, feathered helmets, golden earrings and nose ornaments, carrying their weapons. A group of musicians played their drums, the "quenas" (Andean flutes) and "sikuris," the Andean Pan´s flute, while villagers wearing colourful "ponchos" sang the praises of the late Queen.

Behind the lively crowd came the Lord of Jequetepeque with the young Princess and eight strong warriors carrying a stretcher bearing a big cotton-cloth bundle.

Kanduri knew very well that the corpse of the Queen was wrapped inside that bundle. She slowly let herself fall to the floor and started crying again, "How could it happen?"she thought. "My Queen, you were so young, so beautiful, so powerful... And fierce! Everybody feared you, except me. Well, ... I feared you too at first."

Ah, yes! She had been so scared when the warriors from Cao invaded their village. They captured her father and elder brother, and she never saw them again. Then Kanduri was brought before the Queen along with other prisoners. The young girl was impressed when she saw that strongly built and elegantly dressed woman, covered with jewels and tattoed arms and hands. She had beautiful, shiny black hair combed in two thick braids, and a pretty rounded face with prominent cheekbones.

Then the Queen fixed her big, beautiful dark eyes upon Kanduri. The captive girl, intimidated, looked down to the floor but the Queen pointed at her and asked, "What's your name?"

"Ka... Kanduri... My Lady."

"Well, Kanduri, follow me. You´ll be my personal servant now."

The young girl obeyed as the soldiers guided the other people to work in the fields.

Kanduri thought, "And then I became closer to you... I became your friend and learned to love you..." She smiled unwillingly as fond memories came to her mind. She remembered when the Queen commanded her husband to inspect the water channels and crop fields but decided she would go hunting and asked Kanduri to go with her. They travelled with their escort through the desert to the East. The journey lasted many days and during the nights, the Queen called Kanduri to sleep with her.

Finally, like a miracle, after climbing and walking into clouds and mist, they arrived at a green valley hidden behind the mountains. It was a wonderful place, full of trees, streams and small rivers. There were plenty of flowers, butterflies and birds. The Queen let the men
of the group prepare the camp and went with Kanduri to explore. Both women suddenly stopped and stayed silent for a while, admiring a hummingbird coming and going from flower to flower.

Kanduri spoke at last,"Oh, that hummingbird is so small, but it must be really strong! See, it doesn't get tired... It never rests!

The Queen said, "It can't. It's too busy!"


"Because it wants all the flowers for itself... And that's hardwork!"
Kanduri held the Queen's hand, kissed the tattoos drawn on it and said, "Ah, I wish you won't be inconstant like the hummingbird and leave me alone!"

The Queen hugged her and caressed her hair and answered with a smile, "Don´t worry! I'll always be with you, my dear little flower! I swear it to Aí Apaec, the Greatest God, nothing will separate us, not even the Decapitator!"

But now... Kanduri looked at her cell and remembered the destiny awaiting her. She closed her eyes and sighed, "Well, my Queen, now it seems we'll really be together forever, and nothing will change that. Ah! Isn't it an irony? Your husband wants me out of his sight, but
he's sending me to join you in the Other World."

She found that thought comforting, and felt strangely relieved, until the sound of footsteps coming closer brought her back to reality. Kanduri stood up slowly, without fear or anxiety. "So it's over now! But I can leave this world without regrets...I loved and I've been
loved... And I'm going to see my Queen again!"

The cell door opened and a priest came in, followed by two warriors.

Kanduri faced her executioners calmly and firmly, asking herself, "After all, how long does a flower live?"


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