The Slave Prince Final Chapter
Agawe Leaves Everything Behind
That night, after persuading Ayong that he did not have to stay with him in the hut, Agawe decided to take a walk. He walked and walked, then slowly started to run. He ran and ran until he could run no more. He slept under the stars and when the sun came up, he ran again. Then he knew where he was going – to his and Egul’s stream.
His feet brought him to his most favorite place in the world. He washed his face and his arms. He felt a sting and for the first time, he realized that his father would have killed him without hesitation. Yes, my own father wanted to kill me, he thought.
He sat on a rock and talked loudly to Egul. He regaled his friend with his adventures, even acting out how he fought with Gayon and Siawan, and telling Egul about Ayong and how he shot someone and would have shot Gayon to protect him, he told Egul about his real mother Madallay… how she sent him away to be with the al-langs…
Then he suddenly felt so alone – and he sobbed. After a long time, he stood up and started to walk home – to his Innà Lungkayan.
Lungkayan was too happy to see him but sad that he had to run away. He urged Agawe to go back and be where he rightly belonged… but he wanted to be where he was at the moment.
He left this place thinking life would be better – he thought that once he saw his real parents, everything would be different. But he was wrong… his father still wanted to kill him and the family he found in Apo Abet and Ayong belonged to another – to Gayon. So Agawe spent his days swimming in his stream or chasing deers for food. He wanted to leave everything behind.
The Brotherhood of Three Friends
One bright, sunny day, he was amusing himself by throwing pebbles on the shallow water when he heard a blast. It was unmistakable! He heard that blast before – a gun!
He ran to a rock and hid himself as he looked around him. Then he heard it. “Agawe, where are you? You cannot hide from me…”
It was a familiar voice but the wind distorted it. Then the voice came nearer, “Agawe… come out…”
It’s Ayong! “Ayong, are you trying to kill me?” he yelled as he crouched lower in his hiding place.
Ayong chuckled as he approached. “Did I scare you? That’s for leaving like you did…”
Agawe came out and Ayong gave him a light punch in the arm while he messed the young boy’s hair. “So this is the stream you’re talking about – you and your friend’s stream… I know I could find it.”
“How did you know I am here…”
“Your innà said we can find you here…”
“We came looking for you. A lot of things happened since you left. Tiyo Ubo thought we can find you here… so here we are… we found your innà.”
“Ayong… you really did not have to do that…” Agawe stopped when someone called out. “Ayong, where are you?”
Agawe moved back, “What is he doing here?”
“Ehh, adi… we came together…” Ayong calmed him down.
Gayon came up to them and stared at Agawe. Agawe stared back at him.
“Gayon is now living with Tiyo Ubo and Tiya Maeng,” Ayong said to break the standoff.
“I see you’re back where you belong…” Agawe spoke without taking his eyes off Gayon.
Gayon took a deep breath and said, “We are all trying to make a new start … I know I have wronged you but I hope you can forgive me … and we can become … friends….” Then he extended a hand to Agawe.
Agawe took a deep breath, nodded and took the hand, “I know we can be good friends…”
“Ayy.. adi…” Ayong danced around gleefully.
For the first time in months, Agawe felt carefree, just like when Egul was alive. The three of them spent hours in the stream, splashing in the shallow water, and lazing on the flat rocks under the huge fern leaves.
They spent the night at Lungkayan’s place where they sat outside watching the starry night.
Agawe mused, “I could not believe Siawan killed himself.”
“He cannot take the shame of losing a fight … especially to his own son… he was a magani and it is honorable for a warrior to die in a fight,” Gayon explained.
“You shamed your own father…” Ayong teased him.
Agawe frowned at Ayong, “You mean I should have killed him?”
“It is not right … why will you carry the guilt just to follow this “damn” custom...” Gayon spat on the ground.
Agawe saw Gayon in a different light. “That is just what I am about to say… we are a good people but our culture dictates that we become killers… what if a baby has a flaw…..?” Agawe choked with emotion and stopped talking.
“You know what… we are the next generation…. Why don’t we discard these bad traditions and keep the good ones…” Gayon stood up and declared royally, “No more feeding blemished babies hot ashes… ”
“No more arranged marriages for young men and women… “ Ayong chimed in.
“No more killing al-langs…” Agawe said emphatically as he stood up.
That night, they made a pact of brotherhood and vowed to make a change.
Agawe Becomes a Datu
When they reached the wooden house the following day, Agawe was informed that arrangements had been made for him to take his rightful place as Siawan’s heir and live with his mother, Madallay in the next village.
Agawe refused. He wanted to stay where he found a family and brothers but Apô Abet reminded him that Madallay needed him especially that Siawan was dead.
“Apô Abet… as long as I am wanted here, I would like to stay … but if I am no longer needed, I am going, not to Madallay but to Innà Lungkayan.”
“Apô…” the old woman said kindly, “Stay as long as you want …. I really do not want you to go… but you have an innà out there alone…”
Agawe sighed. “I am happy here… with you, Ayong and Gayon…”
Apô Abet explained, “Agawe… you have been raised an al-lang. It was not an easy life. Now you have a chance to be who you are … a datu’s son … and now a datu since your father is dead… don’t throw that away… many relatives of Siawan will take advantage of Madallay and grab what rightfully belongs to you…and your Innà Lungkayan… you can take her to live in your land…”
Agawe stood on the large porch watching the group approach the house. Ayong bounded up the stairs and good naturedly punched Agawe who was too happy to see the rest of the family, Tiyo Ubo and Tiya Maeng, Apô Abet, and Gayon. They came to do the “pamalaye” for Agawe’s real sister.
They all entered the house and Gayon ran to Madallay to give his respects. Madallay had been nothing but a good mother to Agawe but he clearly saw that she missed the young man so much, and Gayon missed the woman who became his mother for seventeen years.
Lungkayan supervised the staff in Madallay’s house though she had her own hut with her own garden nearby. “I will die early if I don’t do something, Agawe,” she told her now “datu” son when he stopped her from working.
Everyone sat on the floor to start the pamalaye. Gayon was tasked to do the negotiations with the man of the house, Agawe. “So let us now talk about the wedding of our Ayong and your sister, Ingan,” Gayon started. “And the sab-lag as well…”
So the dowry was agreed on, and Ayong gladly accepted the fact that he was going to stay in Agawe’s household so that Ingan’s family can get to know him better. It is also the time for the betrothed to get to know each other.
Agawe was proud of himself for handling the arrangements well and he saw that Ubo could not be prouder of Gayon.
The food Gayon and his family brought was served for lunch and the gifts were presented to Agawe, Madallay, and Ingan.
Agawe could see that Ayong was happy with the prospect of marrying Ingan. Agawe himself was surprised that day when he first came to live with his mother and Madallay introduced him to his own sister. He had no doubt that Ingan was Madallay’s daughter because she was so beautiful.
Ayong was smitten with Ingan the first time he saw her when he came to visit Agawe.
“We would not have any problem if it was Ingan who was given to you for marriage and not …. the other one….” Agawe told Ayong. “You would have gladly married her…”
“Siawan wanted to marry Miting off first because she was older than Ingan… besides Siawan loved Ingan too much, he did not want her to marry at a very young age….” Gayon explained. Then he tapped Ayong, “Hey… take care of Ingan…you are going to answer to us,” Gayon pointed to Agawe and himself, “if you give her problems…”
“I promise to take care of her… with you two looking after her, I have no choice…”
Agawe and Gayon teased him no end as they romped off like small boys. “I’ll show you where you can build your house for my sister…” Agawe ran up ahead.
“Really? I thought they are living in our village….” Gayon feigned surprise.
“What? And who will help Datu Agawe run his estate?” Ayong laughed.
“That’s unfair… I need help with my estate, too…”
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