Thursday, April 14, 2011

A to Z Challenge: Kinship

PREVIOUSLY

Athena glanced down at her tea cup again, and then looked at the Old Man.

"I have a question. Or two. Or more."

"Go 'head." He was glad to have company as well as to see someone display some semblance of curiosity.

The man in the diary, and the man in the photos. Their last names are Ojeda and Villa, right?"

"Yes, why?"

"Well, that's my question really. Why?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I'm called Athena na'Kyria. I'm the unmarried child of Kyria. David is the unmarried child of his mother, Yamileth. Carlo and Valeria are married to each other, so Carlo is du'Valeria and Valeria is du'Carlo. Right?"

"Go on."

"So how come we have normal names and the men in the diary have such weird names?"

Old Man smiled. "Dear girl. You are assuming that your name is the norm. It's not. Theirs is."

"How? Everyone I know, well everyone whose name I know, has names like ours. I don't know anyone with a name like Villa or Ojeda."

"You name, the names of the people around you, they're based on kinship. Your name shows who you're related to."

"Of course!"

"No, not of course! We had normal last names -- last names like Mario and Francisco, for hundreds of years. You have one on your birth certificate, too, by the way."

"Then what is it? Why do we do this kinship thing then?"

Old Man laughed. "It was your mother's idea, really. She said our lives had turned into something out of some poorly-written dystopian novel, so we might as well have the names to go with it! Your father agreed, but for different reasons. Dropping our real last names also dropped our ethnicity, at least on paper."

Athena made assorted faces as she tried to process this information. She gave up, and waited for Old Man to go on.

"When you were born, your parents had a choice. They could officially list your birth on your county birth certificate with you being the product of your parents and having your father's last name -- which would mark you as the child of someone the government was interested in silencing. Instead, they left your father's name off the birth certificate, gave you that last name on the government's document, and hoped that the powers that be would think that your mother was some lesbian who read too many Darkover novels and probably had you by a donor. Your real name is recorded here in town, but that information sort of never made it to the county."

NEXT

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