An Interview with Danel

From By the Waters of Kadesh


Q. So, Danel, how old are you?

A. 13.


Q. And you have grown up in the palace?

A. Well, we don’t live in the palace. My mother works here, so I spend a lot of time here.


Q. What does she do?

A. She cooks for King Ibaniru and Prince Keret. The prince loves her cooking, so we are here almost every day. Sometimes she stays really late making something special, so I end up sleeping on a mat on the kitchen floor.


Q. What do you do all day while you wait for her?

A. Sometimes I help her. One of the soldiers is helping me learn to read and write.


Q. Is it common for women to work in the palace?

A. There aren’t too many. The gods have smiled on us, because my father is gone, my grandparents are dead, and otherwise we would probably starve.


Q. If your mother wasn’t working, what would your life be like?

A. Before my father died, we lived and farmed outside the walls. I remember his laugh. We laughed a lot, and obviously spent most of our time outside. Our house was bigger. When he died, we had to move inside. Now I’m inside most of the time. I can’t go to school.


Q. Why not?

A. Either you go because your father went, or because you can afford to pay. My father was a farmer, and we can’t afford it.


Q. What will your life be like when you are a man?

A. I don’t know. Most of the time sons follow in their fathers’ footsteps, but I can’t do that …


Q. Where did you get your name?

A. Danel is the hero in a myth of our people. He was a king who asked for a son. Our god gave him one. He was king and good to the widows and orphans. I want to be kind and good like he was.


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