The Land of the Exile
MOTHER, THE light has grown grey in the sky; I do not know what the time is.
There is no fun in my play, so I have come to you. It is Saturday, our holiday.
Leave off your work, mother; sit here by the window and tell me where the desert of Tepantar in the fairy tale is?
The shadow of the rains has covered the day from end to end.
The fierce lightning is scratching the sky with its nails.
When the clouds rumble and it thunders, I love to be afraid in my heart and cling to you.
When the heavy rain patters for hours on the bamboo leaves, and our windows shake and rattle at the gusts of wind, I like to sit alone in the room, mother, with you, and hear you talk about the desert of Tepantar in the fairy tale.
Where is it, mother, on the shore of what sea, at the foot of what hills, in the kingdom of what king?
There are no hedges there to mark the fields, no footpath across it by which the villagers reach their village in the evening, or the woman who gathers dry sticks in the forest can bring her load to the market. With patches of yellow grass in the sand and only one tree where the pair of wise old birds have their nest, lies the desert of Tepantar.
I can imagine how, on just such a cloudy day, the young son of the king is riding alone on a grey horse through the desert, in search of the princess who lies imprisoned in the giant's palace across that unknown water.
When the haze of the rain comes down in the distant sky, and lightning starts up like a sudden fit of pain, does he remember his unhappy mother, abandoned by the king, sweeping the cow-stall and wiping her eyes, while he rides through the desert of Tepantar in the fairy tale?
See, mother, it is almost dark before the day is over, and there are no travellers yonder on the village road.
The shepherd boy has gone home early from the pasture, and men have left their fields to sit on mats under the eaves of their huts, watching the scowling clouds.
Mother, I have left all my books on the shelf-do not ask me to do my lessons now.
When I grow up and am big like my father, I shall learn all that must be learnt.
But just for to-day, tell me, mother, where the desert of Tepantar in the fairy tale is?