When Sahsyō returned home from the city for the festival of Veignevar, she told her family: “The first thing I thought when I saw Ūnetkabyē? I wondered where they kept the animals.”
This was, as her new friends at University would say, a poetic retelling, and as her grandmother would have said, if she’d known, a steaming load of what came out of the far end of the goat.
Yes, Sahsyō had, after a week or two in the largest place she’d ever seen, wondered where the animals were. She had grown up on her family’s farm, raising barrel-chested milk goats and the biggest chickens in the mountains. There had always been animals around: goats and chickens, mousers and dogs. She had never been away from animals.
But she’d never been around that many people, either. And what she’d first thought when she’d stepped into Ūnetkabyē had been “Loud!” The city was loud in a way that she’d never imagined possible, louder than the ocean had been, louder than anything she’d ever heard. There were people everywhere, crowded up against each other, talking all at once, riding through the streets, carriages and goats and people shoulder to shoulder until there was nowhere safe to move.
Sahsyō had, she known, gapes and gawked. Stared, pressed up against the wall, terrified to move. She had tried to go back inside, but she couldn’t find the door-handle, and when she did, she couldn’t make it work. She had, for one long moment, been absolutely certain that she’d made the wrong decision. University wasn’t for her. Ūnetkabyē certainly wasn’t for her.
But she couldn’t make the door work, so she walked forward, through the carts, through the people, through the noise, to the University.
And when she home for Veignevar’s festival, she could laugh and joke. “I wondered where they put all the animals,” and pretend she’d never been terrified.
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