The people of the village often called Isa ‘willful’ and she took this as a mark of pride. To be willful was to be strong. But the villagers also meant it as a small jab towards Isa’s father, it was their way of suggesting he had been lax with her discipline.
Hua knew this to be true. He was failing Isa as her parent. He had also been called ‘willful’ in his youth, and his had been a youth filled with troubles. Now, it seemed, he was passing his mistakes onto his daughter.
The great Medium of the village, Otako, who spoke for Artart, often joked that Isa would become either a great queen, or a beggar woman.
Isa Kudo was brought to the Elders and sat before them. The Elders had decided that this willful daughter was in need of a proper education. They asked her name the qualities that every man of title should possess.
Isa mulled the question over then replied, “Courage.”
The Elders nodded to each other and gestured for her to continue.
“Thoughtfulness. Kindness. Strength. A man should be well-read, creative and resourceful. Trustworthy and dependable. He should have both his mind and his house in order.”
The Elders all agreed that this answer was good. Then they asked her the qualities that every woman of marrying age should possess.
Isa answered at once: “Courage,” she said. “Thoughtfulness. Kindness. Strength. A woman should be well-read, creative and resourceful. Trustworthy and dependable. She should have both her mind and her house in order.”
The Elders were not pleased with her little trick, and shooed her from their hut, but, try as they might, could not find fault with Isa’s answers.
In the Isbalba tribe, deeds and titles are recorded with ritual scarification; a mark for each feat or triumph. By the time of her coming of age ceremony, Isa Kudo had already earned over a hundred such markings.