As the festival reached it’s, the Boy pushed aside his friends on the balcony to view below his cousin marching on the street. Cousin, in his intricate white military robes, was unrecognizable. The heavy drapes and folds which twisted and turned, shined here and there from a gold button hidden inside its depths. The swords’ shined too with spiraling metal decorations along their hilts. The boys in uniform, including Cousin, were now playing men. While dressed in uniform their veils possesed a cutout for the eye area of the face, which they were free to decorate however they wished. Some wrote obscenities on their skin, some painted intricate patterns of many colors. Blots of red, teal, purple and orange jumped into the corneas of the public. These proud warriors of God and country had fought for the right to have their individual fires burn in unison on this day. One of these young men with intricate patterns painted on his face was Cousin, the Boy noticed that unlike his collegues he did not have any color, only black stretching into hundreds of tiny barely noticeable patterns on his face. With sweat from the beating sun, the Boy wondered how Cousin and his friends too weren’t ***. Cousin with his hooded eyes looked on ahead with a dark purpose shining in the blacks of his pupils. The Boy and his friends ran down from the second floor of the apartment complex carved into the side of the cliff and out onto the street. Cracking jokes, laughing and tripping each other along the way, the boys followed the line of heroes they admired. Beating dirt and sand into the air with their feet, they ruined the best robes their mothers had saved for them for this day. With enough pushing, giggling and scoldings from old men and women on the streets, the soldiers finally reached the end of their march in the middle of the bazaar. On a slightly elevated platform, the Habashaah sat on his decorated throne and morosely observed the men standing in front of him. With his long meticulous finger he stroked his gray beard and mumbled something. Cousin, first in line, stepped forth and looked the Habishaah in the eyes with a look of deep seriousness and reverence. Cousin grabbed an edge of his robes and began to skillfully unwrap the multilayered robes off with a grace that resembled the movements of a dance, as the impressed audience looked on. Finally his bronze shoulders stood bare in the evening sun sinking behind the cliffs. The Habashaah grabbed his sword and the Boy looked in astonishment and wondered what would happen next. The Habashaah stood up from his throne and with a mirthless quality to his movements put his arms on Cousin’s shoulders. Cousin’s veiled face bowed in respect. The Habashaah turned Cousin around so that his back faced him and muttered for him to kneel. At this moment the nadira started to started to sing the prayer Q22X Y in a drifting wail. The sad verses ringed out into the ears of people standing at the bazaar. “As you’ve become a man, your flesh is not your own Oh lonely son departed from your mother, come! Stand here before me and feel the blood of your father.” The Habashaah began to meticulously cut into the musculature of Cousin’s back carving the mural of honor on his back as he would for the remainder of the men up until later into the night. The Boy looked in horror, as the assistants of the Habishaah came flanking in with sponges and sparse buckets of water to wipe the neverending pool of blood pouring down Cousin’s back. The Habishaah, not concerned, continued writing sacred words and geometrical symbols as soon as his lackeys finished mopping. The Boy pushed and squeezed through the circular crowd to change his perspective and see how Cousin was holding up. Standing face to face, perhaps 5 meters apart, he looked his Cousin in the eyes and saw the torment and tears run down his face, smudging the facepaint revealed by the veil. From that point on, a seed would be planted into the boy, a vague sense of hatred, abnormality and a sense of isolation it would take him many years later to describe.