Dairy of a future Queen
Book 1: Before Theed
I am now queen, so I suppose someday someone will seek out a record of my life. So it is here that I will record the record of how a farm girl became queen. Of course, my queenship wasn't a birth right, Naboo no longer follows such a lines of succession. There was a time, before the time of peace, when our kings and queens ruled by birthright. Our King then was insufficient and it was a talented young person, from a poor village in the southwest that took charge. The story is beautiful and my summary doesn't do it justice. But as I said, this record is to tell my story.
How shall I begin? How does anyone begin? I was born. Born to farmers on the planet of Naboo, in a tiny mountain village. My parents loved me and they loved each other. I had everything a person requires to live, food, clothing, and shelter plus all the caring I would ever need. I even had a little dog named Scruffy. My parents had the ideal simple life, but their child was no simple child.
My mother, who use to be a formal schoolteacher, first taught me at home, but I absorbed lessons quicker than she could create them. So she sent me to formal school. From the moment I started formal schooling, teachers stared at me funny. At the time, I never quite knew if the look was good or bad. I never understood why I picked up complex concepts as fast as I did, I just did. I was bored in formal school, my mother knew it, my teachers knew it, and I knew it.
By the time I was seven, they had advanced me two levels and I was still ahead of my class. The next year, when I had just turned eight, when I wasn't even quite eight and a half standard years, Grandmother would come to visit for the Harvest celebration. That day my life would change the course of my life forever.
The Harvest Celebration was a five day long holiday celebrated all over Naboo and during it nobody worked. The reason it fell around the farmer's actual Harvest was because it was originally based on the first settlers who were farmers. The last day of the celebration there was a huge meal. In the big city, the big meal on the fifth day was bought from the marketplace or some store, it wasn't as exciting as it was on the farm. On the farm fifth day meal was a culmination of season's hard work.
On my first day off from school I spent the morning working on a school project and the afternoon fishing with my father. When I got home for dinner, Winama, my grandmother, was sitting in our living room talking with my mother. I was elated to see my grandmother, but shocked. At first I just stood there staring, than she smiled at me. I ran to her and gave her a big hug.
"Hello my dumpling," Grandmother said hugging me as tight as I had ever been hugged.
"Are you here for the Harvest Celebration?" I asked.
"Yes," she replied. "I'll be here the entire week."
"I'm glad," I said hugging her again.
Winama is my father's mother. She worked as a weaver in Theed. At the time I had been to our capital city of Theed about once to visit her with my father. It was a beautiful city and I decided in that moment I wanted to live there one day, but I didn't know how quickly that day would come.
Always excited to see my Grandma, I dragged her to my room to show her my latest treasure, a stone my father had found on his land. It was as black as night. As far as I knew, it was worthless, still I thought it would be nice to investigate it. However, Winama's eyes fell on something else, my school project. She turned on the old model data projector that I was planning to use for my presentation and asked me to explain the charts.
I said, "These three graphs represents the product dad outputs from the farm every year and the profits. This here is approximately how much is used from the farm in the home. And this one over here uses all the information to estimate how much profit we'll make next year."
"The school gave you this assignment."
"Well, the assignment was make a simple graph, but I wanted to show how I got from point a to point b. I have it thoroughly explained on my data recorder. You want to see it?"
Grandma said she didn't have to see anymore. And we went to join mom and dad for dinner.
Dinner wasn't a big meal, but it was special just the same because my Grandmother was there. It had been awhile since we'd seen her and I loved having her near. At first, dinner was full of polite conversation. Then suddenly it turned to me when Grandmother asked, "Dumpling, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
“I don’t know,” I responded.
"How would you like to one day serve a governorship?"
“What’s so funny?” My grandmother asked.
"I'm a little girl," I replied with a smile.
"Well it does not matter that you’re a girl. And your age pales in comparison to your mind. You are a very exceptional little girl. And I think you’re a perfect candidate for FNL’s special training program in Theed.”
"The what program?" My father asked.
"The FNL program, It stands for Future Naboo leaders. This is too bright a little girl to waste her future here. The FNL program is a very concentrated program that only excepts bright youngsters. It trains not only for leading positions on Naboo, but their students have also become diplomats and Senators in the New Republic. Of course, she'd have to live in Theed to go through the program."
It was obvious my Grandmother was proud to of the program's history, but the offer did not make her father happy. I was their precious child; my parents didn’t want to think of me going as far away as Courscant. Theed was far enough away to tear at their hearts, but the Galactic Senate was a place they couldn't even afford to visit.
"I know it seems bigger than life and I know she's your baby, but she was born for great things. "
"Unlike your son," my father replied angrily. His voice had this nasty, cold undertone. I had never heard him sound that way.
"Don't honey," my mother interjected. "I called her and told her about how smart our baby is. She needs more than we can give, more than her school can give. I was the one who called around, I heard about the FNL program, I asked your mother to check it out.”
"We are her parents," my father yelled. "We gave her life, we should raise her."
My father slammed his chair down and left the room. I was shocked. My mother said nothing, just left her eyes downcast. I didn’t know how to feel. I didn’t want to leave mom and dad. But what Grandmother was talking about sounded wonderful.
"I was a schoolteacher, I know the bright ones when I see them," my mother said to me. "I gave birth to her, but she doesn't belong to me. She's her own person," she said to my grandmother.
"Sweetie, are you finished," my mother asked, realizing I had stopped eating.
"Yeah," I replied. Half my food was still on my plate, but I wasn't hungry
anymore. I had never seen my father so angry. it disturbed me.
The Harvest Celebration was a time to be happy so I didn't worry about the FNL program or anything else. My Grandmother and my parents seemed to put it aside for the day too. It was the day of the big fair and the Minstrel Droids were going to perform live. The Minstrel Droids played instruments, told jokes and did skits. The guy who ran them was rich from children's shows he'd done all around Naboo, plus his weekly broadcast. I had all six stuffed characters, but at the fair you could win huge replica droids. It was the most popular entertainment form amongst young children.
There were other things at the fair, baking contest and animal contest. I myself was participating in the dog show. There were also rides. But no kid did anything before seeing the Minstrel Droids. It was nice to lose herself in the Minstrel theme song, "Anything you believe" All the kids sang together with the droids.
"If a droid can sing
and a droid can dance.
You can do next to anything you believe
can do anything
If they believe."
They story behind the droids, according to their show, was they were outdated droids given up for junk and decided to start a band. But nobody wanted to give them a chance, because whoever heard of a band of droids. Still they pressed on and became a famous band. Kids ate up the tale about believing in your own abilities. The story felt very personal at that moment. Looking back, the song did have a corny melody, but the words "Anyone can do anything if they believe" hit me like a ton of bricks. I wanted to go to that training program in Theed. I wanted to be a Future Naboo Leader. But I didn't want to leave my mom and dad. It was a hard decision, I knew I could do it, but I didn't want it with my whole heart. I couldn't leave knowing my dad didn't want it.
The night before my father had had a long conversation with my grandmother and my mother. I wasn't suppose to hear them, I was suppose to be in bed, but I had to listen. Both women wanted me to go, my father said he couldn't believe my mother wasn't on his side. My mother told him how they would only be holding me back. They finally called in my teacher, who said she had heard of the FNL and said it was perfect for me. My father was still reluctant. He said he didn't want me to go out there and get disappointed. Here I was exceptional, there I'd just be another kid. It was then I knew My father knew I was smart, but didn't think I was smart enough. But today was free from all that. In fact, I was sitting on my father's shoulders as I listened to the Minstrel Droids perform.
When the droid show was over, he walked me to the bumper hover cars while I munched on a sweet stick. It was then he asked me, "Baby, do you want to attend the FNL program."
I knew what my dad wanted me to say.
"Theed's a great city," I began. "But it's not home." My father smiled. "Still," I continued, "It sounds kind of fun."
"You'll have to live with grandma, she has a small apartment. No Scruffy. And she'll still be at work when you get home from school."
"It'll be hard, but aren't you always saying anything that if it's not hard isn't worth your spit," I looked up at him. I wanted him to believe in me. Say sweetie, I know you can do it cause your my daughter."
"I don't want to lose you," my father said brushing away a lock of my hair. "You only get to grow up once and I'll miss it all."
I hugged my father then cause he needed it and I didn't think about it the
rest of the day, we just had fun. But I knew all of us were thinking about it.
"So, what do you want," Grandmother Winama asked me as we picked a bouquet from my mother's garden.
"I love my home," I replied.
"I know, but I want you to consider all your options. Plus, even though I would love having you living with me, you have a choice about where you live once your there, there are dorms too."
"I'd rather live with you when I go."
"When?" my grandmother questioned.
"If," I corrected. But it really did seem inevitable, like I was meant to leave. It was like a vacation was coming to an end, and I didn't mean my holiday break from school.
My grandmother said no more about it. We delivered the carefully cut flowers to the table, where my mother was setting up lunch. She told me to go get my father for lunch, so I went to the back of the house where he was working on one of the field droids.
"Hey dad," I said to my father.
"Hey baby," my father said sadly. "Lunch ready?"
"Okay, I'm coming."
I looked at my father then, he had somehow become himself again. The anger and pain of the last two days had faded away. Now he just looked tired.
"Dad, if you don't want me to go, I won't go," I said.
"It's not up to me."
"I know you think I'm smart, but not smart enough," I mumbled under my breath. "I heard you talking to Grandma and Mom."
"Honey, are you kidding? I know your smart enough. But I also know that the kids you'll meet can be viciously competitive. Your not that way sweetie and I don't want you to be."
"What if I promise not to change?"
"You can't stop the change. I haven't even had you half your life, you'll do a lot of growing in the next couple years. And by the time I see you again, you may think your old dad a country baffoon, no better than a primitive Gungan."
"I could never think that daddy," I replied giving him a big hug." So does this mean I can go?" I asked.
It was easier to ask the question while we embraced, I had his warmth, but my face was away from him. Still I heard the reluctant sigh as he said, "Of course, if it's what you want."
"I'm going to Theed," I said happily as I ran toward the house. I never did
look back to see my father's face.
By the time the feast day came, my parents and I had accepted our impending separation, so the day was savored like it never was before. I got some much praise and love, I didn't want the day to end. I smiled all day and bragged to every kid I knew about how I was leaving for Theed after the Harvest Celebration. Some congratulated me, some didn't. I even heard a few parents say things like "she thinks she's so smart" and "my baby is just as bright". It didn't matter, my family approved.
On the day I actually left, I wasn't so brave. I cried, held onto my father, and said I was afraid. It was then he held me away from him and said, "Baby, you were born to do great things. I understand that now. And if you don't go and give it all you can, Naboo and perhaps the galaxy will suffer."
"You really think I'll be all that important one day?" I asked
"Your all that and more at this moment," he replied.
My mother smiled, I gave them a final good-bye hug, took my grandmother's
hand and left my village home, the home I had known my entire life.
I arrived in Theed a few days later. I never let go of my grandmother's hand as we walked through Naboo's bustling marketplace. Never had I seen so many strange faces in one place. I had known most of the people in my village, so even at the crowded carnivals everything was familiar. My grandmother took me to an outdoor diner that overlooked a beautiful waterfall. She brought us some type of exotic fish dish. It looked kind of funny and I was afraid to taste it. But Grandma dug in like someone had stuck a bucketful of sweetsticks in front of her.
"What is this?" I asked.
"Weshel fish," my grandmother replied. "Fisherman are only allowed to catch ten a day, because they're endangered. It's a very expensive meal."
"It looks nasty," I replied screwing up my face
"You know sweetheart, there was this little man, Kam who always annoyed his roommate by insisting he try this new dish, Orange tongue and eggs. His roommate insisted he didn't like it, but he hadn't even tried it so Kam knew he didn't really know if he liked it, he only knew he didn't like the way it looked. So Kam said, try it once and I'll leave you alone. So to get his roommate off his back he took a cautious bite. And you know what, he loved it."
I looked at her blankly. At the time I didn't want to hear the moral of the story, so my mind didn't process it. I stared at the funny looking fish, poked it with my fork a few times.
My grandmother smiled and said, "You get ice cream if you eat the fish."
That was all I needed to take a chunk and stick it in my mouth and to my
surprise, I loved it. My grandmother smiled as I enjoyed the rest of my meal and
she still got me ice cream after.
I really wanted to see the FNL campus, but our appointment wasn't until the next day. Besides, I needed to wash first and put on some fresh clothing. I wasn't really happy about going from a nice house with a huge back yard to a small apartment in a large building. But to my surprise, my grandmother had a very spacious tenth floor apartment with a big room for me. I had a desk, with all the latest essentials, a telescope, and a huge bed. And more toys than I'd ever had.
"You must have known for sure I was gonna come," I said. "What if my parents had said no."
"They want the best for you, I knew FNL was the best."
I ran to my closet and their was a whole wardrobe of new clothes.
"Thanks Grandmother," I said hugging here.
"Your welcome dumpling," my grandmother replied returning the hug. "And you know what, we're going to be very informal in my house so you can call me by my first name."
"All right Grand--Winema."
"Now, you may want to read up on the University we're visiting tomorrow."
"University?" I questioned
"Yeah, the FNL program has it's own dorm and it's own building, but it's on a University campus."
"Do all FNL students eventually attend that University?"
"Some, others go to off planet for their University education. Some come back to work on Naboo, some don't, but all are successful."
"I hope I make you proud." I replied
"There's no way you can't make me proud," Winama said hugging me. "And I'm sure your parents feel the same way, it's yourself I want you to succeed for."
It was then a knock came to the door. I got up and ran to the door without thinking, it was something I did at home. Standing there was a woman with a little girl who looked a lot like me, except for the scowl on her face. My grandmother came to the door with a huge smile.
"Winema, I see you and your granddaughter had a safe trip," the woman said.
"Couldn't have been safer," Winema turned to me. "This is my neighbor Aril and her daughter Saab. Her father works for the FNL program. We thought since you two were the same age, you'd like to play together. Sweetie why don't you show Saab your new room."
"Come on Saab," I said cautiously, she looked like she might hit me at any
"So are you an FNL student?" I asked after we left the parents behind.
"No, my dad's just a glorified gym teacher," She replied in utter annoyance.
"My dad teaches in the health and body group, exercise and self defense and such. You'll be taking it once a week. Listen, I know what all you FNL kids are like. Your think your so mush smarter than us kids with average brains."
"First of all, I don't think I'm smarter than anybody. Second of all, your the one calling me an FNL kid when you don't even know me. It's like Kam and his roommate and the orange tongue."
"The what?" Saab asked.
"I don't know, some story my grandma told me."
When I realized how silly I sounded, Saab and I broke the ice with a laugh. I
had know idea how far into the future Sabé's friendship would stretch. We shook
in friendship and found an electronic game to play in my room.
The next day I begged Saab to come with me and Winema to the school. I would start in two days and she was more familiar with the campus then my grandmother or myself. So she came. The campus was huge, 75% of it was University property. The pool, the gym, the exercise room, game room, and dinning hall were all part of a common building. In the dinning hall, the FNL section was separated by a transparent wall. The FNL building was fairly new. The program had only recently merged with the university to give their kids a rounder education. And as a part of the school, it bought money in. The tuition was expensive, but a lot of the students got full or partial scholarships from wealthy sponsor families. Intelligent children weren't known to restrict their birth to rich families, so wealthy families didn't mind sponsoring a student. She'd heard from Saab that there were times when wealthy families tried to buy their students in, but it was a program restricted to gifted students, not money.
I had to take an evaluation test on which I did expectedly well. And after filling out some papers, we were taken on a tour. Our guide was a sixteen year old former FNL student who was now attending the University and worked as a palace clerk. I looked at her, wondering if I would be like her when I was sixteen. Wondering if I would ever really be as big a success as everyone was predicting.
As we entered the FNL building, I saw the students sitting with perfect
posture in straight rows. I didn't know how I could compete with them, they
seemed so disciplined. That was something I hadn't had a lot of at the time.
Suddenly I was afraid of what was to come.