Extracts from the diary of a young girl from the Kingdom of Wisdom
It’s been two years since the world turned into ice. Two years since I lost most of my family. Only mum and I are left now. Although she is rather sick, I love living with my mum. I don’t mind being the one who’s taking care of her and I don’t mind leaving the house everyday to look for work. Life could be a lot worse and I know that very well.
I’m in the town again today, trying to find a job. It doesn’t matter what kind of job it is. I would do anything to earn some more money for my mum and me. But nobody wants me. They all think I’m too young to work. They all think I can’t do what they’re doing. But I know that’s not true. I can do many things and I’m a fast learner. If only somebody would give me a chance to proof myself.
Although I told my mum I would go out and look for work again, I won’t go into town today. I won’t even walk in the right direction. Instead I walk towards the mountains on the edge of our little place in the North. Something simply draws me towards them and I can’t help myself. I wouldn’t find a job anyways, so it won’t hurt to look at other places for a while. And since I’ve never been to the mountains, I’m quite curious to see what I might find there. Most people don’t dare to walk too close to them because for them the mountains look somewhat scary. But I think they’re beautiful and fascinating. There might be some kind of treasure hidden in a cave or underneath some of the rubble. Big houses stood in that area once, big and beautiful and expensive houses. Who knows what their owners forgot or lost when the world turned into ice? Who knows what I might find there?
I’ve been looking for an hour or two when I finally find something. Although they’re not as expensive looking as I thought they would be, I still think they’re some kind of treasure. They’re books. Very old and heavy books. Somebody must have put them there on purpose. I didn’t find them just lying around somewhere. They were carefully placed inside a wooden box. Somebody must have put them there so he or she could find them again later on. I know I should put them back into the box. They belong to somebody and I can’t just take them. But I don’t want to put them back. I want to take them home with me and read them. I want to show my mum the treasure that I found so close to the mountains. I’m sure there’s nothing else I could find in the rubble. And so I hold the books close to me and walk back home.
My mum isn’t too happy when she hears that I’ve not been looking for a job today. But when I show her the books, she at least calms down a little bit. She’s as curious as I am. She wants to know what they’re about as well. We read them but we can’t really understand them. I’m not surprised that I can’t understand them because I’m still so young. But at least my mum should have been able to do so. She’s an intelligent woman and she worked for intelligent people once. I would have thought she would understand the books and would know what they’re about. But she doesn’t. My mum is as lost as I am. Yet at least she knows what we should do with those books. Since they are so difficult to understand they must be more than important. And that’s why I will bring them to the mayor.
They let me wait for about half an hour before one of them decides to talk to me. I sit in one of the rather uncomfortable chairs in front of his office. I hoped to talk to him personally right away. But neither was that the case nor am I allowed to talk to him now. It’s just me and his secretaries in front of his office. And they won’t let me enter it. I explain everything carefully and more than once but the only thing they say to me is that the mayor is very busy right now and that I’ll have to wait. By now I doubt they will let me in at all. I doubt the mayor will talk to me or hear what I have to say or even look at the books. This is useless. They don’t take me seriously, just like any other adult in this town. This is a waste of time.
I leave the building and the mayor’s office behind after waiting for about an hour. The books are still heavy in my arms. I decide to go to the library and tell the librarians about the books. Surely they will listen and be more than interested in them. After all it’s their job to be interested in any book, isn’t it? The library is quite close to the office of the mayor so I don’t have to walk for too long. But when I enter the library and try to talk to one of the older librarians, he looks at me the same way the secretaries had. He’s not taking me seriously either. None of them are. Every last librarian I approach and tell about the books dismisses me and tells me to go back home to my mummy. They’re treating me like a child. I might be a child, yet that does not mean that I am stupid. I know that and they should know it too. They’ve all been children once. I bet they hated to be treated that way just as much as I do. But I can’t say that. I might be angry but I won’t talk to any adult in such a disrespectful way. My mum taught me better than that. And so I leave the library without another word or complaint.
I am on my way home again when I meet the man. He is old and looks very sick. He is skinny and I can see a few wounds on his face and on his hands. Why isn’t he wearing gloves? Some of them look older than others, but they all look nasty. The man seems to be kind. Or at least he has kind eyes and a kind smile. I think he must be kind. He approaches me and asks for my help. I am the only person who has looked at him for more than just a second. Or at least he says so. I can’t really help him. I don’t know how to take care of his wounds. But I know that my mum knows. And that’s why I am taking the old, kind man home with me.
My mum looks surprised and shocked when I enter our house with the old man by my side. I think she is also surprised because I am still carrying the books in my arms. Luckily, my mum doesn’t ask for an explanation. She simply helps the man, takes care of his wounds and gives him something to eat and to drink. I was right to think that he is a kind man. And he is very thankful for all the help. After a while he tells us his story. The kind man is actually the old mayor of our town. My mum learned from him when she was younger. He left the town because of his work shortly before the world turned into ice. And then he got lost. Nobody knew where he was. Even he himself didn’t know. Everybody thought he was dead and so they elected a new mayor, the one who didn’t want to talk to me. My mum and the man talk for a while, but I am not allowed to stay and listen. It is already very late and my mum says it is time for me to go to bed. And so I get up and go to my room, leaving my mum and the kind man who was once the mayor behind.
I wake up early in the morning and go downstairs again. My mum is already awake, but there is no sign of the old man. Apparently he slept on the couch and left our house again very early, my mum says. He must have something important to do. Although I don’t know the man I am sad that he left. I hoped he could help me with the books, but since he is gone and I never even mentioned them, I doubt it is very likely. I eat breakfast with my mum and think about what I will do today. I could try to talk to the librarians or the mayor again. I could try and find a job somewhere in the town. But I doubt I will be able to do either one of the two things. Not one of the adults takes me seriously enough. My mum has an idea what I can do, though. She says I could go looking for the old man. She says I could find him and ask him about the books. And I think that’s a good idea.
I walk through the whole town, but I can’t find the man. I look in every store and around every corner, but I can’t find him anywhere. Hoping I would find him, I brought the old books with me. Just like yesterday they are heavy in my arms. There is only one place I have not looked for the man yet. It is the office of the mayor. Although I don’t think he will be there, I still decide to look for him at that place and maybe just leave the books with the secretaries. I don’t want them anymore. They are old and difficult to understand and heavy. They can have them. I don’t care if they want them or not.
When I enter the building I can hear shouting. I recognise the voice of the old man and walk a little bit faster. He is arguing with the mayor in front of his office. Their voices are both very loud and the secretaries look surprised and worried. The situation is strange. I think the mayor thinks that the old man wants to take his job away from him. Since he was the mayor before the world turned into ice, it seems a lot like it. But the old man says he doesn’t want the job. He tells the mayor about the books. How does he know about the books? I didn’t tell him about them and my mum didn’t tell him either. Yet he knows about them and wants the mayor to take a look at them. He knows they’re very important. It seems like they once belonged to people who worked in the mountains. They’re some kind of notes about something I do not understand and the old man was the one hiding them in the box I found. Although the mayor doesn’t want to at first, he allows me to hand him the books in the end. He will look at them as soon as he finds the time for it. The old man and I are pleased with his answer. We leave the building together.
Standing in front of the building, I thank the old man for his help. He says not to worry about it after everything my mum and I have done for him yesterday. He smiles at me. I ask him where he will go now and he says that his place is wherever he is needed. Although I still don’t know him, I feel a little sad that he is leaving. But I know he will do something good somewhere else, he will help somebody just like he helped me. And that thought makes it easier. The old man takes my hand and shakes it before he leaves me alone in our little town. I go back home and tell my mum about everything. We both decide that we will have to change something, although neither one of us knows what or how.
Although it has been twelve years since I met the old man, I still think about him sometimes. He was such a kind and goodhearted man. Without him nothing would be the way it is today. And I don’t only mean the fact that I am working for our little town now. I also mean the fact that he changed everything and helped create a better life for everybody in the North as well as in the three other Kingdoms. They call the North the Kingdom of Wisdom now and I am sure that the man had some kind of part in this as well. Although I don’t know what part it might be. And I will probably never find out. But I know that if it hadn’t been for the old man, the former mayor of our town, many things wouldn’t be as good as they are now. And even twelve years later, as an adult, I am still thankful for his actions and his character.