Chapter 5:

The Tragedy of Ritsu Satanetra Part 2

The Mildpowered Virgins of Novylion High

‘She sat down, offered me some tea and biscuits and told me her story. Bookmark here

‘Ritsu Satanetra was born to Mitsu and Bardus Satanetra. Mitsu Satanetra, her mother, came from a family of moderately successful traders based in Port Shōripur. Bardus was just some employee at Mitsu’s father’s company who was good at bringing in the moolah. And Mitsu’s dad, not having no sons, and thus, no heirs – folks were too close-minded back then – married off his only daughter to his favourite employee and made him take their family name. Ritsu got her blonde hair from her father. The Satanetras have always been known for having guṇas that made them exceptional truth-seekers but these guṇas also made some of them partially blind. Many of those old philosophers and scholars and such you see written about in textbooks belonged to this family. But scholars and philosophers depend on patronage and, if I remember correctly, Archemperor… Axgott? Yeah, Axgott. He wasn’t too fond of brainy people who didn’t build bridges and ships and swords and cannons. And so, the Satanetras fell into obscurity for three hundred years or so until Mitsu’s great-grandfather had the great idea to make use of his truth-seeking skills in the import/export business. Thus they regained their status as important members of society but they still weren’t rich enough to own hills or anything. Bookmark here

‘That all changed with Ritsu’s birth. While all Satanetras up until that point had only had guṇas like extraordinary logical skills or exceptional handwriting recognition and other boring stuff like that, Ritsu’s guṇa was truly game-changing. First of all, she was born completely blind. Not partially blind like her mother. When she was four years old, something strange happened. Whenever little Ritsu went to the market with her mother, she wet herself. Her mother was confused initially but, after some trial and error, they figured out what her guṇa was: whenever someone told her the price of an item or a service, she could tell whether that person was lying or not and, if so, by how much. She knew the exact, fair price of every item or service she was offered, regardless of whether the person selling it to her knew it himself or not. The only catch – that they knew about at that time – was that she would urinate uncontrollably every time she used her guṇa. Bookmark here

‘When this ability of hers was discovered, every auction house in the country was ready to pay sums of money that would be enough to drown multiple elephants just for a few hours of Ritsu’s time. The authenticity of every prehistoric pot, pan and painting in the world could be verified without a doubt by Ritsu Satanetra. The Satanetra family soon became one of the wealthiest families in the entire world. Bookmark here

‘But with this enormous new wealth came enormous new problems. Ritsu’s parents, growing greedy, forced her to go to different auction houses every day. Poor girl would be hooked up to IV saline for hours on end, pissing buckets in front of strange men and women. That’s bound to do a number on anyone, much more so on a young girl. Bardus, Ritsu’s father, was extremely controlling and kept her away from the company of friends, especially boys. Even the private tutors hired to teach her were all female. Finally, when she turned thirteen, after her mother had repeatedly begged her father, who was by then suffering from numerous health problems, and it was becoming evident that Ritsu wasn’t turning out to be the sharpest tack in the tack box, she was sent to study at some hoity-toity school called Archemperor Novylion Abode of Learning. What a mouthful. And Mitsu, Ritsu’s mother, was made the principal of said school to perpetually keep an eye on her daughter. But teenagers are sneaky creatures and they find ways to defy their parents. In the case of Ritsu, this was the first time she’d experienced any kind of liberty. The first time she was able to freely talk to people her own age. Naturally, overcome with joy, she ran amok and created all kinds of trouble for the teachers in the school. But at the same time, she was able to catch up to, and eventually exceed, her peers academically. She could dream to escape to a future far removed from her piss-stained present. But all her plans and ambitions came to a screeching halt at the age of seventeen in the form of a very big speed bump. Or rather, a baby bump. Hey, I had Jajanshu at seventeen too. What a coincidence.Bookmark here

‘Some jock who’d talked sweet to her and told her they’d be together forever and yadda yadda yadda had got her pregnant. Strangely, the moment she committed the act, the moment she lost her virginity, her blindness went away. The first thing she saw of this world, unfortunately, was the face of her lover and he was… not that handsome. Of course, that judgement was applied retrospectively once she’d seen many more faces. I asked her if she thought I was handsome but she didn’t say anything. Bookmark here

‘And as if heaven itself was punishing her for losing her virginity, her frail father’s condition immediately got worse. His whole body writhed with pain and marks of long, sharp, beastly fingers appeared all over his torso. He couldn’t even get up out of his hospital bed. Like he was being dragged into hell by invisible demons. He cursed his own daughter and called her unspeakable names. He cursed his wife for she had failed to keep their daughter pure. And that was when it all came out. Why Ritsu Satanetra’s world shattered with her chastity. Bookmark here

‘When Ritsu was still in her mother’s womb, her parents went for a holiday to Ronabara. At the time, the Satanetra family business was struggling to stay afloat. A series of bad deals, followed by a severe cyclone devastating Port Shōripur, had forced Bardus to take on huge debts that he had no idea how to pay off. He had reluctantly agreed to his wife’s request to take her somewhere on a holiday and he’d thought it would do the expecting mother some good to take in some fresh air. But the weight of his debts loomed large on his mind. On the second night of their holiday, when his wife was sleeping soundly, and he couldn’t, he went out for a stroll. He picked the nearest hill and decided to walk up to the peak, lost in his thoughts. The same hill I was sitting on right then. The same hill with that little old temple. See, I can foreshadow too. He he. So at this temple, Bardus met a strange man dressed in a grey robe and he welcomed him and said he had been waiting for him. He even knew his name. This man made Bardus an offer: he’d gain unimaginable riches but he’d have to pay for them with either the lifelong chastity of his yet-to-be-born daughter or the most painful death that any human can experience. Who can tell what went through Bardus’s head to make him agree to the offer? Who knows if demonic deals can ever be refused? But, evidently, he did agree, and here all of them were. Acquiring a siddhī, as we all know, is illegal. What he did can be thought of as a middle ground between a guṇa and a siddhī. It just “enhanced” Ritsu’s natural guṇa. But I bet if the law were ever to get involved, the ruling wouldn’t be in Bardus’s favour. But it doesn’t matter now. Soon after the helpful explanation, the old man died. Bookmark here

‘But Ritsu’s troubles were far from over. Her little boyfriend who got her pregnant, as you can expect, was none too keen to step up and take responsibility. Being in that hoity-toity school meant that his parents were influential too and they at least could get him out of a forced marriage or something like that. Not that that would’ve been a good outcome. Ritsu was pulled out of school and her boyfriend was transferred to some other hoity-toity school on an island. Bookmark here

‘Ritsu’s mother blamed her for Bardus’s death. She’d loved the man dearly, after all. And she was blind to the fact that he had traded his own daughter’s womanhood for money. And as for money, her guṇa got downgraded – or rather, lost its upgrade – in exchange for the gift of sight. She could still tell whether someone was lying about the price of an item but not its actual price. If the interrogee himself believed that the price he was quoting was the actual, fair price of what was being sold, despite it not being the actual, fair price – she wouldn’t be able to tell. And she found this out the hard way when a famous painting sold at a prestigious auction that had employed her turned out to be fake. Of course, any forger could now just use a middleman who didn’t know anything about the authenticity of the painting and overcome the formidable challenge posed by Ritsu Satanetra. All those auction houses that had drained her of swimming pools’ worth of bodily fluids suddenly wanted nothing to do with her. If you ask me, it’s still a hell of a guṇa. Better than ninety percent of what you get to see in the market. But it’s more suited to dickering with shopkeepers than anything else. Bookmark here

‘A few months later, she gave birth to a son, whom she named Jitsu. He was blond like his mother and his grandfather and he was partially blind. A month later, Mitsu Satanetra, Ritsu’s mother, killed herself. Before killing herself, she’d said Jitsu looked too much like Bardus. Ritsu was the one who discovered the body and she wept for she had lost her mother twice: when the sweet woman who always took her side turned on her and when she’d physically died. Her future looked as bleak as a bag of beans. Although she still had all the money she’d earned, she would never be respected by society or accepted anywhere or by anyone. She was the girl who peed to tell the truth. She was the troublesome slut who’d gotten pregnant at the age of seventeen. She was her father’s murderer. Bookmark here

‘On the other hand, her mother was still respected greatly. She was the woman who’d suffered a greedy commonblood husband and a vile daughter. She was the one who was tormented, not her daughter. If only she could be Mitsu and not Ritsu. And then this strange thought gripped her. She disposed of her mother’s body secretly and didn’t let anyone know that she had died. She wore her mother’s clothes and sunglasses and bought a wig and learnt how to use makeup to make herself look old. The resemblance between mother and daughter, excepting the hair colour, was striking. I even saw an old photo of Mrs Satanetra later on so I know she isn’t too crazy. Well, as little crazy as a kitten that pretends to be a cat can be. Bookmark here

‘To her surprise, no one was the wiser. Her mother didn’t have any close friends who knew her very well. And the reputation of the Satanetras had fallen considerably recently. So not a lot of folks came a-knocking either. As for the logistics of being two people, of course, she needed a few partners in crime. Her trustworthy butler filled the most important role and a few other people helped her too whose names she didn’t tell me. And I guess I’m in the same circle of co-conspirators too now. Bookmark here

‘The official story was: wayward Ritsu, shell-shocked by her ordeal, had been living like a recluse, occasionally being spotted at parties, dancing alone. The dutiful Mrs Mitsu Satanetra had continued being the principal of… dammit, I still can’t remember the name of that school. And I work there now. Wait, I got it. Archemperor Novylion Abode of Learning. Yeah. And Ritsu’s bastard son had been raised mostly by his grandmother and had been attending the school that his grandmother is the principal of. Bookmark here

‘When she’d finished telling her story, she said, “Now tell me yours. It’s only polite.”Bookmark here

‘And I said, “Yes, ma’am.” And I told her all about my early life and about how Jajanshu’s mother went AWOL and left him for me to raise alone and how he and I’d been touring the state for the last four years and how we were planning to settle down again so Jajanshu could go to school. She was moved. She said she could relate to the burden of being a single parent. She didn’t, however, approve of my criminal acts and the fact that I kept my son out of school for four years. Bookmark here

‘So I proposed a plan that would set me straight, get Jajanshu educated and make sure I would never be able to tell anyone her secret. I said to her, “We’ll move to Port Shōripur. Jajanshu can be enrolled in your school. And I’m good with numbers and sheets and stuff. I’ve learned enough over the last four years moving my illegitimate money around. I can work in the accounting or secretarial department.” Bookmark here

‘She said, “That doesn’t sound too bad. We could make it work. I could keep you under my nose so I won’t have to worry about you revealing my secret. In return, I’d like you to support me in anything I do. I wasn’t too keen on being a principal in the beginning but I’ve come to quite like it over the years. That school is the first place where I made friends. It’s important to me and I want to do all I can for it. But, for a few years now, a storm’s been brewing in the board of trustees. I’d like as much help as I can get when it finally makes landfall.” Bookmark here

‘I said, “Don’t worry even a hair’s breadth, Madam Principal. I’ll always be loyal to you and be by your side. Looking at you, I can see that you possess a truly gentle and kind yet strong soul. And I’ve also been thinking this entire time – you’re a single parent and I’m a single parent. Jajanshu would benefit from the loving care of a mother and I’m sure little Jitsu needs a—” Before I could complete my thought, I received the gift of a really powerful slap across my left cheek. There was that famous temper. Bookmark here

‘I smiled at her and, although she was frowning, I could see the mischief in her eyes. And now that brings us to here. I’m an Administrative Assistant and my dear son is in class IX-A at Archemperor Novylion Abode of Learning. Domestic life is much more comfortable than life on the road. All that’s left to do is to get a beautiful wife who’ll light up this house brighter than I can on my own with my ageing throat. Now, if you’ll excuse me, dear reader, I must go too. I have a date.’ Bookmark here

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