In the valley the men with the heads of rams who are called the Overseers forced the men with the heads of apes to work. One Overseer for One Man. When the sun started to go down the men would scramble away from the sight of the Overseers, and they were ashamed, each man of his Overseer. Each of them cried in his pit until sleep overtook. In his dreams he dreamed that the Overseer watched him as he failed at his work — his stone crumbled, his tree withered.
I asked my mother if she was one of the men in the story and she said that she was. And who was my father? Your father was my Overseer. That is why you have the legs and hoofs of a ram, why the pupil of your left eye is like the eye of the ram, while your right eye is whole.
Aren’t you ashamed, I asked her.
Of course, it was my job to be ashamed, and it was my overseer’s job to tell me not to be. Well, overseers don’t have jobs, not as we do. It was my way of loving him to be ashamed and it was his way to tell me not to be. Or maybe it was a job. I made it feel like a job. But that was long after we left that valley, long after we took passage, and came to the island where you were born. Those were beautiful days. Every morning I shaved your father’s back and made a sweater, and traded it for papayas, and for beer.
So is it my job, my way of loving, to shame myself, to oversee myself, to leave my place alone, with no one to comfort me? Obviously she didn’t answer me, because it wasn’t her job to answer, or her way of loving.
There are as many ways to oversee, to work, to feel shame and to tell the other one there is no need to feel shame as there are people with animal heads. In one valley they are lions. In the other hawks.
Each of them has his own sermon if you are interested in hearing it. But these days, who has time?