Soso stood there trembling, clutching the folds of the cloak around his mother’s legs. “Momma, he…he’s coming again and he’s drunk.” Keke reached out her hand and gently held her sons head against her leg. She bent down and gave him a kiss and a smile.
“Thank you Soso, come get me when he’s fallen asleep.” Soso nodded back in between his tears and he sprinted away to his small room. Keke acted quickly. She ran outside to her neighbor Iakop’s, Soso’s godfather, who was really the only one keeping their family together. Soso heard his father’s thick thumping outside and began to play as he normally did as if he was the great Arsena, the Georgian folk hero that fought against serfdom, and in front of him rolled up in the carpet was Kuchatneli the horrible fiend that eventually killed Arsena.
His father walked in, and ignoring Soso, collapsed on their old worn out couch. Beso hated Soso. He was his boy, he was supposed to learn the trade of his father, but instead his mother had insisted Soso enter Church school. Beso was furious, he had said his boy would be a great cobbler, he was a natural craftsman, but his mother wouldn’t listen. She dreamed her boy would be learned. And so after a lot of work on her part she convinced the local priest to allow Soso to attend Church school, but the already tense relations between Soso’s parents were becoming unbearable. A few days prior, Beso had forced him to come to the shop with him where he yelled at him to start sewing a shoe. But his guardian angel of a mother had once again come to the rescue with one of the teachers and a few friends convincing Beso that this was better for his son.
Soso knew his father wouldn’t last much longer. He was well-liked by everyone when not drunk, but that was rare now. And he was right, within a week, Beso would be gone, and it would just be Soso and his mother. And it would be in that bitter Georgian landscape where Soso would grow up, learning faster than his pupils and learning firsthand of the harsh realities of life, and learning that immortality was the reward of rebels like Arsena, those who fought for life, and for Georgia.