Auda Cious and her brothers Cons and Injudi are attending primary school.
They are being raised strictly at home and have learned that they not only should not put up a big mouth against adults, but they shouldn’t talk to them at all. Instead, they’re supposed to go play quietly somewhere and not bother the adults.
But Auda doesn’t understand what’s so ‘bothersome’ about a harmless conversation and why she can’t be a part of the same world as the adults. After all, she’s supposed to become one herself someday, right?
Auda assumes that the teachers at school are an exception to this rule. She’ll have to answer if they ask her a question. Oh wait, but that’s right, she can – actually, she must – answer if an adult asks her a question! But she has to be careful with what she says because not everything that happens or is said at her home is meant for other people’s ears.
For her age, she has a pretty good sense of when she can or cannot speak an answer aloud. Nevertheless, she finds it difficult to keep so many of her thoughts and emotions hidden.
The hardest part is that she must also remain silent when an adult, like a teacher at school, says something that is clearly not true. For example, when the teacher accuses a student of something she didn’t do. Then she sometimes can’t help but blurt out an unintentional but clear ‘Yes, but…, that’s not true!’
And when the teacher turns to her in anger and tells her, just like her parents, to keep her mouth shut, then sometimes her face turns red and tears well up in her eyes, as she can’t help but state, ‘Yes, but…!’, whereupon the teacher cuts her off, just like her parents, and gives her an angry ‘Shut your big mouth!’
‘Yes, but….’ her indignation still spills over.
Look, they may have taught her at home to keep her mouth shut, but sometimes you still have to, whether it’s allowed or not, you still have to say something, like ‘Yes, but that’s not fair!’
To which the teacher’s face turns red as well, pointing to the classroom door and angrily shouting, specks of spit flying: ‘Auda Cious, go stand in the hallway!’
‘Um, yes, sir.’
‘Shut your big mouth!’
Softer: ‘Yes, okay…’
He, louder: ‘Shut your damn mouth!’
She feels ashamed of being sent to the hallway, especially when she thinks about how her parents will find out and she’ll be punished again at home. ‘You must have thoroughly deserved that!’
But that ‘shut your big mouth’ doesn’t affect her anymore. She’s had to listen to that her whole life. She’s old enough to understand that it’s the helplessness of adults, of her parents.
Her parents who have no idea about what’s going on inside her and don’t even want to know. Her parents who want her to stay silent and obedient.
Who want to forcefully mold her into a shape she doesn’t fit into at all.
Auda isn’t actually audacious at all. She just can’t stand injustice.