I was there when the Doctor returned. I remember it all, clear as the day I took my place as shaman of this tribe. It is not something that is easy to forget, or that you should want to forget, but listen and you will understand. Gather around, my omasu, and I shall tell you the tale.
It was a fine day in late spring, two years into my apprenticeship, perhaps three. We had long left our winter encampment, sheltered by the mountains in the south, and trekked north to the Great Wide River. We found the game there even more plentiful than we had hoped. We built our village by the eastern ford and enjoyed a bountiful season which would see us through to midsummer, when we would pick up camp to head west to the Meet at Gosa Lake. Food was so abundant that the hunters had not gone out in days, instead staying near to instruct the pups and get in the way of the women’s work, as they do. As I said, a fine day, the entire tribe in camp and in good spirits.
I was working a mash of jilrodel root to make an infusion to treat Gorini’s pup’s croup when shrieks emanated from brush. We jumped up and ran to help, and I crashed headlong into Olradu. Out of breath from sprinting across the steppe, he gasped out, “It is back, it is back. The blue box.” He flung an arm back the way he’d come, then pushed past me to spread his news.
The blue box. I froze as the legend of the Doctor flashed through my mind, of the mad magus stepping from its threshold and summoning the Great Beast to devastate our tribe. Around me, our stalwart warriors rushed from their huts, shrugging on their wooden breastplates and readying their spears as they gathered to defend us again. But I was unafraid. In the legend, the boy Kamani alone stood against the beast and defeated it with courage and cunning. Kamani was now our chieftain, and I knew he would defend us again.
I smiled as the chieftain emerged from his hut, the headdress that proclaimed his rank affixed to his head, the gissoma scales enhancing those on his natural crest. He dipped a claw into the pot cradled in his palm and smeared an ochre stripe down his beak and two more on each cheek, then roared a challenge to the skies. There were few who could stand and face that visage when he was on the warpath.
As he marched out of the village with his hunters in tow, chanting and beating their chests, I dropped my tools to join the youths following the hunters to watch the spectacle. I assure you, I was not an impulsive, frivolous youth. I was serious and dedicated, diligent in my apprenticeship, but this was too exciting to miss.
I had not taken two steps when a great hand closed around my shoulder and spun me around. I stared into the stern face of Palmako, the shaman at that time, and my master. Though not the eldest in the tribe, his years were advanced, and even Kamani respected his power. “You will stay here, Dono,” he commanded me. “You will attend to your work.”
I simpered, digging in my mind for a persuasive excuse. “But Great One, this is history. One of my duties is to preserve our history. I must see this.”
He thrust a weathered, calloused claw in my face. “That is my responsibility, not yours. You will stay here and care for Gorini’s pup. And it shall be on your shoulders to carry on our traditions if something happens to me.” I sucked in a breath to protest again, but he closed his hand over my beak. “You will return to your medicines. I must go.” He pushed me back, toward the crowd of women and elders scratching at their arms with worry, and strode off.
I fumed with the injustice of it all - all of my agemates had dropped their work to tail the warriors - but I returned to my work, growling as I ground the jilrodel with the wooden pestle. Around me, the aunties gossiped, their voices shrill with fear.
Oh, the Doctor! He is a fearsome thing! I saw him, you know. When he appeared last, I was heavy with child, and I could not run. He shone golden, like a demon from the high stars. Oh, now my child’s child stands against him. How shall we prevail?
Kamani shall protect us. He drove him off the last time, and he was a pup then. He is only stronger now.
It is our fault, you know. I said we should not return to Koiru Plain. Kimi lost her pup here. The spirits were angered that we intruded and took him across the darkness, to the fields beneath the earth.
Yes! They does not like us and have sent the Doctor to destroy us.
Stop your nonsense! Kamani and his warriors are feared by all of the tribes. Even the high spirits dare not face him.
Their frightened trills made me smile. I had every confidence in our warriors and feared not. My regret was that I could not watch the glorious battle myself. I twitched with excitement, but I managed to suppress the impulse to run after the warriors and kept at my work. I would partake in the celebration of victory that night, and that consoled me.
I had prepared my infusions, added crushed berries to the mash to mask the astringent flavour, and set to them to warm in the sun when I heard the distant stamping of feet heralding the return of our warriors. I ran to watch their approach with the elders, and as one, we gasped. The warriors marched in a half-circle, escorting three strange pale creatures with skin smooth and pink as a ground worm’s. Beside me, Gorini, who’d followed me, squeaked in fright and fled, shielding her pup with her body. But what was most strange to me was that they bore no wounds and they were not bound. There had been no battle, no glorious victory. The warriors did not return with bloodied spears and the head of the monster brandished as a trophy of war.
They marched into camp and Palmako gestured toward his hut. “Take them there,” he commanded. “They will give us no trouble.” As the strangers walked past and ducked into my master’s abode, he beckoned me with a claw. “Dono. Bring them berumi juice and kormassa, and make sure they are comfortable.” Without another word, he nodded to Kamani and they disappeared into the chieftain’s hut.
Though I was confused by the strange circumstances, I scrambled to gather a tray with the requested refreshment. My master implied they were guests, not prisoners, and my duty was to treat them as such, even if I did not know why. I could feel the tribe’s eyes on me as I worked. They understood as little as I did.
I pushed into the large hut and placed the tray on the table in the centre. “I greet you and offer you gifts of food and drink,” I said, as is our custom, and pressed my hands together in front of me to demonstrate my respect. I also bowed my head, but I did as such so that I did not stare at them. Scaleless, with soft pink skin that a spear could easily pierce and tear, they had no claws or sharp beaks or horns. I wondered how they defended themselves. I thought that though I am no warrior, I could easily defeat all three at once. I reminded myself that it was not the Doctor’s physical might but his prowess as a magus that had threatened my tribe.
Their round, fleshy faces all looked alike to me, but I found that I could tell them apart by the colour of the patch of fur on their heads. The tall one, the Doctor, indeed shone golden like the old auntie had said, his fur bright like the sun and his clothing much the same. The female’s fur was dark as the fertile banks of the Lorapi River, and she was wrapped in simple garments of bright colours that exposed her pale legs and arms. The other male’s fur was orange, fiery against the black of the cloth that covered him entirely.
“Doctor, what is -?” the female said, but the Doctor cut her off by holding his hand up in front of her.
“Shush, Tegan. Not now.” He showed his teeth - an unimpressive expression, due to their tiny size and lack of sharpness, but which I later understood meant friendliness - and he bowed slightly before moving to pour some juice from the large gourd. “Thank you for your hospitality. I’m the Doctor. Dono, wasn’t it?”
I bowed, this time to hide my surprise. Great ones do not speak to mere apprentices. “Yes, guest of my master.”
My fear must have been plain, because he then said, “Don’t be frightened. We don’t mean you and your people any harm. Quite the opposite, in fact.”
My courage broke. I was known to be a stoic boy, but I am not ashamed to admit that I fled the great magus, and I squeaked my panic as I dashed out of the hut. My duty, however, was to stand guard on the hut and provide for the guests, so I ran back and stood by the door. I did not know what I would do if they wished to leave. I was not a warrior, after all.
From where I stood, I could hear them, and the woman was speaking.
“Only you could leave somewhere a hero and return a hated enemy. Typical.” The Doctor had called her Tegan. Her tone mocked the Doctor, and I thought she must be powerful to speak that way without fear of retribution.
“So this is the right place we’ve come back to?” I did not recognise the voice of the speaker and guessed it must belong to the other male, he of the fur like fire.
“Yes, I’m quite certain of that,” the Doctor said. “Perhaps a few years off, but the fact that the people recognise me is evidence that this is right.”
Tegan said, “If they recognised you as a friend, that might narrow down the possibilities of where we are, but they think you’re an enemy, Doctor, and that means we could be anywhere in the universe, really.”
“I’ll have you know that I have made quite a few friends in my time, Tegan,” the Doctor began, but the other voice interrupted him.
“You were with him the last time, weren’t you, Tegan? But you don’t recognise anyone. Maybe we’re on the same world but this is a different tribe.”
Tegan agreed with him. “He’s got a point, Doctor.”
“Of course you don’t recognise anyone, Tegan,” he told her. “For them, it’s been a long time. That fierce chief that ordered them to march us here, didn’t you hear what they called him?”
“There was a sharp spear pointed at my neck at time. I wasn’t paying that much attention to him.” I nearly squeaked at her snipe at the magus, and grabbed my beak shut to keep silent.
“They called him Kamani. That’s -”
“That’s the boy you rescued!” she exclaimed, and I jerked back. I was confused by what she had said, but I did not have time to think upon it, because she continued to speak. “Years must have passed for them, then.”
“Decades,” the Doctor said. “The boy is now grown, a strong warrior and chief of the tribe. What I can’t figure out is why he’s hostile towards us. He obviously recognised us.”
She agreed with him. “Yes, he did. So did that first one we saw. He ran as soon as you told him your name.”
The other man spoke. “So this wasn’t the welcome you expected.”
Tegan answered him. “Not in the least, Turlough. Last time we were here, everyone was nice to us. One of the most relaxing visits we’ve ever had to a planet, if you ask me. Well, except for that bit with the tiger, but that worked out and wasn’t much of anything. No monsters or evil mad scientists bent on taking over the world.”
“What happened with the tiger?” he asked her, and the Doctor explained. I pressed closer to the hut to hear every word.
“It wasn’t a tiger, precisely. They call it a golak, a large predator, more canine than feline, really, but more powerfully built than a wolf or a coyote. The boy Kamani was training for his coming-of-age ceremony, specifically the hunt part of it, and he decided that rather than lure and trap a small herbivorous animal, he would go for a big carnivore, to impress the elders. It didn’t go very well, and the golak had him pinned against a tree.”
The one called Turlough spoke. “And you got him out, obviously.”
“Well, yes,” said the Doctor. “There wasn’t much time, so I did the first thing I could think of. I had this horn in my pocket, just a little one, and I blew on it. Worked like a charm. Frightened the poor beast and it ran off.”
Tegan broke in. “I expect it never heard anything like it. I sure didn’t. It’s best you keep to string instruments, Doctor.”
“Thank you, Tegan.” Despite his words, the Doctor sounded upset with the woman, but I heard no sounds of retribution. “It was effective and that’s all that matters. Kamani was safe, just a few scratches, really, frightened out of his wits and quite embarrassed about getting himself into such a situation. But old chief, Abagor, he loved the idea of the horn. Wouldn’t let us leave until I taught him how to fashion one.” I am sure you know the horn he meant, the aleakamani. Every warrior carries one, to scare off the predators.
“Threw a feast in our honour, too,” Tegan said. “Which is why this whole bit is so strange. You think, Doctor, maybe Kamani is still embarrassed by it all and is trying to cover it up?”
The Doctor replied, “It’s certainly a possibility, though he seemed positively murderous when we met him again. The only reason we’re here in this hut is because the shaman argued for us.”
“Speaking of which,” Turlough broke in, “why are we still here? This cloth shack isn’t exactly a secure prison, and I don’t care to be here when Chief Murderbeak gets back around to us.”
The Doctor told him no. “I don’t think we’re actually prisoners, Turlough. I believe the shaman considers us his guests.”
“Then we shouldn’t overstay our welcome,” Turlough insisted. “Look, here’s a bone knife that’s plenty sharp enough to cut us out of here.”
There were a few footsteps, then Turlough cried, “Hey!” Then I heard the clunk of the knife dropped back among my master’s tools.
“This may be only a hut to you,” said the Doctor, “but it’s home to someone. We certainly should treat it with appropriate respect. Besides that, we aren’t likely to get very far. Our friend Dono would report us right away, wouldn’t you, Dono?”
I gasped, and I am sure they heard me. I had not known that the Doctor knew I was listening in. Though I trembled, I pulled the tent flap back and slipped inside, and dropped to my knees, a hand across my beak in apology. “I should not have listened to your private talk. Please excuse my behaviour,” I said.
“There’s nothing to be excused, Dono. In fact, I think curiosity is a healthy instinct. Now, please do get up.” The Doctor strode over to me and took my hand, pulling me to my feet. I bounded back away from him and kept my back to the door. It was easiest to watch all three of them from that position.
The Doctor’s voice was very gentle. “We mean you no harm. Why are you so afraid of us?”
I called up every ounce of strength from deep within to answer him like a man. “I am not afraid of you,” I said, though my voice quivered. “My chieftain has shown that even a small boy can defeat your evil magicks. I see through your lies and defy you.”
The woman flashed her teeth. “I think he’s got your number, Doctor. Better surrender while you can.”
The Doctor waved her off. “Have a care, Tegan. You’ll remember from last time that sarcasm is not well understood here.” He turned back to me. “Please tell me, what lies do you believe I’ve spoken?”
I pointed at the man and woman. “You would have them believe that our chieftain did not defeat your schemes, that you saved him from the golak. But I know the truth. The legend of Kamani driving the Doctor away is sung by all the tribes from the Kalidar Forest to the sea.”
The flesh above the Doctor’s eyes tightened and wrinkled. “I should like to hear this saga,” he murmured.
“I can sing it for you, Doctor,” boomed a voice from right behind me, and I spun to face my master Palmako. I scrambled out of his way and cowered against the cloth wall. “My voice is not what it once was, but it will serve.”
“Ah, yes, Palmako.” The Doctor greeted him, his teeth showing again. “Just the man I wanted to see. I’m sure together we can straighten out this misunderstanding, and then get down to the business that brought us here.”
My master’s crest shook, and I knew that beneath his calm, friendly expression, he was furious. “There is no misunderstanding, Doctor. You were brave to return after the mischief you wrought here, but we are a forgiving people. We welcome you back -”
“Welcome us back on the point of a spear,” Tegan muttered under her breath.
My master did not heed her. “- but ask you to leave without trouble.”
The Doctor stepped forward. “What mischief are you referring to? We left here as friends, after a fine celebration.”
My master’s beak clicked with contempt. “You left defeated and humiliated, Doctor, after Kamani defeated your summoned beast. Your scheme to destroy this tribe was foiled by a mere boy.”
The Doctor and the woman Tegan looked at each other. The woman twisted her head from side to side and lifted her shoulders. This was an expression of confusion, of disagreement among them. The Doctor turned back to face the shaman. “That’s not at all what happened. I would never set an animal to attack someone like that. I don’t even know how to do that. Are you quite sure we’re talking about the same thing?”
Palmako had been the shaman of the tribe since long before I had been born, since before Kamani had been born, but for the first time in my short life, I saw him falter. His crest, which stood tall in the face of fearsome warriors of rival clans, fell limp. “You do not remember. Why do you not remember?” he growled at the Doctor, then whirled and stomped to the small altar where he performed his nightly rituals. He snatched up one of the relics and peered at it, his yellow eyes squinted in confusion.
The Doctor watched him with no less concern. “I remember perfectly well what happened the last time I was here, Palmako,” he said.
“I do, too,” the woman added.
I knew my place as apprentice, to watch but not be seen, to listen and to learn, but I could not stop myself. I had to defend my master. I screamed at them, “You lie! Palmako is shaman, and he knows only truth. You seek to tear him down, to destroy him.”
Palmako whipped around and jabbed a claw at me. “Dono! You will be silent!”
“Is that what you’ve done?” The Doctor asked this with his teeth showing, but this time it was an expression of disapproval.
“What did he do?” the one called Turlough asked.
“He’s taught his people to believe a different version of the events, one where I brought the danger and Kamani saved his people.” He tapped his head with a finger. “Memory is fallible and malleable. If you reinforce a new version regularly, even those like Kamani who lived through them will start to believe the false version.”
Palmako stepped toward the fleshy man and drew himself up. “The only false version is yours, Doctor. I am shaman of this tribe. Time bends at my command and I rewove the strands of fate into the true history.”
The Doctor’s brow crinkled for a moment, and he swept aside a flap of the outer layer of his clothing to insert a hand into a fold hidden near his hip. “Now, I don’t think that’s quite what happened. I don’t detect any tampering with the Web of Time, and there’s nothing about you that has such power.”
My master’s crest bristled with indignance and though he drew breath to speak, no words issued. I stepped forward to speak for him, though he glared at me as well. “Shaman performs the rituals that reshape time. I have done it as well, as part of my training, though not with as much success or certainty.” I pointed at the altar and swept a hand to indicate the relics and totems of power we used.
Tegan barked a laugh of derision. “Those dolls and carvings? They’re just symbols. They’re not magic. There’s no such thing.”
Palmako growled at her. “We blend the power of our souls with the power of our artefacts. You would not understand.”
The Doctor stepped forward. “No, she’s quite right. You’re not time-sensitive and you don’t have the technology you’d need to do any of that.”
My master waved off his words. “So you say, and yet our history has changed to our will.”
The Doctor wiggled his head like the Tegan woman had a moment before. “No, it hasn’t. Your perception of it has. That’s quite different. So what is it you’re doing here? How have you convinced Kamani and all of your elders to remember a different event?” Just then, he did a curious thing with his hand, flicking his fingers so that they made an odd clicking sound. “Ah, I know! You’re psychic, aren’t you? Not read-your-mind-and-know-your-thoughts-and-dreams psychic, but just enough to pressure the others to remember something differently, when you put your mind to it. That’s it, isn’t it?”
I did not understand what he was saying, and neither did my master, who said, “Your words mean nothing to me.”
“No, they don’t, do they?” The Doctor curled his fleshy lips inward for a moment, then breathed in strong, so his chest swelled. “Palmako, your rituals, they don’t change time. They change only what your tribe remembers about something. It’s why Tegan and I remember the original event, and you do as well, but everyone else remembers what you want them to remember. If you had actually changed time, we wouldn’t remember and neither would you, because the original event would have never happened. Don’t you see?”
“You are wrong!” my master spat at him. “We have been shaping our history for countless generations”
The woman spoke again. “The Doctor’s wrong about a lot of things - most things, in fact - but he’s not wrong about time. He knows his time stuff.”
The Doctor showed his teeth again and nodded to the woman. “Thank you, Tegan.” He paused and glanced at her. “I think.” He straightened his clothing quite unnecessarily, then plunged his hands back into the hidden folds. “It’s quite certain that you’re only coercing your people to remember events that did not happen, but my question is why? Why would you do that?”
My master growled at him, “I change history to spare my people the pain of failure and loss. It is a cruel man who would doom his own to such suffering.”
“What?” The Doctor’s brow wrinkled more than I had seen it before, and his voice rose in pitch, becoming almost a squeak. “You’re doing this because you don’t want them to be sad?”
It was a ridiculous notion and my master clicked his beak at the thought. “I can change time, but I cannot eliminate grief. Kimi lost her pup to quicksand. She mourns him, but she does not remember his screams as he was dragged down. She watched the ancestral spirits escort him to the dark lands beneath the earth. Her memory of his departure shall be sad but not terrifying.”
Even in this strange, fleshy race, I recognised the anger smouldering in the Doctor’s eyes. “And Kamani?”
My master straightened, and his crest stood tall, proud of the courageous boy who was now our leader. “He is a great chieftain, emboldened by his victory over your magicks. He does not remember the terror of the golak snarling at him or the pain of his wounds, and he is not embarrassed by his childish mistake in baiting it.”
The Doctor stepped forward, as if he thought he could cow our shaman by his physical presence. “But he should. It’s far worse if you smooth over the mistakes and hide the fear and anguish behind a cloud of smoke.”
“What purpose does letting my people suffer like this serve?” my master thundered.
“It allows them to learn!” the Doctor snapped. “Kimi may remember her pup’s passing in a more pleasant manner, but does she know that the quicksand exists in that spot? What’s going to stop her next pup from meeting the same fate when you travel there next? And how will you learn to survive quicksand if no one can remember it is dangerous?”
My master snorted. “Quicksand is inescapable!”
”No,” said the Doctor. “It’s not. It’s easy to get out of quicksand, but you will never be able to figure it out if you cannot remember why your people are getting trapped in it.” The Doctor whirled away, his voice suddenly soft. “Oh, Palmako, this is why your race has never developed. Your people don’t know what they’re capable of because they cannot learn from their mistakes.”
“We learn well. Dono here is a prime example. He is by nature excitable and intractable, but he does not remember that.” I stared at my master. I had not known he thought me to be troublesome. “He has learned his manners and his restraint through rewards when he has applied himself. I do not need to apply a switch to his back like our ancestors did in less enlightened times.”
The Doctor did not seem convinced. “Has he now? He’s spoken out of turn multiple times since you entered here, and I see from the way your crest jitters that you’re hiding other incidents you’re concerned about. I agree with you that you can’t beat the misbehaviour out of the child, but he would learn more quickly when he remembers that his outbursts earn him disrespect and censure, wouldn’t you, Dono?”
I startled and nearly ran out of the hut, but managed to hold my ground. The disapproval from my master and the sudden address from the Doctor confused me. I was a model apprentice, or so Palmako had told me many times. How many other lies had he told me? Would I remember this after the ritual tonight? I could do nothing but squeak at the Doctor.
“I’d say that’s a yes,” he said, showing all of his teeth.
Palmako raised his claws and snarled. It was the first time I had ever seen him take the warrior’s stance. “You have come to attack us again, Doctor, but instead of bringing a golak, you seek to destroy the very soul of the tribe. This is who we are. We bend time to our purposes, to preserve our people. But this time, I shall stand against you and uphold our sacred traditions against your attacks. No sagas shall be sung about my battle here, but I shall prevail.”
The Doctor did not recognise the danger he was in. He instead seemed regretful. “Oh, Palmako. Don’t you see what you’re doing? Your traditions have made your people fragile. Mistakes and tragedies are not failure or weakness. They help you grow and flourish, and when your people can cope with the terror and learn to combat it, they come out the stronger. Think about it and change your ways before it’s too late.”
“I have kept the warriors from killing you and your apprentices outright, but you are no longer welcome as our guest. Leave, before I call the guards to spit you on their spears.” Though my master pulled the tent flap open and gestured to them with utmost respect, I could see the rage in eyes.
The Doctor sighed. “Yes. I believe we shall. Come along, Tegan, Turlough.” He stepped to the woman Tegan and, pulling his hand from his pocket, touched her back to guide her toward the door.
“But Doctor…” She turned to look up at him, and fell silent at the twitch of the corners of his mouth.
“We’ll leave them to it, Tegan. But I do still have hope.” His eyes, pools of deep ocean blue floating on orbs of ivory, found me, and I could not look away. I know it lasted only a moment, half a heartbeat, but I could even now swear the sun rose and set whilst I stared. Then he ducked out of the hut, followed by his companions.
“Clean this up, Dono,” my master ordered. “I will put things to rights tonight. But right now, I shall ensure they never return.” And in a moment, he was gone.
I set to my task with a fervor I had never before felt, but you must understand, my omasu, I was driven by my anger. I thought only that my master had betrayed me. He had taught me that as shamans, we wielded our ability to reweave the strands of time for the tribe’s good, and I had never thought that he would do the same to me. But now I knew. He had erased incidents of my bad behaviours and lied to me that I was a model pupil, all the while telling me that it was something done to others. What other lies had he told me? What other parts of my life had he stolen?
I resolved then to stop the lies. As I worked, I repeated every word exchanged between the Doctor, the woman of courage, the man like fire, and my master. I fixed their faces and their stances in my mind so that it could not be taken from me. And that night, as my master performed the ritual of Cleansing, I silently chanted my memories again and again.
When my master completed his magicks, everyone in the village remembered that the Doctor returned to cast a spell on the tribe, to walk every man, woman, and child into the sea so that he may claim our riches, but that the entire village rose against him and banished him forever.
Everyone except me. I remembered still that the Doctor came in peace, and that my master had been deceiving us all. The tribe believed that the great evil had come and been vanquished, but I knew the truth. And I knew that one day, I would become shaman and end the lies forever.
What I did not know was that true wisdom is born out of age and experience. Though I remembered every word that had been spoken, I did not even try to understand what the Doctor had said until long after I had become shaman myself. Jarati - yes, your uncle, Moru - when he was a young man, he had made a flint knife for the hunt, and when he attacked a belo with it, the blade slipped and slashed his leg. It was not a bad wound, but Palmako would have made Jarati and the tribe forget to spare him the pain and the embarrassment of the blunder. But he was gone to the dark lands, and I, Paldono, was shaman.
I did not change the event. If you ask Jarati, he will tell you of that hunt, and of limping through the village and sitting with the old aunties and weaving mats whilst his leg healed. But when he was well and joined the next hunt, he had made a knife with better lashings. Now all of our knives are made that way.
Jarati showed me his knife, proud of the improvement he made, and at that moment, I finally understood what the Doctor had said. Only when we remember our mistakes, when we suffer for our missteps and misfortunes, only then do we learn to overcome them. If we believe that our path is safe and true, then we have no reason to search for a better one. This, I believe, is what he tried to teach Palmako, and what I now teach to you.
This is why I tell you this story, and why you must remember every word and tell it to your children, and they shall tell it to theirs. Every year at the Meet, we shall tell this tale, the true legend of the Doctor, until all tribes understand what must be done. We will not coddle our people. We will not hide the truth from them to spare their tears. We will face our hardships and suffer our tragedies, and through them, we shall become strong.