Ziyal is telling the story of what happens just before the sixth season episode of DS9 "Sons and Daughters."
O O O
I loved the University. Bajor is so beautiful, and, though I have not seen much of Bajor, the University campus is probably among the most beautiful areas on the entire planet, with the lovely trees, the fountains, and the distant mountains. But as soon as I had first stepped foot on Bajor, I knew my time here would not be easy.
Not that I was worried about losing my life—Bajor had recently signed a nonaggression pact with the Dominion, so I did not have to worry about a direct attack. I even knew that Nerys, one of my only friends, was safe aboard Deep Space Nine, or Terok Nor as it had been renamed since the Cardassians, led by my father, had regained control of the station.
I was worried about Garak. I did not know where he was, or if he was even still alive. I assume that he left with Starfleet when the Federation abandoned the space station. He was exiled from his own people, and was probably now forced to fight them.
Many pairs of eyes followed me down the streets of Bajor. No wonder—my grayish skin and the teardrop indentation on my forehead were much more visible than the ridges on my nose. And those who knew who I was whispered about me, and stared after me as I walked by. After all, I was the daughter of Gul Dukat, who was the leader of a war against the Federation and the Emissary of the Prophets.
I was alone in my first class at the University, sitting quietly near the back. I was a studious student, and I listened carefully and took notes. But I never said anything. In truth, I was a little afraid to. I wasn't used to being around so many Bajorans, especially Bajorans who had already judged me on who my father was. The people on Deep Space Nine had been much kinder and understanding, though I doubt that they were more polite. Everyone at the University was too polite to me. Then I would see the same people gossiping in the halls, staring at me, the enemy's daughter.
I love my father very much. When he discovered I was still alive, he brought me back to Cardassia, unashamed of me. He was soon stripped of his rank, and his wife left him, taking his seven other children with her. My father lost everything important to him, just so he didn't have to lose me. I know he left me on board the station, knowing I was in great danger, but I had made that decision, and he had taken it as betrayal. In a way, I suppose it was. I had chosen to remain behind because I had promised Garak I would wait for him to come back from the Gamma Quadrant. Garak and my father are archenemies, making the 'betrayal' that much worse. I am determined to have them forgive each other—I cannot live my whole life with the two men I love in such strife.
Having never tried to draw or paint before, I was sure that my first art course would be a disaster, especially when I first entered the classroom. Because I was a few minutes late, nearly all the seats were taken. When the students turned around and saw me enter the room, many of them furtively moved their things onto the empty seats nearby.
Near the back of the room sat a young Bajoran woman. No one was around her, and the seat next to her had a bag that was obviously filled as much as it could be without bursting. She glanced from her bag to me, and then moved her bag to the floor next to her and motioned to the seat.
"Thanks," I whispered as Vedek Nane began to teach the class.
As we all began to work independently a while later, the Bajoran and I began to talk.
"I'm Basso Kala," she said, briefly interrupting her drawing to shake my hand.
She smiled. "That is such an exotic name—Cardassian, I take it?" I must have appeared very grave, for then Kala continued. "I'm sorry—I suppose that's a...delicate subject."
I shook my head. "No, no. It's just…I thought you were…"
"That I was purposely bringing up your obvious heritage?" she finished. "Maybe, subconsciously, I was. I'm sorry."
I decided that I liked Kala. She was not overly polite as most others around me were, nor did she seem repulsed by my heritage. She behaved towards me just as I would imagine she would behave toward anyone else. I wondered why she had been sitting alone. She was far too nice.
The two of us conversed for the rest of the class, oblivious to the passage of time. Vedek Nane kept coming over, probably to ask us to get back to work, but we were both drawing at the same time as speaking. Nane criticized Kala's restrictiveness, saying that she shouldn't limit herself to the physical world. What surprised me was that Nane complimented my work, saying that I should a "great deal of promise."
While walking down the hall with Kala, I noticed that everyone was staring and whispering, even more so than before. I also noticed that some were distinctly watching Kala. Kala didn't seem to notice this, or perhaps she was simply choosing to ignore it. We ate lunch on the grounds together that day. The two others who had been eating at the table we sat at quickly gathered their belongings and left. I couldn't help but comment on their behavior.
"I suppose because now I'm a collaborator," Kala said with a smile as she ate her hasperat. "Spending time with the daughter of Gul Dukat, how dare I…" Kala sighed, her smile fading away. "My father was," she said quietly.
"Your father was what?" I asked. I had no idea that the answer would be so serious.
"My father worked for Gul Dukat during the occupation," Kala said somewhat hesitantly. "He recruited 'comfort women' for the Cardassian soldiers on Terok Nor." She fell silent for a few moments. "I know what it's like to be judged by what your father has done. I couldn't do that to someone else."
I suddenly realized that Kala as in much the same situation as I, except that she had lived with the whispers and the loneliness much longer than I ever had. My life had not been pleasant when I was a slave for the Breen. But my life had gotten much better after that. Poor Kala would probably always be viewed for what her father was—a traitor to his own people. She didn't even have a spoon-shaped indentation on her forehead or neck ridges. She looked just like everyone else on Bajor, and was yet she was receiving much the same treatment as me.
"It's as though the Prophets themselves brought us two lonely paghs together," Kala said with a little laugh.
Art was the only course I had with Kala, however we spent anytime we were both out of class together. Suddenly the whispers and glares I received weren't so bad. I had a friend on Bajor—perhaps the only one, but that was enough.
Painting quickly became one of my passions. Vedek Nane taught me to completely visualize the image I wished to evoke before I even began painting. Nane attempted to teach that to Kala, but Kala was stubborn in her ways. Kala never knew what she was going to paint—often she would end up with landscapes that appeared to be both of the reality and her own imagination, with violet skies or red oceans. Though Vedek Nane disapproved of Kala's style, I loved everything about her artwork. We would often meet by the lake near the main building of the University and draw or paint, escaping from reality.
Because of the praise I received from Nane and Kala, I spoke with the Director of the Cardassian Institute of Art and sent him a few of my ink brush drawings. He loved them, and was even thinking about displaying some of my work in an exhibition of new artists.
This was when I first realized that my work was appreciated by both Bajorans and Cardassians. Even though the two races were hostile towards one another, they saw the universe in the same way.
"I think that's what I want to do with my work," I told Kala. "Help bring the Bajorans and the Cardassians together."
"Who more appropriate to do so?" Kala said, referring to my bloodlines. Once again, I found myself thinking about how different Kala was than the other Bajorans at the University. She was not uncomfortable mentioning my mixed heritage. In fact, I believe my being of two worlds fascinated her to no end. She wanted to know everything about Cardassia, something that I found very odd. I once showed her a picture of the capital city, and in her next painting I noticed that the clouds in the sky mimicked the sunset that had been in the picture of Cardassia.
One morning I headed to her dorm, where we were meeting before heading out to breakfast together. My hand was raised to knock when I heard raised voices from inside.
"Father, you're being ridiculous," I heard Kala's voice say. "She's my friend."
"No! She is your enemy—all of them are!" a male voice said. "They took your mother away, Kala. They killed her. And now you want to be friends with your mother's murderers?"
"Ziyal is not my enemy. She did not kill my mother," Kala said softly. "And you're one to talk. You were a collaborator!"
"They took away everything I had until you were all that was left!" the man said in a pained voice. "I did what I had to do—I couldn't bear the thought of losing you, too."
"Well, you did lose me. In case you haven't noticed, you live your life drifting between worlds on old freighters, while I have been shunned because of what you did," Kala said harshly.
"I'm not proud of what I did during the occupation, but it kept you safe," he said. "She is Dukat's daughter, Kala. If you do not end your relationship with her, I will have to withdraw you from the University."
"As if you can back that up," Kala said coldly.
"Goodbye, father." There was the sound of a transmission being terminated. I waited a few moments, then knocked.
Kala opened the door. If I had not heard the argument, I would not know that anything was wrong. "Ready to go?" I asked as casually as I could. But I have never been able to effectively hide my feelings. Kala shook her head sadly.
"You heard." I nodded. Kala looked towards the computer console.
"I don't want to come between you and your father."
Kala gave a short laugh. "My father's previous job already ruined our relationship."
"But he said he'd take you out of school. I know how important this is to you."
"So is our friendship, Ziyal," Kala insisted, though she did appear troubled.
"Can he pull you out of school?" I asked after a moment.
Kala bit her lip. "I'm not sure."
I took her hand. "Please, I don't want to come between you two," I repeated. "I love my father, and you should love yours. Forgive him."
"For being a collaborator?" she asked. "How can I forgive that?"
"I don't know," I admitted. "But I forgave my father for worse. And you should forgive your father, too. Anyway, aren't you a collaborator as well?" I asked with a smile, attempting to lighten the mood. "Having breakfast with the daughter of the leader of Cardassia?"
Kala smiled weakly. "I suppose so."
The next few days went back to normal. But then, one day, Kala didn't show up for our art class. When I went to her dorm to see if she was feeling all right, I found it empty. Realization struck me. Her father had fulfilled his threat. I sat down on the bed and put my head in my hands. The University had been everything to Kala. And my friendship took it away from her.
I spent all my time alone, usually drawing. I found that the stares and whispers were bothering me again. I felt so alone. I had been alone before, I didn't need anyone—or so I used to think. When my father came to visit me, he offered to take me back to the station. I needed no convincing, though it was obvious that he had planned on providing it if I did not wish to accompany him.
I was so glad to see Nerys as soon as I boarded Terok Nor. I had missed her as much as I had missed my father. And I had been so lonely ever since Kala had left. Nerys was one of my only friends.
When I managed to get the Nerys and my father in the same room, I showed them my drawings and told them about my conversation with the Director of the Cardassian Institute of Art. I also told them everything else about the University, including why I never really felt comfortable there. But I didn't mention my brief friendship with Basso Kala—I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was guilt, guilt that I had managed to get my only friend withdrawn from the University. Or maybe it was shame—not shame of my friendship with Kala, but shame of who I was. Whatever the reason, I didn't plan on telling anyone about Kala. Though perhaps when Garak returns to the station, I would tell him. He will come back. I know it.
I wish that people wouldn't judge me, or judge anyone, by what their family has done. Kala and I led our own lives. We were not our fathers. It is not right that we are judged as our fathers.
Computer…end recording and delete file.