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the South Sudan affair

Elaine said, “I still think we should put Kai-Kai ‘on tour’.”

Her mother said, “The Committee doesn’t like that suggestion.”

“I know, that’s why I quit.” Responding to Angela’s puzzled face, Elaine continued, “That was my term for it, ‘on tour’. Physically send Kai-Kai to areas that need to be penetrated. Some of these indigenous peoples are hesitant about having their women fly halfway across the world. That was part of the problem with Mrs. Piri. So instead of having the women come here, Kai-Kai would go to the women, and do the impregs in their own homes. He could spend a week in their town, and inseminate forty women.”

Angela said, “Ms. Canworthy would tear her hair out, with the scheduling problems. Her job is complicated enough.”

“I realize you can’t get 40 women in the same village ovulating at the same time. But what if only 10 end up pregnant? That’s ten mothers in that area that we didn’t have before.”

“What does Kai-Kai think?” Angela said. “Did anyone ask him?”

“He’s afraid of offending people.”

“Kai-Kai? Offend?” Angela thought this was a joke. “It is impossible for Kai-Kai to offend anyone. He is the politest boy in the world.”

“He can offend, just by his nudity. We’re used to it here. But not in a place like, say, Harbin, or Khartoum. And we can’t risk putting clothes on him and heating up his testicles. His sperm count has to be maintained.”

Of course, Angela said to herself. She should have known that. The boy had to be kept naked at all times, and nudity, even so innocent and well-meaning, was a stumbling block to many cultures, even with him still in Semillas. As she took another sip she remembered reading about the long back-and-forth between the Region 4 people and the Health Minister of the emerging country of South Sudan, an afflicted area where the Project had already run an obstacle course to get official approval for penetration. Fortunately the official language of South Sudan is English so Angela was able to read all the email chains. They went on for a hundred pages; they somehow found their way into the Sire Collection, which is how Angela knew about the affair, even though it seemed to her like they should have been classified. At first the exchange was friendly. The Minister, a Mr. Nurim, was motivated by a sincere desire to stem the raging autoimmune epidemic in his impoverished country, but was not well educated about the Project.

When a new country agreed to be penetrated representatives from that country were flown to Semillas to be photographed with the Sire (or, if possible, the boy was flown out to take the photo op in their capital city). Mr. Nurim requested that, in light of the religious sensibilities of his nation (and possibly his own), the Sire be clothed for the photo. Also he requested that he be clothed during the impreg, unzipping his penis only when needed. Mr. Nurim imagined this to be a typical request and was surprised when it was rejected by Dr. McIver, the Region 4 Medical Director, who explained the concern over sperm count. Mr. Nurim did not understand how the boy’s sperm could be affected by suiting up for the ten or fifteen minutes required. Dr. McIver wisely handed the matter off to his Libyan-born deputy, Dr. El-Shafi, who could be more culturally sensitive.

But what happened next was a diplomatic disaster. Mr. Nurim, after some hesitation, suggested compromises: maybe Kai-Kai could wear short sleeves, or be bare-chested, or wear just shorts. These requests too were rejected. Angela could detect increasing agitation in the emails. It was obvious that Mr. Nurim realized he had painted his country into a corner and was under increasing scrutiny from his superiors in Juba. It got to the point where he suggested in desperation just a tiny loincloth, a backless flap just large enough to cover the boy’s genitals. But Dr. El-Shafi’s instructions were firm: Kai-Kai was not allowed to put on even the tiniest little wisp. His nudity was to be absolute. It was a matter of not setting a precedent. As Dr. Alakaras pointed out when he chimed in, “If we let the Sire wear a loincloth, the next country will ask for shorts. Then we will see him in long pants, then a shirt. Maybe even footwear. No — keep the Sire away from any kind of covering!”

Suddenly Mr. Nurim disappeared from the emails, to be replaced by the South Sudanese Vice President who to everyone’s horror pulled the plug on the penetration agreement. No country had ever backed out before. The recriminations among Project committees were intense, and there were even calls for Dr. Alkaras to resign. South Sudan, impoverished and riddled with autoimmune disease, would need the vaccine badly. Couldn’t Kai-Kai wear that little flap, just once, for a few minutes? Dr. Alkaras flew out to Juba and over the course of a week somehow retrieved the situation (there must have been emails as to that; maybe those were the ones that had been classified). The result was that the country of South Sudan was to get special treatment. Kai-Kai, who per the Project’s usual habits had been kept in the dark up to this point, was given a quick briefing. His next vacation, as it happened, was only a week away; he was flown to Juba accompanied by an extensive Project delegation, in the charter jet the Project always used. He was still naked, of course, but he came off the plane behind a white screen held a few feet in front of him. It was lowered just a bit so that his head appeared for the photo op, and his hand which reached out to shake hands with Mr. Nurim, who had somehow got his job back.

Also, for the first and (so far) last time, an impreg took place outside of Semillas. It was in a darkened theater away from the capital, in the town of Yambio. Kai-Kai and the fully clothed woman, a Mrs. Salim Oman, copulated on a couch onstage behind a partition. In the audience were about a hundred people, Project officials and Dr. Alkaras, but mostly South Sudanese including Mr. Nurim. Several religious leaders were present. They heard the gasps, then the scraping movements of the couch legs as Sire and procreator spasmed in orgasm. The Sire remained hidden behind the screen until after the crowd was led out. The Project people crossed their fingers, and fortunately a month later Mrs. Oman went from P-5 to P-6. The South Sudanese had been impressed by what they had seen, and by the comportment of the young Sire when answering questions from curious officials, even with the awkwardness of the screen between them. It surprised them that a person in such a “shameful” naked state could be so dignified and respectful. Tensions eased and they decided to abide by the agreement originally reached. Future South Sudanese women would be flown to Semillas to be impregnated in the usual way. Interestingly, there was a change in the “penetration target” for that country. The number was based not only on total population but on the relative need for the vaccine, which in that country was acute. The target had been 173 but apparently the government now wanted the boy to create more South Sudanese babies. The new number was 204!

That was not the only irony, as Dr. Spaatz pointed out when it was all over. The affair was triggered by South Sudanese notions of personal modesty, but before the arrival of Christianity and Islam the tribes in that region, which was mostly tropical forest, wore almost no clothes. Also Mrs. Oman, a well-traveled and worldly musician, was not one to be offended by nudity. From beginning to end she was amused at the way her government was behaving, but she played along good-naturedly.

As for the first South Sudanese impreg in Semillas, two months later, it was notable for the sight of five black-clad women around town, their chadors covering everything except their eyes, saying nothing, just nodding or shaking their heads, pointing to things they wanted when ordering in the cafeteria, but one could tell from their eyes that they were respectful and occasionally smiling. This was the procreator, Mrs. Akuac Balang, and four “family members” from her mosque (assumed to be “sister-wives”, though the Project was not about to ask questions). She was the Thursday I-1 and Mrs. Schreiber was careful to prepare a strictly “halal” breakfast, a silent one because these women apparently did not consider themselves allowed to speak. When the plates were cleared they nodded and Mrs. Schreiber led them upstairs. The Sire’s nudity never stood out so much as when he woke up and mounted the black-clad Mrs. Balang, her legs spread but no sign of skin showing, as the four equally covered up black-clad attendants knelt at the sides of the bed, heads bowed. The boy had been meticulously briefed, of course, so was not surprised. The woman’s pitch was fairly deep and orgasm was quick, though anyone who had seen a number of I-1 impregs would note that the Sire was being even more gentle than usual this morning, as if Mrs. Balang were fine china that he was careful not to break. Mrs. Schreiber, watching discreetly from the doorway, was, as always, proud of her son’s sensitivity and skill. Now came the polite low moan and the sister-wives held their breath as the nude boy changed his angle of penetration into the black-clad woman. At the onset of ejaculation, which according to their tradition was the moment of conception, they said in unison, “Barika!” Mrs. Schreiber understood it as some kind of blessing in their language. It was the only word anybody heard out of them during their entire visit. Kai-Kai, in a well-rehearsed gesture of respect for their religion, moaned out in his boyish voice “B - barika . . . ohhhh . . .” with his last few spurts.

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