DOOF IN NIATIRB
by ELOISE DAVIS (United Kingdom)
Issue 2.3 December 2020
Editor's Note: This piece was written in response to a prompt created by Write the World member EdilMayHampsen, which in turn was inspired by Horace Miner’s Body Rituals of the Nacirema, a satirical critique of the way anthropologists distance other cultures by seeing them as the ‘other.’ The piece is used to help American anthropologists examine their work objectively, as Nacirema is American backward.
Throughout my many travels, to all sorts of exotic lands, never before have I seen a diet so extraordinary as that of the snamuh. Despite their Earth being mostly water, they choose to live almost solely on land—excluding some of the rich and elderly, who spend their days on a series of water ships, visiting areas on their planet by esiurc. I too, on my explorations, remained mostly out of the water, on an island full of mysteries called Niatirb. The people of Niatirb were most peculiar—they would often stand in random orderly lines, or worship pictures of the one they call Neeuq (though at this point it must be noted that despite their idea of democracy, nobody actually knows how she reached the same level of prestige as David Attenborough, by merely waving and wearing frivolous hats). I was also rather bemused at how the Niatirb would always shy away from confrontation and spontaneously launch into complaints about the weather being too hot, too cold, too rainy, or too dry. It was with these strange behaviours and lack of social skills in mind that I began my inquiries into into the cuisine of the Niatirb.
Inside the house, the diet of the Niatirb was very simple. Although they had many appliances that could be used to cook food, these seemed, to me, to be mostly for show and scrubbed until they shone into space. I never once saw the hot cupboard or the electric fire put into use—quite a shame on my part—for many of the Niatirb “couldn’t be bothered,” a phrase which loosely means that they would rather have been doing some other menial task that they deemed more important than the preparation of essential nutrition. And so the staple food of the snamuh I met were poor-quality noodles. In a pot. With this being the case, preparation took just a few minutes, and the only cooking device used was a whirring, radioactive roundabout that would ping and screech to remind the owner to collect their meal.
Should this laziness seep into other days, the snamuh would often perform a communal rite where they paid to eat tacky food in someone else’s building, in order to avoid washing up. This lack of ability and care in males was supposed to have been attractive to females, who would be brought along to also queue (supposedly entertaining) and then “enjoy,” the cuisine. As if it wouldn’t be enough to just pay another being to feed you, but these Niatirb would, at all costs, travel to the same tasteless stuo-ekat to eat all sorts of unappetising but apparently addictive foods, such as sausages coated in grease and flour or mashed up peas mixed with heap upon heap of salt. Naturally, they would feel the need to complain about putting on weight after eating this tasteless rubbish.
As for drinks, the marvelling just goes on. Perhaps the snamuh simply haven’t discovered the natural minerals and benefits of water, or it could be that they are not enough to sustain this species, but, particularly where I was travelling, they would create all sorts of concoctions to drink instead of a normal glass of water. For example, many of the Niatirb had taken to consuming aet, a herbal remedy that was often drunk three or four times a day. It seemed like a form of energy or motivation for many. This was especially evident in elderly communities, which has led me to believe that aet has some kind of healing power, possibly used to extend life.
Another magical drink that I came across was called reeb. Though it, to me, tasted repulsive, it was something of a delicacy in Niatirb, and was revered as an elixir that brings happiness. There were hundreds of types of reeb, imported from across the country and the globe all for this purpose. It was more often that the males sought out this potion, going together in small packs on pilgrimages to houses of reeb. In exchange for money, they could drink some of the brew from a magical tap, and all their cares would wash away. The females tended to drink their stronger tinctures in private ceremonies at home. One female I met described her eniw as her “lifeblood.” After a few glasses, I saw with my own eyes her inflated positivity and freedom. She also made some hiccuping noises, which I assumed was the sadness being repelled from her body; when I asked her about this, she merely laughed and went back into drinking, clearly too far into contentment to explain the science behind it.
In conclusion, my study of the Niatirb has proven them to be remarkably illogical people, with great colourful feasts to fatten them and colour their teeth, then secret exercises later to whiten said teeth ready to be coloured once again the next day. However, written from our place in our advanced society, we cannot fully judge what has driven this population to such rituals that we find bizarre. We must bear in mind that for them, constantly apologising and worshipping the Neeuq is simply all they know, and is how they have learnt to get along with their lives.
Audio: Eloise Davis reads
Eloise Davis, age 16, loves to write in the company of her cat, several cups of tea and (of course) a good healthy dose of sarcasm. She hopes everyone always finds joy in her pieces.