I was planning on writing about queen Merneith that day, and Mummific was waiting in the living room for me to finish what I was doing before we could start. Then I began to hear strange dry huffing, hissing and whistling noises.
For a while I wondered what the source of the sound was, but by now I was so used to the fact that any odd incident was caused by Mummific that I did not rush to the scene. If I did not hear anything breaking, I continued doing what ever it was I was busy with.
(Or come to think of it - if it was too quiet when Mummific was around, it was wisest to check what was going on.)
“What is it this time?” I asked.
“Way to go, Momma!” I heard a chuckle accompanied by the sound of the deflating balloon and realized that Mummific had been laughing. (Under his bandages there were holes that let air through, which explained the slightly bag-pipish whistling sounds)
“No, not you, that mother on the Picture box!”
By the time I had negotiated my way to the living room (avoiding piles of books and cats that were furry-roping around my ankles, certain that I had got up to give them food), whatever Mummific had been watching in the news had already disappeared. I returned to my computer, where I was just making a coloring advice book for Tutankhamon’s golden mask, and forgot about the Momma-comment.
Until the evening news came. There were news about riots in Baltimore, and a surprise video footage of a mother who had seen her own son on TV, throwing stones at the police. The mother in question duly marched on the spot and dragged her son out of the mayhem by the ear and gave him what’s what.
Mummific had not moved from the couch, but had been sitting on his pillow, clearly waiting to see the news again. (And yes, it is wise to put something between a mummy and furniture. You would not believe the amount of dust and undefined crumbs that fall off someone who has been dead for thousands of years – no matter how elegantly they have been re-wrapped in the afterlife)
“Just like Queen Merneith,” Mummific wheezed his mirth, squeezing the pharaonic rubber duck he had found in our bathroom - a souvenir from my latest visit to the British Museum. (He had named the duck Ramses for reasons he did not specify)
Mummific and Ramses the Duck
That was quite a surprise statement about Merneith.
“How do you mean?”
“Well, she kept Den well-disciplined when she ruled Kemet. The boy was not allowed to behave against ma’at. She would have done exactly the same if Den had dared to go on throwing rocks at anyone, future king or not. Even today, Den doesn’t dare to misbehave when his mother is around. She is a formidable lady! I have to say even my Mrs has trouble handling her sometimes, and that doesn’t happen often!”
The statement was followed by a delighted chuckle, no doubt caused by some pleasant memory of a meeting between Mummific's Mrs and queen Merneith.
“Indeed she was. The daughter of a king, the wife of a king, and the mother of a king. And a regent on top of that. She would not allow nonsense from anyone, and was a good ruler while Den was still too young. She was true to her name, beloved of a warrior goddess… That is why her name was written in king lists in those early times. She was respected for keeping the order in the kingdom while her son grew up to be old enough to take the throne. She started to build a grand tomb for herself in Umm el-Qaab long before she died, and Den took care of her proper burial when the time came. He even had her most loyal servants killed and buried with her.”
“What? Still? Such a waste of lives… I thought you said that practice did not last long.”
The time seemed right to distract Mummific from any further thoughts of pocket money.
“What’s that?” I pointed at the TV screen, “Have they found a new tomb in the Valley of the Kings?”
By the time Mummific had managed to crackle and turn to watch the TV, and then turn back again, I had left the room.