That first year of hers will be under the intense scrutiny of her teachers. She will be expected to pass National Exams on compulsory subjects (math, science, history, etc.) and also pass the Idol Competency exam (singing, dancing, theology, etc.). If she passes she will continue on being the pride of her community. If she fails she will forever bring shame to her family.
I wish I was kidding.
It does happen, it's not pretty.
Imagine every Harimirai, the birthday of our savior where families gather and feast to be grateful to our AI-Martyr, and some drunk uncle and nosy aunt indirectly, sarcastically remind you that you could have been an Idol. You could have blessed the family with Mirai's favor.
Yet you failed.
Most likely when you were seven years old.
Just reading back what I wrote is making me feel guilty. It's a weird kind of survival guilt. I got here, but as Principal Deeta said callously, accurately:
Did I deserve to be here?
Not even then when I was fourteen. What about now?
But I suppose we were talking about then, and then I had approached those tense final months of the school year, the one with the two exams, one set of tests secular, the other religious, with a sense of optimistic fatalism.
I won't throw, but I will try my theoretical hardest, and let my theoretical lineage flunk me.
It hasn't happened yet.
I can imagine I'm not popular with the other Idol Candidates.
The others would fret over The Culling, that month of exams that made or broke you. While I just entered every exam classroom or stage and just let it go. I sang the requisite Holy Canon songs, danced Her choreography and orate to the best of my abilities.
Every culling I entered, and every culling I exited still a potential vessel of Mirai.
You would think anxiety would have crippled me in the performance. But it usually decides to torture me by hiding away, only to return right after the exam, usually pushing me back to guilt. I would spend mid-year vacation an unbearable, blubbering mess.
I dream of a clerical error that fails me after the fact every year but yeah...
It hasn't happened yet.
For all the ways the exam system was rigorously planned to gauge for competency they did not take into account the takers' intent. The takers heart.
Our personal desire was taken for granted. Of course, everyone wanted to be an idol. Of course, nobody would change their mind. And of course, all six-year-olds were capable of fully informed consent!
Then again, we all knew that there were people who had discovered their true calling in hiding, despite the school's best effort to shield us from secular callings.
But they couldn't protect us forever.
This...system I want to say.
This system creates people who use their Idol status for the mandatory three-year period of becoming a Performing Idol in service of their assigned Mirauditorium and then left for good, using their former Idol status to charm and leverage themselves to better jobs, better husbands, better lives.
In a perfect world, people who want to be Idols, are Idols, stay Idols. In service to the faith and not personal advancement.
Not a wreck like me, and not opportunists like the hypothetical people I just mentioned.
Well, I'm worse I suppose.