Word Wednesday: Heritage vs. Lineage

Learning new words and being able to find the word that means exactly what the story needs can mean the difference between a mediocre story and a brilliant one.

On Wednesdays we will identify an unusual word, provide its definition, and discuss its application or its impact.

Time for another Word Wednesday!

Today I’m doing my civic duty—jury duty, to be exact. I look forward to sharing my adventures soon.

The words we’re reviewing today became a point of contention while I was writing “Redeeming the Demon’s Daughter.”

I chose to use “heritage” twice, and my husband questioned whether it was the right word in each case.

Here are the two original sentences:

  1. “My heritage did not help me either, for I was the daughter of Ravana, the demon who kidnapped their beloved king’s wife.”

  2. “Macchanu could not doubt the evidence of his own eyes, for Maiyarab taught him his heritage, taught him to worship and trust in gods.”

After consulting my handy-dandy dictionary and deciding what made more sense, I changed the first sentence to use “lineage” but kept the second sentence as it was.

So what’s the difference?

Heritage:

  1. Something handed down from the past, as a tradition

  2. Something that comes or belongs to one by reason of birth; an inheritance

  3. Something reserved for one

There’s another specific definition used in Law, but I won’t pretend to instruct about the application of a legal term.

Lineage:

  1. Lineal descent from an ancestor; ancestry or extraction

  2. the line of descendants of a particular ancestor; family

Why did I change Sentence 1?

In the first sentence, Suvi is specifically referring to her father and to her ancestry as a demon. While I also meant her cultural background as a mermaid and a demon, the real meaning I want to convey hinges on her bloodline. So given these definitions, “lineage” describes it better.

Final sentence:

“My lineage did not help me either, for I was the daughter of Ravana, the demon who kidnapped their beloved king’s wife.”

Why didn’t I change Sentence 2?

In this case, Suvi is describing not just her son Macchanu’s parentage, but—more importantly—the cultural and religious aspects of his society and his role in it or obligations to it. So lineage would have changed the meaning of what I was trying to say.

Final sentence:

“Macchanu could not doubt the evidence of his own eyes, for Maiyarab taught him his heritage, taught him to worship and trust in gods.”

Redeeming the Demon’s Daughter Live on Amazon!

It’s so very exciting to announce the release of “Redeeming the Demon’s Daughter.” It’s out today on Amazon!

This is a short story from the Hindu epic, the Ramayana.

Redeeming the Demon's Daughter

Redeeming the Demon’s Daughter

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, the Ramayana follows the story of the god-king Rama.

The second of his father’s three wives wished her son to be king, so she requested her husband fulfill a promise to banish Rama. Rama’s wife, Sita, and another brother, Laxman, accompanied him on his 14-year exile.

During his exile, the ten-headed demon Ravana kidnapped Sita and held her in his kingdom. An army, led by the god Hanuman, aided Rama in his battle against Ravana.

Hanuman’s army attempted to build a bridge to Ravana’s kingdom by throwing large rocks into the ocean. Unbeknownst to Hanuman or his army, the rocks were carried away by mermaids.

This is where my knowledge of the story diverges with other cultures’ versions: the leader of these mermaids is the daughter of the demon king. And in this version, Hanuman goes to investigate the reason his bridge project is being delayed, meets the mermaid, and they have a son.

Hindu mythology is full of these holy conceptions, like the celibate sage that “met” a queen five times and blessed her with a child upon each meeting when she was barren. To fully appreciate the naivety, you have to see the serial television program, where the sage sends her a small flame.

In the Hanuman stories I’ve heard, he too was celibate, and his sweat fell into the ocean and turned into his child. It seems slightly more believable that his half-fish child would be born of a mermaid.

Anyway, in the Ramayana, we find out what happens to Rama, Sita, Laxman, Hanuman, Ravana, and even Hanuman’s son, but we never find out anything more about the mermaid. And when I learned about the story, it haunted me.

There had to be more to the story of Suvarnamatsya (blame the Ramayana and the Sanskrit language for an entirely unpronounceable name). Suvi’s voice kept whispering in the background as I went about my business, telling me that she loved the son she lost.

(And that’s not a spoiler, since I posted a Saturday Snippet about it quite recently.)

Because in the Ramayana we find that her uncle fostered her son and trained him to be a warrior. He also seemed to be on some accelerated growth pattern, since he was actually fighting in part of the war detailed in the Ramayana.

So I took the information I found in the Ramayana and fit the pieces around a story that resolved Suvi’s story. I just couldn’t reconcile a love interest of Hanuman’s abandoning her child. So I made the sympathetic choices to figure out what might have happened in her life to result in that particular decision. And then all the rest of the pieces of “Redeeming the Demon’s Daughter” just fell into place.

I hope you enjoy Suvi’s story—it really holds a piece of my soul. Like a Horcrux, but not evil.