Once upon a time, long long ago, our world was pretty similar to what we see now. There was a sun, stars, mountains, oceans, deserts and everything we see around us, though it wasn’t quite the same. The waters were clearer, the mountains had no peaks, and deserts shone like gold. But, the true beauty used to lie with the moon. Its breathtaking presence was closer to the earth, making you stretch out your arms as high as you could in false hopes of reaching it. It was bigger and brighter, casting a pale silver glow on every surface it could reach. Its calming presence lulling everyone into a sense of safety, even in the dark of the night with no prejudice. Its healing nature acting as a cold cloth on a fever struck body.
In a hidden corner of the world, somewhere to the east in southern hemisphere was a village. A peaceful village which had the misfortune of being struck by a disease. The disease had no mercy, not for the crops, not for the cattle nor for the people. All were affected.
Now this land was led by a man who did not deserve to lead. A man who blamed others for his wrongdoings and fed his ego before he fed his children. When the villagers in pain approached the leader to ask for guidance he shrugged them away, told them it was only a matter of a few days. Weeks passed by, there was no change. The crowd was angry as they stormed towards the village head’s house with rage in their minds and pain in their hearts. They demanded that he do something, anything. They blamed him for not taking the proper precautions and measures as it was a disease which could have been avoided if care had been taken.
The village leader, unable to bear the rightful weight of being wrong was desperate for an escape. He was frustrated and agitated when he suddenly saw the reflection of the moon.
He turned to the crowd and pointed to the moon. “The cause of all your suffering”, he stated. The people were confused as he barked out a laugh. He looked at the villagers and back at the moon with a crazed look in his eyes. The crickets stopped chirping. “We look up to the moon to protect us and heal us and what is it doing?” he exclaimed loudly. The trees went still. The crowd was silent. “We are all suffering here, cursed with this terrible fate and the moon does nothing? Where are all those healing powers that the people keep singing about? Why is it put on a pedestal and worshipped when it does nothing but watch as we suffer?” The villagers were shocked, eyes wide in disbelief as they took in the words spoken. The tides receded. “Worshipped for no reason, just a shining piece of rock in the sky. Now we might as well build shrines for diamonds and pearls. And if we are talking about beauty, what beauty? I see nothing but a white imperfection in the night sky. Worthless and useless”.
The winds slowed down. Lightning struck the ground. Thunder crackled in the sky. A wolf howled somewhere far away.
The clear night sky was suddenly hidden by dark storm clouds as it suddenly started to rain, and it rained like it never had before.
few weeks later
It was just after dinner when a small group of children, merely 5 or 6 years old, were playing near a small clearing at the mouth of the woods. It was dark, but not dark enough to dull their excitement. Excitement which soon turned into fear when they realized they had wandered in deeper than they usually did. Which wouldn’t have been an issue as they had been playing there since their two tiny legs could balance their small bodies. But this time something was wrong. Something they couldn’t quite put a finger on. And that’s when they realized: it was darker than usual, there was no light guiding them back home.
With shivering legs, courage in their hearts and luck on their side they managed to get to the clearing. They rushed home to satisfy their curiosity. They asked their parents why it was suddenly so different outside. Why it was so dark outside, as it had never that dark before. The parents didn’t know how to explain. They didn’t know how to tell the children about the grave mistake they had made, a mistake that could not be undone. Suddenly, a child with large round eyes and an unreadable fear in his expressive face asked, “Where is the moon?” Everyone was silent and then suddenly all the children started throwing questions asking where the moon was. Why couldn’t they see it anymore? When was it going to come back? Their parents were helpless as they didn’t know how to explain to the children that the moon went away and won’t ever be coming back.
“Where did my forever friend go?” asked the wide-eyed child. All the children were waiting for answers rather impatiently. “The moon…has gone to hide, it is going to hide for a long long time. The moon is hurt and is resting right now.” said a mother.
“How did it get hurt? Where is it resting? Where can I find it? I want to see the moon!” frustration coloured the child’s voice as he spoke. He turned to his father with a sad look and his father took him into his arms. With a soothing voice he said, “The moon is there. It is hiding in a place none of us can ever find it. Maybe you can look for it when you grow up. You can look for the moon and put it back in the sky, my little boy.” The child nods his eyes aglow with unbreakable determination. “But for now, you must sleep. All of you, must sleep. You do not want to be late for tomorrow’s lesson, do you? I will tell you the secret of how it rains. But for that, all of you must sleep now.”
All the children nodded in excitement as they wondered about how the sky makes water as they headed to their homes with sleep creeping into their eyes. All but one. One child, who had his heart locked away in a hidden place and his mind trapped in a net of endless possibilities.
The next morning the child rose along with the sun for his search. His search for the moon. He looked behind every door of his house, under his bed, at the bottom of the clothes basket and the highest shelf he could reach. He even opened the cupboard he wasn’t supposed to open in the kitchen. All in search for the moon. He looked in every place he could possibly think of.
As days and months added to his age, the boundaries of his search expanded. He would climb the tallest trees, and go deeper and deeper in the woods each day. He would dive into the lake with a hope to find the moon at the bottom.
Seasons visited time and again like an old relative, but the moon was nowhere to be found. The boy did not lose hope though. He had a will of iron and the determination of an ant.
It was a few days after his seventeenth birthday that he left his village. He took the first merchants’ ship out and didn’t look back. With some money in his pocket and a few clothes to spare in his satchel he set out on his journey. He was led by the sea and when the touched land he followed the wind. He went to places whose names he didn’t know, and if he did know the names he couldn’t pronounce them. He worked wherever he could to feed his stomach. He did not stay in one place for too long. He would search and search high and low till there wasn’t a stone unturned.
When people asked him what he was looking for, he would answer, “the moon”. They would laugh and tell him to give up, as the moon was never coming back. They would tell him to stop dreaming and go home. To go do something worthwhile and build a life. But the young man knew that was not in his destiny.
Seasons change. Languages change.
It was a tired evening; the young man was drinking with a few older men at a local tavern. They asked him what he was doing there, so far from home and if he had someone waiting for him back there. Being loose lipped under the influence of alcohol he answered, “I am on a journey…a journey to find the moon…and put it back in the sky where it belongs…”
“Have you gone bonkers boy?” one of them said. “The moon won’t be found, it is not to be found. There have been people who looked and have not found it, what makes you think you could?”
“They haven’t looked hard enough. They haven’t looked everywhere. I will. I will find it or I will keep trying till my last breath.” He replied.
The men gave him a look of disbelief and hidden sympathy. They finished their drink and left the man alone. A few too many drinks later the young man could see hope slip through his fingers like fine sand. He was lost and confused. He suddenly wasn’t sure as to what he was doing. He needed a path, a guide, a glimpse of some light at the end of the tunnel.
He was about to leave when suddenly a woman in a dark cloak approached him. She placed a hand on his shoulder and told him not to look for the moon, but to look for the fountain of youth as that would give him all the answers he wanted and would help him find what he was looking for. He understood what she said but his vision was still hazy. She stepped back and took something out of the pockets of her cloak. She put it in his palm and closed his fingers around it. “You will need it.” she said and with that she went away. She might have disappeared or it might have just been the wine playing with his mind, he didn’t know.
It was later that night when he was in bed did he realize that the lady spoke in his native tongue.
…that rainy night
The storm clouds covered the night sky to hide the moon as it began to sob softly. Unable to bear the pain, the winds blew with a howling sound of rage. The tides rose scarily high to caress the moon as tears started to fall. The moon cried gently and a few tears fell from the sky. Just as they left the clouds, the raindrops covered them tenderly, protecting them as they fell to the ground together. All the tress were struck with sadness as they watched the ever youthful and beautiful moon melt away. The animals unable to watch, went deeper into their burrows and caves, not wanting to witness such a heartbreaking sight. The stars bid farewell as the last parts of the moon vanished into drops of an eternal silver liquid of youth.
Three days later the rain stopped. The skies clear. The disease disappeared. All the crops and cattle were flourishing again. The people felt better than ever before. No sign of the sickness they were tormented by. The people rejoiced. But that night there was no moon in the sky. Since then there was no moon in the sky
to be continued...