#42 How the Coconut got its face.

There was a village in a time before the moon entered the skies where trial fighting, magic and the daily life coexisted.

In this village a girl lived with her family. She always had a curious mind that her father knew all too well so he promised her to a young warrior in the village.

When she found out about this, she became worried because she felt she was not ready to move away from her family.

One day she was down by the river fetching water when a warrior from a rival village confronted her. He was so moved by her beauty, he could not bring himself to kill her. He told her that he would let her go and that he would like to see her again.

Swooned by his strength and compassion she promised to be back the next day.

She returned the next day and the day after and day after that. Each day she grew fonder and fonder of the man from the rival village. His heart grew softer and softer towards her.

To show his affection toward her, he planted a betelnut palm tree marking the place they had first met.

The tree grew as their love for each other grew, but the tensions between their villages began to simmer too.

It was a love that wasn’t allowed. She knew that and he knew that.

Then the day came to pass where she had to go and be with the man she was promised too. She reluctantly left her parents home and went to that of the man she was promised too. It was unrequited love and he knew it.

She would cry herself to sleep every night and it seemed that the only time she was happy was when she would go out to fetch water. Her husband found this quite strange and suspicious so one day he decided to follow her down to the river.

There he saw him with the enemy. He sprung upon them both and a scuffle ensued. When it seemed as if though her love from the other village was about to get killed she leapt to his rescue, taking a rock and knocking her husband unconscious.

She carried her injured love and fled into the jungle knowing that her husband would shortly regain her conscience and come after them.

When her husband regained consciousness, he went to his village and told them what had happened. He told them that the enemy had kidnapped his wife and that they had to go look for them.

Deep in the jungle the girl and his lover hunkered down and took stock of the situation. They couldn’t go to either of their villages and decided to sleep in the bush that night.

They lit a fire and laid down to rest for the night.

At some hour in the dark silence, sounds of distant voices echoed through the bush. The voices were approaching getting louder and louder, waking up the girl and her love. They recognised the voices as being the chants from the girls village directing them to the two lovers.

Unable to run further, the boy told the girl to run off ahead into the jungle while the boy put them off the track. He told her to meet her at the betelnut palm tree the next day. An ungodly fear fell up the girl who began to cry realising what was happening, but she listened to him and ran off into the jungle.

She ran as far as she could into the darkness imagining the worst.

Indeed when the voices caught up to the man, there was no mercy shown.

The girl’s husband was full of rage and when he saw that the girl was not there, he took the mans last breath away with one hard blow to his temple. In a gruesome scene, the angry villagers killed the man, decapitating him and burying his head in the jungle – a dishonourable thing to do to a warrior from another village.

The villagers went back home thinking the worst had happened to the girl.

It was a sad night for all.

The next day the girl went to the spot to meet her lover waiting all day into night. But alas he did not show. In her sorrow, she fell asleep under the betelnut tree and wept all night praying for him to return.

She called on their betelnut tree that if it heard her prayer that it would take her to him, that it would bring him to her.

That night, she fell into a tormented sleep known to all lovers who have lost a love. In her sleep the betelnut tree took her spirit, in the shape of her head wrapped in her hair, up to the sky. The tree grew and grew, wider and wider, and higher and higher.

Standing tall the betelnut tree became the coconut tree holding up the girls spirit as high as possible so she could look for her love. Later that night, in the distance her lover’s head became a spirit and crept up into the sky in a bright light.

All the villages in the land saw the spirit rise up and shine across the land looking for her at night.

But when the spirit of the two lovers saw each other they knew they could never be together.

The spirit of the girl silently wept keeping her salty tears in her.

Her face can still be seen on the coconut looking and waiting for her lover to come back each month, if only briefly.

 

——

Cheers

-Hans Lee

 

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