TALE OF THE NEW MOON
This is quite an old story, told by Papuan grannies
to their grandchildren in nights of the new moon. It tells about the
origin of the new Moon, but let me first explain the term to those of
you who don't know it.
You have seen an orange - like Moon, don't you? Absolutely
round and orange, quite tasty by appearance. When it looks like that,
most grown up people start to sigh with one voice:
- Oh, dear, a new Moon again! We shall not be able
Have you noticed that too many things in the world
keep the grown - up from nice sleep? Maybe it's so, because they have
lost the habit to play. Sometimes I tend to believe that if they could
remember their childhood games, especially at new Moon, they could have
a much better sleep. But it's the point of a quite different talk. So,
we had reached to the place where new Moon was mentioned.
After boasting days on end of her full cheeks, the
Moon starts getting slimmer. At first only half of it is left, then
a quarter, until in the end it totally disappears and the stars remain
so lonely, twinkling in the sky. That's what people call " a new moon".
And here is an explanation of the fact, according
to the inhabitants of Samoa and Fiji islands.
Long, long ago, when the Earth and the Ocean were
still at war and there was no living creature whatsoever, the Moon used
to shine all the same every night of the year - round or slightly flattened,
like a mangrove fruit. And such it looked when the animals started to
appear, and such it was when he birds come later, and such it shone
even when the people came at last, but... it was not anymore like that
when the Banana fish appeared. It was then an absolutely insignificant,
tiny gray fish, which was not yet called a Banana fish, but who knows
- it might even have no name at all, because one could not quite tell
it from the gray pebbles on the bottom of lagoon or the gray sticks
floating along the tide after storm. This could mean no wrong, of course,
or so the Banana fish believed till the sea creatures decided to gather
once in the Big Coral Valley to see each other and get closer.
Immediately the periwinkles started to blow their
scallop shells and various kinds of little, big and tremendous fish
began to gather. Every one was eager to boast as much as possible. The
whale turned around and around, blew his cheeks and hummed in a deep
voice, humming his whale-like chants. One of them sounded like that:
Look, I'm as huge as a hill
so I can say it to you still...
My throat is quite narrow
but you can be sure though
that as I eat only small fish
I remain hungry over my dish.
The sea echinus pointed his needles in all directions.
The shark ground frightfully with her teeth and obviously imagined that
it was the most pleasing underwater music. On the other hand the clown
fish wiggled and tossed over as if to make you dizzy. Even the octopus
that was constantly changing colors had a pride of his own. Only the
Banana fish was staying in the corner - gray and shy, sadly sniffing
as much as it was possible in deep water, of course.
So the little, big and tremendous fish kept showing
off till some sea - spine, as spiteful as thin, noticed the Banana fish
and got so indignant that she started speaking in rhyme:
Who dared to invite this creature? It looks like
something from he bin. Remind me somehow for a preacher... only the
color is too thin. Her garment is completely gray. For God's sake take
her fare away.
So they chased her away. What's more, they bid her
not to swim around until she fulfill the order - keep in mind that the
wheels was always hungry...
So far, so good, but there were too many Banana fish
in the Ocean. There were so many, that if they stood in a chain and
each one bit the tail of the one in front, they would have reached from
coast to coast and yet there would remain enough of them to make delicious
breakfast for each of the little Papuans from Samoa and the Fiji Islands.
Every one of the Banana fishes was grayer and shyer then the other.
They ware all at a loss. What could they possibly do if the voracious
whales decided suddenly to chase them? So they made up their minds to
And they started running. They swam and swam all
daylong to the place where the Sun sets down and in the evening they
reached the point where the Sky and Sea join together. The water was
quite shallow and the Moon had lain there in the cool. After the Sun
set down, she rose up, shook the water from her and got ready to take
her habitual place.
So far so good, but some tiny crabs had stuck to
her back and as the Banana fishes were too hungry after running, one
small Banana fish tried to swallow the delicious bits. She actually
swallowed them, but accidentally she had a morsel of the Moon too. And
then happened something really fantastic. The place, where the fish
bit off remained darker than the rest, while the fish itself grew yellow
and even started to glow in the duck. Oh, how she tossed about in her
joy! She even began to sing a little funny song:
I was ugly, I was gray
shame and fare kept me away
but now I'm so nice and sweet
that I still don't know it -
whether to ask for the Moon's vow
or she's not worth of me now...
When they realized what had happened, all the other
fishes rushed to lick the Moon's light and until she succeeded to rise
up from the water she was so bitten that she looked like an ice-cream
in the hands of a little gluttonous child. The same was repeated the
following evening and the next one until finally she was left no light
So far so good, but as the fishes had licked all the
light, the nights became so dark, that the inhabitants of the Sea could't
even to tell their noses, not to mention visiting each other like good
neighbors. Most naturally, when they knew who had done the mischief
they shouted with one voice onto the Banana fishes, telling them to
give back immediately the light to the Moon, unless they wish to meet
the hungry whales...
So far so good, but our acquaintances had already
used to getting beautiful and nothing could keep them from licking the
Moon again and again. They began doing it most cautiously, in order
to get just a little fairer, but in the end bit it all...
"That's the reason - the Papuan grannies said - a
new moon appears in the sky."
And they are probably right, because if you happen
to be on the coast of Samoa or the Fiji islands on a moonless night
and you have the chance, of course, you could see among the waters of
tremendous dark Ocean a little glowing fish, looking very much like
a lonely banana, thrown away by the hand of some Polynesian child. Yet
it is quite difficult to do so, because the Banana fishes usually swim
in large shining wings and then the Ocean itself looks festively shining
as in a merry illumination. When the fishes reach the coasts of the
Southern Islands, the local kids jump down from their little hammocks,
squeeze into the lagoon and start The Play.Here's the song I heard once:
When the Sky is tender
when the Sea is shining
when the Southern Cross
goes down so near
that you can touch
the stars with a finger
then the children laugh
then the children sing
then the children play
not allowed by parents.
So in nights like these, the little naughty children
from Samoa and the Fiji Islands go romping about as long as the dew
falls down, but I can assure you that the day after is the only one
when they don't get up together with the sunrise. I can also assure
you that their parents are too much aware of the reason why and don't
scold them at all. You now, every parent has been once a little child
and has done just the same pranks!