Darkness is only the absence of light. Everything else exists. So, as Suva fell she could still feel the walls, the damp and the raw honesty of fear.
Suva fell and fell into what seemed like an endless abyss. Her organs seemed to float upwards inside her and press against her throat. Nausea filled her mouth and brain and all she wanted to do was to stop. There was no light, there didn’t even seem to be any sound except for the rushing of blood in her ears. Disorientated, light headed and sick, Suva craved nothing more than to pass out and just when she thought she would, she felt the ground wind her as she landed with a thud.
She was in a cave lit with millions of tiny lights. They glowed yellow, flickering to some sort of rhythm. The very walls seemed to pulse and hum. Suva wondered whether she had indeed passed out and this was something she was dreaming, feeling within her, rather than something she was experiencing without.
There was nothing of reality to cling to now. No sun, no trees, no Kajol Didi, no grandmother, mother, no moon, nothing she had ever experienced before. Where was she?
“You’re home,” whispered the Fairy King, “Come, there are stories to tell and there are souls to meet.”
“Who is down here? What stories?”
“No time to explain now, you must come with us, immediately.”
Suva ran as she chased the fairies through the dimly lit cavern.
The space finally opened out before her and she found herself in a room full of creatures she had only read about in stories. Centaurs and Fauns, elves and goddesses graced the hall. Whispers filled the room and sounded like the sea inside a shell. Suva was rooted to the spot and could only stare. She remembered the goddess in her room, she remembered Frog and wondered if she would find them here if she searched. She was just about to begin looking when she heard a tiny peal of bells, only just loud enough. The hall fell silent and from out of nowhere seats appeared where before Suva would have sworn that there were none. Everyone sat but Suva stayed standing where she was.
A voice, like a sweet song rang through the silence and spoke to all in the room.
“Welcome, one and all, welcome. I am grateful to all of you who could come, especially you, Suva. Thank you. I understand it was not an easy journey.”
The voice seemed to smile and Suva wondered where it was coming from. She could not see through the crowd.
“Come to the front, my girl and we can all formally introduce ourselves,” continued the voice.
Suva wove her way through the bodies, the feather and the fur, the antlers and the horns until she reached a stage. Upon it, was a throne and the unmistakeable owner of the voice which sang.
A face, so beautiful, which belonged to neither girl nor boy beamed at Suva. The creature, iridescent and holy, it seemed to Suva, rose and took her hand. They wore robes of the most delicate silk, as if woven by the fairies themselves. Their hair, a deep black, which seemed to shine with emerald and purple and blue and gold, as it caught the twinkling lights which lit the cavern. Their eyes were golden and their skin so pale, it was almost translucent.
“Who are you?” asked Suva. Her voice shook as she asked.
“I am the Moon Queen, my dear. I am nothing but sand and stone. Do not be afraid,” sang the beautiful stranger.
“Come up, my love. There is a story to tell and there is somebody to meet. This is Suva, the one who will save us and the one who will be saved. Her mother is in trouble and we all know that a child without a mother can often be lost for too long. Who will tell their story? But of course, who else but the Sea Hag?”
Suva climbed up onto the stage which seemed to have been carpeted with moss and flowers and leaves. There was an empty chair just for her and Suva sat down gratefully, ready to listen to whatever the Sea-Hag deemed fit to tell.
The Sea-Hag, presumed Suva, rose from the crowd and came to join them at the front.
“Do you know of our love? Have you heard our songs?” The Sea Hag, a hunched woman of infinite age, it seemed to Suva, with gnarled fingers and silver hair, long, neatly plaited, spoke. She was blind because her eyes were missing. Suva should have been afraid but she wasn’t because when she looked into the Sea Hag’s eyes she saw the ocean and the stars and space. She saw the beginning of time, the first star and she thought she saw her father.
“I do not know. Whose love? Tell me,” asked Suva, who was tired now; who did not know how her little body could hold so much that was so new and so unbelievable.
“Our love; the Moon Queen and the Sea-Hag. Our love is where love began. The love your father has for you, the love your mother has for your father, the love you have for them both…it began with us.”
“How? Tell me your story,” pleaded Suva.
The crowd erupted into cheers. “Yes, yes! Tell us! Tell us again!”
“Of course, my children, I will tell you.
“Once, there was no sea, there was no sky and there was only land. Flat, even, brown earth. Above was only empty space.
The Sea Hag took off her cloak of silk and seaweed, she shook out her hair and golden sand fell and black sand fell, which glittered like stars for a moment as they moved through air.
Her voice, which grated like bark became something which soothed and Suva felt her eyes grow tired and her head grow heavy. She could close her eyes and listen, she thought to herself and if she rested her head on the back of the chair, as she lifted up her legs and tucked them underneath her, surely no one would mind. Not here. Before she knew it, the Sea-Hag had covered her with her cloak and had kissed her at the top of her head and Suva did not know why, but it felt just as if her mother were here.
“When I was a young girl,” began the Sea Hag, and she beckoned to the Moon Queen who came and held her hand, “I would yearn for something more than the flat earth. I longed to dance. I would move over the land and I would stamp my feet and shake my hair. I was beautiful once but the land grew tired of me. It wanted peace to sleep. It was still resting. It was not ready to wake and so the earth cracked and groaned but I would not stop. Soon, the lord of the earth, a sleepy old man, hunched and bent, came to find me. He tried to explain that he needed to rest and that I should wait for a few more centuries, until he was ready to be born again. I did not understand what he was saying and I had no consideration for the earth lord. All I knew was that I had to dance. Why was I here? I had no mother, nor father, in fact, I did not know of these things. I had just come to be and I was here to dance.
The earth lord, in desperation, shouted a spell, you see he was older and more powerful than I could ever be. He tethered me to the ground. I could not move, I could not dance, I could not even lift my head.
What do you think I did? I shall tell you. I wailed and wept. I cried and shouted and gnashed my teeth but all to no avail. For many years, I must have been tied to the earth. My tears fell but it felt as if they fell in vain until one day, shoots of green appeared and looked up the empty space above them. They grew and grew and grew. Taller and taller they climbed and I was proud. These were my children. They came from me and my tears. But with that, I could not cry any more. I became still and hopeful. I watched my shoots blossom and become trees, which in turn, bore fruit. The fruit fell to the ground and more shoots appeared. But this time, they withered and died. I felt as if my children had passed away and I wept again and all this time, I was still tied to the ground.
The earth lord must have been ready, for he arrived again, just in time to see my tears run afresh.
“I am deeply sorry,” he said, “but there was no other way.”
I found then, that I had been untied and changes were taking place all around me. For one, there was the sky above me, with a sun so bright and hot that I felt as if I would melt. The earth had also turned green in places. There was life, at long last and I did not feel so alone. Eventually, though, a deep yearning began again and I thought I knew what it was I had to do. I would dance. It was as simple as that, in my mind. But it had been so long and my joints were stiff. My muscles had grown weak. I did not know if I could dance again. However, I lifted my feet and my hands and I stamped and twirled and bowed and arched and I was dancing again. I felt as if air had rushed into my lungs. I danced to the trees and I danced to the flowers. I tried dancing to the sun but the ball of fire seemed angry and threw down arrows. It was then, that I vowed to have nothing more to do with the sun.
Although my being was satisfied for a short time, there was still something missing. My heart ached and longed for something else. The earth lord appeared again and this time he was younger. He no longer walked hunched and slow. He was taller, straighter and more confident in himself.
“For centuries you had to endure. Ask, and I shall give you what you want,” said he.
I could barely form the words to shape the thoughts I was experiencing. I did not know what it was that I wanted. I wanted a missing piece, a partner to dance with.
Without realising what I had wished for, water gushed from my hair. It fell over my right shoulder and formed a river. It became dark and after days of searing, relentless heat, there was a calm coolness now. I looked up and there, above me, was a ball of silver. I could make out a figure inside. There was movement and music. I hadn’t heard song before but I knew what it was.
I started to sway, slowly, at first and then my feet tapped and my arms swung. I was spinning and stamping. I was dancing again and I was free at last. Closing my eyes in bliss, I felt arms around me. Cool arms, strong and sure. They held me and spun me. I dared not open my eyes. To know that I was, in fact dancing with someone, was enough. I was jubilant!
We danced and danced until we collapsed, my partner and I. It was then, that I finally opened my eyes.
Before me stood a pale figure, pearlescent, shimmering in the new light above us.
“Who are you?” I managed in a whisper.
“I am the Moon Queen. We are tied together now. I will love you and pull you to me as long as the earth turns. And you must come to me. Will you?”
“Of course,” and I meant it.
From that time on, there was night and day, trees and plants and the water to quench the thirst all life. From that day on, there was the beginning of love, real love, yearning love, quiet love, patient love and dutiful love.
You see, Suva, I have sown the seed for your mother, father and you. All life comes from me.
Sea Goddess: Google Images