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Sea of Honey Page 1

Chapter 1
In the Beginning

In the beginning when the universe was formed there was a void. Beneath the cosmos there is magnetic iron, from chaos through meditation the world serpent Antoboga created the turtle Bedawang, the stabiliser, on whom he created two serpents, as the foundation of the world. On the world turtle there rests a lid; the black stone. There is no sun nor moon or light in the cave below the stone. This is the underworld whose god is Kala. Kala created the earth and light on which flows a layer of water. Above this, the skies high and low, one of mud; which dried to make the fields and mountains, then the floating sky, the clouds enthroning Semara, the god of love. Beyond lies the dark blue sky, with the sun and moon, the palace of the sun-god Surya. Then the perfumed sky, beautiful, and full of rare flowers where live the Awan snakes; the falling stars. Still higher, a flaming heaven of ancestors. And above all the skies live the divine guardians, who keep watch over the heavenly nymphs.

And in this void dwelt a fragrance and a beautiful voice of the creator who existed alone. There was no abode for him, no companion, and he was a voice calling for offspring, and the longing for a wife. His longing became so strong that the goddess Uma sprang out of his ankles, and she bore him two sons. The newborn gods were with him in the void, but still he was unhappy. So the goddess laboured again with all her might; and from her sweat a holy river flowed and enveloped the space, giving it a beautiful hue. And still she laboured. Next she brought forth the ocean and the earth, and then she looked up and saw the sun, moon and planets and all the stars. A feverish heat flushed through her vein, and to cool her the wind was created; the egg of the universe was given life.

At that time the earth was the width of a single turf and the sky a sunshades width. But soon the primordial god made mountains and forests, birds and serpents, sharks and sawfish, until the earth and sky were full of life. Then he fashioned man out of clay and gave the world to him.


The Nangka Tree

After the world, the mountains, and the four cardinal directions were created, and there were trees, fruit and flowers, the gods made four human beings out of red earth; whom they provided with utensils to work with and houses to live in. Batara Siva, the Supreme Lord, next made four mature girls; as wives for the four men. The god of love, Semara, made mating a pleasure; so that the women would be fertilised. Eventually the four couples had many children (117 boys and 118 girls) who grew, became adolescent, married and had children.

However, there remained one girl without a husband, broken-hearted she fled into the forest and there she found the stump of a jackfruit tree, which Siva for his amusement had carved into the likeness of a handsome young man. The lonely girl fell in love with the wooden image and made love to the wooden figure and became pregnant. Moved with pity, Semara, the god of love, gave life to the wooden image so that she could have a husband. And that couple became the ancestors, mother and father of the Ngatwê clan.


Kbo Iwa

The world soon became crowded and men were thoughtlessly being created. They wandered through the forests mating anywhere and later abandoned their children. They lived and ate like wild beasts. The Supreme Being observed their behaviour and felt lonely and he suffered great distress at the condition of mankind. And whilst he was in great despair he accidentally released a drop of semen, which fell to earth; and out of that drop of semen a giant devil sprang forth. The devil became known as the inspirer of fear; the shadow on the ground, the shadow in the water, the shadow in the mirror. Men began to fear one another.

This devil Kbo Iwa had a horrifying appearance, which was frightening. He had revolting long tusks that radiated like dewdrops and his nostrils were deep as wells. His eyes glared like suns and his mouth gaped like a huge cavern. His voice was a scream of pain and he was pitiful in his insatiable desire to devour mankind.

Soon corpses were piled to the sky and blood flowed across the land in torrents. Mankind had almost ceased to exist on the earth. The gods were appalled and became frightened so they hurled great weapons at the devil, but every time they pierced him he became stronger. Then the gods tried flattery, but that did not work either and they only just escaped being devoured.

Then one lone man bravely stood before the devil and in a quiet voice told the devil that he must desist and go away, but of course, he was always welcome to return, and then he could always consume anyone who deserved to be eaten. He could make a meal of any man still sleeping at noon, or having quarrelled and not made up, or anyone that leaves the house at night without singing, anyone roaming the crossroads or lazing in the fields, or being arrogant in the temples. And he could eat any child unfortunate enough to be born in the Tumpek Wayang week. The man invited the demon to remain close by and to keep his cavernous mouth always wide open. And he did not forget to teach his fellow man how to live properly so that they could always escape the demon’s jaws.


The gift of rice

In those days the people only had sugar cane to fill their bellies. Visnu the god of water, Lord of the Underworld, felt sorry for them, so he came to the surface of the earth to provide man with better food. His methods were brutal but effective. He raped the earth to fertilise her and in due time she gave birth to rice. Then he made war on the Lord of the Heavens to persuade him to teach men how rice should be sown and cared for, and how to harvest it. Because the Lord of the Underground won that war, men were taught everything they needed to know.

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