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Sun, Moon, Darkness, Rain, and Heart: An African-Caribbean Folktale

by Gerald Hausman

Long ago there was a woman named Earth who said she was going to go away for a time. However, before she left, Earth called all of her brother and sister guardians together for one final council to determine which one might take her place. “I have brought you here,” Earth said, “so that each of you could tell me what you will do while I am gone.”

Rain, wasting no time, came in a rush, “I would rain down upon the world,” he said. “I would make all things wet like me, and they would be happy because I would be everywhere at the same time.”

“You have forgotten about First Man and First Woman,” Earth explained. “They cannot live under water.”

Rain withdrew with a soft hiss.

Sun came up, and he said, “I know how to handle Rain. And I know what to do for First Man and First Woman. I will send my healing, helping rays, and they shall cover the world all of the time and make all things very happy.”

Earth said, “No doubt your light is helpful. But if it was present all of the time, all life would wither and die. You need to let Rain and Darkness have a chance, now and then. That way, they can refresh the world before it grows too hot.”

So Sun sank.

Presently, Darkness settled. “I expect to rule continually. But I won’t harm anyone. I will merely wrap the world in shadow, and make it very nice,” he said.

Then Earth spoke. “You mean no harm, but your shadow would keep First Man and First Woman from seeing the earthly beauties that I have made. To see them clearly you need sunlight, and to appreciate them, you need a certain amount of warmth.”

Darkness faded.

Moon came up. “My light is neither hot nor bright,” she said. I cast soft blue, cooling rays that bring only good feelings. My gentle light will greatly please First Man and First Woman, and they will have many children, and the world will be wonderful with me presiding.”

“Your intentions are good,” Earth said. “But like the others, you would like to be around all the time. Unlike Sun, you do not make warmth -- your light is cold and the world would be a cold place as well; that is, if you always had your way.”

Moon, excusing herself, grew faint.

There was only one guardian left who had not spoken. This was Heart, who now said, “I have no idea how to rule. I just go with how I feel.”

“And that is--?” Earth asked.

“To begin, I wouldn’t want anyone to feel left out – neither Sun nor Darkness, neither Rain nor Moon. None should be absent for too long a time.”

“And what should you do then?” Earth asked.

“I would miss you, Earth,” she said. “Missing you, I would remind the rest that all should miss their mother when she is gone.”

Then earth said, “Heart, you shall always be there to tell the others that they are indeed brothers and sisters, and that only together can they rule the world with comfort for the benefit of all living things. Heart, with you near, I will not worry.”

And with Heart always present, Earth was safe from harm.

As well as the others -- Sun, Moon, Darkness, Rain -- who took their turn as Earth turned, and life continued from that time until now.

So shall it always be, with Heart reminding each of us to share, to take a little, give a little, and always give back to Earth.


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Gerald Hausman is a storyteller and author of more than 70 adult and children's books about Native America, Animals, Mythology and West Indian culture. Some of his published works of juvenile literature include The Boy from Nine Miles: The Early Life of Bob Marley, Three Little Birds, Doctor Bird: Three Lookin' Up Tales from Jamaica, Duppy Talk, The Jacob Ladder and Time Swimmer, a young adult book published by Macmillan Caribbean. He has won 35 awards and honors from such groups as the American Folklore Society, the Bank Street College, Booklist, Parents’ Choice, the New York Public Library and the National Council of Social Studies. You can find Hausman’s work at www.amazon.com and at www.geraldhausman.com.

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About Anansesem

Anansesem is an online magazine of Caribbean children's and young adult literature by adults and children. We strive to bring you the best in news, reviews and creative content from the world of Caribbean children's publishing.
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