Long, long ago, before the beginning of Time, there was, in all of eternity, just the Gods, who dwelt apart from the formless Nothing.
And the Gods looked around them, and they felt dissatisfied, though they knew not why this should be.
Then they went together to the Great Father God, whose name was Lechua; and they told him that they were unhappy and vexed.
Then Lechua reflected for a timeless space, and at the end of it He nodded.
“The problem is that you are Gods, but you have no value to anyone but yourselves,” He said. “Very well, you shall have a world to rule over, with mountains and valleys, oceans and rolling plains, as you wish and desire. And this I will give you.”
And so it was done; and Time began; and with Time, a world appeared in the midst of Nothing, which the Gods could shape as they desired, and do what they wanted to. But still they were unhappy.
So they came back to Lechua, and said, bowing humbly: “Great Father, you have given us worlds to rule over and shape, but we are still unhappy, but we have no knowledge of why.”
And the Great Father God Lechua thought on this, and realised what the problem was. “You are not fully Gods, until there are those who will worship you and adore you,” He said. “Only then will you truly be Gods.”
But the God Umwijima, who was young and passionate, stormy and impetuous, raised an objection. “If we are dependent on people to worship us to be Gods,” he said, “of what worth are we? It would be much better not to be Gods at all than such Gods.”
But the other Gods, Umwijima’s brothers and sisters, grew wroth. “What would we be, if we are not Gods?” they asked. “Umwijima wishes us to stay unhappy and dissatisfied, so that he can feel he has power over us.”
“If that is so,” Umwijima replied, “I shall no longer stay here and be insulted. May the worship of the people you rule over bring you no peace.” And, without a further word, the young god left the Gods and the world, to go where there were no Gods.
“It is good he has gone,” the remaining Gods said. “We can now be truly Gods.”
Then the Great Father God Lechua seeded the land with trees and flowers, and set fishes swimming in the waters and birds flying in the air; and animals ran on the land and birds flew in the air; and at last he set on the world men and women, to worship the Gods. And the Gods demanded of them worship and sacrifice, and played with their lives as children play with toys, and were content.
But time passed, and the men and women grew unhappy and rebellious. For though they worshipped the Gods, it seemed to them that the Gods were cruel and capricious, and only sent them disease and hunger, war and pain in return. And they said to each other, “If such are our Gods, we need to find other Gods to worship.”
The Gods heard, and grew afraid. “If they stop worshipping us,” they whispered to each other, “we will no longer be Gods. If they stop worshipping us, we will be as dust in the wind, and will never know happiness again.”
“It is Umwijima’s curse which has caused this,” some of the Gods said. “Only he can lift the curse from us again.”
“But where is Umwijima?” the others said. “He left us long ago, and nobody knows where he has gone.”
“We should look for him together,” the first group of Gods murmured. “And when we have found him, we will demand that he lift the curse.”
“That will merely make him more obdurate,” the second group objected. “Do you not remember how angry and impetuous he is, how dark and stormy his nature? He is likely to curse us again, with an even stronger curse.”
“We will go and ask Father Lechua for advice,” the Gods decided, and so they did.
Then Great Father Lechua shook His head. “There is only one thing to be done,” He told them. “Someone must go to Umwijima, who can soothe his dark and tempestuous spirit, and give him the calm he needs in his soul. I shall create such a messenger.”
So Father Lechua blew on His hands, and from the breath grew a Goddess, who was as calm and serene as Umwijima was tempestuous; and she shone with light where Umwijima was dark as the far side of forever. And her name was Umwezi.
Then Umwezi set out looking for Umwijima, in the place where Gods were not; and, many, many many years later, she found him, brooding silently in the spaces where there were no Gods and never would be.
“My Lord Umwijima,” Umwezi said formally, “I am an emissary from the other Gods, your brothers and sisters; they wish you to remove the curse you have put on them, so that the people may worship them again.”
And Umwijima bowed to her in reply. “I bid you welcome,” he said. “But as for my brothers and sisters, they have come to grief, it is from their own fault, there is nothing I can do about it.”
“My Lord Umwijima,” Umwezi said then, “will you not remove the curse that you have put on them? That, at least, I beg you.”
“I can remove nothing from here,” Umwijima replied. “For there are no Gods here, and I am not a God anymore.”
“You are so unhappy,” Umwezi said then, and gently touched Umwijima’s stormy brow. “You are so bitter and so unhappy. Will you come back with me to the world of Gods, then, and remove the curse? After that you can do as you wish.”
And Umwijima nodded. “If that is what you want, I will do it,” he said. “You have come a very long way in search of me, and you deserve that much courtesy.”
So they began journeying back to the world of Gods, but it was a very long way, and they were many, many years on the path. And as they went, they looked at each other, and spoke, and saw deep into each other’s souls.
And Umwezi looked at Umwijima, and saw how handsome he was, and how his passionate and tempestuous nature complemented in every way her own serenity and calm; and she felt a stirring inside her, and she fell in love with him.
And Umwijima looked at her as though for the first time, and saw how beautiful she was, and how her serenity formed the perfect foil to his own passion and restlessness. And he fell in love with her.
And so they made love, again and again, for many long aeons on the way; and by the time they finally reached the world of the Gods, they walked hand in hand, smiling blissfully; and Umwezi was great with child. And there never were any, mortal or God, so much in love as these two.
But the world of the Gods was empty and desolate, for long weary eras had passed, and the people had forgotten the Gods who had treated them so harshly; and those Gods were as blown dust, and forgotten. And the gates of the world of Gods hung from their hinges, and cold eternities flowed endlessly through the abandoned halls.
There was only Great Father Lechua, whom they found at last; but the Father God was diminished and emaciated, and He quavered furiously at them like an insane old man.
“It is all because of you,” He screamed at Umwijima. “It is because you cursed your brothers and sisters that this happened to them.
“And it is all because of you,” He screamed at Umwezi. “If you had not been so wanton, and hurried him here instead of spreading your legs for him, his brothers and sisters would still be as they were, instead of scattered on the winds.
“I will destroy this world of people,” He declared. “That can be the only appropriate punishment.”
But Umwijima and Umwezi looked down, and saw the world and all the peoples, and how they were born and lived, and loved, and grew old together; and they saw the fish and the birds, the trees and the flowers, and the animals that ran on the land; and they looked at each other, and the same thought was in their eyes and hearts.
“We will not let You destroy the world, Great Father God though you may be,” they said. “These have as much right to live as anyone else...as much as the other Gods did. And they have not treated anyone as cruelly, as playthings of their caprices, as the other Gods.”
“How will you stop Me?” Lechua rose in a froth of mighty rage.
“We will shield the world,” Umwijima and Umwezi said together. “We will shield them with the only thing that even You cannot harm, Father God Lechua.” And they spread themselves out over the world, in a barrier between the wrath of the Father God and the world He had made and now wanted to destroy.
And Umwijima became the day, tempestuous and capricious, and his heart burned hot and bright in him with his passion; and his heart was the Sun.
And his consort Umwezi became the night, calm and cool and serene; and her heart glowed with the light of her nature, and her heart was the Moon.
And each dawn and dusk, the two mingle and meet, and make love, glowing with their ardour, and the people look up and marvel at the beauty of their lovemaking.
Meanwhile Lechua rages and threatens, but all He can do is rage; and His shouts and imprecations are merely thunder and lightning, and almost always they do no harm to anyone.
And the children of Umwijima and Umwezi are numberless as the sands of time; and men look up at them, and call them the stars.
Copyright B Purkayastha 2017