Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Petty Gods: A Visit from the Jale God

A Visit from the Jale God

In a paltry hut lived a man and his wife. Every day he would work hard in the fields to earn their daily ration and every night she would soothe him to sleep with sweet songs. After many years of marriage, one night the man told his wife that he would like to go out that night and hunt the jubjub bird, for the jubjub is a dangerous animal that can only be killed at night but makes for a delicious stew.

“Yes, my love!” said the woman. “Get meat for the morrow so that we can have a good meal!”

The man left that same night to hunt and left his wife alone in the hut.

That night, while her husband was away, the Jale God came, wearing the skin of the husband. “Wife,” he said, “I was afraid in the dark night because of the jubjub’s shrill cries and so I came home.” He built a fire in the hearth and sat by it, motioning the woman to come sit next to him.

But the wife did not believe her husband had returned, for she knew he was a fierce hunter who had killed the jubjub bird before. So she placed an ancient amulet in a place on the wall and said to the amulet “If one wearing my husband’s skin calls calls me, answer him thus: tell him I have run away because I fear his seed will take root and destroy the soil.” And then she slipped out of the hut and ran away.

Then the Jale God called again, saying “Wife, come sit by me here by the fire; I am cold and the fire does not warm me as well as your flesh.” But the amulet answered, saying “I flee, I flee, I flee; your seed will not take root in me!”, just as the woman instructed. The Jale God smiled an unblinking smile. He rested before the fire and after awhile went on his way.

With the coming of the sun, the man came back from hunting. He was in a good mood, as the hunting had been good and he had three jubjub birds in his sack. As he walked into the village, he ran into his wife, who tried to tell him about the visitor in the night who had come in his form. But the wife’s once lovely voice shrieked and shrilled like a jubjub bird and the man could no longer understand her. She soon gave birth to a sixteen-eyed monstrosity and the man was stoned to death for siring such a wretched beast.