All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.
Mo’olelo, an old fisherman and his wife lived by the sea. Each day, he cast his net into the sea four times, drawing out of the water what he could. He did well enough, but one day, he cast his net and hauled up a dead horse. Horrified, he threw out the net again. The second time, he pulled up only an urn filled with sand. The third time, he pulled up shards of a pot.
“Bring me good fortune,” he prayed to the Ea. “This is my last throw. I must have better luck!” And he cast his net.
This time, a small copper bottle was trapped in the net. The fisherman noticed the flask was sealed with a stopper on which holy words were written ‘Mēheuheu‘. Curious, he opened the bottle and found it empty. “Just my luck,” he muttered and prepared to toss it away when smoke poured out, and the monstrous-looking Raksha appeared out of the smoke.
“Mighty Solomon, thank you for releasing me, I am Mēheuheu!” the Raksha roared.
Mo’olelo was terrified. He was not King Solomon. Shivering, he said softly, “King Solomon died 1,000 years ago. I’m only a poor fisherman.”
Mēheuheu began to laugh. “Well, if that is so, prepare to die!”
“But, Mēheuheu! I saved you — you owe me gratitude.”
Mēheuheu howled. “Solomon imprisoned me, and for the first 100 years, I vowed whoever released me would live happily ever after. No one came. In the next 100 years, I promised three wishes to whoever freed me. Still no one came. I have had another 800 years to grow angry. I shall kill you!”
Mo’olelo, thought fast…” Mēheuheu kill me if you must, but in the name of Ea, show me how the mighty Raksha Mēheuheu would fit inside such a small bottle. I believe, you came from somewhere else.”
“You’re a Joker!” Mēheuheu spat. “You saw me emerge from this bottle.”
“There was smoke in my eyes,” Mo’olelo said.
“Then first, I’ll show you my magic, and then I’ll kill you,” and with that Mēheuheu evaporated into a cloud of smoke and poured herself into the bottle.”
Mo’olelo quickly stopped the bottle.
Mēheuheu’s voice, tiny and tender, whispered, “Please, I will reward you richly if you free me.”
“You wanted to kill me,” said Mo’olelo, “and now I shall throw the bottle into the sea.”
“Please, it was only a test. I promise, in the name of Ea, I shall reward you.”
“I’m no fool,” Mo’olelo said, “this is merely another tale of the ungrateful Mirza.”
“I don’t know that story,” said the Raksha. “Will you tell it to me?”
So Mo’olelo told the story of Mirza who had a terrible disease no one could cure until a doctor appeared and healed him. In gratitude, Mirza made him the royal doctor. But this aroused the vizier’s jealousy, so he whispered to the Mirza, “That man could always poison you.”
Fearing the doctor’s power, the Mirza sentenced the doctor to death, but just before he was to die, he told the Mirza of a magic book he possessed that contained all the wisdom of the world. Mirza looked through the book, but the pages were blank. It turned out the pages were coated with poison, and the Mirza died.
“And that,” said the Mo’olelo, “is how Ea will repay you if you kill me.”
“Our story is not like that,” said Mēheuheu. “It’s like the Mirza and Mele.” And so She told a different story.
Upon seeing an angel Mele, Mirza passes into unconsciousness: At this he falls down dazed, and when he comes to, Ea speaks to him by inspiration, saying, ‘O Mirza, hast thou seen Mele and comprehended her?’ He replied, ‘By Thy honour and glory, O Lord, I saw not Mele; but there passed me by a great Raksha Mēheuheu, whose length was three days’ journey, and I know not what manner of thing this Rakshas is.’ Said Ea, ‘O Mirza, this that you saw and which was three days in passing, was but the beginning of Mele; and know that every day I create forty Mele like unto this.’
All the seas of the world, placed in one of Mele’s nostrils, would be like a mustard seed laid in the desert.
Nui Nā `Ano Like `Ole floats in water, supported by darkness. On top is Raksha Mēheuheu, on Raksha, a ruby mountain; on the mountain, an angel, Mele; she holds and supports the seven earths. Nui Nā `Ano Like `Ole supports a bed of sand, on which stands Raksha Mēheuheu , on whose back rests a rock which holds the waters in which the earth is located. Beneath Nui Nā `Ano Like `Ole are layers of suffocating wind, a veil of darkness, and mist, and abyss of air, then fire, and beneath that a giant serpent called Falak.
“Riddle me this riddle me that why did the chosen people build a calf ?”
There are no rules!” Samiri said and like an oracle he led the chosen people away from the “knowledge and justice” of Moses to ignorance.
“A metaphoric interpretation of criticizing the pursuit of wealth.” said Mo’olelo.
She knows the answer to every question and so a cycle of catching and releasing her continues twenty-three times.
The afternoon went on that way, both trading tales.
Just before sunset, Mēheuheu said, “Please, I promise I will help you if you release me.”
And it was on the twenty-fourth attempt that Mēheuheu told the story of a father and son in the aftermath of a devastating war. Finding the Raksha and Mele alive in chaos, they are taken home. In due time, the son marries the Raksha and the father marries the Mele. Eventually, the son and the Raksha have a daughter, and the father and Mele have a son.
Mēheuheu asks, “what is the relation between the two newborn children?”
Mēheuheu tells Mo’olelo “If the Sultan knows the answer but still keeps quiet, then his head shall burst into thousand pieces. And if he answers the question correctly, she would leave in peace and return to her abode.”
And since they had become friendly, Mo’olelo let out the stopper. Mēheuheu then led Mo’olelo into the woods.
Soon they came to a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. “Throw your net in here and take whatever you catch to the Sultan,”
Mēheuheu said. She then stamped her foot, the earth opened, and she disappeared.
Mo’olelo caught four fish, each one a different color and each one more beautiful than the last.
But he knew he must keep his promise, and so he took them to the Sultan’s palace, where there seemed to be much sadness.
“Those fish, where did you find them?” the Sultan asked. “Can you take me there?”
Mo’olelo agrees to take the Sultan to the lake, of course, and on their way the Sultan tells the tale of Mele and the Sultan of the Western Islands.
He did not have a son and an oracle Mele blessed him with Twins on a condition that both be educated under her.
He had never been able to find the lake, but under Mo’olelo’s guidance found it. Near the lake they found the Palace of Dreams, where they would find Mele.
On entering Mo’olelo tells the tale of Raksha Mēheuheu’s and asks the Sultan the same question posed to him by Raksha “what is the relation between the two newborn children?”
The question stumps the Sultan.
“Before the possessed Raksha Mēheuheu leaves, she must change back to Mele.”
“How?” asks the Sultan “offer to grant her one wish?” to which Mo’olelo suggests that she first ask how he should perform his obeisance.
The Sultan does just that on meeting Mēheuheu. On hearing this She lights up and makes a simple request, that her heart and mind be cleaned of all sins and her life be restored as a good living being.
The Sultan realizes that The Two Parallel Facing Mirrors are a contemporary reflection of the child he was to the adult he becomes.
The Sultan asks her to come back with him, her Prince, and be by his side always. To which she submits to.
Mo’olelo is rewarded and made treasurer. The Sultan’s twins fall in love with Mo’olelo’s twins and are married soon after.
Reads and References:
- Baital Pachisi
- Ghosts in Bengali Culture
- The Fisherman and the Jinni
- Vikram Aur Betaal
- Seal of Solomon
- One Thousand and One Nights
- Raksha Bandhan