Eternal - A Myth
Alpana Patel Camilli
Her father was called by many names. When he was angry and threatening, he was called Poseidon. When he was excited and turbulent, he was called Varuna. When he was kind and provided the fruits of his domain, he was known as Tangaroa. Lillee was his daughter born from Gaea, Goddess of the Earth, also known as Gayatri for Mother in the east, Papatuanuku the Creator in the south, and Cybele the Mistress in the north. She was the timeless consort to the God of the Oceans. When Lillee was older, Tangaroa and Gayatri granted Lillee a life on the shore in the form of a nymph, straddling water and land.
Her skin was dark, the color of shifting mud in a mangrove jungle with obsidian eyes in the shape of wide almonds and long flowing hair like a shimmering waterfall of black aquatic pearls that always smelled of coconuts.
During one of her adventures inland, when she was away from the grasp of the far reaching hand of her familial ties, Lillee met a being molded in the solid form of earth. The boy was playing a stringed instrument, charming all those that heard him. The evocative words and notes of the songs enchanted her and she fell hopelessly in love with him the very moment. He was a beautiful being with a soul like the winds, before Kokopelli, he was a wanderer.
His skin was pale, the color of snow covering the highest mountaintops with eyes in the different shades of azure that glimmered from her father’s realm and hair tufted in a cluster of flaxen stars that always smelled of pineapples.
The mortal boy possessed an inheritance. A wish passed from father to son for the longing of a vessel that would take him far into the waves of the limitless sea, propelled by the whimsical breath of Aeolus, God of the wind, also known as Zephyr for his sweet spring winds. When he blew from the north, he was called Boreas or named Mistral, when he was tormented.
Lillee had never known this sacrificial emotion and believed the love that she wanted to share had no bounds, only the chains of her birth. She was from the sea and he was from the land.
In secret, away from the eyes of their respective families, they created a humble and cozy home made from bamboo and twine with a thatched roof of palm fronds. Their home was surrounded by wild sea oaks covered with hanging moss resembling ancient men with wizened beards. They would gaze into the starry sky, serenaded by the sentient hooting of the great horned owls perched nearby.
And they were both very happy.
The mortal waited for Opportunity, caught by a few that diligently tried to chase her. But, when he grew tired of waiting, he decided, in his own glory, to build the vessel himself. He would construct the boat using his own blood and sweat. Lillee gladly helped, gathering silk from the spider’s webs and feathers from the bird’s nests to meticulously weave large billowing sails to catch every name and mood of the wind. They collected fine wood from her friends, the trees. Lanky yet sturdy Teak, the rich veined Mahogany, and the aromatic Cedar. The boy carved and scraped the lumber into broad arcing lines until they took shape of a hull. In the evenings, when the shroud of night had covered the attenuated light of day, Lillee and the mortal would dance around their bonfire, singing songs of the future and speaking to each other of their dreams.
Upon the breeze of the new day, Poseidon heard their excited laughter spilling over the waves and he rose from his underwater throne with suspicion. He was very curious to find out whom Lillee was so blissful with. He spied the lovers dancing around their craft as it had almost neared completion. He was astonished to find the boat and angry at Lillee for falling in love without his permission. As Poseidon studied the craft in detail he began to covet their creation. To that day, no sailor had been born to chart the vastness of his domain or to sound the depths of his lair, besides, he did not intend for Lillee to love a mortal. He concluded that something had to be done.
While Lillee was away during one of her forays, Varuna, her father, disguised himself as a manatee and swam up to the boy while he was polishing the deck of their boat. The boy was delighted to see the manatee and thought it was a good omen. As he frolicked with the sea cow, Varuna planted seeds in the boy’s spirit.
In due course, the seedlings fruited into visions of grand horizons that lay beyond the boy’s imaginations with blossoming revelations of adventure, a wealth of treasures, and a nectar desire for a mortal woman from a far-away land. Wrapped in the encompassing arms of this dream the boy gradually became obsessed with finishing his boat. Lillee noticed a difference in the boy, but put the feelings aside, helping him to complete the project with a distant devotion.
Seasons changed and like small drops into a still pond she began to recognize great movement underneath his exterior that irrevocably reached her, which she could not ignore anymore. He spoke to her less and less. He inspected and scrutinized his creation for hours and then days. He began to dream his dreams without her and stopped looking into her soul. Her arms became empty of the love she had once cherished.
In the vacant space of her heart, transforming into an empty shell, jealousy and resentment were born. Manifesting in the fertile soil of her insecurities they grew into a monstrous green-headed sea serpent. She was unable to tame its power as it thrashed menacingly upon the shore. Trapped in the coils of the sea serpent’s grasp, the flame between Lillee and her mortal gasped for life. The brine coating the serpent’s skin corroded away the last tendrils of a passion their young hearts had once shared.
One fair morning, he sailed away with an ebbing tide. His right hand gripped the tiller as the left shaded his eyes, focusing to the far and pristine horizon. Lillee watched from afar, sheltered amongst the broken shells while the surf rumbled around her, the sea foam rising to muffle the sounds of her sorrow.
Many seasons transformed since his departure and the crabs nipped at her toes, urging Lillee to go back, to go home. In the bleached bones that remained of their abode, she sat silent and unmoving. The serpent slithered around in the emptiness. It was hungry for the vices that gave it birth; resentment, jealousy and fear. Finding only sorrow and regret, it died a slow and agonizing death.
Other than her various avian friends and a brown thrasher called Kamikazee that dove down from the oaks to peck her out of the gloom, she was alone.
Lillee transferred her attentions to the vegetation that began to entwine around the skeleton of her hearth. She talked to them and sat for hours in their soothing presence. Her tears fell onto the dirt and became nourishing, her cries became song and the plants grew tall and robust. Flowers bloomed, the azalea and hibiscus, passionflower and bougainvillea, frangipani and jasmine. Succulents, like the aloe, cacti, and agave peeked out from the brush. Ferns flourished, rubber plants and palms thrived under the glow of her ministrations. She cultivated the cleansing basil and fragrant rosemary.
At long last, dawning on Lillee like the morning of a new day, she awakened to realize that her will could create and nourish love as well as destroy it.
Time elapsed in cycles, her cries and nightmares ceased and the flood of her tears receded. Lillee’s garden grew and she began to love again amongst the buzzing of the bees and the humming of the birds. The surf nearby sprayed in rainbow mist and the dolphins jumped to watch her play in her garden home. She still looked out into the open ocean, gazing into the vastness, with her toes dipping in the water and sand caressing her feet. The tide ebbed and waned, reaching, pulling, taking the loneliness and remorse that sheltered in the vacant caverns of her being, crushing them with the undulating waves and carrying them far, far away on the currents, meandering into nothingness. Her emptiness was transformed to awareness and her song was reborn, mellifluous and pleasing to her forest friends.
Lillee’s melody fluttered to the ears of Sol, God of the Sun, also known as Surya in the east, Ra the Sun Disc in the south, and Helios when he rode his chariot across the sky. The dulcet tune flew up to the Heavens upon the wings of her devotees, the myriad of birds that had stayed with her and comforted her with song during her long lonely days. Sol looked down on Lillee and saw the garden she had nurtured, her plants supplicating, reaching for him and glowing in reverence to his splendor. Sol smiled at the sight, Lillee’s skin darkened under his attention.
As he rode across the sky, Sol anticipated twilight, as it embodied the few precious moments when he would be reunited with his timeless consort, Luna, the Moon Goddess, also known as Chandani, Moonlight of the east and Arainrhod, the Silver Disc of the north, or Isamba, wife of the Sun in the south.
The eternally loyal lovers had been cursed by a jealous sea serpent eons ago. They were forever parted; fated to reunite only when dawn meets day and dusk meets night. Before they briefly embraced, Helios would whisper words of his devotion, ephemeral murmurs that could satisfy a mere mortal for a lifetime and beyond. As his cloak of light was enveloped by Isamba’s dark veil, she saw a young man on the bow of a ship filled with treasures. He had hair spun of gold, the reflection of the sea in his eyes and a love reborn in his heart. Luna called for Sol and he opened his arms to hold her for an earthly instant.
“Amor meus, et infinita,” he said in many different tongues, “I have heard the songs from a nymph who was born when we were cursed to be parted forever. She sings of a similar separation yet promises the hopefulness of a new day. My longing resonates in her melody.”
“Si, caro mio,” she replied in many different languages, “I have heard a similar tune from a young man upon the sea. He sings of a new love and redemption from mistakes of the past. ”
In the vanishing shadows of day, radiant memories of their immortal love fueled their fiery embrace, filled with longing, desire, and finally, hope. The pull of the tide was mighty that eve as Luna glowed full and bright in the fading grip of Sol’s rays. Parting, they sang a tune so exquisite in reverence of the Fates and Destiny. The Heavens wept and the oceans surged from the magnetic pull of Luna and Sol, shaking the underwater world of the Sea God.
Tangaroa awakened to the harmonies of a million sirens and heard a tale in the ancient lovers’ song. They sang about a woman, a nymph and her lost love, mired by forces that were beyond their control, the plans of destiny and perhaps fate. They also sang of recovery, that the essence of true love lives on because the soul of the heart never really dies, it just changes shape, is reborn and forever growing.
Varuna never realized that he had hurt the daughter who carried innocent love in her heart, even if she did not always know how to express it. Like many fathers, it was in his nature to try and control the lives of his offspring.
The cosmos reverberated with the unrequited lover’s song, Gayatri urged her consort to find a partner for their daughter. Tangaroa decided to search throughout the universe for a man that would be an equal match for Lillee, balanced in mind and heart, with enough spirit to challenge her.
In the core of a thickened jungle, he found a seasoned warrior, unique and also alone, wandering through the world. The warrior had been created with a piece of the god’s own true essence, parts of the Sea. He had been born a water sprite and had also been a friend of Lillee’s in childhood. Tangaroa added parts of the Earth into the water sprite’s psyche. The parts of Earth had been taken from a far away arid land where the warrior had lost his first true love, given up, because of forces beyond his control and the whims of fate and destiny.
During that time, the boy’s spirit had grown, becoming a man during his many ventures. Though he never forgot Lillee, he began to realize that during the experience of their brief but intense union he had developed a noble soul. Through many trials, which aided in his heart’s recovery, he felt resolved. The freed man was able to discover a beautiful woman from a distant land that was inimitable and created just for him. The mortal woman had previously lost her first true love due to forces beyond her control, to the caprice of destiny and fate. They built a hearth within each other and not of the outside world, uncovering their destiny. The broken pieces of their fragile hearts fit perfectly, finding a true love together.
For the first time, Lillee’s father had read her psyche correctly and had chosen a valiant soul for her. The warrior and his exultant nature encouraged Lillee to laugh again. Poseidon and Gayatri accepted the warrior to be the consort for their daughter. Lillee stopped running from her family and returned to them, finding her personal destiny.
Lillee and the warrior went on numerous unusual and magnificent adventures. He taught her the intricacies and motions of the sea. He showed her the splendor of her culture, the world beneath the waves. During their travels, as they got to know each other again and in their past lives, the concept that there is no ONE true love encompassed them. They learned that one makes love TRUE when the experiences of spirits and the calling of destinies are shared. Hearts are shattered and hearts heal again. Through death, life is reborn, the cycle of all living things.
Lillee never forgot the mortal either, recalling the younger days fondly, carrying the lessons in her being. Looking upon the bright face of her warrior as he charged forward into the future, she still smiled, riding on the backs of dolphins, guided by the whales’ song into infinity.
Tangaroa sighed with relief as he stretched to embrace the shore of Cybele, his eternal consort.