Island Story
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It was a dream, or at least it felt like one. Hana had been invited to the ocean god's palace. She went there in a banana-leaf canoe, drifting through an orange ocean, the sea melting into the sunset, without beginning or end. When she reached the horizon, the canoe took her down, down into the realm of the ocean god. Big ocean animals stand guard outside the palace, and they let her in the diamond-studded coral gate. As she drifted in, through halls made from granite, painted with red ochre, palace servants and guards look on. They were wearing vivid seaweed clothes, with indigo lining and bangles, unlike her tribesmen, which wore linen sarongs and simple accessories. And then, she was led to the throne-room, to meet the ocean god. The ocean god sits on his throne made from coral, pearl, and insets of gold doubloons, majestic and towering. Behind the throne was the ocean god's guardian creature, massive and powerful, yet calming and soft at the same time. The ocean god rose and spoke, "Little girl, I have waited long for you."


Hana's village was in an uproar. The local shaman had said a week ago that something big would happen, but nobody had expected it to be this. The shaman's house was crowded, over something that happened last night. Hana had been questioned by the shaman all morning, over the dream she had, a rare pearl of the night. The shaman, wearing her sacred forest-fowl feather garb, went out of her house and exclaimed to the crowd.

"Hana had been chosen by the ocean god! Hana had been chosen by the ocean god!"


Menehana Mauaki's parents were worried. They couldn't bear the thought of sending their only child to the open sea. But, the ocean god's will must be fulfilled, or their village will suffer. The shaman had already pointed out that this dream had occurred rarely in the past; few had dreams about the orange sea, and even fewer had the chance to see the ocean god himself. But almost nobody had been directly invited to the ocean god's palace. Her mother was worried of what could be so important about her daughter, to be chosen by the ocean god. True, she learned to swim earlier than the other girls, and learned how to row canoes earlier than the boys, but she had not thought it to be special. "Mother, why are you so worried?" Hana asked. "Oh, dear child, I am afraid." "Afraid of what, mother?" "I am afraid that I will never see you again. I am sure your father thinks the same, even though he is now catching fish in the ocean." "Don't worry mother! I will ask the ocean god about this."


That night, again Hana rowed the banana-leaf canoe through the orange ocean, into the gates of the ocean god's palace, through the hallways and the corridors. At last, she reached the throne-room, and there, still sitting in his throne, and still as majestic as the last time, the ocean god. "Child, have you considered my offer? There is not much time left." "I would do it, but I do need something, o ocean god." "Then speak. I would grant that which is in my power." "My parents were afraid that they will never see me again. I am concerned about them." "Let go of that concern, child, and give them this." The ocean god stroke his hands, and at once the creature behind the throne produced a pair of something. Something made from limestone, with red ochre lines. "You will know how to use it. Give one to your parents, and keep one to yourself. Save your future worries to the journey ahead, child."


And that morning, Hana woke up with the two objects the ocean god gave her. The village was again in an uproar. The village shaman ran to Hana's house as soon as the story of the recent dream reached her ears. "You are truly blessed, child. From what the ancestor spirits tell me, these are a manifestation of kindred ocean spirits. They will enable you to connect with faraway people, even through the spirit world. Only the first ancestor had seen something like this! I am proud of you, child of the ocean." The shaman trembled with joy. "The Ocean God said I will be able to know how to use it." "Yes, child, you will know how to use it, the Ocean God had said so." Hana then gave one of the objects to her mother. "Mother, this is for you, when I reach the Ocean God's palace, I will try to contact you."


Six days before Hana departed, some shamans from the neighboring islands came to the village. "We wish to give her gifts, for she will depart from our world into the realm of the Ocean God." The shamans then brought a large cloth bundle, intricately sewn with divine patterns, and opened it. There were rare magic stones, the likes of which only exist in the stomachs of giant centipedes which appear only every hundred years, colorful feathers of a bird said to be able to disappear into the forest, various herbs stuffed in a hollowed-out branch said to be able to cure any disease, and other magical aids and amulets. "These are to remind you of the land, child. If the Ocean God wills these to be his memento, do not worry. Our prayers and blessings will always be carried with you."


The day comes when Hana had to leave the island to the Ocean God's territory. The whole village went to the beach with her. The village chief, shaman and aides was there. Hana's parents were there. The yam diggers, the fishermen, the taro harvesters, the cloth maker, the ironworker, and the rest of the village was there. Some people from the other islands also came to witness the event, even from islands three or four days away. Everyone watched Hana, the child who is summoned by the Ocean God, board her canoe. The shamans' gift is on board the canoe, as well as the object the Ocean God gave her. The sky was turning from a dark blue to yellow, and she set off just when the yellow is beginning to turn orange. Everybody was overwhelmed by cries. The spectators wept as she set off into the orange sea, just like in her dream. Nobody is sure when she will reach the Ocean God's palace, and the divine object was passed from generation to generation. It was then kept in a holy cave, but, as time go, history forgot about the event…

Until this day nobody knew Menehana Mauaki's fate.

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