Fantasy: a collection of short stories
The Moon in the Earthen Pot
gods to pray for light: Devuda, Devuda! Men light lamps atnight, cobras have gems on their foreheads to light their way, andas for the owls, their eyes are their lamps. Our nests are filledwith darkness. How are we to light our nests? We have our babies to think of, what is to become of us? they wailed.'Moved to pity, god said, When the moon rubs against the skyand scatters dust, bring the dust to light up your nests. That'swhy, from then on, the golden sparrows build their nests withsoft mud to catch the fireflies. And as for the fireflies, they havealways been happy to light up the nests of the golden sparrows.'Even as I listened to the story, a thought struck me - if a littlemoondust could shower so much light, just imagine how muchlight the moon would bring. How very nice it would be to pluck the moon and put it in the nests of the golden sparrows!So the next night, when I was lying in Guddavva's lap, I pointed to the moon in the sky, and said, 'Avva, I want themoon. Will you get it for me?''The moon? Let's see, I'll get it for you tomorrow.''No, I want it
I said, pulling a face and I pulled at the pallu of her saree and beat her on her breasts. I liked doing this just as once I had liked to pull away her saree pallu saying, 'Iwant milk, give me milk!''What a brat you are, just like your grandfather,' Avva said,slapping me affectionately. 'Won't the world plunge intodarkness if I gave you the moon now? So wait and I'll give it toyou in the morning.'The next morning, I ran to her asking for the moon.'I've kept the moon safely in that pot. If I take it out now, themoon will just melt away in your hands, so wait till it is night,'she said.So I went again at night.Guddavva untied the rope and slowly brought the pot downfrom the roof. She dipped her hands in and brought out the moonin her cupped palms. But just as she was giving it to me, her hands suddenly opened skywards and, 'Oho, the moon has flownaway!' she exclaimed, pointing to the sky.I was very very angry, and my inside hurt. GrabbingGuddavva's hair, I started beating her, screaming, 'You blindavva, why, why did you throw the moon back into the sky!'Guddavva laughed through toothless gums. 'I'll give you themoon tomorrow night.'The next night, she did the same thing again. And every nightsince then she has been cheating me somehow. A few days ago,she hid the moon from me and I couldn't find it for days anddays. Only today did she put the moon back in the sky again.That's why I
somehow steal the moon tonight. I haveeven brought the nest of the golden sparrows and tied it to a branch of our sunkeswari tree. I shall put the moon in the nest andthen Peeraiah and Vasantha and I can go back to play, I thoughtgiggling to myself as I walked towards the eucalyptus tree.We all like Guddavva so much. And Guddavva, she loves us!She tells us stories. She gives us all lots and lots of special thingsto cat. She plays so many different games with us. And as for Vasantha and her friends, Avva plays other games—they arealways drawing muggulu with rice flour on the ground, makingflower garlands or plaiting one another's hair.You got to keep an eye on Guddavva when she is telling astory for, in the middle of it, she may suddenly prod the cloudswith her stick and bring rain. Or she'll make the sun blaze redhot, or the great big seas to rise in fury. Sometimes she can evenmagic the trees to burst into flowers! She says, A magician spansthe seven seas with a single step!1 believed everything she said, but not so my younger brother and sister. They were so suspicious!The rakshasas in Guddavva's tales always stalked in meanly,menacingly, and then, one sight of the stick in her hand and theywould quickly turn tail and flee! Do you know that the gods takeher to their kingdom, offer her a seat equal to their own, andlisten to her stories? Even the birds and animals sit as if made of stone when she tells stories, and sometimes they even nod their heads. Oh you should see Guddavva when she holds her stick.She's a total sorceress! She moves this magic wand of hers andsuddenly it is now a bow, now a dagger or mace or flute,anything she wants! I wonder where she learnt all this from.