A SHORT STORY
A long time ago in a land far far away, the people spent their days digging the dirt to harvest their meagre crops, battling the fickle elements.
And in the evenings, when they lay exhausted in their huts, the people came to thinking:
Why am I here? Why now? Who made me?
And in the mornings, the people woke and asked:
Why does the sun rise there? Who makes it come up? What if it doesn’t rise, and some day never comes?
But for many days and many seasons, the sun always rose, and the people were dazzled in its brilliance. Though the rains changed, the winds changed, and all things changed, the sun stayed true.
And the people said:
Let us trust in the sun, the one constant thing in this dangerous world.
But one day, many seasons later, though it rose high in the sky, the sun suddenly turned black, and from its brilliance just a moment before, it seemed like a dead thing. And darkness covered the land, though it was day.
And the people panicked and cried:
O Sun, Sun, why have you forsaken us?
The sun returned, and beamed again.
But the people who had put their faith in the sun grew weary. For if the sun could not stay true, there was wrong in the world.
And so a wise man came forward, and cried:
People, the Sun grows angry with us. For we take and take, dry our tears in his warmth, dry our robes in his light, seek his guidance before the night, but give nothing.
And so the people were humbled, and sorry, and decided the sun must be offered gifts in return for its own.
And the people gathered sticks, and built a pyre, and when the harvest came took an offering to the pyre, and when the sun reached its zenith, made a fire, cooking for the sun a share of their crops.
And the sun rose again, and for many seasons more stayed true. And all the crops grew well, the harvest abounded, and there was food and drink for all. And no more did the people witness the horror and darkness of its disappearance.
But one day, many seasons later, in the time of the wise man’s grandchildren, the sun again without warning turned black in the day.
And the people witnessed horror, and ran away, the animals panicked, and the darkness seemed to loom an eternity before the sun reappeared in the high sky.
And the people cried:
O Sun, Sun, we offered you our crops, bid you welcome every day, placed our trust in you, yet again you forsake us. O Sun, great and only Sun, why in your anger do you turn black and abandon us in the day? Will you turn the whole world upside down? When you cannot stay light in the day, how can we trust you? How can we trust anything under your command? Will you next turn day to night, night to day, rain to drought, darkness to light?
But a wise man came forward, and cried:
O people, you cry like ungrateful children. Shame on you all. Again the Sun grows angry with us. Can you not see? For we take and we take, compel him to rise each day, and yet in return give nothing. No, you cannot see. For the Sun’s greatness has blinded you! When you grew fat and lazy, and took to feasting and reveling and sleeping, you lay in slumber, hours after the Sun rose as you asked him to. No, you grow fat on his kindness, but doubt him when he grows angry at your ingratitude.
So the people were chastened, and downcast, but stayed ignorant. So the wise man said:
O people, when did you ever give more than you had to? Our harvests abound, yet we give but a meagre portion of our crops to the Sun. We are not hungry, we want for nothing. We must give more.
So the people gathered sticks, and big logs, and built a pyre, much bigger than before, and when the harvest came took an offering to the pyre. And though the greed in their hearts urged them to give less, they gave more, and pledged to go without food for the day of the harvest. And in their zeal they agreed to sacrifice more, and they looked at their hands and counted, and agreed to fast every tenth day.
And in their hungry rapture, when the sun reached its zenith, the people made a fire, and were happy to cook for the sun a big share of their crops.
And the sun rose again, and for many seasons more stayed true. And all the crops grew well, the harvest abounded, and the people fasted on the harvest day in the sun’s honour.
And the sun always rose, and the people were dazzled in its brilliance. And though the rains changed, the winds changed, and all things changed, the sun remained true. No more did the people witness the horror and darkness of its disappearance.
And as the seasons passed, a young man observed the sun, and the sacrifices made, and his heart grew scornful. And he told his friends, when the elders were away:
Friends, every tenth day we starve, on the eleventh we are tired, and only by the twelfth can we work the land. And on the twentieth day again we starve, to save our food for the Sun. Friends, we give the Sun too much! Have you ever seen the Sun turn black in day? No, such things are a lie. The elders, when they were young, ate every day. Yet now, they want us hungry.
And the young man and his friends agreed a great injustice was upon them. And the young men decided, on the day of the sacrifice, to keep their offerings from the sun. And when the people gathered at the fire, the young men hid in the bush, kept their food in a cave, and ate secretly.
And at the fire, the elders saw the offering was smaller than before. And the chief asked:
Where are the young men, and their offerings for the Sun?
And the elders sought the youngsters, and when they discovered the young men in the cave behind the bush, they were angry.
And the young men spoke among themselves, and in his defiance the leader of the young men challenged the elders.
Old men, he said, all our lives we have seen the fruits of our labour tossed on the pyre. For what? Every day the Sun rises, and stays burning bright. The Sun is mighty, and has no need for our gifts. The Sun ignores us, cannot hear us, cannot speak with us. We fool ourselves.
And the leader of the elders was angry with the young man.
Fool, with your ingratitude you have cursed us all. May the Sun have mercy on you.
And in his arrogance, the young man mocked the elder, and defied him. Yet the next day the sun rose again, and stayed bright all day, and for many days after.
And again the young man mocked the elder, and mocked the sun.
And the old men grew feeble, and with each passing season, the people agreed more with the young man, and grew tired of fasting on the tenth day.
But one day, in the time of the defiant and scornful people, the sun suddenly withered, turning black with anger.
And now it was the time for the youngsters to see the horror, and the animals to panic, the people to scream, the babies to cry. The darkness seemed to loom an eternity before the light returned.
And the people turned on the defiant young man, and discussed how to punish him.
This man has brought a curse, the ancient chief said. He is an accursed thing. In his defiance and arrogance he has doomed us, and cannot be trusted. He must go.
And yet another elder said:
We have not offered enough to the Sun. We must offer more than crops.
And another said:
We must fast every fifth day.
And another said:
We must call the young man in, and see if he is humbled.
And the young man, now with wife and child, met with the elders, and was shaking and chastened.
And though he was sorry for the curse he’d brought, the chief commanded him gone.
But chief, the young man declared, I have no place to go. Here is my life.
And so another elder told him: If you are to stay, you must give more. You must atone for your wickedness.
And so the young man was commanded to give all his animals and crops to the sun, and throw them on the pyre before all the other people.
And as the days passed, and the sun remained light, the people were pleased, for they had made the right decision.
Yet the young man and his family grew hungry. And his children cried, and his wife grew angry.
Husband, she said, you must provide for us.
And as the days passed, the young man found he was still cursed. And he gazed at the sun as it rose, and cursed it:
You have brought me only pain. I am an outcast, compelled to live in darkness. Though I gave everything to you, I am poor, and despised. Though they forgave me, they despise me. I starve every day now.
And as the sun rose, and grew brighter, the young man was sure the sun mocked him, as if to say:
You once cursed me and lamented starving every tenth day. May you now feel what it is to starve every day, ungrateful wretch.
And the man became a creature of the night, to avoid hearing the sun mocking him. And his children cried more, and his wife grew more weary, and one night chided him:
You hide in the day, and are a creature of the night and darkness. You have cursed yourself again, and wallow in your misery as we starve. Wake up!
And the man was chastened again, and humbled, and promised to provide for his wife.
The next day, the man returned to the bush and the cave where he hid the food as a youngster. And from where the food was once hidden, he watched the people go by, and waited for a man who carried bread. And the man leapt from the bushes, and hit the man on the head, and took his food.
That evening, the family ate, and his wife asked her husband where he found the food.
And the man replied:
The Sun appeared to me, and cast a ray of light in the bushes, near the cave I ventured when I was young and foolish. And there, I saw the bread.
And the man urged his wife to not doubt him, and she smiled, and they lay together.
The next day, the man by the bushes woke with a lump on his head, and saw his bread was taken. Yet he could remember nothing, and did not know what happened to his food.
That evening, the outcast again returned to the bushes, and waited for another man to pass by with bread, and he again snuck up on the man and stold his bread.
And again, he told his wife the sun again appeared to him in the cave, and guided him to the food.
Now the people heard of these strange assaults, and grew weary, till an elder commanded some men to visit the bushes, and find the thief and attacker.
But the outcast was no fool, and did not return to the bushes. Instead, he observed the men sent to catch him, and he ran to their homes, and stole their food and drink.
And on the third night, he told his wife the sun again appeared to him in the cave.
After the homes were robbed, an elder declared:
When the men leave home to seek the thief, others must watch their homes.
And the outcast left his happy wife and happy children the next day, and avoided both the bushes and the homes of the men sent to catch him.
And he watched from his creeping and his crawling the homes of the other men vacated.
And he stole from the homes of the men sent to guard the homes of the other men trying to catch him. And for the fourth night, he told his wife the sun again appeared to him in the cave.
Now the people were made to feel foolish, and grew furious, and an elder commanded the people to visit the outcast’s house, for he was an object of suspicion.
And the outcast saw this happening, and went to steal from those assigned to visit his house. And though he feared his wife might betray him, he remembered his lie to her, and she repeated this to her questioners.
The Sun appeared to him, and cast a ray of light in the bushes, near the cave he ventured when he was young and foolish. And there, he saw the bread.
And the people asked the women how many times this had happened, and she replied:
Four nights in a row.
And the man returned to his home as the people questioned his wife, and declared:
Friends, welcome, I have a great bounty here. For in my humility and disgrace, the might and perfect Sun has forgiven me! Eat with me, and let us praise the Sun’s mercy and bounty.
And though the people were still wary of the man, and his words, they were hungry, and foolish, and ate with him.
And the man declared:
Friends, I fear the Sun cannot keep guiding me to food every day. I am need of some animals, and seeds. Can you help?
And at this point, an elder convened the group and they whispered and huddled and spoke quietly. And the elder told the man:
Yes, young man, you were an outcast but are now among equals again. We feared you were a thief, but now hear you are the recipient of miracles. Please come to the place where we make the pyre, and there we will have a ceremony to welcome you, and to recognise your special bond with the Sun.
And the man was now very proud, and smiled, and the next day wore his finest clothes as he waited for the people to embrace and honour him.
And the people gathered round, and an elder told them to gather close, and gather closer, and closer still.
And the young man called out:
This is a tight embrace. How honoured I am.
And the people grabbed him, and cheered, and laughed, and raised him on their shoulders, and chanted his name, and sang of his visions and miracles, and the young man was in rapture, and declared his love for the people, and the sun, and repeated the miracles, and the people carried him close to the pyre.
And the elder yelled out:
You are a hero, and an outcast no more, and a miracle worker. Through you, we talk with the Sun. May the Sun continue blessing and feeding you, and feeding us all, and may the Sun be happy with our sacrifice.
And the young man, the new hero, was in ecstasy, and the crowd surged, as he rode on their shoulders, and they cheered, and sang, and shouted with joy, and threw him on the fire.
POSTSCRIPT: Did you really think the people were going to believe the bullshit that thieving, lying, smug, ungrateful asshole spouted? A few tweaks here and there and we could have our religious text here. Any asshole can create a religion, conjure up commandments.
This is dedicated to Paris, city of life and light. Don’t #PrayforParis, the world needs less bullshit religion and dogma. Live for Paris, in its spirit of hugs, kisses, dancing and joy.