The Light Keeper’s Box (Venezuela)
In the beginning, neither day nor night existed. No one knew about dreams. No one knew what it was like to bask in the warmth of the sun or watch the moon wax and wane. People didn’t miss what they didn’t know, yet not everyone was satisfied with the way things were.
In one village, there lived a chief who heard that somewhere in the distance there was a man who kept the light. Deciding on a plan, the chief said to his oldest daughter, “Find the man who keeps the light and bring some light back to me. He blew on her face so that the hebus of the bush, water, and sky would help keep her safe.
The young woman packed a small sack and left. When she came to a place of many roads she didn’t know which road to take, nor did she know how to choose, She walked down a road with many trees and came to the house of Deer who greeted her warmly. She stayed with him, enjoying their time together, but she remembered her father’s request and soon went home. She told her father she had not found the Lightkeeper.
The chief decided to send his younger daughter. “Find the man who keeps the light and bring some light back to me.” He blew the hebus on her face and played his flute, wishing her well.
The younger daughter soon left, and, like her older sister, came to a place of many roads. She stopped, not knowing which one to take, In the distance, she thought she heard the sounds of her father’s flute. As she listened, she began to have feelings about the roads, as if they had faces. She chose the one that seemed strong and old. After walking for a long time, she came to the house of the Light keeper.
He was as young as the road seemed old, and just as strong. “Who are you?” asked the Lightkeeper.
“I am the younger daughter of a village chief. I have come to get some light from you.”
“I have been waiting for you,” he replied. “Now that you have come, please stay with me for a while and I will show you the box of light. He picked up a box woven of itiriti leaves. Carefully, he opened it so that the dreams inside would not spill out.
The young woman, seeing light for the first time, was awed by its brilliance. The light keeper then closed the box and offered her a meal.
For many days, the Lightkeeper opened the box made of itiriti leaves so they could enjoy themselves, but in time the young woman remembered her promise to bring back some light from the Lightkeeper’s box. As a present, he gave her the itiriti box filled with light and dreams.
Taking great care of the box, the chief’s younger daughter traveled home to a joyful welcome from her sister and father. After showing them the dreams and light contained in the box their father decided it should be shared and hung the box from the highest roof beam.
People from nearby villages heard that a family near the river had light and came to see it. At first, they were welcomed and fed and given places to sleep, but in time, the chief and his daughters grew tired of the throngs of people who gathered in and around their house. They decided everyone everywhere had a right to the light. The chief flung the box of woven itiriti leaves into the sky. The body of light flew to the East and became Sun. The box tumbled to the West.
Thus, were light and dreams brought to the world for people to enjoy them.
Wit and wisdom from around the world and through the ages. Tales by Nancy King.