READY FOR BED
Owongo yawned and fidgeted as he sat with his back against one rough wall of the cave and stared moodily at Mirumda, his catastrophically hideous wife.
“Me tired,” he murmured.
“You always tired,” grinned Mirumda with what might be taken for affection creasing the corners of her eyes. “Men go to sleep all the time, and women work.”
“Men work,” was his response. “Men go out in to the wild and catch food. Much food for fat Mirumda!”
“Owongo good hunter,” nodded Mirumda, “and Mirumda tired too.”
“Owongo wonders,” he murmured, “Owongo wonders what it all about.”
“What what about?” asked his puzzled lover.
“Everything. Look, through cave entrance, see that patch of sky.”
“Beautiful stars,” sighed Mirumda.
“Yes, but what?” he asked. “Stars beautiful: Mirumda say so, but what are stars?”
“When I was a nipper,” she replied, “my daddy told me.”
“He told you what?”
“The stars. He told me what the stars are.”
“What he tell you? Nobody ever tell Owongo. Not anything.” sniffed her hominid man. We must try to remember that this conversation, between a truly prehistoric ancestor of mine and his lady wife, occurred at a time before the human brain had fully evolved, so there was often a great deal of sniffing in conversations.
“He tell of the great skies,” she whispered, “he tell how the skies are great big dome, blacker than old crows, and outside it, way beyond everything, there is eternal fires, great big tongues of eternal fires like huge volcanoes, and the stars are holes in the big black dome that let the light from flames of Eternity shine through. That's what my daddy told me.”
Owongo sniffed again. “Makes sense,” he conceded, “but what of sun and moon?”
“I forget,” she replied.
“Did he say?”
“I can't remember. I … no, maybe not,” she replied wearily, and yawned herself.
“I think the sun and moon are spheres of light,” breathed Owongo. “I think they chase each other across the skies, the sun by day and the moon by night. I think they great big spheres of the gods.”
“What gods, Owongo mine?”
“The day god, the night god, the tree god, the hills god, the mountain god, the river god, the grass god, the trees god, all the gods...”
“And they own the sun and moon?”
“Of course. It's obvious, silly woman!”
“And you going to tell baby Owongo that?”
“When he grows big and tall, of course I will.”
“And the gods. You tell him about the gods?”
“Of course, silly Mirumda. How would he know if I didn't tell him? You want our baby hunter to grow up ignorant?”
“Of course not, Owongo my man.”
“So Owongo tell him the old stories. Those your father told you and those I just said, too.”
“How you know, Owongo? I mean, I know about the black dome and the little holes because my daddy told me, but how you know about spheres of the gods? Who told you?”
He looked at her warily. “Nobody, silly,” he replied, “it just make sense. It just what is.”
“Owongo so clever,” she sighed. “Mirumda love Owongo.”
“And Owongo love Mirumda.”
“We go to bed, Owongo?”
“Mirumda want to play games?”
She sighed, reluctance all over face.
“Does Owongo?” she asked. “Does Owongo want to play games?”
He nodded, a little too furiously.
“Mirumda got big ache in head,” she said. “Mirumda go to bed and sleep and dream of gods and spheres, and Owongo...”
“Owongo think of more gods and stuff. Owongo plan the future of belief. Owongo be a proper, thinking man, and Mirumda have her headache.”
© Peter Rogerson 28.04.12