Hika looked at Maru through the bonfire. The scars that white man had made on his face ten moons ago were nearly healed, but gave him a fearsome and, at the same time, magnetic expression. It could be said it was hard to take one´s eyes off his face, something very appropriate for those returning from the dream-world becoming gods, but although everyone admired and followed him, however, she was afraid. That was one of those times when new truths were woven and painted in the world, and whatever her people were about to witness nobody could say what it was, but she did not like.
(read the first part of this tale here)
Maru owned his name, “gentle”, to his gentle and friendly character. It was that personality trait that had attracted her to the point of becoming friends in the flesh on more than one occasion. He was not particularly strong or handsome, and had no more tattoos than any other young man, nor he was part of the nobility as she was, one of the nearly fifty daughters of the great leader, the Ariki-Nuie, but his sharp and awaken personality and friendly manners made him in a very nice guy. And it was precisely that trait that had made him into a favorite of holy men when they first arrived long since, when she was just a child, and therefore the best contact with white people when they landed from their big canoe about thirty moons ago.
She had also learned something from those two white and bearded men, but quite little, so that when others arrived, they seemed so outlandish and bizarre for her as for the rest of her tribe. However, Maru´s curiosity, support from the two holy men, and repeated requests from his father, the great Ariki, who desperately needed translators to successfully communicate with the newcomers, made her not to delay too much in interacting with those foreigners.
At first she did not like what she saw. Those people, in general, she thought were mostly dirty and rough, especially brusque, since they reacted to everything so hectically and strangely, as if they had no inner harmony. Also because they knew nothing about the dream-world, because they just believed in one single god, worshiped certain materials and objects as if they were sacred, like pearls, and undertook long and dangerous journeys in their large boat without the company of any woman or children. And above all they had weapons, many weapons, fearful, as if they always lived in fear. She could not imagine how those bearded men managed to live that way, and sometimes they did not even look like humans to her, but all that changed when she met her apostle.
She called him that way because, as she was told by one of the holy men, he casually had the same name as one of the four men who had told the world the life of their god when he was still among humans many moons ago, one of the four “apostles” that had written about him. Writing was something similar to drawing those people used to do on the surface of a strange material they used to carry with them, and that had always fascinated her because, as she was explained once, allowed them to communicated and tell things to each other even when they were far away or even when some of them was not alive anymore, with messages that had, furthermore, the power to survive and endure forever.
She liked her apostle immediately. He was one of the leaders of the withe men, although not one of the most important, and yet he was the one who most mingled with her people. He was gentle and kind, such as Maru, and also very curious, wanted to see and know everything, smiled a lot, knew how to listen, learned quickly and also knew how to write, and he wrote, in fact, many things. Maru and him had become very good friend, a very normal thing having both a similar age and temperament, and this being the case she was formally introduced to him one night. She approached him openly, at first thinking that perhaps it could make Maru feel jealous, for he had lately preferred one of her sisters, the beautiful Nani, but soon she did it purely for pleasure. Both of them became promptly friends, and then more than friends. He seemed amazed of being called “apostle”, and she liked when he called her “Princess”, a word which in his language meant both strictly her own position as daughter of the great Ariki and also a compliment directed to women considered to be specially gorgeous.
They spent much time together, learned a lot from each other, and everything was fine until Maru suffered that horrible incident: it happened that Nani was being courted by one of those white men, the so called Sierralta, a small boss whose apostle did not really like at all, and Nani initially let it be. At that point there had not been any problem so far, Maru knew, as all men born in that island did, that her sister was free to do whatever pleased her, but precisely for this reason she also could come back to Maru again whenever she wanted, something she eventually did, and that the white man, however, did not approved, to the point that he chose to force Nani. When Maru learned about it he surrounded himself with a group of close friends and tried demanding an explanation from this miserable and dangerous white man, but he also had company, and without accepting fixing things with Maru alone, honorably, he and his friends disarmed them with their fearsome weapons and beat them ferociously. Maru turned against them with special rage, and that made them be specially cruel with him, until marking his face with a knife before leaving him, badly wounded, lying merciless behind a hut.
Since then everything had changed. Obviously this incident had upset the whole community, especially his father, the Ariki. The great leader of the expedition, accompanied by his men, including his apostle, as well as the holy men, had held several meetings with his father which, although full of cordiality and explanations, apologies and goodwill, had failed to prevent the relations to cool. The whites had begun to stand guard by the beach huts, armed with their fearsome weapons, and the tribe showed suspicious and nobody approached the visitors anymore, especially women. Even the wise men, always well considered, started to be treated with caution.
The issue, however, had grew since then. Maru had become bleak. At first she had thought it was caused just by his rage at his wounded honor, or by the pain of his terrible wounds. However, once she spoke with him she realized he was becoming another being. He told her, as he was battered and scarred for life, he understood something about those withe men, something he had always sensed and subtly noticed by how much he had come to learn from them, even if he had never come to see it clearly… until that incident took place. While that awful man was slitting him, Maru told her, he had understood something about the force that moved his race, something about why they had so many cruel weapons, why they never seemed calm, or why they always wanted their pearls. After saying those things he asked to be alone. He was dreaming things, he said, and needed to let them flow.
Shortly after that creepy episode Maru spoke to everyone about his dreams. He told them how he saw a man fleeing through the jungle with a spear in his hand. The man was scared, was afraid, did not know whether it was from a beast or other men, but ran and ran aimlessly. It was dark, it was night, and the fearing man walked aimlessly while spearing the air before him, thinking at every moment the danger he was fleeing from was in front of his eyes. At one point he ran into another man, a fearless walker, calmed, quiet, but such was his fear that he stabbed him repeatedly to death. Then, for a second, he understood the crime he had committed, assimilated his big mistake, but then even more mad than before, and horrified by what he had just done, returned to run, with his bloody spear in his hand, fearing to meet other men who could have witnessed his absurd and horrible crime. Soon the fugitive saw another quiet man whom he killed just for fear of being discovered, after which he was again on a mad rush, and an endless spiral was etched on his forehead while all that was happening.
In other dreams Maru saw more or less the same thing, he said, but the story was lengthening. Same terrible things happened to the same man, but then other men who were there, by discovering the bodies that he had left behind, began to go mad themselves with fear, picked weapons and run through the jungle spearing the air and sometimes killing other men who were as frightened as they were. That happened again and again, while those frightened men built larger and increasingly fearsome spears and gathered in larger groups to meet other groups of frightened men, while an endless spiral appeared again on their foreheads.
Then everything happened very quickly: Sleep inns were visited as they had never been in all her life. Her father and his advisers spent half of their time stuck inside them. The big dreamers, the elderly who spent so much time sleeping, had begun to experience the same dreams as Maru. Then they began to dream another, where a quiet man was speared by one of those crazy men, but having been wounded, and just before he died, he perceived the spiral that his attacker had marked on his forehead, and cleared it with his hands before expiring. In doing so the attacker regained his judgment and his fear dissipated, and managed to do same with their colleagues, so more and more men managed to regain their senses and abandon that senseless slaughter.
Within a few days the whole tribe already had those same dreams, and if not the very same ones they had other so similar they were considered as versions of the original one. Mothers-tree, which retained the old roots connecting the earth-world and the dream-world, begun to interpret the dreams of the great dreamers as the harbinger of a new god coming to the world, a painter or weaver Tiki that would probably cause an imminent change in the way people lived their lives. After that it took very little to conclude that Tiki was actually Maru, whom everyone started calling Tiki-Maru, and soon “Tiki-Maru, the one who wears the mark of insanity on his face.”
That same night it came the final act of that drama. Tiki-Maru had spoken the tribe in the great hut of dreams. The great Ariki, the most prominent nobles and many of the great dreamers and mothers-tree stood by him. The new God had told them that mothers-tree and big dreamers had allowed him to reach the understanding that the spirits had chosen him to deliver a horrible but necessary truth: that the white men from the great boat lived in a great, violent and dangerous fear, powerful in its horror, that made them possess those terrible weapons as well as their huge boat. While he was being marked, he said, by one of them he finally understood that truth in the eyes of his attacker, that fear and that fury that dwelt within them, and he saw that, if something was not done quickly, the disease would eventually devour the entire tribe of the Dreamers, either because they would be destroyed by those crazy white men, or because they would end up infected with the same disease killing each other. Thanks to dream-world, however, and to the spirits of the tribe, Maru had understood this madness, had internalized and assimilated it, and had learned to master it, so now he was about to teach them, his brothers, his people, how to use and control it.
It was the madness of group-violence, not the violence they already knew, the impetus caused as a response to an offense, a tense situation or when hunting a prey. It was a kind of shared violence, a violence felt by a whole tribe, premeditated, systematic, targeted, planned violence. What his people had never done before, what they did not know, but for what whites already had a word, what they called “guerra”. He had shared it with them in the dream-world, they had dreamed and felt it together, and now the only thing to do was to use it against them before they decided to direct it against the tribe.
And there they were now. Tiki-Maru with his terrible scars watching his tribe, distant, fierce and menacing across the bonfire. His father waving his stick while yelling fiercely, as did all the men there. And she, a girl like any other, scared and afraid of the crowd. But she did not want to stay there. She had also had those strange dreams, like everyone else, and knew something of it was true, but thought of her apostle, realized she loved her apostle, and sincerely believed he was not like that. It had been bitter enough to spend so many days away from him, worse to let anything bad happen to him. She wanted to tell him everything, and take him somewhere safe until all this madness had finished.
By the time she was about to leave the hut of dreams and sneak away Nani ran into her. She carried a message from Maru. Hika was glad to see that her sister had recovered from her abuse, and to know she was with Maru again, but what pleased her most and gave her strength and encouragement was to know that Maru wanted her to protect their mutual friend because, like he wanted to do with the holy men, he wanted him to be safe, if possible, from all suffering. His words, repeated by Nani, had been:
And that was how she had come from the large village, just before the youth began to arm themselves and draw spirals and strange markings on their faces, and how, a few meters away, she had met her apostle, in the light of the moon, while he was looking for her, unaware of coming close to a certain death. She barely gave him time to speak. She hugged him and gave him a strong and passionate kiss, and then took his hand and led him away to the caves, on the other side of the island.
(lee el relato en español aquí)
meters away, she had met her apostle, in the light of the moon, while he was looking for her, unaware of coming close to a certain death. She barely gave him time to speak. She hugged him and gave him a strong and passionate kiss, and then took his hand and led him away to the caves, on the other side of the island.
(lee el relato en español aquí)