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Aleksander Mosingiewicz

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The loom and the star
By Aleksander Mosingiewicz
Monday, December 10, 2007

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If the animals had their own mythology...

It happened in a place so far away that no eye can see it, in a time so remote that no sound and no gesture can express it. In this place and time there lived a Proud One whose name was [expressed by] a movement of the tail from left to right two times, a yawn and a moment of silence, in a place where many, many Big Ones lived in plenty [in a city]. The Proud One lived with a Big One who spent his days before a thing with spiked wheel that he spinned and spinned and spinned all the time [a loom?]. He also met other Big Ones and they would lose the part of their bodies, a skin that surrounds their feet, and give it over to the Big One who then healed their skin. He also made a skin that became skin of the Big Ones who visited him.

[This part of the story suggests that the protagonist lived with a person whose profession was - quite possibly - that of either taylor and/or shoemaker]

The Big One was very kind to the Proud One and allowed him to stay in his hideout and fed him fish and milk. Proud One satiated his hunger also by eating Small Prey whenever they dared to approach the hideout. The Proud One was good when it came to food [an expression refers to either his disgetion or the fact that he was a good hunter - which is difficult to tell from the context]. He was so good that he could in one day drink plenty of milk and eat plenty of fish and the Small and it was hot but he didn't fall into sleep because of this. He and the Big One were very friendly with each other.

The Proud One spent his days in the hideout and the streets, where he sometimes took food from the Big Ones and impregnated other of his kin. He was strong [because] of eating and no other Proud One dared to approach him when he was out on the street looking for female Proud Ones to impregnate. He had many children with them, and all of them were as strong and as good as him when it came to food. The stars gave them plenty of food and children, and so it went for some and then a few [generations]. And he never got in argument with any of the Big Ones until the one he lived in with disappeared.

One night the Proud One woke up with a start. There was many shouting by the Big Ones in the place of the plenty. The Big One he was living with had disappeared. The Proud One went to the street, and there was a smoke as if from cooking rising from the direction of the big mountain [the narrator obviously doesn't discern between the structures human-made and natural; the "big mountain" is probably some large edifice in the center of settlement]. He went in this direction and saw that the mountain was burning, and the Big Ones were running to and fro trying to douse the fire with water and [they] were shouting. One of them hit the Proud One with a leg and he screamed and jumped into a box to hide from the Big Ones. There in front of the burning mountain stood two stones that looked exactly like a Big One with mammaries [this description refers most possibly to a statue of a goddess, which hints that the building was a temple]. And there was a Big One whose skin was very long and white and he shouted at other Big Ones while pointing at the big rock as if it was a bowl of food. The Proud One was disturbed because of it all, even though he didn't fear because of his strenght and cunning [in the past]. And as everyone in the Proud Tribe he rose his gaze and talked with the stars and prayed to them with sound, gesture and silence. And then he went back home and fell asleep.

This night he dreamt of a star who told him with sound, gesture and silence: you and the other Proud are the offspring of stars, but only few of you return. The Big Ones pride themselves to be able to become the stars, but few of them does, for their pride is undeserved. But within two nights you will rejoin your brothers and sisters who have returned, and the generations [to come] will remember you whenever they look up to the starry sky.

When he woke up the Big One he was living in was back, but his face was very dirty, and his outer skin in tatters. He sat at the wheel but he didn't spin. His face was sad but his eyes [were] like stars. And then two other Big Ones entered. Their skin was metal. They were shouting. They attacked the Big One with tattered skin even though he didn't do anything against them. And they shouted, and then they grabbed the Big One and led him out of the hideout. The Proud One was outraged at their behaviour for the Big One did nothing against them, so he jumped at them and tried to claw at their legs but they hit him with their legs, so he jumped back and hid. Then they left, dragging the Proud One's friend with them. So the Proud One went after them in such a way that they didn't notice.

The Big One was led into the inside of a large square mountain with stones shaped like the Big Ones where the Big Ones sat behind a table, but they didn't eat but shout and talk to the Big One with tattered skin. There were straight trees made of a material smoother than wood all around the place, so that the Proud One could hide and see as the Big Ones and his friend shouted at each other, sometimes moving their arms and hands wildly in the air. And then they led his friend even futher away, and the Proud One followed them quietly to the cages in the back of the mountain where he was locked. The Proud One looked at his friend locked in a cage, and this time his eyes were no longer like stars. But they became like stars when he saw the Proud One. He started to make sounds in his direction, and the Proud One started to make sounds from within [purr]. And Big One's eyes became even more like stars. But then came Big Ones whose skin was metal, and they shouted at the Proud One so he had to flee and hide.

The next day the Big One didn't return home, even though Proud One waited for him impatiently. He went to the sand and rocks in the place of plenty [a town square, possibly] where two Big Ones with metal skin and big claws [swords] were about to cut a head of another Big One. The Proud One saw that the one to be killed was his friend, so he rushed towards them. He was quick, but they were quicker and one of the Big Ones struck him with his claw.

They say with sounds, gestures and silence that on that night another star appeared in the sky, and every Proud One who feared, respected or liked [our protagonist] started to look up at the sky every now and then and move the tail from left to right two times, yawn and be silent for a moment to honor his memory. The Proud Ones who knew the tale told it to other of their kin, and so the story and the custom spread. Today many young still practice it while looking at the stars at night, but they don't remember why, for fewer and fewer return [to the stars]. And that is why the story still has to be told.

Translation and comments by Kelly Anderton, Center for the Study of Animal Languages, Boston

"Feline Mythology" will be available in print by the end of the year

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