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"Instead of telling the moon to feel better maybe he should let the moon figure his worth for himself."
“Instead of telling the moon to feel better maybe he should let the moon figure his worth for himself.” A revealing short story on the self and self-esteem.
Here is the second winner of our October 2016 Muse of the Month contest, Bhavani.
The cue was: “If I had low self-esteem, how could I have done what I did tonight?” – Anuja Chauhan, Those Pricey Thakur Girls.
The moon sat there in the sky, hovering above a nice big fluffy cloud. He could see his reflection floating on the waves far below on Earth. As the water moved, he would get all mixed up, his body divided by lines, looking like an old wrinkled star instead of the young thing he was. He was young compared to the Milky Way, the galaxy he lived in, and all the stars that lived here too.
Two days ago there had been a declaration that would change his life forever. The High Powers of the Skies along with the Governing Council of the Earthly Abode, the Panchbhuta, comprising of the Fire, Wind, Earth, Water and Aether and the Committee of Earthly Beings, had declared that the Moon had no merit in being part of the body of celestial beings. They stated, in grave and formal words broadcast on the skies, that after a lot of debate they had reached this conclusion as the Moon only reflected the Sun’s light, it had none of its own. Other planets had multiple moons, so why was Earth’s Moon special? Furthermore, they would decide whether the Moon should be demoted to just ‘moon’, like any other moon, or whether he would be banished to orbit some faraway planet or another galaxy. They did say that when the Council was convened two weeks later, the Moon would get a minute to prove his worth.
He saw the shimmering water far below, reflecting himself and all the stars, and sighed. Why was his existence getting so tough? He had a few wants but simple ‘being’ was becoming a challenge.
“Why so sad tonight Moon?” asked the chirpy Pole Star who shone brightly in the night sky.
“I… errr… they… I…” Moon stuttered, then gulped, loudly. Where was his voice? “They are asking…”
“What? Be clear. Can’t hear you light years away!”
“They are asking me to prove my worth.”
“Oh yeah, I saw that message being broadcast. What does that even mean!”
The Pole Star was a cool chap, nothing ever frazzled him.
“They want to know if I am a worthy member of these skies, and if I have a role of any consequence. Historically, Earthly Beings have given me importance, but they feel it’s unnecessary now so…”
“I might be stripped of my standing and might be banished to a far… far… someplace far.”
“They can do that?”
There was a large silence. Followed by another gulp.
“I guess.” It was uttered in a voice so soft that one wouldn’t have heard it even if there was pin drop silence.
The Moon got more and more sad as nights passed by. He was dissipating into the skies, a tiny sliver of him gone with every night. It was almost as if he was making the Council’s words come true. Mentally he just wasn’t himself. He was low, didn’t want to rise every night, kept thinking about sinking into the ocean and hiding himself forever in some distant place. During the nights, across the Earth, it began to rain. These were not fresh water droplets like rain normally is, but huge splashes of salty water – they were the Moon’s tears and they fell continuously.
The Pole Star observing all this wondered what to do. The Moon was slipping low, and Pole felt if he fell low enough, he would never rise again. Pole liked the Moon. He was a sweet chap. On days that he was shining brightly Pole took a bit of a break because he didn’t have to shine as much, the Moon could light up the entire sky. He decided that being the next brightest thing seen on Earth at night, he’d have to help the Moon. Isn’t that what friends do?
Pole tried a new trick every night. One night he came by with a huge clown’s nose, but the Moon didn’t even look at him. Another night he brought a huge piece of cheese, the Moon loved cheese and could never resist it, but that night, the Moon took it from Pole and as he stared down at the Earth, tears dropping from his eyes, the cheese slipped out and fell down. The Moon did not want to be helped.
The final trial was set for sunset two weeks after the announcement. The Moon usually liked sunsets but now, every time the Sun began to sink into the horizon, and as the Moon rose into the skies, he began to hate it. It used to be his favourite time, the time when he rose into the skies and he shared space with his big brother the Sun. Would he be able to call the Sun that anymore he wondered? He gulped, a large tear rolled down his face and fell below on the Earth. It created such a ginormous splash that the water rose and covered the land before it receded.
One night Pole decided to try talking him out of it.
“Hey Moony, cheer up. Nothing’s going to come of it. Sometimes these oldies get bored of sitting around and then they come up with ways to have fun.”
“I don’t think this is much fun.”
“Many years later we’ll both be sharing the skies and laughing about it… Don’t you worry. I’ve been around longer than you have.”
“But I don’t know… Do I even do anything? I have no value. I actually think I am quite useless and I get why they are saying it. I only reflect the Sun’s light, I have none of my own, I am nothing on my own. A parasite, that’s what I am, the worst thing that ever was.”
“Come on that isn’t true!”
Though he said that Pole didn’t know if the Moon had any use. He wasn’t a scientist, astrologer or a learned individual, he was just a star, so how could he know!
By now the Moon had become a mere sliver in the skies, a tiny part of what he used to be, but large tears continued to rain down on Earth. The next sunset was the one of his trial and as he flickered over the Earth that night, the night that could be the last in these skies, he decided that he didn’t want to defend himself or prove his worth. He had nothing to say. He decided to just go away himself. Why wait to be banished? Just disappear, if that is what they wanted. And with one final tear, as the Sun rose again into the sky, the Moon completely disappeared.
As sunset approached on that fateful evening, blue, red and orange began dancing across the sky but no Moon rose. Pole waited and waited. The Council had pushed the meeting as they needed the Moon to be present, for you cannot sentence someone without them being present.
Pole knew the Moon was out there somewhere. He was at his wits end when he suddenly got an idea. Instead of telling the moon to feel better maybe he should let the moon figure his worth for himself. In a loud booming voice he called out,
“Moon, listen to me.”
There was no response… but he continued.
“Hey Moony… Do you remember those children we see on the beaches far below late evening? We see them blowing bubbles into the skies? What is the purpose of those bubbles?”
“You might not know the answer, but think about it…”
Far away, somewhere in the galaxy, the Moon, completely transparent now, thought. He thought of that little girl he saw two days ago laughing as her brother blew large bubbles. Every time a bubble rose and became bigger and bigger, she would clap her hands and giggle. As he rose that evening, her giggling had come up to meet him, there was so much happiness around that he shone even brighter that night. Later, she’d blown bubbles and her brother jumped up and down trying to catch each bubble. He would sometimes fall down, but when he did touch a bubble it would burst with a tiny splat. Then both the boy and girl would bend over with laughter, and do it all over again.
“Smiles…” he said softly. “Smiles,” he repeated in a louder voice that beamed back to Pole. “Bubbles bring joy to the people who watch it. It makes little girls and little boys giggle, bend over in laughter and feel happy.”
Circling high above the Earth, Pole nodded his head. “Exactly! Bubbles give them joy and that is pretty much its purpose in life. It floats into existence, creates a smile and then vanishes into thin air. So… what about you?”
The Moon was pensive. He thought for a long time, through the night, and the day… and till it was sunset again. He thought about all the people who would look upto him at nights, the little boy from that window who always made a wish before going to bed, that group of wolves who looked at him and howled through the night, and that little girl giggling over the bubbles, he thought of her parents… they always took late night walks after both the children went to sleep. Slowly he began to smile, and then smile even more.
“I create moonlight walks for people who love each other. As I shine in the skies, light up the pathways and shimmer on the sea’s surface, they walk hand in hand for as long as they want to.
I give them romance.”
And there, you could see him now. A tiny bit of Moon grew back into the skies. It was only a sliver, but he was coming back!
“And?” Pushed Pole relentlessly.
“When those bunch of teenagers want to camp by the beach, I shine on them, keep the light bright so that they stay safe.”
With each discovery he swelled, a tiny sliver at a time.
“I am the night light, that peaceful light, calm and not as bright as the daytime, yet always there when they need me.”
He was on a roll.
“My beams filter into the room, they call them moonbeams, and when someone is low, upset and maybe even crying, I give them hope, light and maybe a way forward.”
The sliver was now a semi-circle.
“My gentle glow helps humans relax, rest at night, forget all the worries from their day and sleep well.”
“I give that little girl dreams of big cakes and long car rides and endless beach-side holidays and running around with her brother and even bigger dreams about her future.”
“I give them peace and tranquility.”
“Sometimes I shine with less light, so that they see the beauty of the skies at night… Each star twinkling to them, shining in the skies.”
“I remind the humans that they live in a beautiful world.”
“I make them artists and poets, I am the muse.”
Without the Moon knowing, Pole had brought all the beings in the Council and asked them to listen. Fire smiled; Wind blew softly; Water rippled happily across the ocean; Earth gently circled, turning slowly in agreement. Aether, that space all around, seemed to come in closer, almost as if it was hugging everyone and everything.
Well, and then what? There is nothing more to say. It is just another happily ever story. The confident, bratty Pole Star pushed the Moon to find his worth, and Moony did!
The Sun shone through the day, and every day at sunset, the Moon would rise and fill up the skies. Over years the scientists discovered other uses for the Moon – gravitational pull and all those utterly important sounding things – but for everyone else, you and me specially, the Moon is that beautiful glowing light that lights up the skies at night and makes us rejoice at being alive.
Years later, in a language on the Earth called Sanskrit, the day the Moon disappeared was renamed, Amavasya, or the night when the sun and moon ‘dwell together’. It was after all the night that began the peace that reigned in the skies. And Pole, oh well, he became a motivational speaker of the Great Skies and shone on as brightly as ever. If you ever feel the need for some help, need a pick-me-up, look for Pole. He’s always around.
Bhavani wins a Rs 250 Flipkart voucher, as well as a chance to be picked one among the 10 top winners at the end of 2016. Congratulations!
bhavani is an independent writer.
Her fiction will soon feature in an anthology by Aleph. Her short fiction "A Fragrance That Could Have Been" was the winner of the 2016 Out of Print-DNA Contest. read more...
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