There is a boy once–Muna is his name–who is a constant worry to his mother. “Watch out for snakes,” she calls after him as he heads into the bush again.He likes to escape the gossip of the village, even though there is much he could be helping with, and spend the whole day wandering, wondering about change and goodness, and daydreaming about girls. One day he does come upon a snake, a big one right across his intended path.
“What are you afraid of?” The old midwife who lives on the hill has changed herself into a crow and is watching him. “My mother says if a snake bites you, it is the end of you,” replies the trembling boy. “Ah, death,” says the crow, flapping over the snake and seeing it off into the grass. “I don’t worry about death,” she croaks. “Death is the entrance to eternity. Don’t you know that?” “What is eternity?” “Eternity is a beautiful place where it is always now, and you don’t have to worry about getting home and getting into trouble with your father for being lazy and having your head in the clouds and coming up here every day to play ‘Mothers and Fathers’ with Old Spica. In eternity, you are the headman with your choice of all the pretty girls, and you don’t have to lift a finger.” She knows she is giving in to an unkind impulse, but really, another needy man is just what the world doesn’t need. “Go to the river yonder, and ask Antares to row you to eternity, just for a look.”
So Muna goes further than he ever has before, and comes to a vast river. On the bank he finds a man in a loincloth, his arms outstretched, spinning slowly around and around. “Excuse me,” says the boy. “Can you tell me where Antares is? And what are you doing?” “I am Dervish,” says the man, “and I am working myself into the trance of eternity. What do you want with Antares?” “I must ask him to row me to eternity,” the boy says. “Do as I do,” says Dervish, “and prepare yourself. Then I will show you where Antares is.” The boy makes himself completely dizzy, and barely manages not to throw up as he staggers to the boat Dervish is pointing to.
The blind Antares cries out, “The Way to Eternity is through me!” Muna almost capsizes the boat as he clambers over the gunwale, observed scornfully by the two oarsmen. By the time he has regained his senses, the boat has reached the far bank, and believing himself in eternity, Muna disembarks. To his horror, the boat immediately heads back across the river, Antares in the bow calling, “The Way to Eternity is through me!” “No returns,” scoffs one of the oarsmen.
Muna finds himself in a strange and frightening place, quite unlike the village and so far from his mother and Spica that he fears never to be held by a woman again. The only girl to be seen has herself done up with ringlets in her wispy blond hair and a pale floral dress tied with a pink bow. How can this pale-skinned trifle be what the crow promised? In tears, he describes to her what has befallen him. She bursts into a flood of tears herself. “This is Justfriendistan,” she wails, “where jilted lovers go. You must escape as fast as you can!” She points to a distant range in the opposite direction to his home. “The way you must go will take you past the chateau where I was to be married, and I implore you, do not listen to the voices of passionate love you will hear there, lest you too become bewitched by limerence!”
With no idea what she is talking about, the lad takes off at a sprint. Seven days and seven nights he runs, until exhausted he trips on the roots of a giant tree on a razorback ridge and falls immediately into a deep sleep. While he sleeps, a swirling fog creeps down the spur from an invisible peak, and voices begin whispering to him. “There is no such thing as eternity.” “Life is a miserable delusion.” “Only a woman can save you.” “Your love can save the world.” “Find the One.” When he awakens, the fog has lifted, and far below he can see the glint of another river. He has never felt more disheartened, nor less deserving to be a headman or to rule over women.
In three more days he reaches the river, and finds himself in the presence of a brooding bull of enormous power. “Are you ready to mate with one of my heifers, and be unassailable in relevance and pride?” he bellows. Off to his right, Muna sees a knot of chewing cows winking in his direction, and distinctly hears the words, “Am I the One?” Without hesitation, he dodges the bull and races to the water, but just as he reaches it, he glances to his left, where he catches sight of a swarthy herdswoman who, with a giggle in his direction, has hoiked up her skirt and is squatting to pee in the river. This, finally, is the One!
With curiously little effort he swims to the opposite bank. “I am hungry for the future, aren’t you?” says someone else’s wife. Muna has become a man. He has no idea how he came to be three days walk from his village, nor does he know Capella, or to whom she might belong, but she does remind him of someone, and in this moment, eternity, he is hers.
He never becomes headman, and becomes derisively known as Mooner, and eventually just Moon. He is forever wandering, away for weeks at a time looking for someone. Perhaps for this reason he has remained a secret connection in the heart and body of every woman, and I daresay, in the heart of many Fa’afafine, and men who adore women, especially women like Saiph.