The Government of the Republic of Nauru

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The Story of Eigigu


The Story of Eigigu's Tree


There was once a woman who lived with her husband and three daughters onNauru. The woman's name was Eigigu and this also was the name of her three daughters. Her husband's name was Gadia. One day, the woman was working when the eldest of her daughters called out to her and told her that her first menstruation had begun. Thereupon, the mother told her the girl to go to her father, Gadia, and ask him for the customary ornaments to wear. So the eldest daughter did as her mother, told her. Soon after, the second daughter also called out to her mother, and her that she had begun to menstruate for first time. The mother spoke to her as she had done to the eldest girl, and sent her to obtain ornaments from her father. A little time afterwards, the third and youngest of the daughters called out to her mother and informed her that she also had attained puberty. But the mother was angry now, and scolded the girl so that, instead of going to her father to get her ornaments, she went away sadly towards the beach. But as she was going she found a seed lying in her path. She continued to water it regularly and it grew taller and taller, until, at last, it reached the sky. Then she climbed up it; as she climbed she broke off the branches beneath her so that no one else could climb up after her.


At last she reached the sky. There she found an old blind woman who was cooking toddy. She sat besides her, watching, and presently she took one of the coconut shells and drank it contents. The old blind woman, feeling among her shells could not make out why there seemed to be one missing, but she did not suspect that anyone was there who could have stolen it.


Then Eigigu took another shell and drank the syrup in t hat also. Afterwards she drank the contents of yet a third. When she had missed three of her coconuts, the old woman realized that there must be someone nearby who was taking them, and she determined to catch this person. Eigigu did not realize her danger but continued to catch this person. Eigigu did not realize her danger but continued to drink up the syrup in one shell after another. Now, there were no less than thirty shells of toddy syrup, and Eigigu was just about to drink from the thirtieth shell when the old woman seized her wrist and held her fast. Then Eigigu became very frightened and promised that she would serve the old woman all her life, if only she would release her. But the old woman was obstinate, and said, 'No, you shall wait until my three sons come home'. Then Eigigu pleaded again, and said that she would cure the old woman's blindness. To this the old woman agreed. Eigigu then muttered a spell and blew into the old woman agreed. Eigigu the muttered a spell and blew into the old woman's eyes. She blew from them lizards and all varieties of insects, and, when they had all come out, the old woman expected her sons to return, she told Eigigu to go and hide herself in a large clam shell which lay nearby, and exhorted her not to move on any account, lest one of her sons should discover her.


Eigigu did as she was bid and, no sooner was she hidden, the old woman's eldest son arrived. His name was Ekwan (the sun). When he came to where his mother was sitting, he looked about him and said, 'I smell something new!' But his mother pretended that she was still blind and said, 'You are hungry, you had better go somewhere and find someone to eat'. So Ekwan went away to seek food elsewhere.


Soon afterwards, the old woman's second son arrived. He was called Debao (the thunder). He too sniffed at the air and said to his mother, 'Mother, I smell something new!' but again the old woman pretended to be blind still, and said to him, 'You are hungry, and you better go and look for someone to eat'. So Debao also went away.


At last the old woman's third son arrived. He was called Maramen (the moon). He also said, 'Mother, I smell something new!' Then she answered him saying, 'Go and look inside that clam shell over there'. So he went to where the clam shell was, and opened it and inside he found Eigigu. He pulled her out from her hiding place. Then his mother raised her eyelids, which she had kept lowered in her pretended blindness, and said to Maramen, 'Look at my eyes, I am no longer blind. That girl cured me'. Then she told Maramen that he was to marry Eigigu, and to care for her well because she had given his mother her sight. So Maramen married Eigigu, and at night you may still often see them. Maramen holding Eigigu in his arms (the old moon with the young moon in his arms). You can also see the steam rising from the coconut shells in which the old woman is cooking her toody syrup, for this is the clouds in the sky. The old woman's name is Enibarara.