75. Why the Sky Went Up
Once upon a time, the sky and the sun were quite close to the earth. The sun's heat was unbearable. People died of sunstroke. One day an old farmer who had just shaved off all his hair went to work in the fields. The sun's heat was so fierce that his shaven head cracked in two, and he died at once.
His daughter was pounding rice in the yard. The long pestle that she used for pounding went higher and higher as she gathered speed. Finally, it struck the sky and rebounded back on her head. She too died of a cracked skull.
Her mother was grief-stricken that her husband had died in the fields and her daughter at home. So she cursed the sky.
“You bastard sky, you bastard sun, why don't you go up and give us some space?”
The sun and the sky heard the curse and began to move upwards. At about that time, a washerman was moving his load of laundry to the river on the back of a donkey. The poor animal was tottering under the heavy load and couldn't walk straight. So he gave it a couple of kicks, when it dropped the load of dirty clothes and began to run. In a panic, he shouted, “Ho, ho, stop! Stop!”
The sky and the sun thought that someone was asking them to stop going up any further. So they stopped where they are now. If that washerman had not cried “Ho, ho, stop!” at that time, the sky and the sun would have gone up and up, and they would have gone so high we would have had no sunshine or rainfall, and we wouldn't have been able to live at all. So we must really remember that washerman with gratitude.
[NKTT, but cf. L 351.1, Sun is cursed by man for its burning rays (IO); and A 625.2.2, Why the sky receded upward (it was struck by a woman's pestle) (IO).]