Essays on the Marshallese Past
The Story of Lijebake
Lijebake was the wife of Wullep, a high god living in the land of Eb. Lijebake had a daughter,
who married an
Away up in the sky, the big rain talked to its children. First it said, "Come now sprinkling rain". The sprinkling rain fell, saying "I am sprinkling, sprinkling. Maybe Limaninbit will wake up and take in the mats". The the big rain said, "Come, short rain, short rain." The short rain fell, saying "It's just me, the short rain. Maybe Limaninbit will wake up and take in the mats". The big rain then called in the rain with the big drops, and it fell saying "I am falling hard, drop by drop by drop. Maybe Limaninbit will wake up and take in the mats". The the rain called the big downpour and it was the fourth rain to fall. The heavy downpour made so much noise that Limaninbit woke up. She ran outside and brought in some mat. But she couldn't finish the work and some mats were thoroughly soaked. After a time the rain stopped.
When her parents came home, the saw a sleeping mat lying across the roots of a Pandanus tree. It was the mat they valued most. "How come the mat is lying here?", they said. "How come it is wet?" they said angrily. Upon this, Limaninbit was permanently dismissed from the father's family, cast out.
On that day her grand mother, incensed at the bad treatment her grand daughter had received
by the people from Kiribati, turned herself into a turtle, and her husband into a frigate
bird. With Limaninbit riding on her back, Lijebake swam north until she reached
"Can you see the dri-Pit?", she asked her husband, who flew high in the sky. "Yes" he said,
"I can see them"
. So she swam on further to the north until they reached
Here Lijebake stopped swimming and put Limaninbit ashore. And from this day on until today,
turtles and frigate birds prefer the island of
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