Crow Brings the Daylight
An Inuit Myth
Long, long ago, when the
world was still new, the Inuit lived in darkness in their home
in the fastness of the north. They had never heard of daylight,
and when Crow, who travelled back and forth between the northlands
and the south, first explained it to them they did not believe
But many of the younger folk were fascinated by the story of
the light that gilded the lands to the south. They made Crow
repeat his tales until they knew them by heart.
"Imagine how far and how long we could hunt," they
told one another.
"Yes, and see the polar bear before it attacks," others
Soon the yearning for daylight was so strong that the Inuit
people begged Crow to bring it to them. Crow shook his head.
"I am too old," he told them. "The daylight is
very far away. I can no longer go so far." But the pleadings
of the people made him reconsider, and finally he agreed to
make the long journey to the south.
Crow flew for many miles through the endless dark of the north.
He grew weary many times, and almost turned back. But at last
he saw a rim of light at the very edge of horizon and knew that
the daylight was close.
Crow strained his wings and flew with all his might. Suddenly,
the daylight world burst upon him with all its glory and brilliance.
The endless shades of colour and the many shapes and forms surrounding
him made Crow stare and stare. He flapped down to a tree and
rested himself, exhausted by his long journey. Above him, the
sky was an endless blue, the clouds fluffy and white. Crow could
not get enough of the wonderful scene.
Eventually Crow lowered his gaze and realized that he was near
a village that lay beside a wide river. As he watched, a beautiful
girl came to the river near the tree in which he perched. She
dipped a large bucket into the icy waters of the river and then
turned to make her way back to the village. Crow turned himself
into a tiny speck of dust and drifted down towards the girl
as she passed beneath his tree. He settled into her fur cloak
and watched carefully as she returned to the snow lodge of her
father, who was the chief of the village people.
It was warm and cosy inside the lodge. Crow looked around him
and spotted a box that glowed around the edges. Daylight, he
thought. On the floor, a little boy was playing contentedly.
The speck of dust that was Crow drifted away from the girl and
floated into the ear of the little boy. Immediately the child
sat up and rubbed at his ear, which was irritated by the strange
speck. He started to cry, and the chief, who was a doting grandfather,
came running into the snow lodge to see what was wrong.
"Why are you crying?" the chief asked, kneeling beside
Inside the little boy's ear, Crow whispered: "You want
to play with a ball of daylight." The little boy rubbed
at his ear and then repeated Crow's words.
The chief sent his daughter to the glowing box in the corner.
She brought it to her father, who removed a glowing ball, tied
it with a string, and gave it to the little boy. He rubbed his
ear thoughtfully before taking the ball. It was full of light
and shadow, colour and form. The child laughed happily, tugging
at the string and watching the ball bounce.
Then Crow scratched the inside of his ear again and the little
boy gasped and cried.
"Don't cry, little one," said the doting grandfather
anxiously. "Tell me what is wrong."
Inside the boy's ear, Crow whispered: "You want to go outside
to play." The boy rubbed at his ear and then repeated Crow's
words to his grandfather. Immediately, the chief lifted up the
small child and carried him outside, followed by his worried
As soon as they were free of the snow lodge, Crow swooped out
of the child's ear and resumed his natural form. He dove toward
the little boy's hand and grabbed the string from him. Then
he rose up and up into the endless blue sky, the ball of daylight
sailing along behind him.
In the far north, the Inuit saw a spark of light coming toward
them through the darkness. It grew brighter and brighter, until
they could see Crow flapping his wings as he flew toward them.
The people gasped and pointed and called in delight.
The Crow dropped the ball, and it shattered upon the ground,
releasing the daylight so that it exploded up and out, illuminating
every dark place and chasing away every shadow. The sky grew
bright and turned blue. The dark mountains took on colour and
light and form. The snow and ice sparkled so brightly that the
Inuit had to shade their eyes.
The people laughed and cried and exclaimed over their good fortune.
But Crow told them that the daylight would not last forever.
He had only obtained one ball of daylight from the people of
the south, and it would need to rest for six months every year
to regain its strength. During that six-month period, the darkness
The people said: "Half a year of daylight is enough. Before
you brought the daylight, we lived our whole life in darkness!"
Then they thanked Crow over and over again.
To this day, the Inuit live for half a year in darkness and
half a year in daylight. And they are always kind to Crow, for
it was he who brought them the light.
A Strange Turn
By Brenda Diskin
©Brenda Diskin 1996
(First published in True
Colours - Brixton Prison magazine in June 1999)
Marie was having bad dreams, they had
been reoccurring since her grandmother died three months ago.
Marie didn't get on with her grandmother she always called her
'the old witch'; she was a very difficult woman.
Marie's grandmother, whose name was Ellie, lived in Seymour
Place and Marie thanked her lucky stars they didn't live on
the same road.
Ellie put very strict values on her life and other peoples.
She had been brought up to know the difference between right
and wrong, she had standards and she set very high boundaries.
There were certain things that good girls didn't do and Marie
had crossed these boundaries more than a few times. Marie was
nineteen and you name it she had tried it. Her worse fault was
wanting to impress her so called 'friends'. Marie was not working;
she had lost the last in a long string of jobs she had tried
since she left school. She wasn't particularly worried, she
didn't need much money. Her mum fed her and gave her a roof
over her head. When she went out she just bummed around the
streets with her mates; that was until that day just over three
Marie was walking down her
street on the way to the dole office in town, just as she turned
the corner into Seymour Place she heard someone calling her
name. As she turned around she saw her friend Jenny running
breathlessly after her. "God you walk fast" Jenny
gasped. "I thought I wasn't going to catch you. Are you
coming to the Rave tonight? The Ghouls? You know!" Marie
looked taken aback. "Oh! I'd forgotten. I thought it was
next week. I need a new dress; and the entrance fee; and other
stuff too. I don't get my dole for two days".
Jenny looked at her with
raised eyebrows. "So, what's the problem? Whenever I need
some cash I just go out and get it".
What d'you mean, go out and get it?" Marie asked, puzzled.
"Well you could go out and do a job with Brett and the
boys; usually a shop or a hotel, but there isn't enough time
for that". Jenny thought awhile. "Or; you could mug
someone; old people are a piece of cake they don't fight back".
"Mug someone? Jenny, I've never done anything like that".
But Marie was desperate.
"Catch you later then,
gotta get myself ready for tonight" Jenny grinned and sped
off in the direction from which she had come. Marie continued
on her way to the dole office.
When she got there it was
the usual rubbish, long queues.
Ellie looked at her watch,
10.15 am. Time to go for her pension. It was a bit of a trek
for someone her age, after all she was nearly eighty two years
old; and her legs didn't work as well as they used to. "Just
take it slow old girl", she said quietly to herself.
It was a good half hour
later when Marie finally reached the front of the queue. Luckily
it was straight forward and she left the dole office at 10.55.
It would take her about 10 minutes to get home. She walked fairly
quickly until she got to Seymour Place, just before her own
turning. She stopped for a while, lit a cigarette. She took
a few drags and thought about what Jenny had said. Could she
really do something like that? She stubbed out the cigarette,
as she did so she heard shuffling footsteps about to turn the
corner. Now was the time to find out.
The old lady rounded the
corner; she was moving slowly, headscarf covering most of her
face. All Marie could see was the handbag dangling from the
old lady's frail hand.
Marie pounced, grabbing the handbag. The old lady held on tight.
"This wasn't meant to happen; Jenny said it would be easy.
A piece of cake she had said". Marie lashed out hard. The
frail figure fell to the ground, hitting her head hard on the
pavement. The headscarf slipped backwards revealing the woman's
face and the blood streaming from the huge wound on the back
of her head.
Marie looked down. Staring
in disbelief at the old woman lying at her feet. It was her;
it was 'the old witch'. Realisation of what she had done hit
her like a sledgehammer. Suddenly very afraid she ran dropping
the handbag as she did so
The streets were unbelievably
quiet for this time of the morning. It was fifteen minutes before
the man found Ellie, fifteen minutes that could have made all
The police arrived a few
minutes later, followed by an ambulance, followed by Marie whose
curiosity and possible remorse had got the better of her.
Ellie was drifting in and
out of consciousness as they lifted her on to the stretcher.
A young policeman took her hand and held it. "Who did this
to you love? Did you see them?"
Ellie opened her eyes and
found herself staring into Marie's terrified face as she was
carried through the gathering crowds. But it wasn't just terror
she saw; there was something else there too. Sorrow? Compassion?
Ellie couldn't be sure. Ellie looked at the young policeman.
"I don't know who did it ", she croaked. Marie was
sure that she did know. Suddenly an overwhelming desire to hold
her grandmother and tell her that she was sorry came over Marie.
She darted forward. "Please let me go with her, I'm her
granddaughter". They placed Ellie in the ambulance and
Marie climbed in behind. Sitting next to her grandmother and
taking hold of her hand just as she slipped into complete unconsciousness.
Marie had wanted to tell
Ellie her how much she wished she could change what happened
and ask her why she didn't squeal on her. She never got the
chance her grandmother died two days later.
Marie's mother couldn't
understand why Marie was taking her grandmother's death so badly
being as she had never really liked the old girl.
Marie changed. It happened almost over night. She needed something
to take her mind off the feelings of guilt that were torturing
her. She had taken a job at the local library. At night she
shut herself in her room, she had no desire to go out.
The dreams had started almost
immediately. In the beginning she was never really sure if they
were dreams but later, as she became more and more tired through
disturbed sleep, she was convinced they were. They were always
She would see her grandmother, sat in the comfy chair that she
had refused to get rid of, at the end of her bed. It was as
though she was trying to speak to her. Ellie's mouth moved but
Marie could not hear what she was saying.
It was three months to the
day since Ellie had died. It would have been her eighty second
birthday. Marie had been feeling pretty low all day.
She got home from work;
her mum had laid her dinner on the table. Marie didn't feel
much like eating, she had picked at her food. "Mum, I'm
going to have an early night, I'm beat; Had a hard day at work".
She lied, so that her mum wouldn't think anything was wrong.
She just wanted to be on her own with her thoughts. She climbed
the stairs. Went into her bedroom and closed the door behind
She lay on her bed desperately
wanting to sleep, but sleep wouldn't come. She stood up and
walked over to the window, closing the curtains. She felt a
prickly sensation on the back of her head and neck, shivered,
wanted to look round but for some reason was afraid to do so.
She forced herself to turn and face into the room. There in
the half light sat her grandmother surrounded by an unearthly
yellow/white glow. Marie rubbed her eyes, closed them. When
she opened them again Ellie was still there, smiling. Marie
had never seen her smile before. There was a kind of whirring
and buzzing, like a radio that had slipped slightly off its
station. Then Ellie started to speak. "I forgive you Marie
and I want you to forgive me. I was so bitter, feeling I had
been dealt a rough hand in my life. I didn't take time to get
to know you. To help you through those difficult times when
you thought no one understood you. I do love you Marie and I
wish I had told you before, maybe some of this would not have
happened if I had. I just want to tell you that what you did
was wrong but in a way you did me a favour. I hadn't told anyone
that I had stomach cancer, terminal. I had been in a lot of
pain for several months, kept trying think of ways to end my
Your mother found out after I died but thought it best not to
tell you because of the way you were behaving, she thought it
would add to your grief. I'm telling you this now Marie because
I believe it will help to lift some of the guilt you are feeling.
I didn't tell the police about you because I believed you weren't
all bad and that you deserved a second chance. It's a shame
that I had to wait until I was dead to tell you all this. I
have been watching you over the last few months and I can see
you really have changed. I want you to put all this behind you
and get on with your life. I won't come again even an 'old witch'
needs her rest. I love you Marie, make me proud."
Marie smiled, suddenly feeling as though a huge weight had been
lifted from her shoulders. "I love you too gran and I'll
do my best I promise."
With that Ellie's light
started to grow dimmer until it faded almost completely. Only
a small bright star remained which darted around the room a
few times and then even that disappeared.
Marie opened the bedroom door and ran downstairs. Her mother
stood in front of the kitchen sink, she looked tired and drawn.
Marie threw her arms around her mother. "I love you mum,
everything is going to be fine from now on." She then ushered
her mother to a chair, sat her down and began to wash the dishes.
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Brenda Diskin 2008