He was an ancient Hokkien god who had been worshipped by the people who lived near the waterfall. They prayed to him for silver fish and for strong rotan to hold the river back.
The year he fell in love with the boy, the people saw an endless dance of rainbows and dragonflies above the waters.
The boy went to the river every evening to beat the dirt from the clothes of his family with the rushing whiteness. The Hokkien god would transform himself into a dragonfly and dance around him with inexplicable joy.
But the boy was oblivious. His eyes were heavy with expectations and dreams to escape into the real world. Buy a motorbike, get a job, buy an electric blender for his aunts.
After several months, the Hokkien god became angry at his indifference. His rage beat down upon the rocks in iron sheets of rain and churning water. His hurt pride pushed the rotan stems to their point of breaking, and tore them from their roots. The river heaved and the waterfall hammered, and the mossy stone boulders fell away like old teeth.
One by one, the kampung houses were crunched up by the violent river. The boy’s house was the third last to fall. With it, the river took the boy’s two aunts, their five cats, three chickens, and the boy himself.
And when their broken bodies were beaten on the rocks like the clothes he used to wash, the Hokkien god began to weep gentle tears for fourteen days.
Today, the river is tame and unremarkable. The people say it has lost its soul. The fish are black, and the rotan is weak. And there are no rainbows.
But every year, in the month of September, the skies would weep a gentle rain for fourteen days. And in between the shivering drops, you could almost see an ancient Hokkien god, dancing as a dragonfly.
23 Feb 2014