Land of a Million Elephants

The Squeaky Robot

While in the small city of Pakse, a man named Akamu told me a story. We sat in a noodle shop at lunchtime draining our hot bowls of their contents. Every ten seconds a rotating fan found our table, blowing our dirty napkins away.

“It’s a story about a giant jar in the sky. How Lao people came to the earth.”

He said how a ‘big evil’ grew from the land, and at its end hung a jar that blocked the sun, casting darkness unto everything. “The gods came to cut the big evil, to give the world light.”

Only when the big evil was vanquished and the jar fell, presumably, could humans emerge from the jar. Then came the animals, the “rocks like gold and silver,” filling the world with beauty and life. The people and animals dispersed, which is supposed to account for the vast range of diversity…

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