They were trained to look up in the sky, and await its opening. For if the sky ever opened, Hydri would come down, and they would be forever relieved of their miseries. And hence, they became experts at sky themes. They could tell contrails from cirrocumulus on any clear day, and nimbostratus from stratocumulus on any rainy day. They could spot, and differentiate, all celestial spheres within unaided vision: from Canis Major to Ursula Major, and from Vulpecula to Pegasus.
And yet, for all this insight, they still stalled for Hydri.
In time, with their sky-looking sights beginning to jade, they began to envision patterns in the sky. They began to envision anthropomorphic features in the swirling clouds. On a clear day, when the ragged cumulus fractus filled the sky, they would sometimes spot a human limb. And during storms, when the calvus cumulonimbus reigned overhead, they could even delineate an entire human face, complete with tear stained cheeks through which lightning would flash. And, beholding this, they came to a conclusion: Hydri was about to arrive – and these heavenly visions were heralds.
Hence they made themselves ready for the arrival.
They stopped all earthly activities that were not essential. They came up with whole doctrines and rituals to appease Hydri. They even beamed up their instruments, and amassed resources at locating the spot in the sky from which Hydri would appear. These activities, initially a small part of their livelihood, eventually became their lifestyles. Eventually, they forgot their earlier livelihoods. Their entire paradigms changed, and they came to wake up, work, eat, sleep and dream for Hydri.
Time passed, but Hydri didn’t show up. But surprisingly, this only made their expectations all the more firm. Every day that passed provided yet another opportunity for them to immerse even more deeply into their unique paradigms. They would look up at the sky, and spot Tarf, on the Cancer constellation. And for weeks, even months afterwards, they would hold this sighting as the latest sign for the arrival of Hydri. And when Hydri failed yet again, they would look up yet again, spot another remarkable constellation, and hinge their hopes on it.
Dispassionately, their life spans on earth came to an end. They died. Hydri never showed up. But even with their departure, the legend of Hydri didn’t fade. Instead, their descendants took up the legend, nourished it, and let it thrive onwards. None of the descendants ever knew where the legend came from. But, nevertheless, the legend persisted. And, down the generations, it morphed, from a mere paradigm, into a literal world view. It became the only reality that the descendants ever knew.
The descendants still exist. They still await Hydri. Overhead, the clouds still swirl, totally indifferent. And at night, the constellations still appear, monumentally indifferent. And time still flows, shriekingly indifferent.
To be continued…
(Apologies for the long hiatus.)