This story is the first in a three part series about pearl myths and legends.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a young girl by the name of Katya. Katya lived in the same village for all of her short life. She was happy, but she was restless and felt as if something was missing from her life. Every night she would look up to the sky and wonder what the world outside of her little village held. One night around the campfire, a visiting traveler told them about pearl legends and myths. He described a pearl as a gift the gods would bestow on worthy guardians to look after and cherish. For months, pearls occupied her thoughts until it almost became an obsession. One day, she said goodbye to her family and set out on a quest in search of this intriguing gem.
She traveled many moons until she came to a beautiful village by the sea. As she walked towards the village, she saw a lively procession on their way to the beach. Curious, she asked a bystander what was happening. He told her that today was the wedding of Pandaia, the daughter of the Hindu god, Krishna. He went on to say that Krishna recently made the most amazing discovery of all humankind: he descended into the ocean and found a lustrous gem more beautiful than what anybody have seen before. Intrigued by the story, Katya found a hiding spot behind a rock from where she could observe the wedding proceedings unnoticed. There was so much color, so much joy. The bride was pure and radiant. At the end of the ceremony, Krishna stepped forward and hung a round, white gem around his daughter’s neck. At that moment, Pandaia was the most beautiful woman Katya had ever seen.
Katya decided she needed to know more about this gem. Was it the same gem the traveler told them about – a pearl? She stayed in the village for a few days and questioned everyone she could about the gem. She found out that the gem was indeed called a pearl, but according to the villagers, this was the first and the only pearl ever found. Dissatisfied, Katya needed to know whether it was true. If the traveler knew about pearls, then there must be more. She wanted to see more pearls. She needed to.
The next morning, she set out before sunrise on the path to the east, where she was told she would find a land called China. After many more moons on the road, she found a village next to a dry river. The area was dry and barren. She found out that a drought had plagued the village for months. Despite the drought, the people were happy and well-fed. They did not seem as if they were in want of anything. Katya may still have been young, but she had seen a drought or two, and these villagers did not look like they were experiencing a drought. So, why was this village seemingly unaffected?
That night in the tavern she heard the rumors. A young boy – a former grass cutter by trade – was looking after the people in need. As the story went, the boy’s mother fell sick, and he had to work to provide for them both. When the drought struck, the grass died, and the boy could not sell grass anymore. For a few weeks they barely scraped by, and then one day, everything changed. Suddenly, they boy and his mother had enough food – not only for themselves but enough to help the neighbors out as well.
Two shady fellows in the corner started to take a keen interest in the conversation. They probed for more information, but no one knew anything else. When the stable boy, who was a friend of the grass cutter, came in, they turned their interrogation on him. Intimidated, he reluctantly told them everything he knew: One day, the boy found a magical pearl in the ground under a fertile patch of grass. He took the pearl home and hid in a jar under a few rice kernels. The next day, the jar was filled to the brim with rice. Since that day, the boy and his mother would place the pearl in any food jar that was running low, and the next day it will be full.
The shady fellows decided then and there to pay the boy a visit and marched out of a tavern with a mission. It was clear they wanted to steal the pearl. Katya ran after them in the hopes of being able to assist the boy and his mother. But she was too late. By the time she got there, the men were already trying to pry the pearl from the boy’s hands. Desperate, the boy threw the pearl into his mouth and swallowed it. He almost choked, and his throat became very dry. He ran to the river to drink water. While he was drinking, lightning struck the boy out of nowhere, and before their very eyes, the boy turned into a dragon.
The boy dragon became the protector of the river; the river was never dry again. When Katya left the village later that week, she looked back over her shoulder and was amazed at how green the village was compared to how she found it.
This fictional story is based on true myths and legends. Although we’d love to tell Katya that pearls are now farmed and she can just buy them online, she needs to finish her own journey. Oh, and then there’s the fact that she’s not real.