This story is the second in a three part series about pearl myths and legends. If you haven’t already, read Part 1 first.
While sleeping under a tree one night, Katya was abruptly woken by a loud crash. She covered a lot of land since she left the village of the dragon boy a week ago, and she was tired. She needed her sleep. She didn’t have time for rowdy travelers. But then the sky above her lit up. It looked like a storm was brewing – it was as if the clouds went crazy. But then the shapes of what looked like two dragons materialized before her eyes. They were fighting!
Katya tried to make herself small. The last thing she wanted was for them to spot her and turn their attention on her. The dragons fought ferociously for what felt like ages. Then suddenly, a shiny little object fell on the ground before her. It looked like a pearl! Before she could pick it up, she heard a loud thud, and the earth trembled underneath her. The pearl rolled down the slope, and she lost sight of it. She looked up to see what could cause the earth to rumble like that, and in the distance she saw a large shape lying in a heap, surrounded by flames. When the flames died down, it was silent. Not a sound to be heard. She crept forward to the large hump to inspect what it was. It was one of the dragons.
It started to rain, so she sought shelter under the tree again. The next morning she searched the whole area for the pearl, but couldn’t find it. By midday, she was certain that the rain washed it away. Dismayed, she carried on with her journey.
That night she joined a group of gypsies. When she told them about her encounter with the dragons the previous night, they did not even bat an eyelid. “Oh, yes”, one of them said. “Pearls grow in dragons’ heads. When a dragon is slain, the pearl dislodges and falls to the earth”.
Katya was amazed that there were so many different ways a pearl could be formed. She wanted to know whether the lands to the west also had pearls, so she traveled west until she came to Persia. She was mesmerized by the hustle and bustle on the town square. Caravans were making their way to and from the square, carrying beautiful silks, spices, and jewelry. She loved the excitement and decided to make this her home – her quest for pearls temporarily forgotten.
One day in the village square, she was again reminded why she went on her quest in the first place. She overheard a father teaching his son how to be a good man. According to the Koran, if he lived a good life and strived for perfection, he would be rewarded in Paradise by pearl riches when he died. That night she lay awake for hours. The yearning for pearls found their way back into her heart. She couldn’t wait till she died to see more pearls. There was only one choice – she had to carry on with her journey.
She traveled northwest until she found a land with idyllic white beaches, called Greece. Of all the places she had visited so far, this was the most breathtaking. One day, she was sitting on the beach, staring at the splashing waves and feeling the wet breeze. She looked at the patterns the foam would make, imagining she saw figures in it. She saw a flower, a wild boar, a bird. Then she saw a face. There was something strange about this face, almost like it was real. It held her gaze like a magnet. The face started to take form, it turned into a head, and then a body of a woman materialized out of the foam. Was she dreaming?
She wasn’t. The woman walked out of the foam and onto the beach. She was crying. Alarmed and wary, Katya called out to her: “Why are you crying?”
“Because I am so happy”, the woman said. “I’m not trapped anymore. How can I not shed my tears?”
And then Katya saw it again: the tears of this woman turned into pearls. “What’s your name?” Katya asked.
“Aphrodite. And I’m the goddess of love.”
Aphrodite was magnetic. Love blossomed wherever she went. Katya herself had many suitors, but the affection she felt for them did not come near her love for the road. She realized her true love was traveling, and of course, pearls.
This fictional story is based on true myths and legends. We know, we know. Pearls aren’t really formed by gods and mythical creatures. But please give Katya time to figure it out for herself while she time-travels between the different scenes.