Reprinted with permission from "How the Children Became Stars" by Aaron Zerah, published by Sorin Books.
The original people of Australia tell the story of Bamapama, the crazy man. He lived in the Dreamtime where anything is possible.
Bamapama's people dwelled underground in a place where the sun stayed in one place all day long. It never went down and it was always very hot.
Bamapama decided one time to go up to the surface of the earth. "I'll go hunting," he said. When he got to the top he saw a big kangaroo. Bamapama started chasing it. But Bamapama couldn't get close enough to throw his spear, so as the kangaroo ran away to the west, Bamapama followed. The day was long and the sun was going down further and further in the sky. The kangaroo stopped running and Bamapama caught up to it. He was about to throw his spear when the sun fell completely below the horizon. It was now dark.
Bamapama had never seen night before. Where he lived it was always light. He became very frightened. Bamapama started to cry. He climbed a tree to see if he could find light high above, but it was dark there, too. So he climbed down the tree and fell asleep.
When he woke up the next day it was morning, and the sky was light again. Bamapama was full of joy. Looking at the sun, he said, "Here they sleep at night and rise with the sun. This is a good way."
Bamapama went back home and everyone wanted to know where he had been. He told them all about chasing the kangaroo, the setting of the sun, and how when he woke up from the dark night, it was light in the sky once more. "Come and see," he said. "It's very different. You sleep at night and then the sun is up again. It is a good way to live."
He led all the people to the surface of the earth. The darkness came, the people were frightened, and like Bamapama, they, too, started climbing up trees. Bamapama said, "Don't be scared!" and the people came down and slept.
When the sun rose the next morning, the people stretched out in its warm rays. They said, "This is a good way to live. Much better than living under the earth where it is always so hot. And here if we get cold we can get wood from the trees and make a fire. This is a good place to stay."
So Bamapama and the people stayed above the ground in the new place.
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