This print illustrates Part 2 of the story of Aib, Meuram and Zogo Ni Pat. Part 1 of the story relates to the print Meuram ene Zogo Ni Pat – see https://www.canopyart.com.au/product/meuram-and-zogo-ni-pat-colour-edition/
This is a story of my people, the Meuram people of northeastern Erub Island, also known as Darnley Island, in the eastern-most Torres Strait, we call Zenadh Kes. Three other tribes on the island border our au nener (traditional neighbours) Samsep, Saisarem and Peiudu people; west and the south west of our land respectfully. The Samsep, Peiudu and Meuram share everything to this day.
Many years passed and the old zogo le warned the now new principal village chief that the people of the Meuram tribe were going to face another predicament soon. But after living many years with good fortune they were not worried by the warnings and became complacent and lazy, even the “lukar le” (guards) who would normally stand guarding the sacred zogo ni became unreliable. This undisciplined behavior soon angered the spirit of the sacred water.
One day a man named Aib from the neighboring Samsep tribe was out and about fishing in his little canoe just off the reef outside Bumeo where he lived. When he was paddling back to Bumeo from the outer reefs he noticed a constant flickering, shinning light from the northeast, where the Meuram village of Keirari is. He asked himself, “What could that be? What could the Meuram people have in their village?” Aib was curious of what the light could be because the Meuram people had kept the zogo ni a secret, he and his village had no idea that the zogo ni existed.
Aib lived as a loner away from his Samsep tribal people who principally stayed at Mogor, Seim and Med villages west of Bumeo. So Aib moored his canoe and waited for the tide to go down, when the tide was “meskep” (low tide) he saw that the meuram peoples were spearing fish and collecting shellfish. He made his way towards Keirari were he hide behind a stonefish trap called “Sai” outside a place called “Mei” close by to Keirari. Once again, he checked if anybody was at Keirari, sure enough no one was there. They were out tending to their gardens in the hills. Aib said to himself, “This is my chance”. He snuck into Keirari and saw the sacred big bailer shell full of the story water hanging from the wongai tree. Aib grabbed the big bailer shell and drank some.
Realizing it gave him strength he put it on his head and ran off, this time making his way along the beach heading towards his abode at Bumeo.As Aib ran along the waterfront he would stop to drink from the bailer shell carelessly spilling sacredwater along the ground. Aib eventually crossed the Meuram and Samsep boarder (au nenerr) at “Geb Paikia” (Geb Point) into the safety of his tribal territory, or so he thought. Aib then proceeded past his hut at the waterfront into the jungle near the foothills of “Auzipat” (which meant valley of caterpillars). There in a secluded spot Aib sat down and drank all the sacred water to quench his thirst from his ordeal. With his belly full of the sacred water it became swollen. So big he couldn’t move so he lay there and slept.
Strangely this was the first time the sacred bailer shell became empty. During this time the Meuram people in the “gedub” (gardens) and on the reef looked towards their village and could not see the flashing light of their scared water, a strange feeling came upon them and they rushed back to Keirari. When they got back and noticed the scared water was gone there was a big commotion “someone has taken our zogo ni” they cried out. The village chief was shown Aib’s footprint tracks. “Arm the warriors” was the chief’s order, “find our sacred water and bring the thief back to face justice”.
The Meuram warriors armed themselves and set off after Aib following his foot prints. As they followed the tracks, they noticed that Aib had stopped along the way to drink their precious sacred water. Soon the Meuram warriors arrived at Geb Pakia, the boarder line separating the Samsep and Meuram tribes. As they stood there the “Kerem ares le” (the head warrior) said “the thief has already crossed over to the Samsep tribe’s territory, our sacred water is in his country now and we cannot cross over unless we are given permission or invited across with or by a Samsep tribal member”. (Tribal custom of Erubian people)
But the younger warriors wouldn’t accept this saying that he broke the law first by crossing over to our territory and stealing our “zogo ni”. The young warriors noticed that he had not gone far. Noticing his hut was nearby they argued with the head warrior saying, “Mimi baba abi mimur abi o ged ge a easaki abi” (“Chief let us go after him in his own country and we shall cut him off from living on”). The chief warrior succumbed to the younger warriors and they crossed over to the Samsep boarder (they named this place where the Meuram warriors crossed “Mimur” and that name remained there till this day).
So, the warriors followed Aib’s tracks along the beachfront of Bumeo but noticed that his footprints had gone deeper into the thick scrub. Onwards they went following Aibs tracks until they came upon him where he was laying asleep amongst the fallen “Sok sok” (dry leaves) of the Bumeo jungle. As the Meuram warriors observed Aib and his surroundings they noticed that their big sacred izer shell was empty of the story water for the first time. When the Meuram warriors noticed this, they were filled with anger. The chief warrior was furious and told the other warriors, “This is because we the Meuram people didn’t guard our sacred “zogo ni”. He then took his “kus bagerr” (fighting spear) and stuck Aibs swollen belly, immediately the scared water gushed out and became the sacred “Bumeo ni pat” (Bumeo springs), which never runs dry until this day. The water that Aib spilled along the way to Bumeo became tiny water holes that dries up in the dry season.
This story teaches Erubam people and everyone else determination and loyalty. Furthermore, it places emphasis on the value of cultural traditions and spiritual connections, in reflection to the turtle hunting. The story reminds us the importance of commitment and not getting too complacent. It perpetuates that revenge is not paramount where committing wrong doings leave us worse off. Teaching us not to envy others that may induce us to do wrong doings.
Lastly my uncle and other elders of Erub wondered why the Bumeo wells water is slightly brackish. “The answer is simply the origin of the water comes from a coral sand cay as per our legend”.