An Erubam love story as told by Kapua Gutchen Sr.
The Iluel kab (evening star) goes back a long time before the arrival of Christian missionaries on our shores in 1871. There are some old Iluel songs and dances still being sung and performed on Erub (Darnley Island) today. However, these compositions that I have been taught are more recent pieces from 2002.
According to our ancient Erubam legend, ‘Iluel’ is a beautiful but ‘optum’ (conspicuous girl) from the Saisarem tribe of north-western Erub. Iluel’s boyfriend, ‘Meb’ (the moon) from the Meuram tribe of eastern Erub, is somewhat of a ‘saperr’ (larrikin). Meb and Iluel’s relationship is marred by ‘Atkit’ (jealousy) and Meb is suspicious of Iluel and her relationship with ‘Lim’ (the sun), who is also from the Meuram tribe. Likewise, Iluel is suspicious of Meb and her sisters. Meb tries to repair their relationship and take Iluel back to his homeland, the Meuram tribal area of eastern Erub, but because of atkit (jealousy) he is unsuccessful.
Iluel and Meb, the ‘gumik’ (sweethearts) can be seen briefly together once a month during the new moon on the Erub’s north-western skyline (the tribal area of the Saisarem tribe). However, each night after the new moon they can be seen slowly drifting further and further apart until Meb is back with his Meauram people where he appears as the full moon.
The people of Eastern Torres Strait Island call the new moon ‘Atkit Meb’ (jealous moon). The Elders of Erub believe that if you are a Meuram man with a Saisarem partner you must treat her with kindness. If you don’t she will run back to her Saisarem people of western Erub and it will be very difficult to bring her back to your tribal country.