He wanted the moon to hang in the little backyard of his hut. As a kid, his curiosity over the elusive moon that showed up every night in different shapes knew no bounds. He would sneak out on his sleeping mother to the backyard trying to catch hold of the moon but it always seemed to be out of his reach. Sometimes, he dragged the wooden stool from the corner of his hut to the backyard, climbed on it, and then leaped higher only to get wounded in the end.
His small, secluded tribal village at the brink of the woods always grew pitch-dark after nightfall. Far from any civilization, all the village knew was hunting. At four, he had to be trained as a hunter as he had lost his father to a pack of wolves deep in the woods. He never played as did other kids. He hunted twice during the day and went to the gathering grounds to trade meat with the other hunters. The only time he ever relaxed was when his mother cooked meat over open fire. As she occasionally looked up at the moon, that serene white light brought a tranquil smile on her sweaty face while he sat there wondering how ecstatic she would feel if the moon were hanging in the backyard.
One night, he missed the presence of the moon so badly he woke her up and asked yearningly, “Ma, why aren’t we born like the moon? Why can we not see each other in the dark? I have to wait until dawn to see your face. I wish we had the moon with us here. Why aren’t we brighter like him? Do we have to be up above like him to look brighter?”
She stroked his cheek, saying, “We cannot be like him, dear. We cannot catch him either. He is so high that only the person who climbs the Skybreaker can touch him. But no one climbs the Skybreaker. He is the demon tree that casts bad spells on those who try to climb him. He is solely responsible for all evil deeds in the world. Nobody can conquer him. Many of our elders died trying. So, forget it and go to sleep.”
“But I want to catch the moon!” he persisted, “He is the only hope for us to see light in the dark. Don’t you like to see our faces glow every night?”
“Don’t be adamant! Go sleep now!” she chided him.
Ever since that night, a full blown resolve hit his mind. He spent half his hunting time around the Skybreaker bushwhacking. The mere upward glance from the base of the majestic tree intimidated him. At twilight, when other hunters went back to the village, he would start climbing it. Sometimes, his arms twisted, bones cracked, hands bled from running into sharp wedges, legs scratched by the merciless crusts but he wouldn’t budge. Sometimes, he slipped from stepping on weak spots or from spewing snake attacks. Every time he slipped and hit the wild below, he meticulously nursed his wounds and climbed again.
His mother began worrying as he claimed he got wounded while hunting. She wanted him to join the elders for few days but he resisted. Days rolled by. She sensed he meandered a lot and hunted less these days because he came home with very little meat, some days empty-handed. She was also worried that he had stopped talking to her, constantly obsessing over something during nights. Years rolled by and he had practised hard enough to climb to the point where the wild stopped. So, he felt it was time he went the full-monty.
The dawn broke. He decided there was no turning back. In the backyard, he erected a wooden pole with a hook, equipped himself, kissed his mother goodbye, and embarked into the woods.
He never returned for days together. And she cried for help. News had spread across the village and people foraged into the woods looking for him. Elders gave up by declaring he would have been picked up by wolves as the curse on his father had passed onto him.
Suddenly, one evening, a little girl on the gathering grounds spotted someone climbing towards the Skybreaker’s peak. People gathered in shock and awe witnessing the unthinkable. The chill air numbed his body but the distant roar warmed him up for an indomitable rise to the top. Once he climbed there, people started cheering festively watching his dark silhouette touch the full moon. They bowed down for conquering the evil by clinching the peak. However, he felt dreadfully dispirited that the moon was a bit too far. In light of the truth, he looked down with a smile that brought an unsurpassable glow on his face.