ILLU AND SHEERA
by Tala Bar
In the old days, connections between the gods in heaven and the people on earth were much stronger than they are today. The gods and goddesses were not satisfied with rituals and sacrifices but had direct relations with human beings; some of them even had love affairs with them.
That was how it happened that one day a young god came down to earth and went traveling on it, getting to know the people and the different lands they lived in. Because Earth is a much more interesting place than Heaven, where everything is the same, even though Heaven is a really glorious place; but Earth has hills and valleys, trees and rivers, mountains and seas, which one can never find in Heaven.
So, the young god, whose name was Illu, went roaming the earth, meeting many people of all kinds – young and old, white and black, men and women. Being young, he was particularly interested in young maidens, and one day one of those captured his eye.
She was small, with a shock of red hair on her head, and bright green eyes shining in her pear-shaped face; she was not too slim but full in the right places, quick and smooth in her movement like water in a brook. Her name was Sheera, which meant "poetry" in the language of her people.
Illu thought that name suited her more than anything else, and as soon as he got to know Sheera, he began courting her in a way he had never done before. That does not mean he had not slept with any of the women he had met, but never more than once, because he had never been really interested in any of them. Something in Sheera, though, made Illu more shy and cautious than when he was with any of the other women; he felt forced to approach her in a gentle way, talk softly to her and try to present himself in the best way possible.
Sheera, on the other hand, though not showing it outright, was immediately impressed with Illu. He was really the handsomest man (not knowing him to be a god) she had ever met, taller than average, with golden hair and brilliant blue eyes; his body was muscular to show him a proper man, but not too coarse to hide his more spiritual qualities. He had just the right balance to attract any young girl who happened to be in his company.
Nothing prevented Sheera and Illu from getting together, except Sheera’s mother who had an iron-like character. “We don’t know where he's come from," she said; "and we don't know when he might leave the village and go back to his roaming,” she protested to her daughter, when Sheera told her they were in love with each other.
The girl shrugged, and the two continued to meet when Sheera had finished her work in the house or in the field; sometimes Illu had even joined her, as he had nothing else to do, not bothering about village people jeering at him. At night, as it was summertime and the weather dry and warm, they slept together outside, as her room in the house was too hot and stuffy.
One day, a disaster struck the village. A monster, known from the far old days, had appeared suddenly without any notice. It started preying first on livestock from the village, then on people who were not careful enough and got too close to its lair. One old and infirm man was devoured first, then a couple of children, and no one knew where it was going to end.
The village people were in uproar, and Sheera talked to Illu about the trouble. “Nothing to it,” the young god said. “Things will soon be mended.”
He took his spear and went to fight the monster, which soon recognized Illu's origin and said to him, “You can’t fight me, Illu, your people have recognized this a long time ago. Go away or I’ll kill you.”
“You can’t kill me, I am a god!” protested young Illu, who did not really know very much about such things. He fought the monster very bravely, but he was doomed, as had been decreed in the old days. So he was killed; but afterward the monster went away to feed in other pastures.
Sheera was overcome by great sorrow, crying her eyes out over her lover’s dead body. She could not be comforted until she was astonished to realize that Illu’s body did not remain as it was. As she was lying on top of it, inhaling his fresh blood, the body melted in her arms and turned into a sheaf of light rays. These shone and spread until they filled her vision, then rose in the direction of heaven, where they vanished, leaving the girl dumbfounded.
Within a couple of months, Sheera realized she was pregnant, and at the end of her time she gave birth to a son, whose face glowed at birth. This son was called Nimrod, and he grew up to be the greatest hunter and hero of his time.
TALA BAR: I am a writer and artist and I live in Israel. I studied Hebrew and English languages and literature and hold an M.Phil. degree in literature from London University. My main interest is mythology, but I also write fantasy and science fiction stories, novellas and books, many of which have been published in print and on the Net, both in Hebrew and English. A link to my Online list of published writings is in Tala's Space:
I have also had a few stories published by your magazine. Contact Tala.