tale by Lobwij Lorak
Note: The interviewee is noted by initials, the interviewer by [Q].
Killing the Demon Lutil on Arno Atoll
[LL] I am Lobwij Lorak, I am going to tell you a story that happened here, in Arno Atoll. However, this story happened on Ajeltokirok, a small town on Metal, Arno. It is about a woman who stayed there on Metal and had her body parts fall off—her legs, her hands… She eats [only] when her neighbors spoon food in her mouth. One time, her neighbors spooned food in her mouth. A few days later, her neighbors no longer fed her by hand. Instead, they threw food into her mouth. She ate a whole breadfruit or fish or a coconut. There is a name for that kind of person, it is called onenak or mejenkwaad—it is the kind of person who turns into a monster or has malicious spirits inside.
At that time, this old woman -- named Lutil -- stayed healthy but had no legs or arms. The people on Metal buried her on Ane-Koreaj, located on the easternmost part of Metal, but they knew that she was not dead. They threw her into the hole and buried her with rocks—on Metal, you will find rock piles more than you will find sand. Before they buried her, they said, “Lutil, we love you. We will miss you.”
And, she responded to the people, she said, “I won’t miss you because tonight, I will come and accompany you in spirit.”
She did what she said. Later that evening, she rose from the grave and gathered utak [coconut stalk]. She gathered lots of utak and burned them to be able to see at night. There is a word for torch and it is called kuwaal—this is burned utak wrapped with coconut fronds.
So, Lutil prepared her torch, burned it, and took it with her on her way to Metal. That is where she lit the torch, on Ajeltokrok, Metal. The first night, she haunted everyone on Rimeto, starting from six o’clock [when the sun goes down] to three o’clock the next morning. At three, she returned to her grave, on Ane-Koreaj. Everyone there in Metal didn’t sleep the whole night because they were so very scared.
The next night, Lutil did the same thing but this time she did it to the people on Ine—a village sitting west of Metal. She haunted the residents there on Ine... However, the people on Metal fled their homes and settled on the western part of Ine. After Lutil scared the people in these two parts of Ajeltokrok, the chieftess Luwaito -- along with chiefs Joklur and Tobo Kaibuke -- met to find a way to stop the disturbance the monster was causing.
They asked an old man named Molkaan. So Molkaan responded to the chiefs’ and chieftess’ request and called his son, Lajuan. And, Lajuan told his son, Lorak. Together, the three performed some fortune-telling to forecast their attack to kill the demon. So, the first day, when they raised the coconut husk -- to divine the future for an early morning attack at eight o’clock the next day -- it was heavy. They repeated this for the nine o’clock hour, but the coconut husk was still heavy; again for ten o’clock, it was still heavy; for eleven o’clock it was still heavy. For the whole first day, the husk was found to be too heavy.
On the third night, Lutil scared the people on Metal, Arno. She gathered herself lots of utak, wrapped them, and burned them. This time, she haunted the residents of Japo—a village to the west of Ine. By now, Lutil had haunted residents from the east in Jepal westward to Japo, thus the residents fled their homes to find a safe shelter there on Ine, the middle part of the island. Some of the residents stayed with chief Tobo, northeast of Ine, while others stayed with chieftess Luwaito on northwest of Ine. So the three designated warriors continued preparing their weapons.
The second day, the three warriors checked the predictions, again—the word bubu means to raise a coconut husk. They forecasted the best time to attack the demon. They tried for the next morning, but the coconut husk was heavy; they tried again for the afternoon, still the husk was heavy; and later for the afternoon, but for three o’clock, the husk was found to be light.
Then they forecasted the best type of weapon to be used to kill the demon, and found that the pandanus trunk would be best used for the weapon. The forecast revealed to them that the kind of pandanus trunk they would need must be the kind of trunk that had been soaked underwater for months and hollowed out—and, yes, it must be hollow inside the trunk. It had to be soaked for months, and hollow inside like a PVC pipe.
Well, that was the type of weapon to be used to kill the demon, Lutil—the woman who was now a monster. So the three warriors set out from the northwest of Ine to Metal, Arno, paddling on their canoe. Then they paddled from Metal to Ane-Koreaj. They paddled, paddled, paddled, and paddled. When they approached Ane-Koreaj, they paddled a little more and came ashore at Lutil’s graveyard. They got out of the canoe and forecasted a hiding place for the canoe.
The forecast revealed to them that it was safe to leave the canoe where it had landed. They started to find a hiding spot for themselves, so they performed another forecast…and this revealed that it was safe for them to hide underneath the ere [the inside of the large hull of a canoe] because the monster couldn’t see them.
They hid underneath the ere since they had arrived at six o’clock in the evening. At six o’clock, the three warriors saw the monster preparing its torch. They saw everything the monster was doing. They watched the monster peel off the utak, slice it into pieces, wrap and tie all the pieces, and then light it. Then she walked to the shore and stood next to the canoe, circled it, and whispered to herself, “This is a nice piece of driftwood, or maybe I could use it as firewood to cook everyone on Arno and eat them.”
Then she circled the canoe one more time, while the three men were hiding underneath the ere—Molkaan, Lajuan, and Lorak. They were listening to the monster talking to itself. At six-thirty, the monster walked towards the water with her torch and started to swim to Ine. It knew that all the residents from Metal and Japo had moved to Ine... From hut to hut, she jumped to the roof, pulled up a string of thatch, and shoved her torch inside. Then she walked her way northeast to the meeting hut, on irooj Tobo’s land.
The residents were scared and kept an eye on the monster through their windows. The monster continued what it was doing until three o’clock the next morning, and returned to Ane-Koreaj at three o’clock. As she walked ashore, nearing the canoe on shore Ane-Koreaj, she turned to the water and threw her torch in. Then she turned to the canoe and said to herself, “This is a nice piece of driftwood, or I might use it as firewood to cook everyone on Arno and eat them.” This time, she added few details of her plans. She said to herself that she planned to kill all the people and feed on them.
On Ine, the people got up early the next morning, set out to gather food... because that was the only thing they could do, prepare food because, later in the afternoon, at three o’clock or four o’clock, they needed to be secure inside their house. They couldn’t go out after three or four o’clock, the people on northeast and southeast of Ine... The three men listened to the monster talking to herself. She said, “Well... They don’t know anything. Tonight, I’m going to kill everyone.” The entire population of Arno could’ve been wiped out by the monster... So the men listened to everything she said... It was the very last day for them to kill the monster.
After five in the afternoon that day, almost six o’clock, they set out to attack the demon... “Too bad they know nothing. Tomorrow I’m going to kill everyone. And when I start here, I will end at Aur and follow on to other Ratak atolls all the way to the Kapin Meto region.” And, the monster headed to its grave to rest. When she arrived, she stood on her grave for a while, while the men prepared to attack her with their weapon made out of a pandanus trunk. As the monster sat on her grave, she started sink into the ground just like a tooth-pick can puncture a cake to check if it’s cooked, pushing it down… And as she was about to disappear into the ground, Lorak came out of the bush and lifted the panadanus trunk and ran towards the grave with his weapon aimed at the demon’s head. Suddenly, the trunk plunged all the way through the demon’s head...
A few moments later, a kwoleej [a bird people in the RMI believe is related to demons] flew out of nowhere and cried “kwoleej”... It flew and dropped in front of the men. They grabbed it, observed its body, and noticed a hole on the bird’s chest, indicating that the demon was dead. They thought, “See! It’s dead.” They threw away the kwoleej, headed to shore with their canoe, pushed it out into the water, and paddled. They also took with them their weapon heading back to Ine. And this is the end of the story I wanted to share with you. Again, I wanted to say Iakwe, my name is Lobwij Lorak from Arno Atoll.