The Man from Aluk Whose Heart Burst When He Saw The Sun Rise Over His Own Village

A tale is told about a man from Aluk who never left the place where he was born. So much did he love his own little village that he never wanted to go other places, even while hunting; but truly he did never starve there.

The man had a son. And when he grew up he realized that never in his whole life had he been outside Aluk. When their fellow villagers went out on hunting expeditions, he wished so often that he could go with them, but as he loved his father very much, he never showed his disappointment. Now and then he tried to awaken his father's wish for traveling but his father always replied, "From the moment that I took land on Aluk I cannot remember ever having left it". Every time, when the other young people traveled to distant places, they were left alone and the son became silent.

During the mid-summer, when the sun rose over the horizon, the father was not able to sleep in the mornings. It is told that this was because he had to see how the sun rose above the sea, and how the rays splintered against the icebergs. This sight went so deeply to his heart and was the reason he could not leave his village.

Years went by and the father grew old and could no longer go hunting. So the son had to take care of the hunting alone. But he could not resist his desire for travel. One spring he told his father, "This year I will leave my village and seek new views in other lands." He waited a long time for his father to answer but he remained silent. Once again the son tried to awaken his father's wish for traveling. Still he did not get a reply. Stubbornly, he decided not to give up before his father agreed to his wishes.

One day, when he returned from hunting and they were sitting waiting for the evening to come, he again tried to talk to his father, "This time I am serious; now I will leave my land and go north to seek new views in foreign places." But his father still did not answer. Finally, when the son for the second time addressed him, as there was nothing else to say, he answered, "All right, but we must not go too far north and you must promise me that we shall return to our village." Now the son was happy and got busy preparing their boat for the long journey.

At last, one morning in fine weather they started their journey towards the north. They traveled far, very far, and the further north they got, the better the son liked the land.

They traveled and traveled. This was the first time that the father had been so far away from Aluk. As the days became longer and longer the more clearly the father saw his own land in his memory. He was filled with longings and became sleepless, and in the mornings, at that time of the year when the sun rose so clearly over his village, he was no longer able to find sleep. Because he always had to get up and see if the sunrise was the same as in his own village. But always some mountains covered the horizon so that he was not able to see the sun.

At first the old man did not want to speak to his son, but at last he was no longer able to hide his longings, and he said, "Let us now return home, or I will die from longing."

It was difficult for the son to turn back now because the northern lands had become more and more beautiful. Nevertheless, because his father kept repeating his words, he turned the boat around and started to travel south.

Even as they got closer and closer to home, his father's health became weaker. He almost never slept, and when the sun came up in the mornings, his father was always walking around outside the tent. They traveled and traveled and at last they were home again in their own village.

Very early the next morning the son woke up and heard his father's voice, "No wonder I felt it was so difficult to leave Aluk! See the big sun when it is rising over the sea and it's rays are reflected against the icebergs so brilliantly!"

The son heard the old man cry out several times with joy, and then become silent. The son listened carefully for a long time, but his father, who was just outside the door of the tent, was silent. Then he got up and drew back the door. There he saw the old man lying on the ground with his face towards the sun. And when the son raised his father's head, he did not breathe anymore.

In this way the old man met the sun at his village. His happiness was so big that his heart burst. The son, who felt guilty about his father's death, built him a grave on the mountain with the view his father had loved so much when he was alive.

It is told that the son became like his father, and that he never again left his village, but stayed in Aluk until he died.

And here ends this story.

Translated from Knud Rasaussen: Myter og sagn fra Grønland, Vol. 2, p.23-25 (1924).