This story could be about many things, but for me it is a story about birth stories...
Once upon a time there were three young women who lived in a village. In their village, it was customary that when each woman came of age she would make a journey to collect some river water.
As it happened, these three young women were all of an age, so when the time came, each of them took her gourd, farewelled her parents, and set off on her journey. The first young woman left on the first day, towards the east, the second on the second day towards the west, and the third on the third day towards the north. The villagers went about their lives, waiting for the young women to return.
After a time, the first young woman returned to the village, carrying her gourd out in front of her. The villagers gathered to meet her, eager to see the water she had collected. As she entered the village, they saw that the water in her gourd fizzed and boiled, beginning to bubble out of it even before she reached the stone bowl in the centre of the village, where she was to pour it.
The young woman managed to splash some water into the bowl, whereupon the elder gestured for her to drink some of the water. She filled her hands with water and drank, noticing the flavour of the plant dyes she had painted onto her gourd as a child.
In her time, she took the bowl and released the water back to the earth, where it fed the gourd vines that grew in the village.
After a time, the second young woman returned to the village, carrying her gourd on her shoulders. The village gathered to meet her and to see the water she had collected. She walked slowly to the centre of the village and hefted her gourd to the rim of the stone bowl. The water was thick and sticky, clinging to the inside of the gourd as she poured it out. The elder gestured for the young woman to drink some of the water, and as she did, her tongue recalled the seed oil she had stored each winter in her gourd.
In her time, she released the water to the earth and the vines.
The villagers waited some time for the third young woman, beginning to worry, until eventually she appeared, carrying her gourd on her head. She stopped at the edge of the village, unwilling to approach. Seeing that she was wounded, the elder went to her.
“Elder,” she said in a small voice. "I have no water. On my way to the river a storm sprang up, bringing trees and rocks down across my path.”
The elder listened, and then to the young woman's surprise, took her by the hand and led her to the stone bowl, gesturing for her to pour. After a moment the young woman took down her gourd, tilted it, and saw water tumbling from it into the bowl.
The elder nodded.
Hesitantly, the young woman leaned over the bowl, drawing water into her mouth. And among a multitude of flavours, she tasted rain and storm...and river.