The tale of Anday and Tavitih
Among the most popular legends told by the natives on the remote island of Oligoamory are the tales about Anday and Tavitih
One of the best known is this one:
Anday and Tavitih were two
young Oligoamorists who loved each other and who already were living
together for some while.
[Sometimes this story is told concerning already three or four affiliated lovers – but also on the island of Oligoamory some communities start by two people whose coming together establishes the smallest possible unit – and for the sake of simplicity I am going to tell this version today.]
Once, one morning, Anday awoke and spoke to Tavitih: “I had a very restless night, I hardly slept at your side. In the middle of the night I was even afraid in the dark – because I imagined half sleeping that there was something foreign in you.”
On that account Tavitih became very thoughtful, sat down pensively by Anday’s side at their table in the middle of the house and said: “I met Nabiku yesterday when I was travelling. It was a good day and we talked a lot to each other on the way. This morning I think I fell in love with Nabiku – and Nabiku in me as well. I wanted to tell you about it yesterday, but I was not sure what exactly had happened. I realise now that I should have told you immediately.”
“Yes,” said Anday, “now I can understand all this much better. You know – tonight – there it seemed to me, as if an unknown kind of power emanated from you. Like an energy or a kind of aura that I’ve never felt in you before. And at night I was insecure, because this influence was unknown to me and therefore seemed so strange and I was scared.”
“You have probably already felt the emerging affection, however small it might have been, from me to Nabiku”, said Tavitih, “as I felt it myself, even though I couldn’t name it then. This shows me how close our connection is, between you, Anday, and me, Tavitih. Our ancestors would smile – as the ancient Oligoamorists said – because the both of us have already established our ‘mutual we’ – especially if you are able to sense it as quickly as I do when it is stirred! “
“It may be as you say, dear Tavitih,” said Anday. “But last night it seemed to me more than just that. There was a moment, in which it seemed to me as if you had brought more than just yourself back home from your hike… “
“Oh, yes, you wisely sensed this new emerging connection …!” Tavitih exclaimed.
“No, it seemed to me in the midnight hour for a moment, as if you had brought along a proper guest, who then shared our bed next to me – but the moment passed – and because I still couldn’t understand what I know about you this morning, I was scared. “
In this way, Tavitih realised that Nabiku had already entered their house on the way of the heart and that Anday’s soul had noticed that instantly.
But Anday spoke cheerfully: “Let’s visit Nabiku today and tell me about your walk. And the two of you should also explore and nurture your new connection and see where it will lead you and us. Because the unknown is always the new with whom you didn’t have become acquainted yet. And it may well be new – but it should not stay alien any longer! “
So it happened that
Anday and Nabiku immediately heard about each other as they met
shortly afterwards. And Anday recognised what Tavitih appreciated
about Nabiku, for Tavitih was truly familiar with Anday.
But there were also parts of Nabiku that Anday understood less – and a hint of doubt touched Anday, if Tavitih’s heart was really that predictable…
Nevertheless, during the following nights, Anday slept more quietly at Tavitih’s side, because Anday now knew about Nabiku and their new affection.
However, the unknown did not give way as easily as Anday had hoped, for the alien traits of Nabiku seemed to establish alien traits in Tavitih. For example, Anday observed that Tavitih was now doing a lot of water-trekking with Nabiku, something that Anday and Tavitih had never done before. That’s why Anday finally spoke to Tavitih:
“You often go water-trekking with Nabiku. We never did that. Of course I know well that you like being in nature. If you had the urge to go water-trekking, then you could have revealed that to me – then you could have been trekking with me ever since”
Tavitih replied, “I always knew that water-trekking meant almost nothing to you. Therefore it would never have occurred to me to press you with this request. Nabiku is water-trekking a lot, though, so I noticed again by the side of Nabiku that I, too, like to do it.”
In this way, Anday realised that each new person represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
And Anday also realised
that a new world would always contain a lot of the unknown and thus
alien – so it would take time to get used to it – or even to love
When Anday revealed this to Tavitih, Tavitih realised in turn that concerning Nabiku not only a new connection, not just a new person, but a whole new world had come into their house.
And Anday and Tavitih both recognised why the ancient Oligoamorists never spoke lightly of that “mutual we” in which “mine”, “yours”, “his” and “hers” could become “ours”.
The story of Anday, Tavitih and Nabiku, however, luckily succeeded because all three learned together in this way, what it meant to be connected and affected despite differences. And that when the differences of Nabiku entered into the relation between Anday and Tavitih, a new “mutual we” arose, which was different from the one that had previously existed only between Anday and Tavitih.
Now – as stories go – it happened that some time later Anday fell passionately in love with Mowin. Hence, right the next week there were Tavitih, trembling and shaking wide awake on the bed with Nabiku that night. When Nabiku asked in alarm what the reason was, Tavitih said:
“I slept peacefully by your side when a sound seemed to wake me in the dark. I turned to you half sleeping – but there you were no longer. Instead there was Mowin right by my side and looked at me with wide open eyes!”
Nabiku tried to reassure Tavitih by recollecting the story how Anday once had almost fared in the same way. Inside, however, Nabiku was a little worried, as there were no deeper affections for Mowin in Nabiku yet, although Mowin was a familiar friend. Had Anday brought Mowin’s presence to their house to such an extent already?
Tavitih kept on sleeping badly, and it is well known that bad sleep generates irritability, so that after a few days eventually there was an argument between Anday and Tavitih about some trivial matter. But even arguing with Anday, which often led to general clarity afterwards, did not seem to work for Tavitih, all too bothering seemed this “new world” of Mowin that day. That’s why it finally broke out of Tavitih:
“It seems to me, Anday, as if I was arguing not with you but with Mowin! Mowin is always as irritable and sensitive as you are today and dominant moreover. And like Mowin, you’re twisting all my arguments and playing intellectual tricks!”
But because Anday and Tavitih were truly familiar with each other since a long time, they managed to settle that dispute in the end – but to Tavitih the overall alienation simply did not vanish. Thus, as Nabiku brushed Tavitih’s hair the next day, Tavitih wheeled around confused and exclaimed:
“That’s how I saw Mowin brushing hair: complacent and without feeling. How can you, Nabiku, mimic Mowin it in such a way?”
Nabiku and Anday were very terrified by these events and immediately turned to a wise old Oligoamorist, whether he could speak to Tavitih, especially for the sake of the “mutual we, which seemed to be in danger.
The oligoamorous elder accepted this request and invited Tavitih to the Hearthfire of Stories in the middle of the village the next evening – where he inquired directly about Mowin.
Tavitih immediately exclaimed: “That Mowin seems almost omnipresent to me! Mowin is proud and self-opinionated – and on top of it all that even seems to attract Anday… Yes, it seems to me that this is suddenly implanted in Anday as well – and even in Nabiku it seems to germinate already! I do not appreciate all this Mowin and also in Anday and Nabiku I do not like it!”
At this point the oligoamorous elder reminded Tavitih that each new person represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
And he pointed out that Tavitih would probably now recognise things more clearly in Anday and in Nabiku, which had perhaps always been in those two, but which would now be more apparent through the presence of Mowin. “Do you remember your water-trekking?” the old one concluded.
Tavitih was silent for a long time – and seemed to understand. But then Tavitih’s face darkened again: “To me, Mowin is a hypocrite and concerning Mowin, I can not imagine any ‘mutual we’. I absolutely can not trust Mowin!”
The old Oligoamorist looked at Tavitih and replied thereupon: “I’m not talking to you about absolute or blind trust. But there is a difference between absolute trust and the assumption that others are entirely untrustworthy. Furthermore, you do not have to love Mowin and maybe you do not necessarily have to love Mowin in Anday yet. But consider if at least you might accept Mowin there nonetheless.”
story of Anday and Tavitih, which by now has become the story of
Nabiku and Mowin, too, is retold differently by the Oligoamorists
from this point on.
In some versions Mowin does not become part of the relationship, in other versions even Anday and Tavitih split up in the end. And in some versions, everyone lives together happily ever after.
Nevertheless, all versions contain the same morality: Namely, what a strong force the others are in ourselves.
And how important it is for any oligoamorous relationship to recognise the unrefusable presence of the people involved in the other participants. That it is important to understand that one contains the others involved in oneself as soon as any loving relationship starts to emerge.
And that it would be a wonderful goal to respect these other persons in the hearts of all the parties involved and to love them passionately and dearly therefore.
But that it is at least important for mutual success to accept the other loved ones in each other, in order to perceive yourselves further as whole human beings and to value each other as such.
I am deeply grateful in respect of Anaïs Nin’s World-quotation in her diaries 1929–1931 “Am I able to love two men?“,
for Tanner Larson ‘s great campfire-image on unsplash.com,
and to Sandra Fels, without her this story would have remained an idea only.