Nunani: The likeness of a big person (Part three)
To the hunter’s surprise, the giants did not kill him. Instead, the great inukpasugjuit gathered around him, wondering aloud what to do.
The hunter could hear giant children giggling to their enormous parents about how “cute” he was, how fun it would be to keep him. This seemed to be an important issue with the families of inukpasugjuit, so the hunter sat helplessly for long hours while the giants debated it.
In the end, they decided that it was best not to let him go. The hunter was never asked for his own opinion on the matter. He was simply grateful that they had decided not to do something ghastly, like stew him up or pull his limbs off for fun. Besides, he thought to himself, eventually their guard was bound to drop, and he would have an opportunity to escape.
The time approached sooner than expected, for the giants quickly went on with their day-to-day business, and soon even their children lost interest in the man. He was frequently left without supervision, and realized that it would be no more than a matter of days before he slipped by these foolish inukpasugjuit.
In the meantime, they were not unkind to him, and their greatest offense was his captivity. But he realized, while watching them, how utterly unlike human beings they were, how they were like a parody of human nature. Their food seemed distasteful to him, and he avoided it.
They hunted, but when they butchered a caribou, they would throw away many good parts, like the fat, which they claimed was merely a gland. And they did not hunt with dogs, but with huge wolves that seemed to understand their speech.
Then a day arrived when the man told the giants that he was bored, that he wanted to do some of his own hunting. The season was still fairly warm, and he said he needed his kayak (which had been captured with him). The inukpasugjuit easily agreed, and soon the man found himself out “hunting,” but in truth paddling back home as fast as he could.
A grin spread across his face as soon as he began to recognize things that he knew: a familiar boulder here, an old camp area there. And he was sure that he was just starting to see the thin trails of smoke from his community’s cook-fires. In a moment, he would be within sight…
Suddenly, something seized his paddle, and he barely managed to jerk it free of the water, which had started to churn around him. The kayak shuddered violently, and he was blinded by salty spray that flew up at his face. He wiped at his eyes with his sleeve, in time to see that a great wall of water had arisen before him. He had never seen anything like it, this barrier of blue and white that boiled and roared and foamed before him, like a thing alive.
He looked left and right, and found that it completely blocked his path, towering above. It was impossible to pass. He realized that this was why the giants had been so complacent. Their powers had ensured that he could never leave them. There was no doubt in his mind that similar barriers, perhaps even more dangerous ones, were also in place on the land, so he back-paddled and turned his kayak about, returning to the inukpasugjuit, for he knew of nowhere else to go. Behind him, he heard the water-wall crash down.
Looking back, he could see a clear way to his community, to his family, but he knew that this was an illusion. The water-wall would rise up again if he tried to approach. He wiped at his face again, now removing tears.
Life became a melancholy blur after that. The man was driven to contemplate the most horrible, desperate measures, but ultimately decided to survive, to brave the situation in the hope of seeing his family again. And during his captivity, he learned much of the giants’ ways, eating their food and eventually even feeling confident enough to master their teams of wolves.
It was while out hunting with the wolves one day that he had an extraordinary idea. If he could not get to his family, why not bring them to him?
(Concluded in part four.)