Long, long ago, at the beginning of the world, when the world and all that was yet to be upon it was not yet finished, a twin brother and sister were the only human beings upon the earth. Their names were Yama and Yami and they loved each other dearly. They roamed the earth enjoying its fruits, it sounds and sights, and the feel of the grass beneath their feet.
They wanted for nothing, for in that time, it was always daytime and the season was always spring. The sun never set so the moon and stars lay hidden behind its bright, golden light. Time stood still and there was neither yesterday nor tomorrow. The flowers never wilted or died. Beehives overflowed with honey and it was never cold. The birds never became tired of flying, nor the animals of gamboling and frolicking about, and the trees were never empty of plump, ripe fruits. On this sea of happiness, Yama and Yami swam joyously and thoughtlessly like twin swans.
Then things changed. One time, when Yami returned from a walk by herself, she found Yama lying under a tree with his eyes closed. She whispered his name, but he did not answer. She cried out his name in a loud voice, but still he did not answer. When she shook him gently, he did not open his eyes.
Suddenly, Yami knew that she was alone in the world. Her brother Yama was gone. Yami’s sorrow, deeper than the ocean, began to flow out of her heart and through her eyes. It emerged as tears. The river of her tears swelled and began to flood the world. Her sobbing shook the earth and sky, and her grieving heart sent forth an intense fire that seared the earth.
The gods and goddesses of the elements looked down from the sky in alarm. They were afraid that Yami’s mourning would bring about the destruction of the world.
So the gods took on visible forms and went to Yami as she sat immersed in her tears. They hugged her, and spoke words of comfort to her and explained the necessity for death in the world so that renewal and hope could enter the world. But Yami was too consumed with sorrow to be consoled. She kept repeating one sentence over and over; “Yama died today! Yama died today!”
The gods and goddesses retired to a hillside to discuss what could be done to console Yami. When they realized that Yami’s sorrow remained always in the present moment since there was no yesterday or tomorrow. they decided to make changes.
So the gods and goddesses summoned their powers of creation. They created a sunset with vibrant, glowing colors. Then, slowly, they created a gentle blanket of darkness to envelope the world. Under the soothing, dark sky of the first night, Yami fell asleep, just as the birds and the animals did, for the first time. When she awoke, the sun was rising in another glorious display of colors.
Yami awoke and said to herself, “Ah, Yama died yesterday.”
The following day, the gods and goddesses heard Yami say, “Ah, Yama died the day before yesterday.”
As time went by, the merciful hands of the night put more and more distance from the day of Yama’s death. And although Yami never did forgot her dear brother, her grief lessened little by little and the sorrow that had threatened to flood the world began to fade away.