(an Indonesian tale)
Long ago, God decided to create people, and the first person he created was Nabi Adam. He loved him best of all.
God told all the angels who lived in heaven — his first creations — that they must respect and care for his beloved creatures, the people of Earth.
The angels did. Everyone, that is, except Ijajil.
Ijajil was an angel, but he didn’t look like the others. Most angels were airy, delicate and slender. Ijajil was big and heavy, and he had shifty black eyes. The other angels, no matter the color of their eyes, always looked steady and kind. The other angels were generous and gentle, but Ijajil had a mean streak. Ijajil judged. Ijajil rebelled. Ijajil had no respect for Nabi Adam or any of the other people.
One day, God asked all the angels to leave a seat at the big, long table where they gathered in heaven. This seat was to be for Nabi Adam. God wished for him to visit and to be honored.
All the angels moved to their left, leaving a seat beside God. But Ijajil sat down right beside God, in the empty seat that was to be for Nabi Adam.
God patiently asked him to move, but Ijajil only stared and said nothing. He did not move.
The other angels worried and began to whisper and plead, “Didn’t you hear? Please move. You are upsetting God. You are showing disrespect.”
But Ijajil just shook his head and looked defiantly at everyone, and his black eyes turned blacker still. He even seemed to grow larger.
At last, God sighed. “Ijajil, I must teach you a lesson. I banish you from heaven. Leave now!”
Ijajil fumed. Naturally, he blamed Nabi Adam for this terrible punishment. He departed heaven and began to wander across the Earth. As he wandered, he planned his revenge.
At long last, he came upon Nabi Adam sitting in a beautiful garden surrounded by blooming jasmine. Nabi Adam was resting, enjoying God’s wonders, never imagining a visit from this angry angel.
“Nabi Adam,” Ijajil warned. “Watch out. I will make sure you suffer. Your descendants will argue among each other and will be destroyed.”
One of the angels overheard this warning, and rushed to the garden. “I see your character, Ijajil,” the angel said. “Not only do you disobey God — now you want to destroy Nabi Adam’s grandchildren. You will never return to heaven! I will make sure of that.”
Ijajil only laughed in the face of the angel. “What do I care what you say? This is none of your business.”
The angel was furious. “It is the business of angels to carry out God’s desire. It is our business to care for all of God’s creatures, and so it is indeed my business!”
Ijajil and the angel began to argue. As they did, their voices became louder and louder until some of the other angels heard them. One by one, the other angels flew to Earth and surrounded Ijajil. Some cheered on the first angel, but others urged, “This isn’t worth a fight, settle down.”
Soon everyone was disagreeing, and their voices rose even louder until they rumbled across the garden, rising to the treetops, up over mountains — rolling, roaring, thundering.
The people who heard the sound could not fathom what this noise was. They covered their ears and worried that the thundering sound would destroy them.
The first angel had a tongue that could extend for miles and light a fire. After a while, Ijajil began to worry that the angel would lash out and light him on fire, and so he raced to hide inside the trunk of a banyan tree at the far corner of the garden.
One of the angels spotted him climbing inside the tree. “He’s there, in the tree!” this angel cried.
Now the angel with the fiery tongue was furious. He lashed out his tongue and struck the tree.
At once, the banyan tree burst into flames that rose up to the sky.
The people were terrified.
“Lightning,” they called the flames. “Thundering voices have brought lightning and fire.”
Ijajil somehow managed to escape from the tree and run away, but God was watching from heaven. He decided he must send all the angels from heaven down to Earth to stop this fight or risk the destruction of all his people.
He built a bridge of colors and he called to the angels to climb the bridge down to Earth.
The angels hurried down as the people stared up at this magnificent bridge and wondered where it had come from.
The angels then begged the first angel of the fiery tongue to stop fighting. “God wishes you to bring peace to earth,” they said.
“I’ll never stop!” the angel cried, “Ijajil must learn his lesson or die!”
The other angels hurried after Ijajil and begged him to stop the fight, but Ijajil just shook his head and said, “If I stop fighting, I’ll die!”
The angels begged him. “If you promise to change, no one will hurt you. We will protect you, but you must change your ways.”
Ijajil turned his back on the angels.
This caused the angels to feel sadder than they had ever felt. They hung their heads and slowly climbed the colorful bridge back to heaven. They hurried to tell God they could not change Ijajil’s ways.
As they climbed, they began to weep. Their tears fell to Earth.
The people looked up and stared at the drops of water falling from heaven. They called it rain, and they called the bridge that the angels walked a rainbow.
At long last, God understood that as long as the sun rose in the East and set in the West, and the earth spun on its axis, the fight among the angels would continue. To this day the fight goes on, and this is what brings us thunder and lightning, rainbows and rain.