From Lajump’eel maaya tzikbalo’ob / Diez relatos mayas
Ka’alikil tu póoka’al ten le waajo’ob in jaanto’ ka binen in chup in chuuj yéetel u ja’il jump’éel ch’óoy yan te yóokch’e’eno’, ka dzo’oke’ ka tin dzaj tu’ux ya in sáabukaan yéetel in na’ukulo’ob, dzo’okole’ ka kulajen tu jaal chi’ le báanketao’, te’ela’ ti’ peka’an junxéet k’aa’bil bak’i’ yéetel jump’íit k’utbil p’aak. Chéen ka tin wiljae’, le k’áak’o’ táan u ka’anatal, ku dzo’okole’ ku ka’ kabatal, chéen ka tin wilje’ táan u bin xíimbal ti’ jump’éel t’u’ul bej, kin wilike’ tu jáal la bejo’ ti’ pekekbal juntúul óotzil nojoch máaki’, táan u yáakam, ka k’uchen tu yiknaale’ kin wilike’ chowaaktzak u tzo’otel u pool bey xan u me’ex, ku dzo’okole’ láaj saktako’ob, ka túun tu ya’alaj ten beya’:
–Ay áabil, much áanten k’uchul tin wotochi’, tu paach le buu’tuno ti’ yani’i’.
Ka túun tin wilaj jach ma’tu yustal u máane’ ka tin k’áataj ti’ beya’:
–Bix túun úuchik tach le ba’al beya’, ba’axten xan tin k’áataj ti kaaj.
–Ma ta wilik ba’ax úuche’, táan in máan in beet in mayaje’ ka tu lúubsen in tziimin.
–Kux túun le tzíimino – tin k’áataj ti’.
–Púudzij – tu núukaj ten – ba’ale’ ma’ tu xáantal dzo’ok u suut.
Jach ti’al u taal k-éemsik le buu’tuno’ ka tu ya’alaj ten beya:
–Ma je’el in wootocho’, wa a k’áate’ le keen k’uchuko’one’ ka wa’alik ten ba’ax a k’áat yo’olal u jeel le utz ka beetik tena’.
Ka túun tin wa’alaj ti’ beya’:
–Ay nojoch máak bix kéen in k’áatil tech u jeel, tene’ tin wáantajech yéetel u yutzil in puksi’ik’al, ma’ yo’olal ka sut ten u jeeli’.
Ka ooko’on te ich najo’ ka tu ka’ ya’alaj ten:
–Tu jaajil le ba’ax kin wa’alik techo’.
–Wa yan ba’ax ka tukultik a dzaik tene’, p’áatak tech, tene’ chéen ba’ax in k’áate’ ka anak u ma’alobtal in kool te ja’aba’.
–Béeychajak –tu núukaj.
Ma’ jach jaaj in wich ka tin wu’uyaj ba’ax tu ya’alajo’, tumen kin wa’alike’, bix kéen u beetil ti’al ka páajchajak u beetik u jaajtal, beorae’ le cháako’obo’ dzo’ok u sen xáantal ma’ lúubuko’obi.
Bey tu na’atik in tuukule’ ka tu ya’alaj ten:
–Chéen ba’ax k’abéete’ ka k’ub a wóol ten, yéetel chéen jump’éel ba’ax kéen in k’áat teche’ le ba’ax kéen a joch ta koole’ le u jach nuuktakilo’obo’ le a dza tu’ux kéen a tukult a jo’oche’etik, je’elili’ in máan te’elo’ kin tzéentikinbáa yéetelo’obe’.
Ka tin wu’uyaj ba’ax tu ya’alaj tene’ kin wa’alike’ máax le máaka’, ba’axten wey ich k’áax kaja’ane’, kin wilike’ le tu’ux yano’ono’ mix juntéen máanakeni’i’, kex ma’alobil ti’ le nojoch máako’, chéen jump’éel ba’al jach p’áat tin tuukul, leti’ le ba’ax tu ya’alaj tena’:
–Ma’ tukultik mixba’al, yo’olal juntúul utzil máakeche’ yan u dzaik ma’alob a kool te ja’aba’, ti’ mixmáak u láak’ kun antal.
Tin ch’a'aj in beele’ ka luk’eni’, ma’ náajchajak in xíimbale’ ka suunaj in paakat tin paach, chéen ka tin wilje’ le naje’ mina’an, chéen k’áax kin paktik, ti’ xan lelo’, bey náachile’ ka tin wu’uyaj jump’éel t’aan:
–Wíinik péeksaba te uk’ulo’ ba’ax ku yúuchul tech beya’.
While I was warming up the tortillas to eat, I went to fill my gourds with water from a bucket on the edge of the well; after that, I took my tools and put them in my satchel. Then I sat down to eat breakfast next to the stool, on top of which was a piece of salted meat and a bit of ground tomato. While I was sitting there, I started to see that the flame waxed and waned, then I saw myself walking down a narrow dirt road where I came across a little old man who was sprawled by the side of the path, moaning; his hair was long and gray, like his beard. He said to me:
“Ay! Little grandson, help me get to my house, it’s down the hill.”
I saw that he couldn’t walk and I asked:
“How did this happen to you? Why do you live far from the village?”
“The thing is, I was doing my work when I fell off my horse.”
“And the horse?” I asked.
“He escaped, but he’ll come back soon,” he answered.
We were just heading down the slope when he pointed:
“There’s my house; when we get there, tell me what you want in return for the favor you have done me.”
“Sir, please don’t think I would ask for anything in return,” I responded, “I helped you from the heart, not so you would return the favor. If you want to give me something, and you needn’t, the only thing I wish is for my harvest to go well.”
“So be it,” he said.
I couldn’t believe what I had heard, and I wondered how what he had just said to me could be made reality, above all because it had been some time since the rain fell.
Guessing my thoughts, he said to me:
“What you need is to have faith. And one thing I beg of you: from the first harvest you raise from your milpa, offer up the biggest fruits, and I will pass by there and feed on them.”
When he said that, I wondered who this man was, why he lived in the woods; the place where we had met was completely unknown to me; although I understood nothing, I agreed. What remained etched into my mind was this:
“Don’t worry, since you’re a good man, this year things will go real well on the milpa, nobody will be given a harvest as bountiful as yours.”
I bid him farewell, and he hadn’t walked far when I turned to look back and the house had disappeared, there were only woods. At that moment, as if from far away, I heard them saying to me:
“Hey man, hurry up and eat your breakfast, what’s up with you?”
Translated by Arthur Dixon
From Lajump’eel maaya tzikbalo’ob / Diez relatos mayas [Ten Maya tales]
Miguel Ángel May May began his work with monographs and compilations; he has dedicated much of his effort to the development of reading and writing among children and young people through creative writing workshops in Maya language, which he has led in Yucatán and Quintana Roo. In 1987, he became the editor of the publication U Yajal Maya Winiko’ob and part of the editorial board of the journal U Tzikbalo’ob Xunáan Kaab. In 1998, he received the Medal for Artistic Merit from the Government of the State of Yucatán. He has produced and directed radio programs, and he has published many books of poetry and prose; his writing has also appeared in several anthologies. Maya cosmovision flows through his stories in a personal and moving way; these stories oscillate between magical realism and the fantastic, giving Maya language a place in the concert of universal literature.
Arthur Dixon works as a translator and as Managing Editor of Latin American Literature Today. His translation of Andrés Felipe Solano’s “The Nameless Saints” (WLT, Sept. 2014) was nominated for a 2014 Pushcart Prize, and his most recent project is a book-length translation of Arturo Gutiérrez Plaza’s Cuidados intensivos (see WLT, Sept. 2016).
LALT No. 6 goes from the gripping true stories of literary journalism to the strange worlds of fantastic short stories and graphic literature. We highlight chronicles by Colombian journalist Alberto Salcedo Ramos, speculative fiction in a dossier curated by Mexican writer Alberto Chimal, and Yucatec Maya poetry and prose in our ongoing Indigenous Literature series.