From U yóok’otilo’ob áak’ab / Danzas de la noche
Le ka jk’ucho’on túune’ táan u yúuchul u babal óok’ otil túumben óok’oto’ob ich u yotoch, leti’túune’ táan u un’ukbesik bin kun oojko’ob, ba’ax ken u beeto’ob yéetel bix kun úuchul tuláakal, ba’ale’ chéen p’elak u yiko’one’ ka jóok’ u yilo’on.
–Chéen jtaalen in taas jump’íit janal úuchik u kiimpajal u k’aaba’ juntúul nojochmáak –Tin wa’alaj ichil u kekewaankil in chi’.
–Ki’ichkelem yuum bo’otik te’ex wele’ –Tu núukaje’ ka tu ch’a’aj le máatano’ ka bin u bis tu’ux ken u líik’es wale’.
Ka jsuunaj yéetel in nu’ukule’ tu ya’alaj beya’:
–Maax a yuumo’ob chan xch’úupal.
–Mina’an in yuumo’ob –Tin núukaj ti’.
Jp’áat junchan súutuk xma’ t’aanil, chéen bey bija’an u tuukul náache’.
–Ma’wáa a k’áat táakpajal ti’ le óok’oto’ob kin nu’ukbesika’ –Tu ya’alej ten.
–Ma’ in wojeli’ –Tin núukaj –Tumeen kex óoli’ kin ts’áakimba óok’ote’ kin tukultike’ ya’ab u bin in kaambal.
–Le je’elo’ ma’ tu ka’anal chéen ti’ jump’éel k’iin, k’a’abéet a babal betik sáansamal, ku ts’o’okole’ le x-óok’oto’obo’ mina’an uláak’ meyajil k’a’abéet u beetiko’ob chéen ja’alil kaambal, óok’ot yéetel u kaláantik u wíinkilal bey u puksi’ik’ale’, le je’ela’ kin wu’uyik je’el u yutstal in wa’alik teche’ chan xch’úupal tumeen a wiche’ ya’ab ba’alo’ob ku k’a’ajesik ten, ya’ab ba’axo’ob kex pitchaja’an u xik’nalo’ob ka jbino’ob náachile’ leti’obe’ jsuunajo’ob le k’iin ka tin paktajeche’, jach u naapul tin wilaj ta wich u yich juntúul ko’olel tin yaamaj úuchi.
Le táan túun u t’aan le wíiniko’, le chan xch’úupal in wéet bine’ láalaj súutuk ku xk’óolkúuktikene’ ku ya’alik chaambelil:
–Yaan k k’e’eyel wale’ ki’ ko’ox.
Ka tin wu’uyaj xan beyo’ ka tin wa’alaj ti’ le wíinike’ yaan in suut ka’ach utia’al ka p’áataken te’ kaambale’, ba’ale’ u jaajile’ ka jk’ucho’on tu yotoch le ko’olel máax k’amene’ ka jk’e’eyo’on.
–Tin wa’alaj ma’ a xáantale’ex, tu’ux p’áate’ex.
Ka tu machaj u beele’ ka jóok táankab u machmaj junmuut ixi’im yéetel junmuut bu’ule’ ka tu k’íitch’intaj jump’éelili’ tu’ux te’ teenkabo’.
–¡Péenen ch’íich’e’ex! Ka jatse’ex tu’ux unaj u bin –Tu ya’alaj.
Ka jbino’on beetej, le u suukil ti’obe’ ma’ k’ak’al jats’tik u paalalo’ob, ku ts’áako’ob u bo’olt u si’ipilo’ob ba’ale’ ma’ yéetel jaats’i’, le ka túun ts’o’ok k beetik le ba’ax a’ala’ab to’ one’:
–Ko’ox tsikbal –Tu ya’alaj le ko’olele’ –Máax u jo’olil úuchik a p’áatale’ex te’elo’, tene’ chéen tin túuxteje’ex a bise’ex le janalo’, buka’aj u k’iintsilil u jáan bisachajal.
–Leti’ le xLoolo’ –tu núukaj le chan xchúupale’ –utschaj tu t’aan u p’áatal jtsikbal yéetel le jo’olpóopo’.
–Aan –Tu núukaj le ko’olele’ ka jo’op’ u péeksik u kaal bey taak u se’ene’ –Wa beyo’ seen ma’alob.
When we reached the house of the head dancer, there were people practicing the dances, he was indicating when they should enter the scene, he was saying what they were going to do and all, but as soon as he saw us, he ran to greet us.
“I just brought you a little bit of the stew they served at a man’s birthday,” I said to him as my lips trembled.
“May God return it to you,” he responded, he took what we had brought him and set it aside with confidence.
When he returned to us, he said:
“Who are your parents?”
“I have no parents,” I answered.
He fell silent for a moment as if his spirit were somewhere else.
“Would you like to be a part of the dances I’m organizing?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I love to dance, but I think I still have a lot to learn.”
“You don’t learn this in just one night, you need to practice a lot, and every day. And the dancers have no occupation besides practicing, rehearsing, learning more every day, taking care of their bodies and their hearts. From the deepest part of myself is born the need to tell you these things because your face brings me fond memories; you remind me of many things. Although all of my memory has flown to distant places, it returned since that day when I saw you, in you I could see the face of a woman who, some time ago, I loved like no one else in my life.”
While that man was speaking, the little girl who had come with me hit me every so often on the elbow and said, almost in silence:
“Come on, let’s go, they’re gonna get onto us!”
When I finally paid attention to the girl, I told the man I would come back to learn, and we walked away. The truth is that the girl was right, because, when we reached the house of the lady who was putting me up, she received us with a scolding.
“I told you not to take so long, where were you?”
Then she walked out to the courtyard with a sack of corn and another of beans, which she spilled out in the same place.
“Separate them! Put them where they’re supposed to be,” she ordered.
We got to work. Their custom was not to whip us until the children got tired. It’s true that they punished us, but not with lashes. After we finished our work, she said to us:
“We need to talk! Who came up with the idea of staying there? I just sent you to take the stew, how much time should that take?”
“It was Flor’s fault,” said the little girl. “She wanted to stay and talk to the head dancer.”
“Ah!” responded the woman, softening her voice. “If it’s like that, well, that’s alright, that’s quite alright.”
Translated by Arthur Dixon
From the novel U yóok’otilo’ob áak’ab / Danzas de la noche [Dances of the night]
Isaac Esau Carrillo Can (Peto, Yucatán, 1983 - Mérida, Yucatán, 2017) was a transdisciplinary artist: a novelist, poet, musician, playwright, actor, and visual artist. His work has been recognized with many prizes. In 2010, he earned the Nezahualcóyotl National Prize for Literature in Mexican Languages for his novel U yóok’otilo’ob áak’ab / Danzas de la noche [Dances of the night] and in 2007, he was awarded the Waldemar Noh Tzec National Prize for Maya Literature for the short story “Ba’alo’ob mix juntéen u’uya’ak” / “Cosas nunca antes oídas” [Things never heard before]. In addition to his own writing, he worked as an editor and coordinator of anthologies. As a visual artist, he created the visual and performance art piece “Uj,” which was performed at the Fredric Jameson Gallery of Duke University, North Carolina in 2014 and in the Huret & Spector Art Gallery of Boston, Massachusetts in 2015. He was also a member of the musical group “Agua y miel,” and he was an editorial consultant for the children’s project “Kanules del Mundo Maya” in 2014. Critics have indicated that Isaac Esau Carrillo Can’s writing “slides in the metonymy of the dance of ancestral knowledge over the rain, the paths of the stars, the permanent movement between life and death, and why not, the creation that communicates between the roots of the universe.”
Arthur Malcolm Dixon is co-founder, lead translator, and Managing Editor of Latin American Literature Today. He has translated the novels Immigration: The Contest by Carlos Gámez Pérez and There Are Not So Many Stars by Isaí Moreno (Katakana Editores), as well as the verse collection Intensive Care by Arturo Gutiérrez Plaza (Alliteratïon). He also works as a community interpreter in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a 2020-2021 Tulsa Artist Fellow.
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.