Liaza chaa / I'm going home
Rliu a bdeidy nisygiaro, rindyaga a nyisro zeiby lad cai detsyu. Mas a bdeidy nyisgyaro zicydizy zeibydo nyisgya ldas, per rrilua queitydya gazhduxdya bal chaa. As cwaa chamarr xnia niqueity rdeidy nyis ni biednia ladi guta. Queity rcazdya gazh rsabada, chiru bcua guarach biajw xtena nia, as bdiepa ni xcasona axta zhibya, chiru cwaa teiby zhombrel ni zeiby teixu blua guecya.
Rcaza chiguia xa basan nyis liaza. Bxyielya ru wrraily, bzirilua rop lad, nez laty naa lat rgats buny, quën nez ru ydo. Uas zhi na lad cai. Nyec teiby buny queiy, nyec ra becw ni rbi lad cai queity rliu.
Briaa ru wraly chiru bzeinya xquiny. As mnaza nezguet zaa. Rzaa lainy nyisro ni bdop lad cai, quëm nyisii zied diebyta nez ya chiru rdiai ricy a zei nez guet. Chiru benya xjab, “Nazyu queityru bany.”
Rnalaza chi ady gat semen lad cai, rual, rual neziu rdeidy nyis runyiny guetiny ricy. Chiru chi a bdeidy nyisgia rdien naquën mniny. Ryogwuiën xi biedne nyis, zicy na ra calab, gyeb garsios, nu gwel muly. ¿Per na mas yria ra mniny xi quilyri na?
Chiru gal wzhi chi a rcai rzalo rdia ra many balgy. Naën mniny bai rnazaën larëm chiru rzaën larëm lo xabsaën. Chiru ra baxat ni rdia lany yubany rzalo rbuzha. Na teru xi many balguidi, nyec baxat quën bany.
Marty na zhii. Zicya cabeza teidy nyisgya subgaa lainy cordor cacudyaga musyc lainy telefono xtena. Nyec rrady queity rapa. Chiru queity rindyagzacdyai tyen nyisgyia ni riab lo lamina ni zeiby ru xcwart xtada maru nguiez nienini.
Cayunya xjab zicya subga ricy, rzeiny zieny xjab guecya, mnalaza chi bzalo cagyacchia cordori, chicy adya cha ladi. Chi a rcai, rtiaa ra xamigwa lainy cordor ni cagyacchia. Chiru ycuan cwen axta cuzh xnana naa gacnia ytuxën niaz chiru xubaën zhub ni gacchia zhubnily, ni gac guet zhi.
Na, rzilaza cuanzhiri, desde ni bzeinya loguezh adya gana nyec lo teibyi, naa nana ra mniny ni bruania nuari a bicyri. ¿Per cuanri na?
Chi rdia lad cai tyop chondi ra buny runybia: ra ni a na bangualru ca naa o sa ngwalya. Ra mniny ni ziedro chi rzhaga larëng lad cai teru nandya tu ra zhiny larëng, a zicy zerëng ni ula zicy ziendrëng ni. As naa rnia, “As guale! As lia! ¿Ca nezëng na?” Tyen chiru lari yniari a zicy gweri ni ula zicy ziari ni, chicyru gacbia xai!
Nu gwel nazh Dizhtily rgwenerëm sarëm. ¿Cuan ra buny zhumbrel na? Nazh cachuch a un guecy ra mniny o nazh zhiguecyri a canzari.
Nyec rliu buny logueizh naa, per rrilua lazhëng. “Lazhaëng,” rnia. Ni naa re gulya, re nu xquepya. Chi nua ladi nia guicya lazha. Na ni a nua re, rrilua ati redi brua.
Nugwel runya xjab naa naca zicy teiby mainy lobi.
Zhizhi mnudizha xtada bal iaz nua chi zia Bac. “Zicy tap iaz,” naëb. Queity rnalazduaxdya chicy. Lat, latizy rnalaza.
Chi deizy zia Bac caria Dizhtily nana. Rnalaza uas rzhiazne xtadambaly betza naa chi nu xi rnabrëb lua, chiru dac reiny ni rideidya larëb. Quëm rgwegzarëb Dizhsa bai, narëb quën Dizhsa ati nidyii mnabrëb.
Rnalaza rbana ra xauzana. Teiby zhi bzhunya liaz ra bunyi. Cuan xamod beinya, per bdiaa guaa neziu, zia lazha.
Xanama bgwëb dizh lua, naëb mer zhii zerëb Bac. Naëb ni na nez Lo Rrai ricy bzhagreb teiby tiwe zia loguezh. Chiru mnarëb beba dets teiby xpurr bunyi ni buazha gyag ula bo xii gutoazh Bac. Chiru rgyetne tiwei laëb, naazh, “Bzhiela mninyire chiru cwaëm.”
Na xmama reipy tiuei laëb mnudizhazh naa tu laa, cali chaa, chiru reipya lazh tu zhiny naa chiru reipya lazh a zia liaza. Bga tiuei naa zia nieta zhi, chiru bzubazh naa teiby dets xpuarrazh.
Na zicyca zaa lad cai liaza, rzaa laty bzuta xtrom, canyec, gal rcwatslo, many puat, rzilaza ra caire queityru runyberirëng naa. Laty gu zhi bzua nia, lat bian xabda na, rati a bdau loni quën semen. Rata lat bzuata a bgats.
Zhizi bzhaga teiby tiue. “¡As! ¿Cai, chieyu?” repya lazh. Rgwityepazh lua. “¡Naani nia! ¿Queity rnalazyu naa e?”
Chiru rzhiezazh, “A, zhiny tiuei liu. Cagwet queityru runbiedya zacdya liu. ¿Uc bzeinyu?”
Nii beiny mnalaza chi deisy bicy bzaa Ndua, teiby gweli bria Dizhtily rua, mnudizha mniny ni la Bed cali gwei, chiru rguei lua nai na ati buny loguezhdi naa, guizhi naa. Bdesi teiby gyia bcai naa, as rzhunyi ziei!
Na a mer bzeinya liaza. Nald nyis rla nia rza lainyi. Chiru tan zhieb a guzh xcuracha rruly nia lanyi. Guecyia cagyazh teibychi, a cadeidy nyis xombrela. Zaca ati zyetdi na liaza lat na liaz xtada. Rzaa parar tyen yzeinyga.
Bzeinya ru xalia, binylua ru rej ri guan lanyi. Caria guan gapa. Bcyetsa liei lany pwert churu bcuya pwer tyen yzheilyi. Bdesnaa chiru brezhania ra guan xtera ra xabsiena tyen ydieri lainy wzhalya.
It seems like the heavy rain is gone, I hear a lot of water flowing in the streets outside the house. Even though the downpour has passed, it’s still drizzling, but I think I won’t get too wet if I go out now. So I grab my red raincoat, the one I brought from the States, and put it on. I don’t want my shoes to get wet, so I take my old huaraches and put them one, then I roll up my pants to my knees and grab a hat from the wall and put it on.
I want to go and see how my house withstood the rains. I open the door and looked both ways, toward the cemetery then towards the church. The streets are very quiet. Not a soul, not even the dogs that are usually out.
I step out and walk to the corner. I turn and walk downhill. I walk through a big puddle that has collected there from the waters flowing down the hill. Then I thought, “There is no mud.”
I remember before the streets were paved, the water would make a rivulet right in the middle of this street. As kids, when the rains had stopped, we would go out. We went to see what the water brought: nails, bottle caps, sometimes even money. But now, even if the children came out, what could they look for?
In the afternoons, when it had gotten dark, the fireflies would come out. We were just kids, so we catch them and smear them on each other’s clothes. Back then, the toads that came out from the mud would croak. Now, there are no fireflies, no toads, no mud.
It’s Tuesday. As I was waiting for the rain to stop, I was sitting in the covered patio at my dad’s, listening to music on my phone. I don’t even had a radio. It got so that I couldn’t hear the music over the noise of the rain on the metal roof that hangs out over the door to my dad’s bedroom.
I was thinking while I was sitting there, I remembered when this covered walkway was being built before I went to the States. In the evenings, my friends would hang out in the walkway as it was being built. We would tell stories until my mom called me to help husk the corn and to get the dried corn off the cob for the nixtamal for tomorrow’s tortillas.
Now, I wonder where they might be, these friends. Since I’ve come back to the pueblo I haven’t seen any of them. I know that some of those kids that I grew up with have returned as well. Where are they?
When I go out on the street I recognize only a few people: those who are older than me and my contemporaries. The kids who are growing up now, when I meet them on the street, I don’t know whose kids they are, whether they are coming or going. So I greet them, “Hey! Where to?” When they say whether they are coming or going, then I will understand.
Sometimes they speak only in Spanish to each other. Where are the sombrero people? The young people here wear baseball caps or nothing.
It doesn’t seem like I’m from here, but I think it is my pueblo. “It is my pueblo,” I say. And I was born here, that’s where my umbilical cord is. When I lived on the other side, I wanted to go home. Now that I’m here, it is not where I grew up.
Sometimes I think that I’m like a bird, always flying.
The other day I asked my father how old I was when I went to live in Tlacolula. “Around four,” he said. I don’t remember that time very well. I just remember bits.
When I first went to live in Tlacolula, I didn’t speak any Spanish. I remember my brother’s godparents would laugh at me when they would ask me to bring something and I would bring them something else. Since they spoke Zapotec, too, they would tell me in Zapotec that it wasn’t what they had asked for.
I remember missing my parents. One day I ran away from those people’s house. I don’t remember how I did it, but I left to go home.
My grandmother said that on that exact day, they were walking to Tlacolula. She said that she met a man on the road at Lo Rrai on his way to San Lucas. That’s when she saw me on the back of one of his donkeys, which probably had carried firewood or coal to be sold in Tlacolula. Then the man teased her by saying, “I found this little stray, so I’m taking him home.”
My grandmother said the man told her that he had asked me who I was and where I was going. I had told him whose son I was and that I was going home. The man took pity on me as I was walking home, so he put me on the back of one his donkeys.
Now as I walk the streets where once I played tops, marbles, hide and seek, and many puat, I think – these street, they don’t know me anymore. All the places where I left my footprints and my shadow have now been covered by cement. The places where I used to play have been buried.
The other day I ran into a man on the street. I said, “Hi! Where are you going?” He just stared at me. “It’s me! Don’t you remember me?”
He laughed, “Oh, you are the son of so-and-so. Man, I don’t recognize you anymore. When did you arrive?”
That reminded me of when I had first come back from living in Oaxaca City, Spanish came out of my mouth, I asked a kid named Pedro where he had gone and he cussed at me and said that I wasn’t from San Lucas, that I was a city person. He picked up a stone and threw it at me and ran home!
Now I’m almost home. I feel the cold water splashing my feet. My huaraches become slippery in the water. My head starts to get a little wet, the water is soaking through my hat. It’s a good thing my house isn’t far from my dad’s. I walk faster to get there quicker.
I arrive at the entrance to my house and see some bulls through the gate. I don’t have bulls. I put the key in the lock and push open the gate. I raise my hands and yell to chase the neighbor’s bulls out of my property.
Translated by Brook Danielle Lillehaugen
Awarded the 2017 Premios CaSa for the creation of Zapotec literature
Written in San Lucas Quiaviní Zapotec, a language of Oaxaca, Mexico
Dr. Felipe H. Lopez is originally from the Zapotec town of San Lucas Quiaviní, Oaxaca. He currently serves as advisor to the Oaxacan State Commission on Human Rights. At the age of 16 he migrated to Los Angeles, California, speaking no English and little Spanish. By 2007 he had earned his Ph.D. from UCLA in urban planning. It was at UCLA that he began working with linguists to document his language, resulting in a trilingual Zapotec-Spanish-English dictionary (Munro & Lopez et al. 1999). His Zapotec poetry has also been published in the Latin American Literary Review and The Acentos Review. The short story featured in LALT, "Liaza chaa / I am going home," was awarded first place in the narrative category in the 2017 Premios CaSa competition for the creation of literature in Zapotec. The Spanish translations are his own. He is presently working on a book of Zapotec language poetry. More of his writing can be found at http://felipehlopez.weebly.com/.
The seventh issue of Latin American Literature Today highlights indigenous voices with dossiers dedicated to three Wayuu writers from Colombia and Zapotec poetry and prose. We also pay homage to renowned Venezuelan poet Eugenio Montejo with a special dossier, as well as returning to the strange worlds of Latin American science fiction and opening a new space for Brazilian literature in Portuguese and English.