From T’ambilák men tunk’ulilo’ob / El llamado de los tunk’ules
Tikin bey jun p’éel che’e’, chowak meexil yéetel chowak jo’olile’ ku bin u piixik u yich, tu’ux ku ye’esil bey jun túul máak ma’atech u jook’ol. Tu ooñajkile’ ka wayak’naj yéetel x ch’uupo’ob táan u k’ak’astáano’ob tu yook’ol, ku k’aatiko’ob ka xi’ik k’aasil ti’ bey xan sak’ach t’aano’ob ku yemsko’ob u kuxtal, ichil le wayak’o’ ka tu yilubaj jach tu jaajil je’e bix yaaniko’. Bix tu yilubaj jach jun puli’ ka p’aat ma’ unaji’ tu yo’olal ba’ax ts’ó’ok u seten béetik. Ts’ó’ok u maan ya’ab p’iis k’iino’ob bin iilbil tumeen u yatán X Nicolasa ich le kajtalo’. J José Jesús, u yaal che jo’o p’éel ja’ab yaantie’, mix tu k’ajolti’. ¿máax leti’ na’? Tu k’áatchi’itaj ichil u chan tuukul paal yáanti’ ka’a likil ku ich’k’aabtik. «A taatah paal» tu ya’al le ko’olelo’. Le chan paalo’ chen p’aat táan u cha’antik, yéetel u nojoch icho’ob, tu suutubaj ka jo’ok aalkabil tun yook’ol ichil sajkil. «Ma’ jaaji’, mix in taataji» Ku yawatik ka’alikil ku bin u yalkab tu aktan tu’ux walakbal leti’.
Le máak tune’, chen tu cha’aj u yiik’ ka tu jo’osaj tu hci’ tuláakl u yiik’al u yoksmaj ichil u sak oot’ono’ob. «Ma’ in woojel ba’ax in béetmaj, chen ba’ale’ jen ba’axake’, ba’ax in k’ajti’» yawatnaj bey tántik u liik’il ti’ jun p’éel weenel ts’ó’ok u jach xantal.
Séeb binik tak u táankabil tu’ux yáan le ba’alcheo’obo’ ka tu yaawataj yéetel tuláakal u muk’.
–¡J Julian!, ¡Julian!
Ti’ ichil le tánkabilo’ ka tu naats’ubaj jun túul ti’ u yóox túulil máako’ob layli’ yaano’ob te kajtalo’.
–¡Xóokten jay túul ba’alche’ yáanto’on ka’ wa’alten! ¡Ah! ¡Kaxt J Tomas ka wa’walti’ ku laj mool le ts’óono’ob yáanto’obo’, ku laj ts’aj ti’ k truc!
Ma’ xanchaj mix jun suutuk ka chikpaj bey jun túul túumben máak, Ti’ u yoochel le máak ka’ache’ chen p’aatal u chowakil u jo’ol tu’ux najmal u yaantal u sak jo’ole’ chen chak box boonil yaanti’.
U meyjilo’obe’ jak’a’an u yoolo’ob tu yo’olal bix k’expaj u yuumilo’ob. U yicho’obe bey ka’a kuxlajo’ob. «Tuláakal le lo’oba’?» Tu k’áatchi’itaj ka tu yilaj tu yook’oj le truco’, ya’ab kom t’óono’ob, jach ya’ab chowak ts’óono’ob yéetel jay p’éel nuukulil ts’óon. «Leti’ yáan ti’ tuláakal le katala’, yuum» tu nuukaj u kalaant waakaxo’. «Pos ko’ox tun, tuláakal le ba’alo’oba’ yáan k pulik ichil ts’óono’ot, ma’ in k’aat mix jun p’éel ts’óon desde bejlae’». Tu tuxtaj béetbij yéetel u t’áan ssuk u yu’ubaj.
Dry as a stick, bearded and with long knots of hair descending to his face, he had the air of a hermit. He was plagued by guilt and uncertainty. The night before, he dreamed of women who shouted curses, insults, and blasphemies at him at the top of their lungs; in the dream, he saw himself just as he was for the first time. The image of himself was unpleasant. It had been weeks since his wife, Nicolasa, visited him on the ranch. José Jesús, his youngest son, five years old, didn’t recognize him. “Who is that, mama?” he asked with childish curiosity, pointing at him. “It’s your papa, son,” said the woman. The little boy just looked at him with his big eyes, then turned around and moved away, crying with fear. “It’s not true, that’s not my papa!” he repeated while he ran away from him. “Not even my own son recognizes me!” he stammered with a touch of sadness. This happening plunged him into deep depression until, a few afternoons later, the man breathed deeply and pushed out suddenly, through his mouth, the air built up in his lungs: “I don’t know what I’ve done, but whatever it was, I don’t give a rat’s ass!” he shouted as if he were just waking up from a long dream.
He headed straight to the courtyard where the animals were kept, and he shouted with all his might.
From the back of the courtyard, one of the three cowboys who stayed at the ranch quickly emerged.
“Count all the animals we have, and tell me how many! Ah! Look for Tomás and tell him to gather up all the guns on the ranch, and to put them on the wagon!”
Half an hour later, he appeared as a new man. From his former figure, left over like a bad taste from the past, was his long hair, infested with gray. His boys were speechless before the change in their boss. His eyes shone with a new light. “Is this all?” he asked when he saw a few pistols, a good quantity of rifles, and several sabers on the floor of the wagon. “This is all there is on the ranch, boss,” answered the cowboy. “Well, let’s go then, we’re throwing all this gear down the well, I want nothing to do with weapons from now on,” he ordered with the voice of a man accustomed to being obeyed.
Translated by Arthur Dixon
From the novel T’ambilák men tunk’ulilo’ob / El llamado de los tunk’ules [Call of the Tunk’ules]
Marisol Ceh Moo was awarded the Nezahualcóyotl Prize for Literature in Mexican Languages in 2014 for her novel Chen tumeen x ch´úupen / Sólo por ser mujer [Just for being a woman]. In 2007 and 2010, she received first place in the Alfredo Barrera Vásquez contest for Maya Language Narrative. She writes novels, short stories, essays, and poetry, she translates and interprets from Maya language, and she has produced and directed the radio program Nikte’ k’iin / Flor de Sol [Flower of sun]. She has published many volumes of fiction and poetry, and her work has been included in several anthologies. In recognition of her Nezahualcóyotl Prize in 2014, the prize committee indicated that Sol Ceh Moo “dominates the literary twists and turns of Spanish and Maya; her work takes its place in the present day, leaving behind conventional themes, flower and song and/or mother earth, to talk about gendered violence and how this phenomenon is lived in the indigenous communities of the Yucatán. The protagonist of her novel is a woman who breaks the established parameters of conduct for women in contemporary Maya society.”
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 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.