An Innocent Young Man


Isla del Sol, Bolivia. Photo: @sophie_thelayayogis, Unsplash.

Mana juchayuq waynuchu

Juvenal ch’in ch’in urqu k’uchunta jurayk’arishaqtin, ujllata parajina “qhaq” sinqanmanta q’uñi q’uñilla yawar jich’akamusqa. Ukhunqa ujllata “suq” nisqa. Sunqun phatarqushanmanñapis jina rich’akusqa. Jina laqhapi usqayllata atispa mana atispa mayuman kachayukusqa. Yakuwan mayllakuspa tunpallatapis yawarta thañichikunanta t’ukurikusqa. Ñak’aysitutapuni yaku kantuman chayarqusqa. Yakuwan usqayllata mayllakuyta qallarisqa. Sinqanmantaqa yawarqa surullasqapuni, surullasqapuni. Thañinayarisqa. Chantá sunqunñataq allinmanta ch’inyapuyta qallarisqa. Jinallapi Juvenal waynuchutaqa mayu kantupi yawarlla tukurpachisqa. 

“Qhaparillawaqpis karqa, silvarikullawaqpis karqa mana wanchiykimanchu karqa. ¿Ima raykutaq ch’inllamanta purisharqankiri?” — jik’un jik’un qunqurchakimanta waynuchuq ñawpaqinpi phutiyta almaqa waqarikusqa. 

Waynuchuqa ni imanisqachu. Ch’inllamanta cuerponqa almaq ñawpaqinpi wichurayarisqa. 

“ay waynuchu, ay mana juchayuq waynuchu!. Mana munashaspa wanchiyki. Juchasniymanta junt’apuq kay pachaman kutimurqani. Qanta wanchispa astawan juchata tarirpani” almaqa waqallasqapuni, waqallasqapuni. 

Tata Isikuwan Juvenal sutiyuq waynuchu wawanqa uj juch’uy ayllitupi iskanitullanku tiyakuq kasqanku. Chay ayllunkupata sutinqa kasqa, “P’alta Urqu”. Ajinata sutichasqanku imaqtinchus chaypi ashka p’alta rumis kaqtinrayku. Tukuy runas chay ayllumanta wak ladusman unayña ripurasqanku. Wakin wañurapusqanku. Tata Isikuwan wawanman iskayninku k’atallañapuni chaypi tiyakuq kasqanku. Uj p’unchay, ña intiyaykuytaña tata Isikuta uman sinchita nanayta qallarisqa. 

“wawáy, jap’iqawanchus, imanawanchus, umay sinchitapuni nanarishan” — tata Isikuqa wawanta nisqa. 

“Tatáy, ama llakichiwaychu. Imamantachu llakikuwaq karqa. Maypí kunan p’unchaw llank’arqankí? Maná mancharikuwaq karqa, uchayqa ima saqrawanpis tinkuwaq karqa?” — nispa tapusqa.

“Ichhu Mayupi papata aysarqani” — kutichisqa.

“Risaq qhura jampita chayniqpi mask’amusaq” — jinamanta yuqallaqa usqayllata kachayukusqa. 

Ichhu Mayupi tukuy ima jampi qhuritasta pallasqa. Wasinman chayaytawankama yakuta t’impuchisqa. Chantá, chay qhura yakuta tatanman jaywasqa. 

“Tatáy kayta tumayuwaq. Ichapis mancharikuwaq karqa” — nisqa.

Qhura yakituta tumayuytawan kama tatanqa camaman wich’uyakapusqa.

“Ay wawáy, imapunitaq kanman? Kay pichullaypuni taparqamushawanña ari” — kutichisqa. 

Juvenalqa chayta uyariytawan astawan mancharikusqa. Unaymanta pacha ajnata tatanta pichun jinaqtinqa uj k’ata qhura yakitullawan allinyachiq kasqa. Chay qhuraqa mana P’alta Urqu ayllupiqa tiyaqchu. Ayllunkumantaqa unaytaraq chakipi purina kaq chay qhurata tarinapaqqa. Inti yaykuyta kachayukuspa tuta intiruta purina kaq. Jinamanta Juvenal chay ch’isiqa laqha laqhallapi chay qhurata tatanpaq mask’aq kachayukusqa. Unaytaña purisqa. Chawpi tutataña Qayara puntaman chayaytawan mayuniqman jurayk’anayasqa.




An Innocent Young Man1

Juvenal walked across the foot of that hill amid the silence. Suddenly he noticed the fresh blood that was falling from his nose like rain. He felt a chill inside him: “Suq!” It seemed his heart was about to burst. Amid the darkness, with what little strength he had left, he went on towards the river. He was thinking that washing himself in the water would help stem the blood. Only with great effort did he reach the riverbank. He started washing himself in the water, as fast as he could. The blood would not stop coming out of his nose. He seemed to grow calm. Then his heart began to go out, bit by bit. And so the young man, Juvenal, bled to death at the riverbank.

“If you only would have screamed, or even whistled, I would not have killed you. Why did you have to walk in silence?” Before that young man, the soul sank to her knees and cried in despair.

The young man did not answer. His still body lay in silence in front of the soul.

“Oh young man, oh innocent young man! I did not mean to kill you. I came back to pay the consequences of my sins. But I ended up sinning even more, for I killed you.” The soul cried inconsolably. 

Don Isiku and his young son, called Juvenal, used to live alone in a little town. Their town was called P’alta Urqu, “Flat Hill.” They gave it this name because there were many flat stones there. Many people from this town had left to live elsewhere. Others had died. Now, Mr. Isiku and his son were the only ones who lived there. One day, at dusk, Don Isiku began to feel a mighty pain in his head.

“Son of mine, perhaps I am under some curse, I don’t know what, my head is hurting horribly,” said Don Isiku to his son.

“Don’t worry me, father of mine. Or perhaps something worried you. Where did you work today? Maybe you were frightened, or perhaps you crossed paths with some wicked thing?” was what he asked.

“I pulled up potatoes at the Ichhu2 River,” he answered.

“I shall go look for medicinal herbs around there.” And so the young man went, as fast as he could.

At the Ichhu River he picked all sorts of medicinal plants. As soon as he got home, he put water on to boil. Then, he gave the infusion to his father.

“Father of mine, drink this. Maybe you got frightened,” was what he said.

His father laid back on his bed after drinking the infusion.

“Oh, son of mine, must it always be this way? My chest will simply never stop cutting off my breath,” he answered. 

When he heard this, Juvenal grew all the more frightened. For a long time now, whenever his father’s chest hurt, only an infusion of one particular herb could help him feel better. This herb did not exist in the town of P’alta Urqu. He would have to make a long trek on foot from his town to find this herb. Setting out at dusk, he would have to walk all night. And so Juvenal set out in search of this herb amid the darkness. He had already walked a long way. It was already almost midnight when he reached the hill of the Qayaras3, where he made his way down toward the river.

Translated via the Spanish by Arthur Malcolm Dixon

1 I am thankful to Santiago Guevara, from the town of Uma Piwra, who told me many horror stories. This story is inspired by one of his tales of the Soul.

2 Straw.

3 Plants resembling small cacti.


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. 17
Number 17

In our seventeenth issue, we highlight the work of groundbreaking Colombian writer Albalucía Ángel, alongside Octavio Paz, a towering figure of Mexican letters and the second Latin American winner of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. We also feature Peruvian poet Eduardo Chirinos, a series of photo portraits of writers in the pandemic, a selection of new translations seeking publisher, plus writing in the Murui, Quechua, and Tseltal lenguages in our ongoing Indigenous Literature section.

Table of Contents

Editor's Note

Featured Author: Albalucía Ángel

Dossier: Octavio Paz

Dispatches from the Republic of Letters






Pandemic Postcards

Indigenous Literature

Translation Previews and New Releases

On Translation: Seeking Publisher

Dossier: Eduardo Chirinos

Nota Bene