Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Day of the Dead

Salud and an embrace to reach to Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras. There is no doubt that death is enamoured with poverty.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante insurgente Marcos.
Mexico, November of 1998.

P.S. Disguised as zapatista graffiti:
Death will die mortally dead. From death we shall kill, from life.

P.S. A story is told of the Day of the Dead: It is the custom of our peoples to set out an offering for the dead every year in the celebrations from October 31 until the dawn of November 2. In addition to flowers and ornaments made of paper, between two candles, some food is gathered, whatever the deceased most liked, and, if he smoked, some tobacco. Some say this offering is to remind the dead person that he still has roots in life, that he walks in others, that he continues in others. Others say this offering is in case the dead person comes and is in need of food and rest, because he has not achieved what he wanted, and the deceased still goes about, seeking. The search can last for a long time, but the dead person is not saddened, because he knows he can return each year to his family to gain strength and to gather heart and so continue on his path.

To remind him that he still has roots on this side and that he walks in us and he continues, and in order to recover strength and hope in his search, each year the zapatistas put out an offering for Pedro (fallen in combat in 1974, raised up again fallen again in combat in 1994, raised up again, struggling always). At the dawn of each November 2, thousands of offerings in so many other indigenous homes shine for Pedro.

Each of the last four years, Don Jacinto offered to watch over the offering which we put out because of and for Pedro in the General Headquarters of the EZLN. Every year, with the arrival of the morning of November 2, the food and the tobacco which we had put out on the little table for this purpose, had disappeared. And early on we would find Don Jacinto leaving the little room with the offering, we would greet him and he would respond with a "the deceased came, he ate and drank, and he smoked the tobacco." We all knew it was Don Jacinto who had eaten the little plate with the bread and two oranges, who had drunk the coffee without sugar which Pedro worshipped, and who had smoked the little box of cigarettes (24 stubs were left scattered about). All of us knew. Not now.

Don Jacinto died a few weeks ago, after being brutally beaten in one of those attacks of the "State of Law" against the indigenous autonomous municipalities. Don Jacinto did not die, his son told me, they killed him. And he explains to me that it is not the same to die of death as to die of being killed.
Each year since 1994, Pedro's offering dawned empty on the morning of November 2. All of us knew that Don Jacinto had taken notice of it during the evening. All of us knew. On the day of October 31, 1998, we put out the offering as was our custom, but now with the added sadness of knowing that Don Jacinto would not be here to watch over it and to take notice of the bread, the oranges, the coffee and the tobacco, as we all knew. The morning of this November 2 we went to clean up the offering, and we found the plate with bread empty, the orange rinds, the little cup of coffee with grounds, and the stubs on the floor. It is curious, the rinds and the stubs were on both sides of the table, in equal parts: 12 stubs on one side and 12 on the other, the rind of one orange on one side, and the other on the other. We all looked at each other and we were silent, only the sea said: "The year which is coming, you will have to put out double."

All of us knew that Pedro's offering dawned empty because Don Jacinto took notice of it. All of us knew. Not now.

All of this occurred at the dawn of the month of November of 1998, in the fifteenth year of the armed rebellion and the fifth of the war against forgetting, in the mountains of the Mexican southeast, dignified corner of the Patria, in the America they call "Latin," in the third planet of the solar system, just when, in the worn wheel of history, a century which some call "Twenty," is about to extinguish itself, all of which I bear witness to, and I affirm that it is destined to remain in the collective memory, which is another way of naming tomorrow.

P.S. For the February which is concealed in November: Now we are more and stronger. All of our dead will arrive. And so by nature are our dead: they make us great. Great to us, so small...
The Sup, asking for his little skull...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I grow up I want to be Subcomandante Marcos