Monday, March 24, 2014

Naufús and the Four Hundred Young Men

ohhh and also, Naufus my friend has a show in Paris at the moment, try to make it if you are in the area.
It is a delightfully wicked piece of Mayan Myth fan fiction. Just amazing. I can see the tags and abbreviations in those fan fiction forums now. The actual art piece is a 14 ft wood block print of the log in the story. He said it took him ages carving the wood while he was in Amsterdam.

https://www.facebook.com/events/238573862995976/
http://www.galeriesultana.com/

Here is the piece:
Naufús and the Four Hundred Young Men

"I am the creator of the mountains," said Zipacná, as I tried to discreetly take glances at his naked body in the river. I was sitting on the edge, also naked, my toes playing with the water below. You might imagine that I was annoyed about his bragging about being the “creator of the mountains” but, well, who doesn’t like an arrogant boy. Besides I also had my talents. I was thinking about these things, when I saw four hundred youths passing by. I guessed that they were four hundred because Zipacná and I had played counting games for a long time now.  These consisted mostly of guessing impossibly large groups of things, like flocks of birds, a school of fish, or corn in a bowl. If we were able to, we would verify our guesses and whoever lost would have to do the other person’s chores. We had played these games for so long that it had become second nature to guess numbers.

As the young men passed by, we saw that of them carried a part of an absurdly long log. We put some clothes on, went up to one of the young men and asked what he was doing. “Its only this big log, that me and my brothers just felled”, he replied, slurring his words.

“You and your brothers?!” I asked, “Are you from some kind of cult?” The young man, without taking his eyes off the road ahead, said “No man, we really are brothers.”

Zipacná seemed by now really uninterested and said he was going home. The young men were pretty cute. They looked like variations on the same person yet each unique. It made me think of kindergarten and making paper cutouts of snowflakes. The teacher had explained to us that “if you look under a microscope each snowflake that falls from the sky is as unique as each of you.”

I walked with the young men, but I noticed that they were looking tired and had become slow. They said to me "this log is so damn heavy, we wish we could lift it and carry it on our shoulders." "I will carry it" I replied, "where does it have to go? What do you want it for?" The young men, almost in unison answered, "We cut it to use it as the support beam of our new house". "All right," I answered and took the pole from them, lifting it up and put it over one shoulder. The young men gasped in horror as they saw me carry the pole as though it was a broomstick. Of course my intention was not to show off my strength but to maybe score some points with them.

But they didn’t live that close by and after some time we arrived at the construction site I felt sticky from the sweat and the dust.  "Now stay with us, Naufús,” they said, "do you have a mother or a father?” "I have neither," I answered. "Then stay with us for the moment if you can, we need help building this house. We can pay you.”  "Okay," I answered with a smile, imagining that if one out of ten is game, - then I've got myself a good party.

Days passed. We worked hard preparing everything to build up the house. But I found the brothers odd, they almost always talked in unison and it became annoying. I even stopped flirting with them, and was thinking of going back home to Zipacná.

One morning as I went into the woods to get another log, the four hundred brothers gathered and said "How shall we kill this boy? Because it is not good what he has done lifting the log alone and doing all these impossible things. He is a monster, even if he behaves like a flirty girl, he is still dangerous to have around. Plus we don’t have any money to pay him. Can you imagine what he would do to us? Let us ask him to dig a deep pit and push him into it.” But when they went to get me, they found me asleep at the edge of the woods with an axe in my hands. I guess I looked threatening, because the young men, increasingly anxious, went ahead and dug the hole themselves. There were so many of them that by the time I woke up from my nap the hole was finished.

“Naufús, could you please go down to take out some of the loose earth and carry it up here?” I was getting tired at all their requests, they sounded like a swarming cloud of mosquitos. I went to the edge of the hole, stooped down to see the bottom of it and said “guys, I can’t see the bottom of the hole, I can’t go down there! Besides I think its deep enou“, they pushed me in. Falling down that hole seemed endless; occasionally my head or feet would slam against the edges, but the dirt was soft like brown velvet, which was the greatest thing for when I landed at the bottom, I had not hurt myself.

It took me a minute or two to come back to my senses, but when I did, I heard the young men dragging something heavy above. I could see the tip of the pole getting bigger on the edge of the hole. I anxiously dug at the walls of the pit, clumps of earth falling easily, as I dug in a panic. But when the pole fell down into the bottom I could see the natural intelligence of my action: I had dug a side chamber that protected me as the large tree trunk fell into the pit. Outside, the brothers heaved with excitement  "we crushed him! But sh, let no one speak! Let us wait until we hear his dying screams." I was indeed screaming, but not from pain, but from hysteria. "Oh! How well we have succeeded in this! Now he is dying!" said the boys. "What did that crazy guy want with us anyway?” the four hundred boys joked around, teasing each other as to which of them had been my favorite.

Filled with the joy that seems so strangely familiar to lynch mobs; they said: "Now we must make our chicha and build our house! But we should be wary and make sure that the day after tomorrow the ants come out of the earth carrying bits of his body. This will be our real proof that he has died".

From my pit I could hear everything the boys said. And later, on the second day, multitudes of ants came, coming and going and gathering under the log. At the mere sight of them I rushed to painfully pull out from my body what ever I could and was happy to see that some ants carried my hair in their mouths and others carried my whole fingernails up the edges of the pole to the surface. When the boys saw this, they said, "That faggot has now perished! Look how the ants have gathered, how they have come in hordes, some bringing his hair and others his fingernails. Look what we have done!" So they spoke to each other.

Nonetheless, I was very much alive. I continued to pull out my hair and gnaw off my fingernails to give them to the ants. And so the four hundred boys believed that I was dead, and on the third day they began with what sounded like a huge party, celebrating my death. But by night everything fell silent. Sensing that the men were now wasted and unconscious, I lifted the huge pole from the bottom. It was harder than I expected. When I crawled out of that pit I knew no mercy and took the pole into my arms like a baseball bat and killed them all. Not even one or two amongst the four hundred were saved. I, who had tried to be friendly and had never meant to be a threat to any one, killed them. But as I stood there afterwards with the pole at my feet, exhausted, and covered in their blood, I saw their bodies lighting up like fireflies. Their bellies seemed swollen with sunlight, and this swelling increased, detaching itself from them. The lights floated around me, examining me, entering my mouth, exploring each internal organ and bone fiber inside of me. I felt my body easing up, filled with calm and contentment. The lights poured out of my skin, nose, ass, bellybutton and ears. The lights went up into the sky, becoming the group of stars called the Motz in the Quiche language, also known as the Pleiades constellation in English. I walked back home as dawn came, feeling renewed and somehow happy to have a new story to tell to Zipacná.

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