SHORT STORY: THE EVIL RAIN

Maria remained strangely quiet as she slowly whispered-the Gods are angry; the Evil-rain is God’s way of punishing us for having abandoned the cultivation of corn; and you have forgotten to fulfil your yearly promise.

-I’ve been thinking about it myself, Pedro sighed, but we have no corn and we need corn to make the gruel, he said.

-Maybe Tomaso can lend you some, say it’s for your promesa, Maria urged. -I’ll see him tomorrow. Pedro said.

Maria got up early the next morning. She poked the ashes and uncovered a live coal; putting dry sticks on it Maria had a bright fire raging. She placed a five gallon can on it and filled it with water.

Pedro woke up and went outside. The stars were still shining brightly. He went to the hut next to his, Tomaso his brother lived here, he and his fat wife Nena. It was two of them only, Tomaso and Pedro. Lucia their sister had died leaving a child Jose now on a scholarship studying at the State Agricultural College. Jose’s father was a no good and so Tomaso took charge of the boy.

As Pedro reached Tomaso’s hut he coughed a little – it was his way of making known his presence.

-morning Pedro! it was Nena greeting.

-morning Nena, where is Tomaso he asked.

– Tomaso is by the well, Nena answered.

When Pedro reached the well Tomaso had just finished filling his calabash with water.

– I’ve come to ask you a favour, Pedro said.

– anything I can do for you, anything assured Tomaso.

– you see…. the Evil-rain … I want to fulfil my promesa, Pedro faltered, then continued, ”I want you to lend me some corn”. Among brothers to ask to buy would be considered arrogant even insulting. To borrow is to place oneself as the other’s equal. These peasants kept a rigid code of ethics. And Pedro wouldn’t beg.

When Pedro reached his plantation a fresh breeze was blowing from the East and the leaves were wet with dew. He cut three poles about six feet long and these he stuck in the ground about three feet apart. He then took a bundle of lianas with which he made three loops about five inches in diameter; each loop he tied on three points so that it hung as in a sling and then suspended it on the pole a loop from each pole. He took three gourds from his bag and poured corngruel from a calabash in each gourd until full. These he placed in the loops. Pedro then faced East sank to his knees and prayed. Rising to his feet he took a Balcho leaf he dipped it three times in each gourd and nine times sprinkled the gruel, three times in the air three times on the ground and three on the cane leaves and each time chanting the names of Yum Kinich – the Sun God, Yum Chaac – the Rain God, and Yum Chaash – God of the Woods.