The Story of the Questions

The real story of Emiliano Zapata.

"Many stories ago, in the time of the first gods, the ones who made the world there were two gods who were Ik'al and Votan. Two were one single one. When one turns the other could be seen, when the other turns the one could be seen. They were opposites. One was like the light, like a May morning in the river. The other was dark, like a night of cold in a cave. They were the same. One was two, because one made the other. But they didn't walk they were always stationary these two gods who were one. 'So what do we do?'. 'Life is sad like this', they lamented the two who were one. 'The night won't go' said Ik'al. 'The day won't go' said Votan. 'Let's walk' said the one who were two. 'How?' said the other. 'Where?' said the one. When they did this they saw they moved a little bit. First by asking why, and then by asking where. Happy was the one who was two. Then both of them decided to move and they couldn't. 'How do we do it then?' One would move from the other and then the other would move. So they agreed that in order to move they had to do so separately. And no one could remember who moved first, they were just happy that they moved and said 'What does it matter who is first as long as we move?'.

The two gods who were the same one said and they laughed and agreed to have a dance, and they danced, one little step behind the other. Then they tired of all the dancing and asked what else they could do and saw that the first question was "how to move" and brought the response of "together but separately and in agreement." They didn't care much that it was so. They were so happy they were moving until they came to two roads: one was very short and one could see the end of it. They were so happy they could move that they decided to choose the long road which then brought them to another question. 'Where did the road go?". It took them a long time, but the two who were one finally decided that they would never know where that long road took them unless they moved. So they said to one another 'Let's walk it then" And they began to walk first one and then the other. They found it was taking them a long time and asked "how will we walk for such a long time?' Ik'al declared he did not know how to walk by day and Votan declared that by night he was afraid. So they cried for a long time, then finally agreed that Ik'al would walk by night and Votan by day. Since then the gods walk with questions and they never stop, they never arrive and they never leave. So that is how the true men and women learned that questions serve to learn how to walk, and not to stand still. Since then true men and women walk by asking, to arrive they say good-bye and to leave they say hello. They are never still."

"That Zapata appeared here in the mountains. He wasn't born, they say. He just appeared just like that. They say he is Ik'al and Votan who came all the way over here in their long journey, and so as not to frighten good people, they became one. Because after being together for so long Ik'al and Votan learned they were the same and could become Zapata. And Zapata said he had finally learned where the long road went and that at times it would be light and and times darkness but that it was the same, Votan Zapata, and Ik'al Zapata, the black Zapata and the white Zapata. They were both the same road for the true men and women."

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Zapata Lives in Our Dead   Thunder Over Mexico   The Zapotecs   Emiliano Zapata     

Indigenous Peoples' Literature

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