They can burn books, destroy libraries, forbid languages, ban beliefs, delete past times,
draw new present times, order future actions, torture and execute people...
But they still don´t know how to kill the intangible and bright
bodies of ideas, dreams and hopes.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Qom tale

A Qom tale

By Sara Plaza


Kataló, the giant, has a wife who is in the mountain.

They do not live together.

She is the queen of the epidemics, of the different types of diseases that are in the mountain.

Kataló favors people.

Kataló is a king who has the power to save or to give that power to somebody else for him to save a third one.

His wife lives inside the mountain.

In this couple, they do not have the same job.

There are piogonak [2] who belong to us and other who belong to Christians.

However, the remedy provided by Kataló never finishes, neither the diseases because this queen always send them.

Kataló never runs out of medicines, which he always gives to the piogonak for them to cure people.

He cannot stop everything.

Neither can she send everything.

That way one intercepts the other.

She is Latée na Nalolga (the diseases' mother), or Nalolga Laté; also named Kataló Lua, Miss Kataló.

And Kataló is Nkalga Lataá (the salvation's father).

When Kataló knows that his wife sends different kinds of diseases, he calls the piogonak who is in contact with him and tells him how and with what he has to cure those who are ill.

That is it.

In the previous post of this blog we said that we should not give time the opportunity to pass in vain. We said that our hands have to work for it does not happen, and that our imagination should give us the necessary ideas to mould the clay in which we sculpt our daily actions. We talked about maintaining alive our libraries, our curiosity, and our willingness of thinking, telling, doing. We talked, why not, about moving further without stop being at the side of who is the true heart of the house of knowledge, of culture, of history, of games, of music, of legends, of recipes, of craftworks... the house of doubts, of questions, of so many treasures that can be found between the pages of a book, the lines of a map, the sounds of a cassette, the images of a video, the fibers of a textile, the carvings of a ceramic...

We spoke, in the end, of not forgetting that the reason of our culture and our knowledge is placed in every single person that treads the life day after day, of those who journeyed it before and those who will walk along it in the future... Because those goods belong to us; we have created them together and they are part or what we were, of what we are and of what we want to become. Because there is not a unique true knowledge, on the contrary, there are many forms of knowing and all of them are valid. Nobody was born knowing already what s/he was going to know later, and we all continue to learn every day...

The library and the school are marvelous entities if they manage to join us, if they allow ideas to be interchanged, if they help us to move our projects forward, both personal and professional, daily ones and those we dream to make true some day... They have to become the germ of new desires to know about something, the seed of a constructive dialogue among people who always know something and always has something to teach to the other and to learn from him/her. They have to permit us to tell whatever we want to share, at the same time that they allow us to ask whatever we do not know, we have never seen or heard, he hardly have dared to dream... They should value our needs, our customs, our peculiarities. And they should give us the opportunity to reach new ways of looking, new manners of hearing, and new forms of grabbing, holding and touching a book, a drawing, a photograph, a song, a dream gently...

The tale with which I began this post only intended to show, with a bit of poetry, our fragility and our enormous courage. Both of them go together, hand in glove, interlaced as the diseases are twisted together with their remedies. They are joined as the roots to the ground, the trunk to the roots, the branches to the trunk, the leaves to the branches, the wind to the leaves, the wings to the wind, the dreams to the wings, life to the dreams, death to live, memory to death, history to memory and so on... That is it. They are joined, but each of them with a different work to do, and both of them necessary. And they are the ones that remain in each of us, the ones that we can always notice through our actions. They are also the ones that are present in our libraries and our schools, in the small handicrafts and the great architectural features of many works. It is with them that we have to work. All of us count with our fortitude for not giving time the opportunity to pass in vain, taking advantage, instead, of anything good that our society may offer to us in order to walk the life not in a hurry, but without pause. A good example might be the library and the school, as long as we can continue shaping them until they fit us well, exactly the same as we continue to shape ourselves until we look like the ones we want to become... We already know, because we have learnt it from the Qom people, that Latée na Nalolga, the diseases' mother is going to keep on reigning in her mountain, as we also know that her husband, Kataló, the salvation's father, is going to help us always. They will continue to manage the diseases and their remedies, and we will have to keep on overcoming the former and taking advantage of the latter ones with the help of the piogonak, of the library, of the school and of our own hands...

[1] By José Benítez, from Qom indigenous people. Collected in "Lo que cuentan los Tobas" (What Tobas tell), a compilation by Buenaventura Terán published by Ediciones del Sol, which belongs to its collection Biblioteca de Cultura Popular (Popular Culture Library) (n. 20, Buenos Aires, 1994)

[2] The shamanism of the Tobas (who call themselves Qom, which means "the people") is mainly male. As Terán writes in the above mentioned book, the piogonak (shamans) cure singing, sucking, with tobacco, fats and medicines. [...] become shamans when they encounter a theogony or powerful entity in the mountain, because other shaman (generally a relative) transfers to him the power through a collective initiation called welán or through a dream.