Los Gamelos

This morning I read something for Christmas at my neighborhood association as I have been for several years now. This excerpt from The Fourth World I read a couple of years ago. In the novel it is a story narrated by a virtual Zapata. Feliz Navidad.

“It is a parable I call Los Gamelos, The Twins:

“There were twin brothers long, long ago who were left a magnificent castle by their mother and father. The parents were old and sick and wanted to provide for their sons when they were gone, for they had always done everything for their children as loving parents will do. But when they died, the funeral had no sooner concluded and the brothers were alone, than the first brother seized the castle for himself and shut the second brother out into the wilderness that surrounded the castle walls. And in that moment, as if the gods blessed his iniquity, the first brother began to grow larger and larger, while his unfortunate brother grew smaller and smaller.
“And each day, the first brother, now a giant, sat atop the castle’s highest tower and watched his shadow stretch all the way to the horizon—where the second brother toiled all day in his pitiful milpa to feed himself and his family and his children—and the first brother was quite content with himself.

“But as hard as the second brother worked, he could never prosper, for when harvest time came, the giant plucked the corn and beans for himself. He took his brother’s chickens, his cows, the pig who would never be fat anyway. Everything went to the giant’s table. He burned the forest to warm himself in the winter, drank the rivers dry in the summer.

“Fortunately, by this time the second brother had grown so small he could feed his family on a grain of corn, feed the entire village with a great rat roasted over a pine cone. He drank the dew in the morning, rode upon a breeze like a speck of dust into the castle halls at night.

“There, in the great hall he overheard the giant pacing up and down cursing his fate: always eating, but still hungry, brushing the high ceiling with his head, squeezed out of all the smaller rooms, unable to sit down and rest, unable to sleep, to breathe. The giant wailed to the heavens to rescue him from his sufferings.

“And when the second brother heard this—the tiny, diminutive brother, no bigger than a few molecules perhaps, a few particles or waves—he began to laugh. He couldn’t help himself. The laughter grew louder and louder, so loud, as tiny as it was, because it was so very, very funny, that even the giant could hear it. And though it took a long time for the sound to travel from his enormous ears to his enormous brain, and a longer time still for him to figure out what this incredible sound could be, when he finally understood it, he went into a mad rage. There beneath his feet, in the cracks between the stones, his brother mocked him in the dust.

“The giant fell to his knees, tearing at the stones, ripping up the floor, the walls, until the castle fell down around him. Then he crushed the stones into powder and sifted it through his fingers, desperately searching for his brother. But search as he might, he could never find him, and soon matters became too desperate for him to continue his search.

“For now he had no shelter, and winter was coming on. He had become too big to feed himself, dress himself, lie down even in the great broad world without coiling himself around it like a snake. He became so desperate he called out to his brother that all was forgiven and could he please help him with a tortilla or a plate of beans. But deep inside the Earth, the second brother waited, smaller than a thought you can’t quite remember on a hot summer afternoon. Until finally, the giant drank the last bit of water but a drop or two clinging to his huge moustache. He breathed the last air but the slightest puff that roared out of him as he expired. He fell the length and breadth of the earth, covering it entirely, dying an enormous death mourned by no one.

“In the morning, the second brother came out of the Earth to claim his brother’s corpse, and to give it to the people to live upon. For out of the rotting corpse sprang corn. Out of his mouth came the cattle and the chickens and the pigs. From his eyes, the waters flowed again. Birds nested in his hair. And in the great windy vaults of his empty skull, there was room enough for everyone.�

Copyright 2000 by Dennis Danvers

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