Thursday, February 6, 2014


Båsta nåna de tumånges
sa' un na' lache karerå-ho;
yan maolek-ña yo' gi langet
ke i tano' na sagå-ho.
Stop your crying, mother,
because you will make me stray from my path;
for I am better off in heaven
than in my earthly place.
There are several Kåntan Chamorrita verses in which the speaker, still alive, speaks to someone about their impending death, even if that death might be decades from now.
Perhaps it was due to some (many?) Chamorros lingering thoughts on the nearness of death.  Epidemics were not unknown, which wiped out large numbers of people.
I wonder, even, if this might be due to some of the young men's propensity to get on whaling ships and leave Guam as fast they could.  Many, if not most, never returned.  As late as 1941, I know of mothers and aunties weeping over a son's joining the US Navy as if they had just been told he had died.  Perhaps this was the young man's way of saying his joining the whaling ships might mean they would never see him again on earth, but that they would be together again, and more happy, in heaven.
The line about a mother's weeping is interesting.  For a young man seriously contemplating leaving the island for the big world, by joining the foreign ships, hearing his mother cry at the idea might make him change his mind and stray from his path.
Or, perhaps, for the soul which has departed the earth in death, to see his mother crying over his dead body will make him feel remorse and disturb his smooth journey to the next life.
Those two things stand out, for sure, in this verse, concerning the old Chamorro mentality.  A mother's tears were strong enough to seriously affect a child's future.  And that heaven was a better future than anything on earth.

No comments:

Post a Comment