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Go, and Come Back
by Jean Abelove


p.4 "Did they bring pictures of their Jesus?" Swiss missionaries had brought us funny pictures of their god carrying a big, oddly formed piece of wood, dragging it on his back up a steep hill.

p.26-27 "That old nawa was going to kill her? Kill a girl baby. Nawa! They have no sense at all." She was right. No one kills a girl baby. Girls are the ones who stay home and make sure your old age is happy and easy. Boys go off and never take care of you. You might kill a baby boy, if he were disabled or if you didn't want another child. But no Isabo ever killed a girl child.

p.36-37 But nothing was ever simple with these old ladies. They brought in a big bottle of sugarcane liquor, enough to keep the whole village drunk for a day and a half, and they didn't want to open the bottle. They were saving it. What was the matter with them? Did they think it would get better with age? When you have liquor, you drink it. It's only natural. When you have food, you make sure to be generous and give some to all your relatives, so when they have some, they will share it with you. This is how we "save" food.

p.40-41 "I have seven daughters and only one son," the old man announced.
     "I'm sorry," said Joanna.
     He looked at her to see if she was kidding. She seemed serious.
     "These women," he said in a loud voice in Isabo. "They don't understand anything."
     The old man was bragging, of course. He had seven daughters and only one son--a powerful man, a man to be reckoned with, a man who had seven sons-in-law to work for him and one child he had to give away to work for someone else. And Joanna had said she was sorry!

NAMES: Papaisi, Eosario, Teresa, Poincushmana, Nonti, Elena, Canseen, Cami, Tomas, Teolinda, Sapososta, Dante, Ucayali, Weesoshando, Nimeran, Nachi, Cuncha, Pucallpa, Olivia, Chichica, Yoshran, Ashandi

Some things in Isabo

  • "Min baque mahuata?" Your baby died?
  • "Era caymai." No, I'm not going.
  • "Minqui cai?" Now you are going?
  • "Yacahue." Sit down.
  • "Era mocai. I am going.
  • "Catanhue." Go, and come back.
  • "Nora mocai." We are going.
  • "Nocon baque mahuata." My baby is dead.
  • "Hahuen baqui shincashamai." The bad old man never thought of his child.
  • "Chiquisha shamai." I am not lazy.
  • "Era mecai. Minqui shina shina shinandai." I am going now. I will think and think and think of you.

    Isabo = The People of the Little Monkeys