I Samuel the Lamanite
I, Samuel, am a Lamanite. And I tell you that you can be dead and not know it.
I was. Hatred for the Nephites devoured my soul like a jaguar for a lamb. Day after day, my flock wandered after me through the fields while I brooded over a brown, parched pain. Nothing in the land of the living made me forget my beloved Itzayana and my little Itzae and I longed for a grave like the traveler’s rest.
The grass that once refreshed my soul, pushed by a strange breath, leaned towards me piercing me like darts, bringing to my memory the small feet of Itzae running about it.
My heartbeat only sent sadness to my body and my veins led the rancor of my soul to every pore. My sour and bitter face glowed in the night with the reddish light of revenge.
One night, while I was dozing next to the fire, I heard a voice calling me. Samuel!
It was not a man’s voice, I know them. It was a powerful voice like a cascade of rivers, soft as a breeze between trees, beautiful as Itzayana calling my son. He calmed me down like the thirsty one who drinks from the stream, or like the laughter of Itzae as he cleared my fears like the wind in the clouds.
Then my fire went out and my anger with him. I turned inside myself because a man whose wife and son have been murdered must not let his hatred die too. I tried to recover it, stoke it, but I could not, it was gone and I cried for losing the only thing I had left, my only refuge.
When my tears dried, the voice that spoke to me said that it was the God of my parents, the one who made the rivers, the grass and the clouds, the one that blew among the trees. He told me that he also lost many children and showed me his tears, they were like rivers that flooded the sky.
He told me about his love for his sheep and called me to bring him to the lost. That is why I left mine and prepared to fulfill his mandate. But then my soul was already light as a feather and my heart clean as early corn.
Yes, the voice called me to go to Zarahemla, to those Nephites who took my eyes off my sweet Itzayana and the laughter of my little Itzae.
When he came home one of those days with a head wound, he sat serious and reserved looking at the wall, motionless. I approached and stabbed his wounds without saying a word. I observed in his face trembling tears about to overflow his eyelid, but upon realizing, my brave little brother smiled and told me how his attackers fled. Always clinging to his rod like a spear, when it was his hidden staff. Always by my side with his twisted walk and hard gesture. In his lonely childhood he had me as a horizon for his sight and refuge for his soul.
Kinich was incapable of offending anyone, he did not conceive revenge or resentment. His pain was unknotted, detached from any response. It was a clean pain like the sweat of honest work, that which spills in great drops and not like that caused by perfidy, greasy and sticky. His innocence produced a sound inside my chest, like a dumm! that moved me and extended through my joints making them visible by a tremor.
He would cry out loudly.
«But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeems the human race, yes, to all mankind, and brings it back to the presence of the Lord.» (1)
I am Yumil, my name means owner, but then I was only the owner of my art. He sang and played the flute in religious ceremonies, burials and celebrations of the powerful. When I asked my parents why they called me Yumil, they would remind me for a few moments and for an answer they would give me tasks to do. So stop asking.
«Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will receive the land as an inheritance. » (4)
In remembering that young man, who was going to face a dramatic fate for our cause, I can say that I became another Yumil, this time owner, yes, owner of his name.
The Lamanite jumped and I lost sight of him. I ran as much as I could out of the city. I only found Nicte with some fruit and bread.
I am Yunuen, I am a warrior, an officer of the Zarahemla troops. I have seen a lot of blood running between my people and I have spilled mine in their defense. The tenderness with which my mother raised me disappeared long ago hardened by the scars of war. The smiles and the tender feelings were like the buzzing of flies around me. In the year 86 of the government of the judges I received orders to expel a certain Samuel, a Lamanite who came to preach about Jesus. For me it was a nuisance to be interrupted in my lunch for that simplicity, but I was on duty, so I sent my men and they made sure I did not bother anymore.
The next day I found out that Samuel was preaching from the South Wall at the cotton market. That day Iktan was on guard, so I went out of curiosity to see how that cocky beginner was developing.
When I arrived Iktan and his men were unable to shoot down Samuel with their arrows and stones, from a distance of less than forty cubits. While this was happening, the Lamanite prophesied our destruction. I was filled with anger, I went to Iktan and removed his bow, looking at me, lowered his eyes. I checked the rope and took a dart after checking its make and balance.
Before being an officer in the army I was a hunter, my father forced me to harden the tips of my fingers and to support the tension of the bow in my child’s body for hours. Now there was an opportunity to humiliate Iktan and he was not going to waste it.
The dart I chose was a reinforced tip, to pierce shields. Seeing the Lamanite’s complexion, the impact would lift it two inches off the ground, pierce it to the middle of the shaft. In a single movement, place the arrow and tensed the rope. The left arm, the back and the right elbow were a single line, as he had practiced since he was young. I carried the rope to my chin and with a back movement learned from my father, I added more tension. He taught me to release the arrow not with my fingers but by relaxing my hand on expiration.
With rage, I put all my disappointment on the tip of that arrow, my despair at not finding the glory or the happiness I was looking for. The high ideals of youth withered in the rudeness of forms and my spirit languished under my double armor.
Place on that point the dark hum that always accompanied me, the one that was three fingers below the sternum, yes, that slow death of my mind that little by little consumed me since I left childhood.
And now this little Lamanite came to proclaim the destruction of that for what I had fought all my life.
My hand released my fingers and these the rope.
«Therefore, remember, remember, my brothers, that he who perishes, perishes for his own sake; and whoever commits iniquity, does it against himself; for behold, you are free; you are allowed to act for yourselves; for behold, God has given you knowledge and has made you free. » (5)
Time stopped and I could see how the dart ran straight towards the heart of the Lamanite. An invisible cord went from my chest tied to the guide pen of the shaft. I accompanied her on the journey with all the bitterness of my soul tied to her, longing to tear her from me like a bad root. That, my pain, always unfinished able to cross stones.
I could see it, I do not know how, but I saw the shaft bend to Samuel’s right, four or five cubits. There is no power on this earth capable of doing that with such a shot. There was silence around me. I saw Iktan look at me incredulous and turn screaming at the men to climb the wall, but I did not hear him. Everything was slow and muted in my surroundings.
And then I noticed the tear in my soul caused by an invisible dart that pierced me. When listening to the one who perishes, perishes for the sake of himself, the words of my mother came to me.
And then, my knees loosened and they did not hold me. And then I heard a crunch in my chest, pierced by something vibrant.
And my heart poured out like water inside me, and the words of my childhood about those two thousand, of their faith and their courage came. And they took possession of my dominions there in my interior, my towers fell and my defenses broke.
And I realized the slow death that I inflicted on myself. I remembered with sorrow my youthful contempt for the tenderness of my mother, for her humble look, and I remembered the name of Jesus pronounced by his eyes and carved on his lips.
Yo Yunuen, prince of water, I saw how Samuel jumped from the wall. Like the pupil of a great eye, he closed his eyes on me. As the last word disappears in the closed lips.
When I got up I noticed that the dark humming under my sternum, that slow death of my soul was gone. In its place I noticed a flutter, like that of a little bird that we let go of the hollow of our hand.
I ran out of the city, on the other side of the walls, but only found a girl with a basket of bread and fruits and beside her someone dressed in a striking way.
I Samuel the Lamanite, I go back home
I Samuel tell you that man can return from death. And recover the sight to see the fresh grass. And feel the vigor that the soul receives from the fruits of the earth, both to please the sight and to cheer the heart. To invigorate the body and animate the soul.
I have fulfilled the mandate of my God. When I approached the city and the view of the walls of Zarahemla burned my soul like iron to red, he blew in my burning. When I put the words in my heart to say, they made steam rise from my soul like water poured into hot stone. Even so, he anointed me with balm. When those to whom I declared their words brought to my memory those who took mine, then I was entrusted to their tender mercies, only they could comfort me.
When I finished the mission in the city, I got off the south wall and headed towards my land. I looked back at Zarahemla for the last time. I could see three people, a girl with a basket, a soldier and … an artist. I waved at them but they did not see me. I did not feel resentment anymore, my wound was healed.