Miskitu Legend: The Mangoes of the Dead

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A story from the Nicaraguan Miskitu People about the mango trees planted to feed the dead in the cemetery.

Trujillo Cemetery

Photo by Jack Eidt

The Mangoes of the Dead

A Miskitu story translated from Legends and Stories of Nicaragua

Convinced that the dead lead a normal life in the cemetery, the residents of Dikua Tara in the Honduran border region of Waspán, Nicaragua, planted several fruit trees out among the community grave-sites, where mangoes and oranges dominated the landscape.

The local elders guarded the fruits closely when they ripened because according to them in this way they protected the feeding of the dead.

The young people of the community, rebellious against the old guard as they should be, challenged the leaders with nocturnal attempts to steal the fruits at harvest time.

Many had been captured and punished by the elders in this attempt, but there were always more young people with the same intentions.

One moonlit night during the month of September, the young Madal came to Dikua Tara from Ti Kiamp to visit his friend Usiano … but at that moment he and Adisman were leaving their house with the intention of stealing mangoes in the cemetery, challenging the vigilance of the town elders.

They convinced Madal, who decided to come along, to commit the robbery.

When they reached the cemetery gate, they found the elders Kigirmu and Talabira, the guardians of that night, asleep. The young people entered through the gate without making noise, and angled toward the mango trees.

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mango tree, belize

Mango Tree. Photo by Linda Crawford, Village View Post.

But when they had advanced about fifty meters they began to hear a voice: “This for you and this for me, this for you and this for me.” They approached closer to the trees and saw two men, one with a long white cloak and the other wearing a dark cape of some kind.

For a moment Usiano, Adisman, and Madal remained motionless, regarding each other in silence, all quite pale.

Madal who was the bravest of the group, drawing strength from who knows where, was the first to speak and said to others: “We’re screwed brothers, that’s God and Satan sharing with the other dead!”

And immediately the three of them shouted with fear with all their strength and said: “Let’s get out of here before they give us away!” And the three ran away and with their screams they woke up and also scared the vigilantes, who too ran for their houses.

From this time, never again any young man in the community tried to steal the mangoes from the dead of Dikua Tara … But do you know what happened?

The truth is that when Madal, Usiano, and Adisman arrived at the place of the mangoes, Nicasio and Puskrip were distributing the ripe fruits that had been stolen.

That is why it is said that it is also bad to be too fearful.

Told by Rufino Lucas (February 1997)

Read More Nicaraguan Stories in Spanish: http://www.manfut.org/leyendas/mayagnas.html

Updated 5 June 2019

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About Jack Eidt

Novelist, urban theorist, and environmental journalist, Jack Eidt careens down human-nature's all consuming one-way highway to its inevitable conclusion -- Wilder Utopia. He co-founded Wild Heritage Planners, based out of Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com. Follow him on Twitter @WilderUtopia and @JackEidt