Skip to content
Join us on October 26 at 7PM EDT for the 2021 WWB Virtual Gala. Learn more and get your tickets today!
from the October 2005 issue

No One Dies, Life Only Changes

Note: This piece was originally written in Náhuatl.

We only change the way we live.... Thus it is explained in the tale of the experience of two people who lived through the following revelation.

"When the town was much smaller and had no electricity, the town was calmer and more tranquil. The people knew each other well and respected each other. There were very few people who walked about at night. People used to go to bed very early; pero... there were always those who went out in the moonlight to knock down a shot of alcohol at one of the few taverns in town or on their own street."

So said don Juan Tepuja. He speaks of one Friday when he had an appointment somewhere in town. He left at ten o'clock that night to keep his appointment and one the way he met don Alejandrino, who was lounging in the doorway of his house. Don Alejandro was looking very pensively at the moon and at the last stragglers who passed by, among whom was Juan Tepuja who asked:

"What are you doing out in the street so late at night?"

Don Alejandrino answered: "Well, I couldn't sleep and I felt like coming out here." While they were talking, don Juan offered him a drink of alcohol, saying, "Well, don't you want a little nip?"

This how a conversation got started between the two of them, meanwhile the night was going by. And the two of them finished the Juan Tepuja's bottle.

Don Juan said to Alejandrino, "Look, the half liter bottle is empty, finished. If you like, we can go and see don Roque to see if he'll sell us a little more."

Don Alejandrino was enthused, and the two of them left for don Roque's house. When they got there, they knocked at the door to ask for the alcohol. Don Roque came out and sold them the bottle they had asked for. Later, don Juan said to don Alejandrino: "Don Alejandrino, have another swallow if you like, because I'm leaving now."

Don Alejandrino answered, "Well, okay but this will be my last one."

And don Juan said to don Alejandrino, "Now, if you want to go with me, I'm just going some distance."

And Alejandrino answered, "Good, I feel the effect of the alcohol, but if you're inviting me, let's go."

Then they walked in the direction of the street that is known by name November 20th. And they went on walking. And when they reached the part that descends sharply (at the height where they were standing, the corner of November 20th and Benito Juárez, a lot of stone had been placed), don Alejandrino turned around and saw a very pretty street. He saw big houses. He saw an avenue full of trees. He saw a street where nothing but rich people lived. But this did not detain them. They continued walking until they arrived at a large door, where don Juan Tepuja knocked, asking them to open it. And that's what happened. Someone inside said, "Are you going to enter?"

Don Juan answered: "Yes, of course, that's why I'm here. But I have a friend with me. I'm going to ask him if he wants to come in."

Don Juan asked don Alejandrino: "Do you want to come in?"

Don Alejandrino answered, "Well, if you like. Or I can wait outside in the street."

"No, it's better if you come in, too."

So the two of them went in. They walked briefly through a passageway. Further inside was a large pen, and don Alejandrino went that far. And from there don Alejandrino saw don Juan start to hit the Christ on the cross right in the face. Don Alejandrino says he did not see anything else from the door but what don Juan Tepuja was doing, and how he went further inside. Then don Alejandrino went further inside, where he came upon the Christ. And speaking to him, he said: "Listen, Father," he crossed himself, genuflected, and started to pray...Father, I am not going to mistreat you, because you are my God, you are my master."

After praying, he said a few more things, and then stood up in order to see the inside of the house through a window that he found there. He saw that there were many people. It looked like they were having a party. The people went up and back, and in the midst of this crowd he saw people who had died. He saw Odilón Jiménez, with his wife, Mister Pedro Vida, Beto Carrillo and some others. He saw many people who had passed away even before them. That is where don Juan Tepuja and don Alejandrino were. Looking at them, time passed, until he was bored, and don Alejandrino said, "I'm leaving."

Then he went back to where the Christ was. He crossed himself, genuflected, and said, "My Father, I am going now. Anyhow, stay here and they will continue to mistreat you. Now, if you want to go with me, I will take you."

And Christ answered, "No my son, I have to stay. Go, and that you for coming to visit me."

Don Alejandrino left the Christ and went toward the door on the way to leaving the same way they had come in. A short while later don Juan Tepuja arrived and said, "Let's go now," and they went back.

Don Alejandrino said that each one went to his own house.

After don Alejandrino's revelation, he told everyone in the town: "So don't they say that Pedro Carrillo died? It is not certain. I saw him last night in a big house where they were having a party, and I saw various others who they say have already died. I saw them there very happy, and on one side I saw many candles of different sizes, some smaller than others, some that looked as if they were about to be extinguished, but there they were. One no longer loses his life, but goes on living."

This is the way don Juan Tepuja, may he rest in peace, and don Alejandrino told the story.

This legend brings together interesting and real facts. Twentieth of November Street is the only one that goes in the direction of the cave of Coatépetl, that is found on the hill of the same name, located at the north side of the village where many shamans visit to make a pact with the Devil.

Men do not die, they only live another way.

Read more from the October 2005 issue
Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.