The Tzijoxik (The Legend)

When Nabe awoke on the first day of his twelfth year, he heard the sky gods sing. Always, his people had heard the chatter of the little gods around them, whispers of wind through the leaves, patters of rain on the broad green leaves, the creaking of bark against wood. But those were the words that the kulik, the others, heard— no words at all. The kulik called Nabe’s people the Kaacha’al, the Broken People, because they heard the the words of the gods themselves. They spoke with the little gods each day, and knew that one day, the sky gods would sing to them.

And Nabe was proof of their belief. The boy went shouting into center of the village, repeating the words of the sky gods. Runners went forth to tell the kulik, so that they may also share in the words of the gods. But the replies were dismissive. “They are broken,” said the kulik. “Their ears, their souls, their heads are broken.” So Nabe’s people listened to their gods and told no one what they said.

Nabe grew tall and strong, strong as the gods, but never as tall. He married and had four sons: Ukab, Urox, Ukaj, and Uro. The sons grew tall and strong as well and on the first day of their twelfth year, they also heard the sky gods sing. The sons spoke with their father and their people to share the words of the gods, share the ability to hear them, so the gods would be known to all.

“The kulik say we are broken,” said the villagers. “They will not listen to broken people.”

“We are the people who hear the gods,” said Ukab. “We are the Tioxalaj Ta’nik!”

“Ta’nik!” one small girl shouted. “We hear!” This girl was K’isbal, the little sister of Nabe’s sons.

And that is how the Ta’nik got their name. They were not a broken people. It was they who listened closely enough to hear their gods.

Nabe, listening to his sons as he did his gods, sent one of them to each of the four corners of the Earth. In each place, the son would form a nahil, a home. The sky gods spoke with each of them, spoke with all the new Ta’nik, and told the first ones where their loved ones were. It was on the first day of her sixth year that K’isbal heard the gods sing.

And she sang with them. The sky gods proclaimed it to all the Ta’nik, that this daughter would be the greatest listener of them all.

K’isbal heard more strongly than her brothers, felt the kulik more strongly than her people. So on the first day of her seventh year, she took herself away from the village and went to the kulik to help them hear. They told her she was broken, she told them she was not. She told them they were deaf, they told her they were not. She listened to the chatter of the trees around their big city, repeated the little words.

They said, “Small child, you are broken.”

She told them what the sky gods said. She told them of the men that would come in the future, men that would bring fire and death and not hear anyone’s gods but their one single god.

They said, “Small child, you are broken. You must meet our gods.”

“I will,” she said. “I listen to all.”

So they sacrificed her.

Now one of the kaminaq, one of the dead, K’isbal went Xibalba and conversed with the kulik gods. They laughed at her, said she was broken, and did not let her return.

The sky gods told Nabe what had happened, then they told the brothers of K’isbal. Nabe went to the kulik and said, “Give me the body of my daughter.”

“Ask your gods, broken man,” they said.

“If I am broken,” said Nabe, “It is you who have broken me. You have taken my daughter from me and my people. You have taken our most precious gift. She was not meant to die.”

“If your gods are true gods, then she would not have died, broken man,” they replied. “Leave us, or we will send you to join her in Xibalba.”

Nabe would not leave. So the kulik sent him to be with his daughter. The sky gods watched all of this. Then they sang:

  áantikai káana’che    (the singing sky gods)
  chojojik alaj’che    (leave the talking little gods)
  etamanel jich’ij    (with the breaking of the listeners)
  káana’che warinaq    (the sky gods sleep)
  raxarisaj s’or    (the ones who hear the sky gods deaf)
  tiox Ka’yik kulik    (until a twin who will appear as other)
  chajrax etamanel    (bearing the eyes of the listeners)
  k’astajik warinaq káana’che.   (who will awaken the sleeping sky gods)

This would be the last song of the sky gods. They fell silent, sleeping, and the Ta’nik were cut off from one another. With the prophecy of the men from the west, the Ta’nik hid themselves from the kulik, wondered where their kin were, and listened only to the chattering of the little gods. This they did, while they waited for Ka’yik.