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The coca: a story that Kjana-chuyma did not predict

Published: 2017.04.12 - 11:20:34   /  /  Laura Barrera Jerez  /  translated by  Luis E. Amador Dominguez  /

The coca: a story that Kjana-chuyma did not predictKjana-chuyma was very old when the Spaniards arrived to American lands. They say that he was a fortune-teller and that, by order of the Inca and despite his age, he was at the service of the temple of the Island of the Sun. Perhaps Kjana-chuyma never knew, but the courage that ran through his veins was more glorious than his supposed gift to predict the future.

When the story of Bolivia is told, there are still many passages: devastated villages, murders, plundered lands, aborigines converted into submissive vassals, overworked, forced to renounce their customs, exterminated without compassion ... little hope remained, few lights, few people.

It was at that time that Kjana-chuyma took with him the sacred treasures of the great temple, but it was not a robbery, it was a settling of scores with the future.

Kjana-chuyma would never betray his blood nor that of his ancestors. He relied on superior forces, many spirits were with him. That is why he went to the eastern shore of Lake Titicaca, where he hid the riches and watched over them, day and night, with the permanent fear that at any moment the Spaniards would come to claim what they considered theirs.

The conquerors knew of that escape and traced the hiding place with the intention to take possession of the booty. The fortune-teller could not predict the arrival of the men disguised as iron, and when he saw them approaching, he threw the treasure to the bottom of the lake: he preferred to sink it rather than to deliver it.

The white men increased beatings and abuse, but they did not hear a word. Courage was part of the essence of that old Indian: the Spaniards grew tired and Kjana-chuyma only had a small part of life left in him.

It was then that the dying man spoke with his God and, between the two, they came to an agreement:

"My son, your self-abnegation in the sacred duty you have voluntarily imposed upon yourself, of guarding my sacred objects, deserves a reward. Ask for what you want, I am willing to grant it."

"Oh, dear God," answered the old man, "what else can I ask of you in this hour of mourning and defeat, but the redemption of my race and the annihilation of our infamous invaders?"

- "Unhappy son," answered the Sun. "What you ask of me, it is already impossible."

Kjana-chuyma had no choice but to be truthful in his request.

He was always one of the most beloved yatiris. Even in those days, the children of the Empire of the Sun moved to his bed to take care of the fever and accompany him in his agony. Every minute the old man was more convinced that before leaving, he should leave them a greater treasure than the one that lay in the depths of Titicaca.

It was then that Kjana-chuyma asked the God to grant his brothers uneasiness: he wanted a solution to mitigate their pains and the anguished fatigues that awaited them.

"Well," answered the voice, "look around you, do you see those little plants with green and oval leaves?" I made it sprout for you and your brothers. They will perform the miracle of falling asleep and sustaining fatigue. They will be the priceless talisman for bitter days. Tell your brothers that, without hurting the stems, they should tear off the leaves and after drying them, chew them. The juice of these plants will be the best narcotic for the immense pain of their souls."

Kjana-chuyma listened calmly to the indications and said that after transmitting the divine order, he died. His brothers buried him at the top of the hill, where the first coca plants had sprouted. And since then tradition is an incentive for weariness.

After cold nights and long trips on the high plateau, the men and women of Bolivia share the blessings of that plant whose history is part of their own essences.

The fascinating spectacle of the mastication of those leaves can last for hours and end up being a bitter juice: the constant vindication of Kjana-chuyma.

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