One by one, the others dejectedly retreated back to the community to pray to Pachamama, mother nature, to keep the hunter safe from harm. Yet the hunter’s friend remained on the beach, his lance leaning on the branch on which he sat, his hands idle or else plucking the leaves on the tree then pulling them tight between his fingers and blowing through them to call out to his friend. Sometimes he even whistled to see if he would get a reply.

By now, the sun was steadily falling from the sky and even he had to admit that if his friend were still alive, he would not be sleeping in the village that night. He could do no more than climb down from the branch and creep back to his hut, hoping that everybody would have gone to sleep and would not hear his approach. He had no wish to be the barer of bad news.

He was wrong of course- the whole village, even the tiny children, were all keeping a vigil with a huge fire roaring in the middle of the clearing. They all stood up when he arrived but a small shake of his head made them turn away and back into insular sorrow. Without saying a word, he took a place by the fire and looked intently into its bright flames as if staring into it would give him a fresh idea as to the whereabouts of the mighty hunter.

Meanwhile, the man-dolphin swished and flailed around miserably in those waters. Whenever somebody from the community came down to the river, he swam towards them in the vain hope that he would somehow be able to communicate with them. But the women screamed and dashed away as soon as they laid eyes on him and the men jabbed their spears towards him and hollered aggressively. Then, out of loneliness, he tried to just be near them without being spotted so as just to hear a woman’s song or listen to the village’s news. But it is not easy to camouflage oneself when one is pink and one’s river is murky blue. In the end, he gave up such ideas and resigned himself to a life of solitude and despair.

He stayed that way for many months, depressed and bored with a life condemned to the rivers and lakes of the region. He searched far and wide for other mammals similar to himself for company, but there were none. He had contact only with tilapia fish, catfish, shrimps, bocachica fish and other small and dull lifeforms. It is difficult to claim to have friends when the only contact between the two is a few seconds before the smaller one gets killed and eaten, sometimes eaten by him, for…

Helen Pugh

#Inca history where #women take centre stage! Ebooks & paperbacks for kids + adults in English & español. She/her #womenshistory #SouthAmerica.