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Figure 3.14. The children really like to play in the village. By Sonia Benites, 2000.
most pressing problems. A reconsideration of Tupi-Guarani notions of time and
the body are at stake because in this earthly world, the body is considered to be
a perishable entity, prone to sicken and die. The capacity to endure hardships and
suffering is desirable, however, because it is part of the transformation of the body
into an inviolable and resistant (marae'y) entity, which cannot be destroyed. This is
the ultimate quality that all things, material or symbolic, fully achieve at the Ywy
Marae'y. Therefore, when Mizael states that he wants to become a Guarani warrior
here in this mundane world, he is ultimately seeking the xondaro's endurance and
ability to withstand abuse today, and not in the future.
Moreover, when Mizael prophetically claims the transformation of protestant
missionaries into Guarani xondaro, he seems to be trying to overturn the Guarani
belief in the future destruction of the world, which seems too imminent in the face
of such high rates of Guarani infant mortality and morbidity. The boy has been
hospitalized many times, and according to his mother Zeferina,
Mizael is afraid of dying. He wakes up in the middle of the night sweating
and screaming: “Don't take me, don't take me!” I ask him who and where
they are taking him, and he says: “they are taking me to the cemetery in the
ambulance!” So I give him some chimarrão [mate tea], reassuring him he will
be xondaro, and he goes back to sleep.
If the life-history of Nhande Ru Pari - a mythical figure who reached the Land-
without-Evil without undergoing the ordeal of death - states that it is not possible to
be both god and human simultaneously, but only successively (Cadogan 1959:59;
Clastres 1995:77), Guarani children are telling us that the concurrent union of the
human order and the divine world is not only possible, but highly desirable in this
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