Upon arriving in Puno that evening, we were welcomed by a family of musicians. They play traditional instruments and sing in Quechua (language of the Inca Empire).
There are several generations within the family, each with their own role and personality. There are the elderly and the young, blood relatives and friends who are like family. By eating together, guests then become part of the family, and as such we became ‘hermano’ and ‘hermana’: brothers and sisters of the family.
That evening, it was Kantuta, a young sister in the family’s birthday.
She was in charge of making sure everybody had something to eat, and she was also the only person who could really speak any English.
I was taken by the soft face and smile, her kindness and her discretion. Whenever anyone gave her a compliment, she lowered her eyes towards the ground, smiling.
For her birthday, her friend Maya and her brothers had bought her a cake, so beautiful and highly coloured and you’d think it wasn’t real. Maya had also made her an adorable teddy bear. (A miniature version of which you can find at the end of our videos with a link to the BedyCasa Youtube channel).
We wished her “cumpleaños feliz”, and until that point, there was nothing different to European birthday celebration, however next… the party took a more solemn tone as we made a circle with Kantuta slightly in the middle.
Rumi, the most talkative out of the 3 brothers, stepped forward and started to speak.
He spoke in Quechua and in Spanish. We were only able to understand a few words in Spanish, but the tone and people’s faces spoke for them.
Going round the circle, each person went towards Kantuta to tell her how she was important to the family, and what a beautiful person she was. The more shy members of the group at first found it difficult to find their words, but then quickly found themselves and expressed feelings close to their heart.
Kantuta didn’t stay a word or look at them; she simply absorbed their words, their smile, with their eyes spelling out their emotions.
Then it was her turn: she slowly came forward, with everyone watching her in suspense, but she still took her time. This time her gaze was no longer elusive, but rather she looked directly at everyone one by one.
I was really in awe of her.
She boldly said her first word, followed by many others that I didn’t understand, but which were answered with encouraging echoes from around her.
I looked at their faces: Rumi, Lloque, Kiphu, Maya, Mama Feli and Papa Juan, she had something to say to each of them. I understood: it’s not always easy, it’s a lot of responsibility… and I count on you…
How was it that they spoke with such depth and affection?
It seemed to me, that it was something that we’ve lost in our own culture from the emphasis on parties and presents: we’re bothered about futile, material things and the ephemeral, rather than the spiritual.
…This solemn moment made us realise that there is more to things than just partying.
Thanks again to the Sayaka family for sharing this moment with us.
You can see all of the SAYAKA family in our video from Peru