"Little Marshall Soto is glued to the TV this Friday morning in his dad's modest home just outside of Sells, Arizona, capital of the Native American Tohono O'odham Nation. He's not watching cartoons or Sesame Street or some new kids' show on Nickelodeon. Instead, he's focused on the image of a white hearse approaching a Baptist church in the Bahamas.
He looks up wide-eyed to his father, Johnny Soto, seated on a couch behind him. "Je'e?" the boy asks plaintively in his native tongue. Je'e means "Mother" in O'odham.
"Yes, mo'okwad," the child's dad replies sadly, using his pet name for the boy, meaning "tadpole." Johnny Soto then whispers something quick in O'odham, and Marshall turns back to the television, tears filling his blue-black eyes.
"I want mama je'e," he cries, as the news channel shows a mahogany coffin draped in pink, rhinestone-encrusted satin being removed from the hearse by pallbearers. "Mama je'e, is she in the box?"
"Mama je'e went to heaven, mo'okwad," Soto gently informs his son. "Mama je'e watches us from the sky. Like Peanut," he says, referring to a family dog attacked and eaten by a pack of coyotes months back.
"Peanut went bye-bye," the 5-year-old mutters, sniffling.
"Mama je'e is with Peanut now; they're playing together on the clouds," Soto tells the light-skinned, dark-haired boy, who favors his mother a little. "One day we go play with them too."
"Can we go and play now?" wonders Marshall.
"No, not now, mo'okwad," Soto says, beginning to cry himself, hiding his face in his hands. "You stay with 'o:gi [father, pronounced "awk" in O'odham] now. Your 'o:gi needs you."
Marshall runs to his dad, jumping up to embrace him on the couch, as they weep together. On the TV, the news switches from a helicopter shot of the funeral to video of Anna Nicole Smith in her platinum prime, throwing kisses to paparazzi, then a shot of her splayed out on a bed, then footage from her 2002 E! The Anna Nicole Show where she's much heavier than in the rest."
Get the Story:
Tohono O'odham With Love
(The Phoenix New Times 3/8)
The story is a joke, in case you didn't notice.
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