Why the Dead Do Not Come Back to Life

Many years ago, when the world was young, people who died used to rise from the grave three years after their deaths and come to life again. People who died and rose again had their faces facing their backs.

During this time there lived a newly married couple that loved one another dearly. One unfortunate day, the young man got ill. He was afraid he would not recover. He asked his wife to wait for his resurrection in case he died of that illness. He asked her not to marry again after he was gone so that they could live together once more when he rose again after three years. The man died a few days later. His wife grieved over his death and she could do nothing but accept the inevitable.

Now, there was another man who was interested in the young widow. He wooed her so that the woman was unable to keep her promise to her former husband and she agreed to marry him. They were married a year after the death of the first husband. They lived together and soon they had a child.

One day the father of the new baby took it out to play. The woman was left to do the work in the house. While she was working, a man entered. It was her first husband. He had died but had risen again after three years as he said he would. He asked his wife to clean his head -- to pick his lice. His hair had grown very long and full of it. The woman picked two of his lice and as she did so, the milk from her breast dripped on the man's head.

Now, it is the belief that the dripping of milk from a mother's breast signifies that the child fed from that breast is hungry. The man felt that droplets on his head and he realized that the woman had married and had a child. He was sorry for his wife, but what could he do? He told her to go to the child because it was hungry, as shown by the dripping of human milk. She denied that she had a child but the man did not believe her. She could not convince him, so the cord that tied them together was severed and she had to give him up and go to live with her child's father.

The man then took the jar used as a water container and went out with it on the pretense of fetching water. But when he got out of the doorway, he threw the jar down and it broke into pieces. He  then asked the gods to make people like the jar. When the jar was broken, that was the end of it -- it could not be pieced together again. He asked the gods that people be made the same way -- when they died, they would be buried and rise no more. 

The gods must have heard his prayers for now dead people do not rise again.

The original story was written or told by Petra Kuanso which appeared in a 1940s collection of Igorot legends done by Roy F. Barton.

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