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The Myth about the “Maka-Hiya” Weed

The Myth about the “Maka-Hiya” Weed

The “maka-hiya” (or “prone to shyness”) weed is a common wild and thorny shrub found in thick undergrowths. A slight touch would render its tiny row of leaves to fold close and re-open after a few hours. A myth about the “maka-hiya” tells of a man who once took a risk with love but failed and vowed never to try again.

The myth about the “maka-hiya” started a long time ago. Roque Mejia was a lad who helped his father farm a small field at the outskirts of town. Though folks sometimes called him Roque, his friends were fond of calling him “Mejia.” Maestro Dominic, their teacher in poetry, also called him Mejia. The surname described him well because he was too shy to do anything, especially when it came to young beautiful ladies from town. Mejia sounds like the vernacular for “shy,” which is “hiya,” and which connects well with the myth about the “maka-hiya” weed.

Of all the pretty girls in town, Alona was Mejia’s fancy. He enjoyed watching her but avoided her eyes up close—which augurs well for the myth about the “maka-hiya” plant that closes at a mere touch. Eventually the girl noticed Mejia’s real feelings and Alona, being a bit conceited with her good looks and often flirted because of that, tried to playfully entertain Mejia’s affection. She pretended to befriend Mejia and tried to make him feel that she cared.

Eventually Mejia fell head over heels for her, and obviously at that, so that the whole town and even the scattered pueblos around knew of it. But Alona was never serious about anything between them, and in fact had a fiancé, Carlos, while making Mejia fall for her. One day Mejia saw Alona sweet in Carlos’ arms at the plaza garden and later heard of their impending wedding. That’s when Mejia started to be more deeply withdrawn from people, and when the myth about the “maka-hiya” started taking shape in his life.

Mejia never went to town again since. There were young ladies who sincerely took interest in him but to no avail. Mejia grew old and died a loner. On his grave grew a wild, groping weed with thorns. It easily bent and folded even at a mere touch. People called it “maka-mejia” or “like-Mejia.” And later, due to this myth about the “maka-hiya,” it was called “Maka-hiya.”

Never be too trusting in a person—this is what the myth about the “maka-hiya” reminds us of.

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