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Prose Selection
from Spoken Marshallese

Jekaro. - Coconut Toddy. [SM24]

Jekaro ej waḷọk jān utak in ni ilo iien eṇ ej jañin rup im jepeḷḷọk im waḷọk kwaḷini. Ṃokta, jej kakilen utak eo, bwe ñe eṃṃan joñan, jej jepe im eọuti, kọudpake, im kietake jidik. Aolep iien ad jekaro, ilo jibboñ im jota im jet iien ilo raelep, jej jep utak eo jidik illọk jidik, im barāinwōt kietake bwe en jab idaak bwijen. Eḷaññe eraane-bōkāān, kiiō eiien an kajokkor. Aolep jibboñ im jota, ej iien eakto jekaro im kōkkāāl jeib. Elōñ men jekaro emaroñ oktak ñani. Jemaroñ kōmatte im ewaḷọk jekajeje (eṃṃan ñan limen niñniñ). Elañe eto ḷọk wōt ad kōmatte enaaj waḷọk jekōṃai. Bar juon, elañe jenaaj kōtḷọk jekaro eo bwe en pād jilu raan, enaaj erom jimañūñ—dān in kadek eo limen ri-Ṃajeḷ. Ñe eto ḷọk wōt an pād jimañūñ eo enaaj erom penkō. Jekaro ej bar bōk jikin iij ilo iiōk pilawā. Men kein rej kwalok im kalikkar joñan an ḷap an ni jipañ ri-Ṃajeḷ.
Jekaro comes from coconut shoots before the time when they haven’t yet broken and separated and small coconuts have appeared. First, we examine the shoot, so that if it is the right size, we trim and bind it, peel off its end, and bend it down a little. Every time we tend to the task of drawing coconut sap, in the morning and evening, and sometimes at noon, we cut the coconut shoot a bit each time, and we also bend the shoot down to prevent the sap from drowning its navel. (In other words, to prevent the sap from seeping back into the shoot and destroying the project.) When it is “ready for a bottle,” that is the time to put a bottle on it. Every morning and evening the jekaro should be unloaded and the bottle renewed. Many things can be made from jekaro. We can boil it to become jekajeje (a good beverage for babies). If we boil it longer it becomes jekṃai (coconut syrup). Also, if we let jekaro stand for three days, it will become jimañūñ—the alcoholic beverage of the Marshallese. If it stands longer as jimañūñ, it will become vinegar. Jekaro also takes the place of yeast in making bread. These things show and make clear how important coconut trees are in sustaining the Marshallese.