My Abuelito, My Abuelito Querido

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  Lelo, who is always working at the hospital or at the farm.  Lelo, who at 81 years still does surgeries, every week.  Lelo, who have had three open-heart surgeries in 80 years.  Lelo, who still refuses to stop driving, unless he is going to the farm.  Lelo, who works from Monday to Friday, and spends his weekends at the farm, every single weekend, no exception.  Lelo, who now walks slowly, and still gets tired.

     “Estoy en el hospital con Lelo, está enfermo,” my mom texted me, while I was at school. “Pero que le paso?” I texted my mom and dad.  

     Lelo, who raised my father and uncle alone, because my grandma died when he was 37.  My father was three, and my uncle was four.  Because losing my grandmother wasn’t enough, he had to get open – heart surgery when my dad and uncle were young, probably teenagers.

     Lelo, who entered with my mom to the operating room when I was about to be born.  Lelo, who was the first person to carry me, because my dad was in Chile.  Lelo, who a few months after I was born, his heart stopped again; taking him to have  second open – heart surgery.  

     Lelo, who was in a very important hospital for me, and my family.  The hospital in which there is a conference room with the name of my grandmother, to honor her.  Lelo, who after attending a patient in the Hospital Santo Tomas, his heart missed again.  By this time, a third open – heart surgery, my brave, hard worker abuelo, with three open heart surgeries.

     Lelo, who was going to travel with me for carnivals.  Lelo, whose heart held him back again when we were going to travel.  Lelo, who now has a major heart structure deteriorated, my abuelo, with a heart structure deteriorated, even that sounds alarming. I can remember this moment perfectly, it was a normal Thursday night, or so I thought. My dad was doing a surgery, I texted him: “Puedo ir a casa de Maria Jose mañana?,” I asked.  He answered immediately, “No.”  Just like that, with no explanation. I couldn’t understand why?, what was the problem?.  The next morning, while I was getting ready for school, I asked him again: “Puedo ir a casa de Maria Jose.” Same answer: “No…”  Then he explained: “quiero que vayas a pasar tiempo con Lelo.”  I knew Lelo was at the hospital, but I didn’t knew why was my Dad so desperate.  “Lelo tiene una estructura importante del corazón muy deteriorada, pero que podemos hacer, ya está mayor, con tres cirugías de corazón abierto,” my dad said, with watery, red eyes.  “Y no se puede hacer alguna cirugía o tratamiento?” I asked.  My dad explained to me, there’s no medicine, surgery, or treatment to fix my abuelito’s heart.  “Quiero que pases todo el tiempo posible con Lelo, en cualquier momento se nos va.”  That was all I needed to start crying, crying like a river without control.

     “Ahora viviré hasta los 105 años,” mi abuelito querido used to say after his third open- heart surgery.  Now I notice, that since the moment my dad told him that he had a major heart structure deteriorated, I had never heard him say it again.

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Dear Diary,

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       Dear Diary,

      Today, my first job, my first day of work.  I went to work at Peter Pan Photo Finishers, where I had to lie about my age.  Aunt Lala works there, she told me that I just had to lie about my age, saying I was a year older and I was going to get the job.

     All was going pretty good, until break…I think it was time for night or middle shift, because some new staff came in.  I was sitting at the bench by the lockers, alone, until I met an Oriental Man.   He said hello, and we talk for a while.  He told me that I could sit with him at lunchtime, after talking to him, I felt relieved, I didn’t feel nervous anymore.

     We talked for a while, he told he to guess what day it was, I didn’t know.  He said it was his birthday, so please give him a birthday kiss.  He is old, what could possibly go wrong?  I thought that there wasn’t going to be any problem to give him a kiss on the cheek, but I was incorrect.  When I was going to kiss him on the cheek, he grabbed my face, and pressed it so hard against his face, he didn’t let go.

     He is an adult, and I don’t like to talk back to them, I feel intimidated by them.  I just let him kiss me, I didn’t know what to do, even though I didn’t feel comfortable with the situation.  I hope not to see him again, and if I do, I will be careful, because I already know his intentions.  My mom was right, she advertised me about these type of men, that only want to use me, and my lack of knowledge.

     Sincerely,

Esperanza

 

I Am From Poem

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I am from threads, from Polleras and sombreros pintados.

I am from the dirt on my boot, rigid, and strong, which I could ever take out after those rainy days.

I am from Sterculia apetala. the national tree, who’s thorns got into my fingers on those January afternoons spent by the river.

I’m from livestock auction and big cheeks.

From Carlos, the attorney on December 20, 1989; and Carmen, the nurse, the one remembered by all nurses and doctors.

I’m from the “painstaking” and “past-it ons.”

From “you will be a carnival queen” and “you have farms to take care.”

I’m from the go to church and pray the Lord, even though I still don’t believe.

I’m from Panama, the land with two oceans.

From pork, guandu rice, and sweet plantains.

From the National Emblem my uncles designed and painted.

The couple owning a restaurant on main street, just to sen my grandpa to Switzerland.

 

Inside the drawers, old pictures, unknown faces, next to my grandma’s, my role model, which I couldn’t meet.  Those old pictures, which reflect hard work and persistency.

Louie, His Cousin and His Other Cousin

Yellow Cadillac Robber Finally Caught

sev14.jpg         Young men from Mango Street, arrested after steeling a yellow Cadillac.

     Yesterday’s afternoon, the yellow Cadillac that was stolen, was finally found.  The young men from Mango Street, was happily spending his afternoon with family and friends, until he heard the police.  Immediately, he stopped the car, and the kids that were with him, got out of the car.   The young man tried to escape, but he crashed into the lamp post in the corner.  The young man resulted with a bruised forehead and a bloody lip.  He was arrested by the cops.  His family and friends waved at him while he disappeared.

Article without bias:

Puerto Rican male arrested on Mango Streetsev14.jpgPuerto Rican male was arrested while driving a yellow Cadillac.

     Yesterday’s afternoon, a Puerto Rican male was arrested after escaping from the police.  The man was spending his afternoon with family and friends, until he heard the police.  Immediately, he stopped the car, and his companions got out of the car.  The man sped up, crashing into a lamp post in the corner, due to the mall size of the road.  He resulted with a bruised forehead and a bloody lip.  He was arrested by the cops, while his family and friends waved at him while he disappeared.

 

Dear Cathy

Dear Cathy,

    I am writing this letter to you to let you know how I feel about you.   First of all, I want you to know that when I first met you, you seemed to be a good friend, but there is something about you that makes me uncomfortable. Sometimes, you make me feel bad.  Every time I have a conversation with you, you end up making offensive comments and sharing negative opinions about others to me, and I want this to change.

    I am new to this neighborhood, and I know very few people; however, you are one of the few people I know. I feel that I am been used and that you pretend to be my friend just because you have no other friends here in the neighborhood. I think that you have no friends because the derogatory comments you make.  You act like if you are superior to rest of the neighborhood; for example, every time you repeat you are the great great grand cousin of the queen of France.

    But that’s not all, when I met Lucy and Rachel you ran away and you  stated that I shouldn’t talk to them because they smelled like brooms.  Rachel and Lucy are amazing fiends; they know what a true friendship is like, not like  our “friendship” that is based on conditions and time limits. A true friend is loyal, there’s no distance that can break a real friendship.

    The fact that you and your family are moving because Latino families like mine are moving in, also affects me.  Why don’t you like us here? What’s wrong with the Latinos?  We are not inferior to you, and we don’t have anything different than you. The only difference is that we speak Spanish. Your comments and your actions make me feel unwanted. There are many stereotypes about Latinos, but they are not true, and don’t apply to everyone.

    I want you to be conscious of this. It will also help you when hanging out with others.  My recommendation: be careful of what you say, and think before you act. I know that you may not say offensive things because you want someone to feel bad, it’s something you do without noticing.

I hope you understand my point.

Sincerely,

Esperanza

Border Crossing Review

imagesMaria Colleen Cruz’s realistic fiction, shows the importance of knowing and understanding your cultural identity, in order to understand where you come from and who you are.

In “Border Crossing,” even though, there are some predictable situations thanks to foreshadowing, there are several unexpected events, such as Tony turning to be Cesi’s cousin.  “Border Crossing” is a book which unfold pretty quickly, the author gets trough the whole book just giving details to specific situations, allowing her to describe the whole situation in a few pages.

As soon as you start reading Border Crossing, Maria Colleen Cruz, you immediately feel engaged.  The narrator, a 12 going to 13 year old girl, has crazy plans about crossing the border by herself, which makes you question what is going to happen? How will she accomplish that? Why would she want to go all by herself? As you continue reading, thousands of questions will pop in your head, motivating you to continue reading.

At the end of the book, Cesi learns a lot abut herself, about her Mexican culture and her father’s past. She learns that she shouldn’t be afraid to ask her parents for support or to take her to Mexico,  instead of running away. Cesi also learns that her father didn’t want to talk about his past because he didn’t’ want  her to have a hard childhood like he did, it was all a way to make her life easier, but Dad figures out after Cesi runs away, that probably hide his past to his’ kids wasn’t the best idea.

As well as Cesi learns about herself, Dad changes his dynamics.  For so long, he has hide his’ past to Max and Cesi because of the difficulties he faced when he was a kid.  He has also decided to not teach his’ kids Spanish, because a lot of the difficulties he faced were related to the language and ethnicity.  Since Cesi is a curious girl, trying to find who she is, she decides to learn about her Mexican heritage, even though it has been hidden from her for so long.  In her head, Dad wouldn’t want to take her to Mexico to find more about who she is, so she runs away by herself.  Dad find out that she has crossed the border and realizes that hide his Mexican culture to his family wasn’t a good idea, but his family later understands the reason Dad had to take the choices he did.

“Border Crossing” is narrated in an interesting way, one chapter is from the present, the next one from the past, as a flashback, then, the following in the present, and it goes the whole book like that, back and forth.  Probably, Cruz decided to tell the story in this specific way in order to give the story more drama and entertaining, since if she would have tell the story explaining all the past, and then present, probably it wouldn’t had been so engaging or entertaining.

In “Border Crossing,” you can fins several themes, but in my opinion, “Knowledge on your cultural identity is important because knowing where you come from, helps shape who you are, and contributes to the personal development” is the theme that works the best.  It shows how Cesi after knowing and understanding her Mexican heritage grows culturally and emotionally, adding to her personal development.

“I can’t believe I was that stupid, that I trusted these people.  I should have known better.”  When Cesi arrives to Mexico, except for the twenty dollars she had in her pocket, all her money was stolen.  There is a stereotype about Mexican being robbers, and when Cesi gets her money stolen, she makes tis stereotype.  This passage surprises me because Cesi is trying to know about her Mexican heritage, and even she being Mexican, makes this stereotype. When she says “these people” she is making a derogative comment on Mexicans, but later she realizes (with Tony’s help) that it was unrespectful, derogatory, and that by making that stereotype, she includes herself in “these people” since she is also Mexican.

The ending of the story is satisfying, Dad and Cesi go and visit Douglas and Nogales, important towns in Dad’s childhood, and Cesi learns a lot about her Mexican heritage thanks to aunt Delfina and Dad.  It all was an expected ending, except the fact that Tony and Cesi turn be cousins.  This is the only part of the story since in my opinion, I think its too much chance to cross the border by yourself being a 13 year old girl, then meet a boy in a train, with the same destination, and later it turns to be your cousin when you meet with his aunt  which is actually your aunt as well, but you don’t know it.  Then, after so long without seeing each other, she calls your Dad to inform him that you are in her house.

This is the first book I read by Maria Colleen Cruz, but I wouldn’t mind read other books about her.  If I had the opportunity to ask one question to the Cruz, it would be: what inspired you to write the story the way you did?

This novel has made me realize that the struggles Mexicans facing in the United States in the present, with Trump and all the deportations, did’t start a few years ago, they has been around for a long period of time.  This novel has inspired me to know more about the situation Mexicans are facing, since they are looking for better lives, and taking jobs that many people wouldn’t take.  This novel I can connect it with the situation in Panama right now, since many Panamanians complain about immigrants taking jobs, but in reality,  many people in Panama don’t want to work, and prefer that the government take care of them with indemnifications.  Additionally, in the border, there are many Cuban immigrants retained by the border patrol, since they don’t want to let them enter to Panama.