The Furtively Intrepid Mexican

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As I tell you the story of Miranda, 27, the protagonist, I believe she deserves a decent introduction and a few special moments under the spotlight.. There is a reason and you will know why… Soon!

“Hi, sorry I am not able to take your call now. This is Miranda, the maid of honor..! If you need help housekeeping, I am here for you! Call me at —.—.—-. Gracias, Have a good day!”

Miranda was no Ximena Navarrete, the 2010 Miss Universe and all those refried beans, fried chicken and white rice dinners had made her voluptuous around the waist, the girth of her breasts practically disappearing in sight from a side profile angle.. And as the message in her voice-mail suggests, she was bubbly and cheerful almost any time of the day.. At this time in her life, she felt like the days of hard labor, cleaning and other odd physically strenuous jobs were behind her.. And she was ready to settle down..!

*

Mexico

Amador Guzman, 38, his 5 foot, stocky stature is further dwarfed by the thought of the lineage he belongs to – A macho male Latin American society, known for its unmatched reliability, harrowing drug wars and indisputably strong family ties.. Mexico, a country with a strong history of non-interventionism, even isolationism, mixed with what many Mexicans like to think of as a tradition of pacifism, especially in foreign affairs ***.. And he was much like his own Country in matters of ethics: Adapted a strict sense of non-interventionism, in the personal business of friends.. But if you needed help and asked for it so, he would do anything to help you!

Together they lived in a Colonias* in Chamblee, a suburb of Georgia where the population is 48%** Hispanic. A dilapidated house – rented out for 200$ from its owner – it was much more than a home that met the neighbors’ eyes.. It was a combination of homes – for Miranda, for her boyfriend Amador, her two children, his three kids from a wife who was now in Mexico, and two dogs, Diego and Chiquita..

One evening, Amador revved up his truck into the front lawn before bringing it to a stop.. He sat there for a few minutes while he counted cash that he made for the day, jumped out of the vehicle and made a quick dash into the house.. As Manuella and her younger sister painted each other’s nails, Javier looked over from their shoulders onto a small TV at the corner of the room.. Rafael rushed to his father and grabbed the cellphone out of his hands..

The Guzman Family 3
The Guzman Family – One evening in the Colonias

Nothing seemed to stop Amador, who headed for the back room of the two room house.. “Come inside and close the door!“.. Amador said as he seated himself at the edge of the bed, surfing his shirt pockets.. Tonight he seemed to be distracted, or he would have picked up on his usual taunting to keep up her appearance.. A day laborer like him expected to come to a beautiful wife, and not a tired, disheveled mother of his kids, he would often tell her.. As her heart wondered, her eyes fell on the perfume bottle that sat next to him on the rocky bed.. of course, it is payday this Friday she smiled to herself!

Amador unbuttoned his dirty white shirt and playfully began to sing, “Let’s get down, baby, let’s get down!

“¿Qué estás cantando”.. “Ha ha” (Translation:  “What are you singing?”.. “Ha ha”)

Justin’s car stereo had this song playing all day and as I was driving with him around the city, this song stuck on my head

Miranda was confused at Amador’s this often unpredictable behavior.. As a ruthless boss to his employees and as a tyrant to his children, she often found herself settling disputes among the different men that worked for him or pacifying his children to behave. But at nights, she was always made to feel like a queen, he would empty his pockets in front of her, he would encourage her to go to the department store to buy some nice fitting clothes for herself and so on.. And he seemed to all but forget about his wife in Mexico when he was with her.. And he never minced words when he told how much he loved her for taking care of him and their (his and his wife’s) 3 kids..

The Guzman Family 2
The Guzman Family – Crammed quarters

Whatever the kind of physical and psychological abuse she endured during the day from his domineering nature, she was quickly made to forget them in the bedroom.. And, for a modern day girl with ambitions, Miranda had come a long way in making her unique family situation work for her. When her boyfriend was murdered for his cash in his apartment and she was on the road penniless, Amador had taken her into his home and took care of her. Because of the standing he had in their Latin community in the city, she was noticed and respected!

And something about Amador’s personality made her stay.. While others would drink up their pay day earnings in cheap bars and motels, he always held a steady job, sometimes even two or three to support his family and sent his kids to school.. While others lamented how their fat ass bosses made them mow their lawns and clean up after them, he would keep reminding him that the house that he now lived in was still surprisingly more spacious than the over crowded, but scenic city of Puerto Vallarta where he had made a living running a tourist taxi, before he illegally crossed the border to make a better life for himself.

Heck, she thought, he was a 1000 times better than Jeandro next door, who after his wife got a job to work at the local Farmer’s market quit his job and stayed home all day doing drugs. He never respected Isabella and she would often hear her screams across the make shift wall that separated their two homes..

Amador worked for Justin, who had one day picked him up at the local Home Depot for helping him with some odd jobs for a day or two. That turned out to be a great partnership, and Amador soon found himself helping out Justin to do work around his father’s business of installing ATM machines around Atlanta. A once starving Amador who would explore the city on his two feet in search of work to feed his family for that day was now hiring and putting to work 10’s of men and women like him..

The Guzman Family 1
The Guzman Family – Food

Even while he was making a lot of cash and creating employment for several others, he was making enemies with a few other competing day contractors.. He knew the risks and perks of being a leader in a community that was often targeted for its stereotypical cliches, so he never lost touch with ground reality. He told himself, he was not going to be known for petty quarrels or hot chillis, but felt like he was one of those 50 different kinds of Tequila flavors that he found at Justin’s father’s home – You know, the kind that went for the long haul..

A few months later, one night, Marsico walked inside her home with his head hung low. Miranda shrieked and yelled at the sight of him getting out of Amador’s rusty pickup truck..

Donde se Amador? Donde se??!” (Translation:  “Where is Amador? Where is he??!“)

Marsico, did not talk, he simply walked her to the back of the truck.. In the back were 3 heavy bags and at the bottom of the truck was a small mattress – what seemed like a baby mattress. He then told her, that evening Amador had called him and had requested him to pick up his truck that he had to abandon off of Route 10. He was now in the county jail as he had been taken into custody for suspicion of violating Federal laws by employing illegal immigrants.

She cried all night that night, but she soon realized that she had to gather all her strength.. With 6 mouths to feed, not including the one that was growing inside her, there was no time to reflect..

A child's room
A Latin American child’s room

Later that week, she approached a Latino Public Defender and was able to finally reach Amador via phone. The evening he was arrested, he was bringing home a few old clothes and toys of Justin and Jessica’s children for their soon-to-be newborn.. He was elated to show off his loot to her because he knew how happy she would be to see so many baby toys and clothes.. He wanted to take her to movies that night, asking his eldest daughter Manuella, 11, to take care of the kids at home..

But as he headed home with a few of his workers along side, he was overtaken by a speeding truck from the right lane. Inside it was Miguel Ramirez, his long time nemesis with a smirk on his face staring at him as he passed by.. Moments after, a cop had pulled him to the side of the road and within minutes it was all over.. Miranda wept silently as she heard Amador speak at the other end, his voice bewildered and fearful at the thought of the horrifying prospects of deportation to Mexico..

Miranda was in the habit of losing.. First she lost her boyfriend to violence, now she lost her Amador to deceit.. But the next day, she got up, got dressed and asked Manuella to stay home as she had to go in search of employment.. That rainy day, she walked towards the same tree that she had come to known as the Árbol del Dinero, a term for the proverbial Money Tree as that is where all the day contractors grouped at 6 in the morning..

Putting up a tough face
Women in Mexico military: Putting up a tough face

As she approached the Santa Fe Laundermat area, she could see the tree in the distance.. In a short distance, she spotted Miguel working his rounds as the sole contractor for all the day laborers and putting them to work one after the other.. On spotting her, someone shouted,

Ella es ahora su novia, ¿no? Ha ha” (Translation: “She is now your girlfriend, right?! Ha ha“)

Miranda felt a sense of shame overcome her.. She had to be left with some self respect, didn’t she?! It was obvious Miguel set up the plan to get Amador arrested.. And now was the test of whether she was stronger than she perceived herself to be?! She stood motionless for a few minutes and started the trek back home.. She switched on Amador’s cell phone and recorded this personalized voice mail and got right to work..

“Hi, sorry I am not able to take your call now. This is Miranda, the maid of honor..! If you need help housekeeping, I am BACK and I am here for you! Call me at —.—.—-. Gracias, Have a good day!”

Moral of the story: The power of one’s inner strength is unknown until it stands tested.. Well, I just know.. Surprise yourself!!!

The Cinco De Mayo Feast
The Cinco De Mayo Feast: Photo Credit: Epicurious.com

Disclaimer: The above story does not aim at expressing any point of views one way or another about the life, culture and sentiments of the Latin American people.. Also, it is not written to offend anyone from any other culture in any part of the world.. It is simply the story of a woman rediscovering her identity in the face of all odds.. !

Dedication: This one is for Lisa.. You have to read her to love her!

Thank you,
Heart ™

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* Colonias: A section of American suburbs – that pop up in unincorporated areas around cities and towns and are defined by an absence of paved streets, numbered stree addresses, sidewalks, storm driainage , sewers, electricity, potable water, or telephone services..

** 48%: Not factual

*** Mexico, a country with a strong history of non-interventionism, even isolationism, mixed with what many Mexicans like to think of as a tradition of pacifism, especially in foreign affairs: Reference picked up from: http://www.economist.com/node/1608395

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Picture courtesy: Life Magazine where watermark present; “America at Home” by Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt

34 Comments

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  1. Ah…there’s Heart again. The world is in better stead…

    You know, Rachana, you bring intense understanding through your stories. You stimulate empathy and compassion. Your writing causes one to sit with a side of life that is hard to sit with. Some people have to make choices because of situations that some of us cannot comprehend! These lives may be unfolding all around and being so wrapped up in my little world, do I overlook the truth?

    May I see more effectively and respond appropriately. (That’s another post!)

    • Thanks Amy, you read my stories with your own empathy filled heart, that is why you hear and feel what I want to convey! The idea came from a Latino girl who I know in my life who is so strong mentally that it just blows my mind every time I get a chance to interact with her – if I were in her circumstances, I would have been pretty beaten by now! I owe it to her to write this one..
      And you certainly for one are not wrapped up in your own little world.. Ha ha, maybe anyone else, but not YOU!!
      Thanks for reading and thanks for your time.. I have been out of pocket for so long, I did not know if I will ever be able to write again..
      I will talk to you soon.. Lots of ground to cover with you Amy :)

  2. Absolutely wonderful. I saw two things going on here that always bother me and that is a woman allowing abuse at one moment and accepting gifts the next. I can not judge her because to walk away with six children creates yet another set of hardships to endure. The ultimate decision she had to care for her children and provide for herself came about anyway. The other thing I saw going on is a culture struggle. How difficult it must be to leave one culture and try and fit in the next. Very interesting story, Rachana, that pulls at the heart strings of this lady, anyway.

    • Thank you Leslie, you know me well because you read me.. Thank you for your readership, I miss your paintings and your articulation through colors, I have been taking care of some personal issues at my end, ergo the intermittent absences since the last 8 weeks.
      Victims of physical abuse and their struggle with acceptance and love, dates back to as long as man has lived.. Even while we are getting to become a fast literate world, some aspects of us as humans are so archaic, it is just unfathomable.. !!
      Hope you have a wonderful week Leslie!

  3. Beautiful story Rachana! Especially your writing style is amazing. The story was so gripping, that I didn’t want to get disturbed in between. I wish it were much longer though. I felt like you stopped it mid way. Maybe you could write an extended version of this story later. Great work! Keep writing!

    • Sowjanya, thanks my sweet cousin for visiting and writing! Congratulations on your new blog, trying to make time to check it out, will do shortly. Hope the little one and you had a great time on the cruise!! Hope you are doing well up there in the North!
      It is a life’s dream to re-write and re-write well my own writings sometime in the future, so thank you for this feedback will be essential.. I have lengthier versions of some previous stories, which I have not published yet. For the sake of keeping up with readers’ interest and attention spans in general, I write briefly.. What happens to Miranda and where Miranda will take her own life now seems to be in her own hands, so I rest easy knowing that she will be able to hold her own..
      :)
      Thank you for cheering me up, because you just did!!
      Rachana.

  4. Hi Rachana, I hope all is well your end, this is for you http://brokensparkles.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/versatile-blogger-award/ I am commenting with my new blog, because I had troubles with my old one … Regards: Blaga!

    • Congratulations on your new blog Blaga! Thanks for letting me know and thanks for the award!! Hoping to read many more wonderful love poems on your new site, and hope it will be a smooth sail for your website..
      Good wishes,
      Rachana

  5. Beautiful story Rachana. I like your writing style :)

  6. Great story. I enjoyed it. Nice work. I was a little confused at the beginning, but as I continued to read I got into it. It is heart wrenching, but so very well depicts a side of things I seldom see. It is good to take the insulation off once in a while, even if the shock is somewhat painful.

    • I see the usage of your words as something that I would use to describe what I feel Dood.. Taking off the insulation, just seeing things as they are.. Thanks for stopping by and the review!
      See you around..
      Rachana.

  7. Hey Rachana, long time. This is a great story, I’m having trouble with one thing though, whether not giving closure to Amador was a mistake or brilliant. I’d call it brilliant for it represents an unwritten end, an undecided fate for a life problem. Many people seem as overwhelmed as Miranda is in this story. It may not be the exact same story but it really highlights the issue they are in the middle of. Loved it Rachana, glad to hear another story of yours :).

    Sorry that I haven’t replied back, wanted to go through all of the photos completely before doing so but failed to get through them all (haven’t been on). I do hope that everything is well, would be nice to hear from you again.

    Mr. Mojo Risin

    • Very well put Mojo, you should write more often, for these words will be forever etched in my memory: “…for it represents an unwritten end, an undecided fate for a life problem”.. Have these words been used to describe my story.. ?? I am grateful for them!
      Don’t worry about replying, I just sent them, so you would enjoy the beautiful scenic views of Puerto Rico.. a place you should visit some day :)
      Hope you are busy with your school and books, waiting to read a new post of yours! Take care and thanks for your time,
      Rachana.

  8. Hi Rachana!! I was reading your post, impressed and moved as usual and with a smile on my face already…thinking of how you always manage to capture the intricacies of every day life so beautifully in such readable, straight forward language… and then imagine my surprise when I got to the end and saw the dedication of such a fantastic work to ME! It can’t be me?! Little ol’ me? **Extreme Gratitude** to you for doing that–I am so honored and grateful that I have you as a friend, reader and supporter :) Really, I’m so honored and so grateful. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

    • Lisa, thanks for your approval :) I write for every girl and woman that is out there in the world.. but I wrote this for you especially because I feel we share a lot in common with respect to our laid back and no-nonsense approach towards life.. ;) And to sprinkle in some girl power and some tenacity into the story, that will be a bonus too, right?!
      I thoroughly look forward and enjoy every post of yours and I am very appreciative of your readership, thank you!
      Rachana

  9. Hi Rachana,

    every time I read your stories I become that little bit more amazed at your understanding and imagination! I would have continued to read this if it was pages and pages longer than it actually is!

    Can’t wait for your next story. Are you working on any longer stories/novels perchance? I hope so!

    Also, thank you for all your kind words on my blog – they always cheer me up no end!

    Lucy

    • Lucy, welcome to my blog :) Thanks for your feedback, it is an honor when people like you who have so much of insight in Real Life Artwork read and review my work.. Although I feel IMAGINATION is all I seem to have, it is interesting to see readers striking an understanding and appreciating the point I am trying to convey.
      It is a dream to rewrite my own work into longer stories.. But those thoughts have been safely pushed under the mat for now, as children seem to dictate priority in a long wish list, I don’t seem to mind.. :)
      Until that dream comes true, I treasure your words…
      Thank you and good luck to you in all your efforts.
      Rachana.

  10. Hi Rachana,

    I’ve been very busy lately, but finally I found some time to read your new story – and I like it!
    There are so many aspects here that could be “exploited” and further developed – in fact, I could imagine this as a much larger story, perhaps even a novel!
    Would love to see that happen one day… ;-)

    • Timo, no worries about checking up with me.. Talk about predictability in life!! :) I know, I have been extremely busy over the last 2 months, I am just grateful to get back to reading and writing.. And it took me a while to get back to you and others here on this post, as my second one fell sick the entire week last week! Remember the point about “World Citizen”.. I owe you a lot for that already ;)
      Just a heads up, I am going to “steal” once again one of your awesome pictures for an upcoming post.. You will see very soon :D
      Thanks!
      Rachana.

  11. Hi Rachana,

    To tell you the truth, it is very hard for me to read the whole content of a long post in a blog ( i consider the one like this is a long one :-) ). But your story seems like a ” short ” one to me as i wanted to keep on reading it. While reading it, the old memory of my college time in the U.S came back, especially when you mentioned about Amador’s over-crowded house in Puerto Vallarta. I had been to this place in Mexico and a few others like Ixtapa, Cabo San Lucas, Zihuatanejo, etc. That was in the 80’s. At that time in my country, this kind of story that you wrote did not exist. But now, i think i can write about the same situation :-) . The world is getting more borderless not only in terms of communication,business dealings, etc but also about workers. Some may describe it as migrant workers. I think there is more to it than just about working and to feed hungry mouths. It is about human beings and humanity.

    • Hi FonZ, I think you have read more stories of mine than anyone over time :) So, I trust your judgement with my stories.. ;)
      Jokes apart, I think I understand your perspective when you talk about a borderless world. We are so connected and so in touch with other cultures and other nations with the advent of technology, that we appreciate what challenges the other person goes through for his struggle for existence. And yes, it boils down to Humanity!
      Hope you are doing well,
      Rachana.

  12. As compellng as ever, Rachana, thank you :-) Having studied Spanish some years ago, it’s wonderful to be reminded of it. All strength to your special friend who inspired this story, xo

    • Hi Naomi, thanks for your review! OK, so someone who can actually speak Spanish unlike me.. Well, you have to tell me if there is anything incorrect! :)
      Thank you for the wishes, she is going to be homeless in about a month’s time now, but the girl is made of steel. She is going to pull through, I know, she has huge ambitions for her life..
      It is inspiring!
      Hope you are enjoying the Enduro adventure :D
      Until next time,
      Rachana.

  13. So glad to see you writing again!! Though my comment is late, I should let you know that I read the story already when I got the email notification and the thought that came to my mind was — I wish she never stops writing! ;-) … I don’t say this lightly! I have been experiencing a turbulence in the energy levels lately, partly caused by viruses putting me to bed for some time and partly for being very busy with the TEDx conference and other stuff, but one thing that beat me most during the past period was how easy it was to postpone writing, which saddened me a lot :-(

    I love great storytelling and that is what you do here and in many of your previous pieces — you tell a great story with a great voice! Please don’t stop! ;-)

    • Kima, it is so nice to hear from you again!! I knew something was wrong but I thought you did not get a chance to reply to my email.. and you were very busy!! Absolutely no worries, hope you are doing well now, I also saw that you posted after 20 days on your site this weekend..
      And thanks Kima for always encouraging me to keep this going, you are just too kind! As you know, I have had to prioritize in 2011, and naturally health seems to take the first spot.. :)
      You take care of yourself and hope you are back to your 150% ;)
      Rachana

      • Something tells me your email program thinks I am sending you spam as I did reply right away :-( … I tried again now and hope for more love from technology ;-)

        To see why I believe in your writing and think you should not give up check Sarah Kay. Even though she starts with a poem about a daughter, her talk is about everyone! Just like she found spoken poetry helps her understand things better, so I found writing helps me clarify my thoughts. I also found I need the stories from people … fictional stories in particular push my thinking ;-)

        I recently wrote that I would like to empower people be their authentic selves with me … I don’t use the word empower lightly … we all are and don’t need permission to be, but our inhibitions prevent us from truly being … I believe if we think of the act of accepting others for what they are as an act of empowering rather than giving permission, we’ll become better listeners … only then will the stories reach us! ;-)

        • Kima, thanks for the link to Sarah Kay.. I cried while I watched it infinite times in the last one day.. So inspiring.. That is all what any mother would love to tell her child.. And she definitely makes a great great word poetess!!
          When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you want to save are at the ones standing on your cape..
          I am updating my previous post of “One Salty Laughter Tear” to include this in the link in the footnote as a great resource to show the love of a “mother-to-be”. It seems so appropriate to be added to the post! Thanks!
          Authenticity in words and action is a great asset, but I have often come across people who dont be their 100% trueselves, because of the fear of social abandonment.. It is sad, but maybe our society and the different kinds of people with their varied often unrealistic expectations of others makes them be that way.. I think of it that way and move on.. Of course, this is taking into account that I don’t exactly know how I come across to others :)
          I will talk to you soon and thank you for visiting, I know you per your email, you are just barely catching up! :)
          Rachana.

          • So glad you enjoyed Sarah’s poetry! I watched some parts at least 3-4 times too ;-)

            I have been thinking a lot about your point on fear of social abandonment on many occasions in my life … I have found many occasions when I haven’t been true to myself too! :-( … but reflecting on that helps me grow up as a person … I find it transforming when I challenge people about their assumptions! … which is only possible, of course, if I clearly state my own assumptions first … the trouble is to figure out the assumptions I am not aware of — which is related to what you say about not knowing how you come across to others … which ultimately requires learning … or if your dad was a professor at MIT he could arrange for every minute of your life to be filmed so you can reflect on your childhood and how it shaped you when you grow up ;-) (Seriously, the video I linked is profound is so many ways that I would suggest everyone watches it!)

            Cheers,

            Kima

            • Hi Kima, the last one week has been an amusing experiment at our house.. The Deb Roy’s research mechanism of noting the origin of words and their use around the house and its impact on my kids – everything has had a huge affect on me.. The whole idea is mind boggling and truly fascinating.. !! I can’t complete a thought in my head now, without thinking when next my kids are going to put a particular word to use.. The idea is truly funny :)
              Thanks always for your amazing knowledge.. and pointing it to me and my readers.. !!
              Hope you had a great Spring break vacation to Seattle!
              Rachana.

  14. Thanks for this story, Rachana, it’s about a part of the world and a culture I know little enough…but you make me care and I’d like to know more.

    Susan

    • Hi Susan!
      As you might have guessed by now, I indulge a lot of time in trying to understand cultural interpretations and habits of people around me.. :) It is so rewarding, there is so much in common and positive among people around the world. I have had some amazing interactions with Hispanic/Latino people that I treasure, their tenacity and love for family is unmatched – atleast among all the people I have seen.
      Hope you are doing well, I am following your chronology of writing workshops, wish you the very best!
      Rachana

  15. My response to the Versatile Blogger Award 2011 by Blaga:
    Blaga, thanks for thinking of me and leaving me some space in your heart.. I am grateful for you and your trust in my writing..
    It is an honor to be on your website, one which I treasure with great care..
    Thanks friend,
    Rachana.

  16. All the best from me, it was my pleasure to meet you :)

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