There was an error in this gadget

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Brooklyn, New York. 1958.

Mamá is always very brave. She is a curandera, so if you come to her with boils or a pain that keeps you from sleeping, she can heal you. But when she brought me here, it was the time I saw her cry. She doesn’t say she is triste when we are at the door, but all the time she talks to the lady social worker she has tears and she keeps turning away.

She tells me she will come back soon and I say I know it. Of course she visits me and Papá would too, but he is in jail. Not for being criminal but for being on strike. He works in coat factory and they are paid so little. And after Mamá loses two little niños that would have been younger brothers to me, Papá say it is because she is not eating well. He becomes angry and goes on strike.

Then they decide to put him in jail and say his papers are not in order. He came first as bracero and work very hard in the beet fields. Then his friend say he has a cousin who works up here, in Nueva York. The factory is much better than the fields and the Mayor Wagner say he wants the Spanish-speaking people to work in his city.

He wants them because they take less money than his people, and they pay so little we can barely survive. But Papa works very hard and we leave our home in Mexico City to come to him. Mamá starts to help people when they are sick and even though we have only two small rooms and share apartment with another family we are all right, Mamá thinks we will be all right.

Papá doesn’t want to strike but so many are talking of it and when Mamá loses her niño for the second time, he agrees. And then they say his papers are not in order and put him in jail and now they maybe will maybe deport him.  We do not have enough food so Mamá has to bring me here, to this place in Brooklyn where they look after the children.

I have to be braver now than Mamá, because the others will see if I am not. There is a bully girl here and she is always angry. If I do not want her to destroy me, I must show I am not afraid.

Late at night, I go exploring and find a little tunnel that moves to the living room. I am thinking there may be other tunnels, other ways to find the street. I will not leave because this is where Mamá has to find me, and if I come home she will cry again because there is not enough for me to eat.

But still, I must know if I can find the street, in case I am ever in need of it.

Today they bring a girl with long, dark hair and big, dark eyes. She could be like a sister, if I had one. She is very, very triste. But she is also strong and when the bully girl comes after me, the triste one fights for me. So then I fight the bully girl, too.

I don’t know this new girl at all, but I feel in my heart that she will be my friend. I am in great need of a friend and I feel that she is, too.

I think her name is Ruby.

I will wait for her to speak to me.

--Manuela Morales