SPECIAL ISSUE: CONNECTING GENERATIONS
DEAR Body Who Remembers,
CAMILA R. JÁCOME—ARTETA
Student at St. Bernard High School
Read this carefully. There are things you need to know about where you come from:
Where your roots are embedded is a place foreign to most. It is not Belize. It is not Cuba. It is not the Dominican Republic. It is true you live in a developed North America but your bloodcarries the warmth of a “third world” country. You, mi querida, eres una Ecuatoriana. Your ancestors did not walk on sin infested concrete. They wandered untamed plains, the main focus survival, not the fullness of the pocket. Then again, where we come from niña, survival is all about the pocket.
Where we come from, the streets are dirty and loitered. Colorful people, colorful merchandise, colorful stories are advertised. Some advertise with mischief, some advertise with vulnerability. Mouths just want to be fed. Amongst the helpless, stray animals can be found on every block. Mi querida, they’re treated as if they were air. The irony is: the people mirror treatment they endure everyday towards these creatures. What’s the message here? Negligence is everywhere. In our homeland, where pueblos are resurrected, there once were our ancestors. In various clans, they speak of war stories, legends, and myths. They speak in prideful tone, awaiting battle for their freedom. Remember this again mijá, negligence is everywhere. Your history teacher just doesn’t tell you where it begins: con los nativos Americanos.
Where we come from, you’ll come across women with the skin tone of a crisp bronze. Her skin will symbolize her hard day’s journey under the blazing Ecuadorian sun. Her hair will be the color of a crow and cascade down her chest in two braids embedded with strings. She will wear a hat made of palms out of the strength in her old hands. She will carry her infant in a sling against her back. They call her cholo. It doesn’t mean she is a vato, it means she is of direct descent to our bloodline. They call her cholo like North Americans call them savages. Why they do this I do not understand since they were the head start for colonization. Mi querida, negligence is everywhere. Do not repeat their slurs. Instead, give her a dollar, it could mean the world to her. When you see someone with a darker complexion, do not call them morenos. Pay them mind, a compliment, maybe just a sonrisa. Niña, I do not say this to startle you. I say thisso you may be one less ignorant person in the world.
You may believe that I speak poorly of our country, it is the opposite. My blood represents the red found on our country’s flag. You share the blood of ancestors who fought for our freedom. How could one not be proud niña? When you indulge yourself into the warm waters of our beaches or eat arroz con menestra y carne on a plastic plate, be proud. When you fan yourself on a ride through the city and you find yourself looking at the various shacks, apartments, and mansions toppled against the other on our hilly landscape, be proud. Do not be embarrassed if no one knows where our homeland is on a world map or that they say our country’s name with strangeness on their tongue. Our country is a little secret only we know off, our forgotten garden. Mi querida, tu eres de sangre Ecuatoriana. Sientete orgulluso.
Camila R. Jácome–Arteta
Dear Body Who Remembers,
A body is but a vessel that is the tomb of the soul. A body can broken whereas the soul could never break. A body has its own mind, which is why it determines what it chooses to remember and what to forget. I told you a body can be broken, but a body can also be fixed. Bodies are broken and mended but the soul is what keeps us steady. For it carries the strength we sometimes cannot bear. It is okay for the body to be broken, to be recollect, for the body of my adolescent self does the same. It is okay for the body to be broken for the strength comes from the soul and no one can rob its jewel from you like they would a pharaoh centuries ago. I should thank you for your services, but I’d rather thank you for the strength within the tomb.