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Thursday, September 07, 2006

“La Fortaleza y La Naturaleza” Excerpt

Summertime was always a difficult time for me because it meant going to Matamoros to pick cotton. Even though I was a second year law school student at the Universidad de Coahuila, México, my papá did not exempt me from being a cotton picker for at least three months out of the year. My mamá y papá had moved near the northern border to Matamoros, Tamauliapas from Saltillo, Coahuila to start a rancho, known by my family as La Fortaleza, the fortress, and whenever any of us kids (eleven of us in total) were not in school, we worked in the family business.

My papá was a hard worker and demanded the same strict work ethic from his kids. When it came to books, I had no problem with his demanding work ethic, but I hated picking cotton. I hated el rancho and farming life in general. I hated being out in the hot sun all day, hunched over and sweating. I hated living like a peasant.

I never told papá face to face how I felt about being a part of his forced labor camp, but I knew that he sensed my hatred. My papá was an intuitive man. He was an outdoors man. Plus, it didn’t matter to him how I felt. According to him, family sticks together, and sons follow in the business of their parents. In México, that was how things worked.

At the end of one working day, he came over to me and said, “Hechale ganas, mi'jo.” I guess my lack of enthusiasm had him worried. “La Fortaleza es vida y nos enseña respetar a la naturaleza,” he said.

“Si, papá. I’m just a little tired and not feeling good,” I said, hoping he’d lay off me.

“Ven conmigo. I want to show you something,” he said, and we walked towards the edge of the field, near a stream. The sun was going down and the moon was becoming visible.

I'm in the process of printing my first collection of short stories. Please check this blog frequently to be notified of its release.

1 comment:

Loretta S. said...

I'm guessing that this story is about you, desde que usted asistió la universidad para la ley.

What a sweet story of the respect and honor a son has con su papá.

It was very touching as I thought about how you must have felt not wanting to hurt your dad and burst his dream of sharing a business con su hijo. Pobrecito!

Cuando mi papi shared his dream of opening a mexican restaurant, he wanted so badly to have my brother share the dream with him. Actually, he was hoping that at least one his kids would share the dream and make it a reality.

My brother did, for a time work with him, but not for long. He just didn't want to hurt my dad.

The restaurant is a success. Another one has opened up in the desert, cuando usted sabe, pero mi hermano is doing his own thing.

I kind of feel bad for my dad. None of his kids, nor grandkids are involved. Deep down, I think it hurts him.

I am truly enjoying your stories, Roy, gracias tanto para compartirlos.

Vintage cab used on MM debut (two 15" Jensen speakers).