Los Sures, Part 17: She Actually Pinched Me

Photo courtesy of Roberto Santiago Delgado. Used without permission. See more great pictures of PR at http://www.robertosantiago.net.

“Stay still!” Mami said.

“When are we going home?” I said, as she tried to tuck in my shirt. Every time she dressed me up, my shirt would end up hanging out of my pants. I don’t know why.

“Soon,” she said. Mami buttoned my shirt to the top and brushed my hair, parting it to neatly the side. The part always got messed up, too. “Today we going to see my mother,” she said.

“Who’s your mother?”

“You see.”

We drove to a long block, where old wooden houses were in a row. Mami’s mami lived near the end of the street, in a house that stood on stilts. Under the house there were chickens running around, and some other kids were chasing them. And then we all saw this big, big white bird. It was glowing it was so white and it stood in the front yard like it owned the house.

“What is that?” Evie said.

“Is it an eagle?,” I said.

Mami told us the name of the animal in Spanish but she did not know how to say it in English.

The bird noticed us then and honked.

“A goose,” Fever said, finally. “Like Mother Goose.”

“Wow.”

We went up the wooden steps. Inside there was a small sink, a wood floor, and an electric bulb hanging from a wire. I knew without looking that there was no TV. I would be bored again.

An old lady came out from the kitchen. This was my grandmother. She had bright white hair that stood up from her head like a crown, and  her skin was darker than my mother’s, but they had almost the same face. She bent down and talked to us in Spanish, so I had no idea what she was saying. She touched my sister’s face and then my brother’s, then she touched my face with her soft, soft hands. Then pinched my cheek really hard and said a word. It sounded something like “carry fresco.”

Mami told us to go outside and play. That all those kids were our cousins. There seemed to be a hundred of them, running around and under the house. They were strangers but their faces looked like ours. We ran with them, chasing each other and the chickens around and around. The goose watched us the whole time, and I wanted to go near it but I was afraid to go near it because I was afraid when I got near it would fly away.

After a while, I got bored and stopped running.

“What’s the matter?” Fever said.

“I want to go home,” I said.

“Me, too. Me, too.”

Then the next day we went back to Brooklyn.

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