FOR WHO DO YOU WRITE?
FOR THE DEAD THAT WE LOVE…
By chance, I do not know if to punish me, or to reward me, Fate has put the bus terminal in Navojoa, in the same road that connected me to this place of the heart, after many years of absence, I traveled the once very familiar road, but now remote in time, and distance, to a place close to my longing child memory, but now far away, where now, I do not know anybody, and certainly got no business to be there, but ironically it is fundamental to who I am, the night was cold, there was a slow, but steady drizzle falling, near midnight, the bus after a short stop , left the bus station, and slowly gaining speed, through yesterday many times traveled road, leaning with apprehensiveness, my face against the cool window, to make sure not to miss it, I went across the place it used to be my Grandmother’s home, in the brief second the bus took to overtake the place, in a flash could only see the dark shade of the Nacapul, (a big tree) and the two palms that remain, in what it was a paradise on earth, now the old house, it only appears in my dreams from time, to time… despite the darkness, only in the brief second it took the bus to speed away from the place of my childhood memories, I was connected to the belly of my Archetypal Universe. It was a moment of Heart, and deep sadness…
Years ago I wrote an article that I lost in a diskette titled:
Esoteric Geography of the Earth, and Geomagnetic Centers
At the time of the loss, I was a little upset, since it is very hard to go back and write things all over, since you need that first impulse that inspiration gives you freely, going back it is contriving, sterile and difficult, and somehow things never seem the same…
Now as I reflect it was a good thing, my vision at the time was incomplete, and not ready to see beyond the obvious.
As if I want to re-write it? I do not think so, there is the old tale of the young Tibetan boy looking for Shambala who was told after he traveled through many remote Mountains, and hidden Valleys, when founding this old Man seating in a cave in one of this Mountains:
Young man what are you doing here?
I have traveled through many Mountains, and Valleys looking for Shambala!
Great, you do not need to go further, it is real near you, just look in to your Heart!
There is no need to confuse it with a Geographical place, although I must agree, sometimes we need Geographical places for Peace, Inspiration, and to analogize our dreaming.
Both my Grandmothers, had great houses with great backyards, full of trees, and flowers, specially my Mother’s Mom.
My Grandparents moved from that little town of Alamos, to the desert plainsof the Mayo Valley, about 30 miles away in Navojoa when they got married at an early age, my Grandmother was only 14 year old, somewhere in 1914, or 1915.
He was a blacksmith with great drive and ambition, he become a very successful farmer, and entrepreneur, he settled my Grandmother on this barren lot in the desert, and build a house, the Mexican way, little, by little you add in to it, very humble in the beginning.
Through the years the house grew, also the trees he planted between them the Old Nacapul I have talked to you before, Grandma was a tough little cookie, she did everything by hand, and her way, as a child I remember her getting up before sunrise, she would wake us up, and the first thing we will do was to feed her chickens back at the coop at the end of the backyard, she had divided the big garden in two in front of the house she had many flowers, as you walked in to the garden all kind of flowers greeted you, she had many roses as well, a veranda with Jasmin that blocked the direct ray of the sun in to her big living room, open to the elements, except by screen wire to stop the insects from coming in, to the sides, and all through the yard, flowers, and all kind of fruit, and shade trees abounded, in the animal yard a big old low land pine tree, a Guamuchil, and a Piocha (Sorry do not know the names in English) provided with ample shade and fruit to the chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys, in the back she had a old water well with a pool.
As you can imagine the maintenance of the garden was a full time job, that Grandmother did by herself, except when we were there to help, she had this ingenuous way of making beds for the trees, and flowers, so they would get irrigated by gravity, but the maintenance of the Chanel, and beds was backbreaking work, together with the cleaning of weeds, and fallen leaves, dry branches etc.
And that was just the garden, if you take in account, she also cooked, three meals a day, washed clothes, cleaned the house, and sew in an old sewing machine, with no comfort of modern day appliances, all done by hand, she wouldn’t buy stuff from the market except for cheese, milk, and meat, the milk was brought by an old woman with a mule pulled carriage, from a nearby ranch, her name was Pancha, I still remember how my father laughed when I said:
“Pancha’s horse is a mule!”
Here my aunt Blanca and Mother in front of the house you can see a grain warehouse already encroaching the property.
A town grew up around the desert, and to our family misfortune, the house become isolated in what is now a Grain Warehouse, industrial neighborhood, on then the outskirts of town, when I was a child visiting her, grain warehouses, in front and to one side, the other side an Ice factory, in front railroad tracks, more grain warehouses, and the Gas company, beyond the railroad was nothing but a huge irrigation Chanel, and wilderness, both a constant source of worries to Mother, and Grandmother, since we as kids loved to go beyond to the tracks, in to the desert not afraid of running in to snakes, scorpions, jump in to moving trains, and of course tempted to dive, and swim in the Chanel, all this activities strictly forbidden!
However as children we broke every rule!
At the time I took the place for granted, and didn’t reflect on it’s great beauty, and the great effort my Grandmother put in to it, ironically my Grandmother who inherited a large part of her husband fortune when he died at 54 in 1945, lived with hardly any help, or luxuries, the poor thing but for medical reasons, or to visit twice my Mother in Mazatlan, when I was born, she wouldn’t travel but to the small town where she was born Alamos 30 miles away, to visit family( she had 22 brothers, and sisters) she could have lived in a Mansion in Italy drinking funny drinks with umbrellas, but all she knew was how to be a humble country woman, taking care of her family and house…
She would wake up at five in the morning and put the coffee pot to boil, she wouldn’t drink anything but black coffee, even in 120 F heat! But every body visiting the house was greeted with Sonora’s typical: Quieres cafe? Do you want some coffee?
I do not posses pictures of me, or my brothers at the house when children, which is a shame, they may exist, but in possession of other relatives, however have a good cache of old pictures my Mother gave me, of her, and her sisters.
Here in this picture at the back of the house and facing the garden three generations Greatgrandmother (Grandfather’s) Grandmother, Grandfather sister, Mother and Sisters.
We used to spend the summer vacation months at my Grandmother old house, and we lived for close to a year there in 1963, so we were very familiar with the old house, and it’s surroundings, so the image of the house is vivid in my imagination.
After my Grandmother death, the family all living somewhere else decided to sell the property, the new owner, decided to build something in the property, so they erased to the ground the old house, with his flowers, fruit trees, and gardens.
For whatever reasons they never build anything , but a small office, and a tool shed, and this was years after the old house was gone, only the big Nacapul tree that my Grandfather brought from his town and planted in his new place, and the two lonely palms, it is all is left of the old house…
But of course the old house is not gone it lives in my memory and my imagination, and sometimes it comes to me in my dreams…
My mother and her three sisters were born, and were raise in that old house, as it turned out on my return, Mother showed me a poem my aunt Ernestina wrote to the old house, my aunt died in 1989, she was no poetess but these words coming from the depth of her soul shows how much she cared for the place, and that my feeling, that sense of loss was also shared by her, Mother told me she never went back to see the property after, she told me she didn’t have the heart to see it, how can you blame her, I cry myself everytime I am there…
So here I translate the poem.
TO MY OLD HOUSE
I say good by to you with a whisper,
goodbye, old house,
you are left with my memories
of those my most happy hours
of my sweet childhood.
There in your large land
full with wild flowers
you find the great water pool
with his old windmill.
In the center of the grove
surrounded by slim palms
proud, and arrogant
grows a Nacapul tree.
When it was small
resisted the fury
of winds, rains,
and desert storms.
There they played with you
four little girls,
with their fair hair,
like wheat maturing
in the sun.
How many times
in your branches
birds made their nest
flying in to life with joy.
Through the years
the girls and the tree
grew up together
and in their branches
their first heart’s
Old beloved tree
with your beneficent blood,
how many things you taught us,
in your shade,
to live straight
as your trunk.
It is because tree
all listened to the advice
of mother, always good.
How many laughs and play,
were left locked inside
those now destroyed walls…
Old and dear house,
today you are just a memory,
of my yesterday childhood,
but I keep you locked jealously
within my heart…
August 15, 1979
Ernestina Islas Guirado