Posted on: March 13, 2021 Posted by: Jeannette Del Carmen Comments: 0

It’s Saturday morning February 5, 1977, and Julia, the cook, is cleaning up the breakfast dishes; Johanna, my cousin still in her pajamas is barefoot and shuffling toward the sofa; Edgar, my youngest cousin is out the door to play ball with his friends; Mama Cony, my aunt, is looking at herself in the mirror while she tries-on a third outfit. I am sitting at the breakfast table with a lukewarm cup of cafe con leche, I move in-and-out of daydreaming. My backpack sits on the floor by my feet, glad that I only have one chapter to review. My grandmother is just around the corner, I can hear her watering her roses. My uncle Alcides is unloading the sacks of coffee beans he just brought home from the farm. At the front door, Mama Cony’s sister-in-law, Yolanda walks in without saying hello and starts talking about a funeral procession of an 11 year old that will be passing near our house, she said that we need to show our support to the family and the cause, and that we must stand up against the government’s corruption and bring down Somoza’s dictatorship; she said that the revolution has begun, that the people will rise and fight back. She looks at me and asks if I want to go with her. I sit up right, startled and confused, I have no interest nor do I know what she’s talking about. “The Kid is your cousin, your father’s nephew.” She said. I don’t know my father, I have no contact with him, his family is a mystery to me, but I am drawn to the idea of being close to my father, to take a closer look. My first thoughts are of him; will he be there? would I recognize him if I see him? The mystery of my father and the possibility of running into him, pushes me to say “Yes, I’ll go!” I look at Mama Cony to make sure that she approves and she nods yes. I run into my room and quickly put on the only black dress in my closet.

My heart is racing, my palms are sweating, and I have butterflies in my stomach, my shoes are too tight and I make a note that I need to ask for new shoes. I say goodby to my grandmother from far away so that she does not see me with my hair down, she would want to braid it. I step onto the porch and wait for Yolanda to come out. We stand there for a moment, waiting. In the distance we hear chanting and the excitement further builds in my body, I cannot contain this energy and I want to move but I wait for Yolanda to lead the way. She holds my hand and we start walking toward the chanting. As we walk, she tells me about the boy, he was playing basketball outside of his house and a platoon of soldiers were on a manhunt and they confused the boy for an armed rebel, he was shot and died on the spot. So many questions are going through my mind but I set them aside, I am now in the middle of the procession and we walk silently. As we walk, more people join us, they come out of their houses and seamlessly settle in the crowd and walk along us. We walked the full length of the town, around the park where typical Saturday activities are taking place, a line of men waiting to have their shoes shined, pastry vendors calling out their goods, people sitting on benches, talking, laughing, and drinking coffee. We walk around the park in front of the cathedral for one last blessing and onto the cemetery. As we enter the cemetery, vendors offer marigolds and calla lilies, lovely bundles of bright flowers. We walk and take a path toward the left side and I glance to the right, where my family’s plots are, I spot my grandfather’s tombstone but I keep walking. We stand at the top of a small mound and can just hear the priest speak, I see the family holding hands with their heads down. The crowd is silent now. The priest speaks of the love the family has for the child, of Gods love for his children, and the injustice of war. The injustice of war? are we at war? As the ceremony ended, a man addressed the crowd, he spoke against the injustice, about oppression, corruption, and the uprising. The family stayed at the cemetery and the crowd marched back into town, chanting “Patria libre or morir, patria o muerte, venceremos”, I joined them.