MESTIZA POWER

by Conchi León
Translation Copyright © 2007 by Harley Erdman

(revised by Silvia Peláez)

 

About the Text

 

In Mérida, mestizas (Indian women with huipil, long hair, adorned with gold filigree and hair ornaments) are part of the everyday landscape. Many of them come from their towns, selling fruit and merchandise in the streets. These women resist modernity and passionately treasure their indigenous education: its rites, myths, and dignity. Their dialect is a Maya-Spanish mix. Generally, they are very talkative and friendly.

One day I met a mestiza with Ray Ban sunglasses. Her image made a strong impression on me. I thought it a little eccentric and stopped to talk with her. I discovered that, behind those dark lenses, there was a rather special history that spoke to the way contemporary Maya women look at life. With this premise, I continued “interviewing” mestizas. As a way of getting to know their voice, and because of my enormous admiration for them, I created this script, which seeks to be nothing more than a homage to their dignity and our Culture.

Because of the way the text has been created, there is a mix of Maya words and Yucatecan sayings, and so, in assembling it, I kept certain “errors” of Yucatecan speech.

The text has a two-part structure. The first part is built around fragments of dialogue, the intention being to give the effect of a stroll through a market where these voices ring out. The second part is built around monologues.

 
Mestiza Power
 

MESTIZA #1
I’m all nerves, got them bad, as far as I can tell my mouth’s gone crooked. I’m drinking water and it comes out my mouth. Like this. (gesturing). Massaging it over and overI got better.

MESTIZA #2
You should have seen how skinny I looked! Tiny got my hands. When the bad sickness came, I was set to die. We sold the turkeys and he took me to the doctor.

MESTIZA #3
Black spots broke out on my face. I splashed baby’s huix –this is urine- on them and they went away. No doctors for me, no, no!

(cut)

MESTIZA #3
Aren’t you going to public support?

MESTIZA #2
(answering Mestiza #3)
No way! They’ll think I’m starving to death, that I’ve got no money.

MESTIZA #3
But you don’t have no money.

MESTIZA #2
Yes, but they don’t have to know.

MESTIZA #3
How horrible! You’re prouder than me. Me, I’m going cause I don’t have a husband to support me.

MESTIZA #1
The government helps you. They give you a tiny little house, like a bird’s house, but anyway, they give it for free.
(cut)

MESTIZA #2
My mamá tried to beat me, but I told my papá, listen papá, we don´t have anything to eat and, besides,my mamà is beating me.

MESTIZA #3
I was really scared of my mamá. She’d tell you something once and you did like she said. Especially us girls.

MESTIZA #1
You’re women, tomorrow or the day after you’ll get married, you’ll end up with a bad husband, what will you do for your children?

MESTIZA #2
My mamá’s word was God’s word. You’re looking at a tree, she’d call it a stone, and a stone must be or she’d hit to you good till you were seeing a stone too.

(cut)

MESTIZA #3
We were very poor. My mother would cut a cooked egg into four pieces cause we were four sisters, each one would get her little piece, that’s what we’re going to eat or else you’d grab a chaya plant, toast it on the comal, put on some orange and salt, that was your whole meal.

MESTIZA #2
Mamá, what are we going to eat? She’d give you a handful of food. That was all, that’s all. I hated it...I said, better off married, that’s right, and so I married this man. Married, I’d eat panucho, beans with pork. Good meals. The old man had corn, mayiz, meat, he had everything. When my son grew up, I found out this man had other women and I abandoned him, I came to Mérida to work.

(cut)

MESTIZA #1
When she, my mamá taught me to make tortillas, I’d flip the tortilla and break off one piece, uas, then another, uas, until she turned around saw it and took my hand and burned it on the comal. Look how quickly I learned.

MESTIZA #3
The thing is we were eight girls and all started with “L, our names.” When my mama wanted to call us, my mamá went lu, la, ley, liz, let, lo, I’m talking to you, penalá, stupid! I’m talking to you!

MESTIZA #2
(to Mestiza #3)
What do you want?

MESTIZA #3
(to Mestiza #2)
That vender doing business over there, bring him over to me and cancel the business.

MESTIZA #2
Which vender?

MESTIZA #1
Girl, now you’ve got me laughing, the one stuck under the pot.

(cut)

MESTIZA #1
Not me.

MESTIZA #2
Me neither.

MESTIZA #3
I’ll do it. I went to school. I quit after fourth grade cause I was old, 12 years old in fourth grade, I said, better off married, why continue if I’m already so old.

MESTIZA #2
(to Mestiza #3)
Hey, you don’t’ know how to read!

MESTIZA #3
(to Mestiza #2)
Who told you that? I know how to add and subtract, I can read almost everything I see.

(cut, with musical underscoring)

MESTIZA #1
Back then parents didn’t let you study, they thought you only wanted to learn how to write so you could write letters to your boyfriend.

MESTIZA #3
They told you, don’t learn anything, you’ll end up supporting your man and he’s the one who’s supposed to support the woman, she has to make due with whatever he can come up with.

MESTIZA #2
My mamá wanted me to study, but I hated it, I didn’t go back to school and my mamá wouldn’t let me back in the house.

MESTIZA #1
(to Mestiza 3)
You don’t go to class, you can’t come back in the house!

MESTIZA #3
She even chased me with a stick, I climbed a tree and wouldn’t come down.

MESTIZA #1
Look, a snake, curled up in the branch of the tree, it’s going to bite you.

MESTIZA #3
I still didn’t come down.

(cut)

MESTIZA #2
My papá stoned me. I don’t know why I’m such a bad girl, I grab my sister and punch her (hits Mestiza #1)

MESTIZA #1
(to Mestiza 2)
Mamaaá, my sister hit me!

MESTIZA #3
(to Mestiza 1)
Did she kill you?

MESTIZA #1
No, mamita.

MESTIZA #3
Then shut up.

MESTIZA #1
Yes, mamita.

MESTIZA #2
Really, she makes me want to hit her, what a bitch I am! I hit her, I pinch her, cause they give her everything, they her buy her her colored hipil, and since she’s a step-sister, not my papá’s daughter, I hit her even more, I think my papá wanted to live with my sister cause when my mamá died, here comes my sister saying, “Papá? I want to see him.” They ‘re alone together with the door closed, talking, talking, like family. And me, on the other hand, my papá treats me like crap, until he kicks me out.

(cut)

MESTIZA #1
When I was twelve my husband asked my papá if I could make babies with him. At first he said, “No! She’s too young to get married.” Later he said it was okay. I didn’t know my husband to be. They told me: “That’s him.” And I got married and made babies.

MESTIZA #3
As for me, my husband came in and turned out to be a drunkard. When he comes to hit me, I tell him, you hit me, I endure, fall asleep, hit you. I waited for him to go to sleep, picked up the machete, and cut that hammock down.

(cut)

MESTIZA #3
(singing)
Come out, come out, come out, you souls in pain, the holy rosary...(breaking off the prayer, screaming) That little boy playing pesca pesca, it’s a sin for him to run across the altar while I’m praying, I’m going to pinch him good to quiet him down (singing)...Break your chains...

(cut)

MESTIZA #1
(indicating her hunchback)
This thing here is my husband’s curse, when he died he cursed me, it fell on me here. It’s swollen, it hurts a lot. I take Naproxen, it feels better. My husband cursed me. It’s tough when you’re cursed, I ended up a hunchback. It’s a spirit, and who knows how it’ll go out.

MESTIZA #2
He’s a little doll, tiny like this (referring to “áluxes,” mystical Maya creatures who are types of playful goblins), he´s dancing alongside my hammock, I burnt some incense and he disappeared.

MESTIZA #3
My son waiters on Saturdays, I am wainting for him sitting at the table, it is late for dinner, I felt the cold air, I pulled the table cloth to cover my feet, han, then I felt asleep. Suddenly they pulled off the table cloth, I kept on sleeping, when I felt them messing with me right here. I woke up and said, who’s messing with me?  Nobody’s there!

(cut)

MESTIZA #2
(Standing, singing) Blessed and praised for all eternity... (chiding) Tell my son I’m coming, tell him to wait for me, (singing)...and María was conceived without original sin, amen...He should wait! (singing)...and so it was over and across centuries, amen!...Good evening. Where is my son? He didn´t want to come in? He’s upset cause I wasted all the money he gave me on novenas. Why does he bother? If he gave me the money it’s cause I can use it like I wanted. He shouldn’t get upset. Otherwise, why would he give money to me?

(cut)

MESTIZA #1
The neighbor poisoned my dogs cause they’re female. Why don’t you kill your daughters, who are also girls? I showed her the dead dogs and told her, What are you going to do now? Eat them? There you go!

MESTIZA #3
You shouldn’t kill a dog. A dog can see with its dog’s eyes what you can’t see with your human eyes. My dog’s barking loudly, I go to the window and don’t see a thing, but the dog sees it with his dog eye. He’s seeing a bad wind, seeing death that wants to take me away. You need to have a dog, I’m going to give you these new three dogs as a gift.

MESTIZA #2
My dog is xux, so smart that he looks like a person.The other day I’m washing and my dog’s tied up on the patio when all of a sudden I hear: “Aumamau.” Perfectly clear I heard the voice of my x’tupito, my youngest little son, but the little boy is there right beside me. Who was it? What was it?

MESTIZA #1
It was peck, the dog.

MESTIZA #2
Ma! Was it the dog?

MESTIZA #1
Yes, it was.

MESTIZA #3
Ma! No it wasn’t!

MESTIZA #2
Ma! Yes, it was!

MESTIZA #1
It was!

MESTIZAS #1, #2
Ma ! Yes, it was!

(cut)

MESTIZA #3
My children are in heaven...Long ago...Careful if they saw you playing or not doing anything cause then they’d find anything to keep you busy.

MESTIZA #2
That little girl’s not doing anything, let’s find her something to do.

MESTIZA #1
And they’d mix the beans and rice, throwing out the pebbles, and you had to go through it grain by grain so the beans came out perfectly clean.

MESTIZA #3
All my boys were born fine, just with the little girl it was difficult. I was in Mérida when huas! my water broke, and a young man to tells me, “I’ll take you to the clinic, get in my car.” I got in but didn’t want to sit down cause I was covered in blood, I was going to ruin his car, and I traveled standing up the whole way to the hospital.

MESTIZA #2
Some people in Mérida humiliate you at work.
MESTIZA #3
Thank God, I never had to work. Good heavens, I have what I need, my children, my turkeys, and my hog.

MESTIZA #1
I was poor, went to ask my boss-lady for help cause there was nothing to eat, she told me, “I’m going to give you $500 pesos and your youngest daughter stays with me so you won’t have to spend anything on her. When the money runs out, come back, I’ll give you another $500 pesos and you’ll sign a paper for me to keep the girl.”

MESTIZA #3
I looked up at her: My daughter’s not some dog to be given away!

MESTIZA #2
My sisters-in-law didn’t like me cause I’m mestiza. As in my husband’s family, women are catrinas, they wear dresses not hipiles, they look down on me.

MESTIZA #3
Ever since I was little girl my mamá had me wear the hipil, and I did the same with my daughter. They didn’t make my granddaughter wear the hipil, she’s a dress-wearer. A catrina.

MESTIZA #1
I’ve never worn a dress. I don’t like them. I’m happy to be mestiza like this.

(Blackout)
 

ADRELAIDINA

 

(When Chachas (cleaning women) Leave)
ELEGANT LADY
Tell her, absolutely not. She can’t just leave without telling me, leaving the dishes to be washed...We treat her very well in our house. She has her own room with a TV. Why won’t she come out? Why won’t she talk face to face? Has she robbed a piece of my jewelry? But I’m not quitting, I’m waiting here at the door until she gets her things and we go back to Mérida together.

ADRELAIDINA
(Lying in her hammock the whole time, occasionally sitting up, and finally rocking with great force)
No, I’m not going back to that lady, she pays very little, besides, sometimes she pays you, sometimes she doesn’t. Whenever I go back to my hometown, and it’s pay day, and she owes me, and I go to get paid, she says: “Ah, honey, I haven’t been to the bank, I’ll pay you real well later, dear.” Without cash, how can I get back to my town? On foot?

ELEGANT LADY
Undo the curtains, change the water in the fish tank, grill some chicken breasts for me, nuggets for the children, and a steak for my husband...Three mixed salads (she freezes)

ADRELAIDINA
The señora tells you, do this, do that, you do it, and when you’re done, you’re hungry, your stomach is groaning. When I’m done cooking I say han I’m going to grab a little something for myself, but she says no, gives you leftovers. And the food’s been sitting for ten days in the refrigerator, and she doesn’t boil it, it’s half-rotten. Later on, I’m working, I see I’ve got diarrhea from eating rotten food. I’m working, they should be giving me good food, cause what they’re paying me isn’t much. At best a neck, a chicken wing, they give you rotten food, I’m not an animal. In my house we eat a cabax of beans, with a little onion, two fried eggs, all nice and fresh.

ELEGANT LADY
She had everything she needed, I gave her gifts, often even my own things, but she wouldn’t accept them. Pride is another matter (she freezes).

ADRELAIDINA
Hah! Yes, she gave me things, tells me, “To keep your mouth shut because I have not paid you,  I give you these shoes.” Can you believe she’d give me these worn-out, broken shoes, with huge heels, like this....? Then she’d give me dresses, couldn’t she see that all I wear is hipil?! It’s her mean nature, trying to humiliate me. But look, I got out from under her and I’m not working for her again.

ELEGANT LADY
I’m going to say you left like a chacha, like a lousy servant. I’m not recommending you to anybody, you don’t have an ounce of good manners in you.

Song:
“I like you cause you carry in your mouth
The cherry-red of ripe strawberries,
Cause the divine way you kiss
Is full of tenderness and crazy desire.”

ADRELAIDINA
(listening to the melody, she relaxes, turning over in the hammock; she gets upset when the melody stops)
I’ve got bad temper, I can’t take it a man being by my side, any little thing they tell you, I get in a bad mood...Sometimes I think it’s exhaustion, hmmm, it’s exhaustion! You have to cut the oranges, prepare the chili, that’s a lot of nail-breaking work! Barely anything, and still you’re exhausted. I had a boyfriend, he tells me, let’s go see the bullfight, I tell him, I’ll go...He comes to get me, and when the time comes, I don’t want to get out of my hammock. I’m lazy. I think about ironing my hipil, getting dressed, then, Ah! Better not go, too wa way with my clothes all creased. I’d rather be alone. I can’t take men. I don’t like them ordering me around. Are they going to support you? Nope. Better off alone, I’m happy.

Fragment from “Orange Flower”:
“I like you cause I do,
Cause you’re pretty
As an orange flower in spring.
Cause in the glory
Of your cherry mouth
Kisses blaze like fire.”

ADRELAIDINA
(playing, putting her toes through the hammock)
Truth is, I’ve had boyfriends, but every last one of them ending up telling me, they’re married, they have kids, this and that, and so I broke up with them. There was one I ended up loving more, I almost married him, I’d even starting making my dress and everything when he suddenly told me, “You know, I’m not going to marry you,. If you want, let’s go, I’ll give you everything, a house, jewelry, but you stay the way you are, I’ll give you everything but I won’t marry you.” He didn’t explain why he changed, he just said it. Did I love him? God knows. He kept after me, kept insisting, and I told him no. I thought of the look on my mamá’s face if I went off with him like that, she always says: “Women lose it once. With men, it’s different. A woman who isn’t careful is asking for it, a man will take a woman as far as she lets him.” I left him. I told him, “I want to get married, even he’s a coal-maker, a flan seller, somebody who sells dirt, anybody willing to marry me.” He went away for a while, then came back. “Have you changed your mind?” he told me. “No? Well, give me my things back.” He had given me all kinds of jewelry, made of gold, filigree, cocoyol, everything, but like they say, when a flea gets into you, doesn’t matter what you’ve got, nothing works. I gave it all back to him, and it was over.

I was alone, selling things in Mérida. I don’t see my money, but I’ve got everything I need, I give all my earnings to my mamá. I tell her, I want shoes, she buys them for me, I want this, she gives it to me. That’s how I’m used to it. I earn the money, but from the moment I tell her how much I’ve got, no, my mother manages it all.

I prefer being alone. If I make a sale, I eat. If I don’t make a sale, I don’t eat. I’ve got no schedule, nobody telling me do this, do that.  And truth be told, I do have bad temper. Some person is looking at me too much, I feel like giving her a shove, but no, I control myself. With me, if I don’t like you, I won’t fake it, you’re going to see it in my face. You see should the face I make!

When I get home, not even the Holy Father can get me out of my blessed hammock. I’ve got no husband to look after, no crying kids, I don’t have to clean up the house, nothing, just my hammock. I’m happy this way. Rocking, rocking in my hammock.... my mamá on one side, chatting, rocking, rocking...I’ve got everything I need.

 

SOCO SOYOC
(The Ray Ban Mestiza)

 

(A mestiza enters with Ray Ban glasses. Musical background: Queen’s “I Want to Break Free.” The mestiza crosses the street with a wash basin, a huacal, and rebozo. She reaches a specific place, covers her legs with the rebozo, puts down her merchandise, and sits down to sell. She keeps the glasses on during the entire scene.)

ANA
You look really good in glasses. Very modern!

SOCO
Uh-huh.

LINDA
Ma, Ma, your Ray Ban.

SOCO
Hah!

ANA
Are they new? Is this the latest mestiza style?

SOCO
No, the thing is, I’ve got cataracts, I have to avoid the sun. Yesterday they operated on my eye, I’m not supposed to go out, but if I can’t sell, what am I supposed to do? You know what happened? My husband chair-smashed my face. When I felt the blow, boom, I fell to the ground and said, this is it. I stayed there, but I didn’t die, just ended up with the cataract. The doctor operated on me, and as long as I wear my glasses, all right. That’s it.

(She takes out the basin, a knife, and a grapefruit, peeling it during the monologue.)

My son? They took my son off to jail, he got himself together there. My sister says, “Why don’t you put your son in jail so he can be a better person? I tell her, “If my son isn’t doing anything to you, if he’s behaving himself now, why should I put him in jail? I’m not crazy.” He was four days in jail for drunkenness, he had some cahuamas, big bear bottles, in his bag and they caught him, and so my sister says: “Why didn’t you put him there yourself?” “No, I don’t have the heart to do it cause he’s my son, but now he’s been punished.” Now I tell him: “Behave yourself. Look where you ended up with your damn drinking.” Now, he’s changed, he gets up early and goes to class. My son’s fine now, he’s studying, he’s almost done. My sister can never see that, she trashes him. 

She tells me, “Your son’s doing drugs.” I tell myself: “Can my son be doing drugs?” I look at his mouth, check all his molars, no sign of his having chewed any drugs, my sister the bitch is just saying that. My husband? He died. He couldn’t walk from the illness, couldn’t do anything, couldn’t eat. When it got bad, I told him, “Let’s go to the hospital.” We went once, and he told the doctor I didn’t take care of him, things like that, and I told him: “Is that so? Then go by yourself.” But he didn’t go. He couldn’t cause he couldn’t walk. My daughter was going to take him and he didn’t want to, and when we finally went, God help me! His lungs were stopped up. The dust from the shoes killed him. When he’d spit, he wouldn’t spit white, he’d spit black. Had he left the shoe factory and sold snow cones instead of painting shoes, it wouldn’t have happened. Cause I cleaned out the bowl he spit into and you could see the shoe dust. He didn’t drink but he was a son of a bitch. Loved getting into fights. If a day went by without a fight, he wasn’t happy. I think he felt chich naac, sad, cause he was going to die. In the morning I’d tell him, “Here’s your tortilla, here’s your cookie, here’s your Coke, take it.” He’d say, ‘I don’t want it, I’m angry, I feel like fighting.” He’d fight over anything. He’d loose his under ware, he’d search and search,  wouldn’t find it, then it would turn out to be right , because is wearing his under ware .” He was a son of a bitch, he’d come running after me, in the morning I’d wake up with a black eye, my hair—that’s why I’m bald. He’d grab it and pull it back (pulling her hair). That’s how he did things. My daughter saids: “Mom look at your face” I can`t see it because my eyes are closed by the beats. That’s why my son started hitting me when he was little, my husband taught him how. He’d pull my hair, pull everything. I didn’t hit back, it hurt me, he’s my son: it hurt me in my mother’s heart. He’s hard-headed. He’d tell me: “Mamá, I’m going to work. If I come back, it’s cause I’m back. And if I don’t come back, it’s cause I’m not. I was shocked, I started to cry right there at the table. I told him, “Don’t get my blood boiling,.” He got up and left. Hours go boy, my son doesn’t come home! Where is he? I’m saying my prayers: Santos Reyes Magos de Tizimin, Gaspar, Melchor and Baltazar,  return my son to me. Suddenly I felt a pre  feeling in my heart of mother.  Then I went to see him in jail. 4 800 pesos to get him out. How can I get him out if I don’t have any money? Since it was for being drunk, I didn’t pay so much, but other things cost a lot.  What? No. I never put my husband in jail. Why would I? We’d work things out and all would be forgotten.  My daughter put her husband in jail, ah, but he messed up her eye for life. But she got him out quick cause her mother-in-law and my son-in-law threatened her. He told her: “Every day I spend in jail is a bullet I’m going to shoot you with.” Mother!  She got him out quick, she was scared, and she is fast too. The things my husband did... He used to have a lot of lovers, I never fought him over them. The most I told him was: “Just great, I’ll do the same, when men come up to me in the street, I’ll go off with them. See how you like that, eh?” eh? He wouldn’t answer! “Eh?” No answer! I started selling cause he wouldn’t give me a single peso. Children don’t ask, they open their mouths and want to eat. One day I found him sitting in the park with a lady, I smacked him, I punched him, he never did that again. His obsession was getting women pregnant and not supporting them. My son wasn’t upset when my husband died, didn’t shed a single tear. But the man cursed him. He told him, “You’re going to end up in jail.” And didn’t he? He told me, “You’re going to die of drowning. He was swearing at people even as he was dying. As long as I can’t go to Progreso today, it’s starting to rain, I’m staying here, don’t you see I could drown, and my husband’s curse would be fulfilled. You laugh because the cursed was for me, but if your husband curse you I don`t think you laugh like that.

My sister? My sister is my enemy.  She bought a spirit to put a spell on me so I’d leave home. My sister was upset that my husband died, she thinks I’m poch, I’m hot, from being alone. Like she has  two husbands and thinks that I’m going to take away one away her. I’m not messing with that! Like I tell my sister, “I’m happier selling.”  But she went to see a witch and bought a spell to pull out of  my home, you`ll see I live here and my sister lives between. But  she felt bad about it and  told me, we had go to see another witch of another town to take out the spell and I can use my house again. This is because  my sister wants to keep on living with me, she’s scared her husband will come around and see her. She’s living with another man and her husband might come around. They’re separated cause she ran off with another man and now her husband wants to come back and she doesn’t know what he’s going to do cause the house where she’s living is her husband’s, not hers. Maybe her husband will come back and sell the house. She’ll get kicked out, even though he told her: “I’m not kicking you out, let’s live together again.” But she says, “I can’t, there’s another man, what am I going to do?” That’s what she tells him. I think she loves them both cause her husband has money and the other man’s got money too. One of them is a contractor for masonry, the other works in Chetumal. I tell her, you better get your daughter and run cause one day your husband’s going to come back and you’re going to get screwed, that is, she’s going to cry. My sister is screwed. She fights with me a lot cause she wants me to treat my son badly, to put him in the clink for being a drunkard. “Look, if he’s drunk at home,, if he`s eating drugs,  he’s not eating you or stinging you, go  to sleep with your husband.

My sister is screwed. Know what she’s done to me now? She bought a shadow to scare me. When it gets dark, the shadow appears and walks behind me, follows me wherever I go. What?  No…this think I`m stupid. Listen to me, listen, It’s not my shadow! It’s an evil thing my sister did to me. I’ll tell you why it’s not my shadow. When I lay down in hammock to go to sleep, the shadow stays standing. Who is the stupid now?But I fuck her, not the lady, to the shadow. Do you know what I did? I burned habanero chili and the shadow started coughing and ran off, never comes back. You can do the same thing, when some people come to visit you, ando you don`t like that person, or they stayed a lot of time in your home, you can burned some chili and you`ll see they get out fast of your home.

I lost my dogs cause I obeyed my sister. She says to me: “Soco, don’t tie up your dog to my wall cause they  won’t leave me and my husband sleep  in peace.” So I let my dogs loose. When I came back, they weren’t there. Did they fall in the well?  Some dogs are lazy, maybe they wanted to talk to me, and get desperate because I wasn`t there.  Were they stolen for dog-fights?

As for herself, my sister’s half lazy, she’s always saying “Soco, Soco… something hurts my” No wonder she`s  hurting when that damn man is so fat.” That’s the truth. No wonder. She says, “ Soco…When I get up, my stomach hurts me, when I do this, it hurts me, it feels like there’s a board in my stomach.” No wonder she feels that way, when that man’s so big and fat, like this. Don’t you think he’s crushing her stomach, making her ovaries swell? My sister’s old for him, My sister? she’s 62. Me? I’m 54, but I’m not looking for a man, I’m old, I’m tired, why would I bother myself over a man? No! Better to sell. If I make due, I eat. If I don’t, I don’t eat.

Well, my sister’s husband told me, come with me, I’ll set you up with a place to live. I told him, no! Cause my youngest son, my x’tupito I want to see him cured cause he drinks too much. He’s sick from “alcoholation.” If I can find someone to cure him...and once he’s cured, I’ll give him a little piece of land. Then I can do whatever I want cause he won’t be in my power anymore. Cause he’s in my power now, it’s my duty as a mother to give him whatever he wants. Cause the boy didn’t ask to be brought into this world, you open your legs and there he was. I support him well, he wants this, that, and the other...I give it to him. Some times he`s just thinking about and I give it to him in his hands.  I’m selling things here in Mérida so I can buy my son whatever he wants. I’d even take the food out of my own mouth. Sometimes there’s not even that. Where am I going to get it? Am I going to steal it? It’s all screwed up, everything’s screwed up.

Hmmm? Me? No! I’m not talking about myself! I was talking about my family, my sister, her husbands, my son, my daughter, my late husband...but not about myself. Why not? Cause I don’t like to. No, no, never…Besides...I’m not here! You don’t even see me cause I’m not here.If close my eyes you disappear   (turns her face)

(Blackout.)

 

ROSA AMÉN
The Great Power

 

ROSAMEN
Hello! (no answer) Good evening! (silence) They don’t get along with me, it’s pure envy. My husband cured people, and now that he’s dead and I’ve got the gift, my neighbors don’t talk to me. There’s hate in their hearts but not in mine.

Sometimes I feel like sending them an evil wind and finishing them off. I could do it!

There are people who don’t know, and others who know but don’t believe. For example, somebody comes along asking to tell their fortune.

PROJECTION:
Woman with money: There’s money
Woman with knives/spades: Envy
Cups: The money will be drunk

ROSAMEN
Once you discover that someone’s had an evil spell put on them, you can cure them.

That person screwing with you—we’re going to send it back to them. What does that person care about most? Ah! Their cornfield. That’s how we’ll screw them, we’ll send a wind to stop the rain clouds so their field goes dry. Ah! Stronger? Then we’ll send a whirlwind to destroy their field, pull up their harvest stalk by stalk, lifting everything away. Then the breeze goes away...it disappears. Who can they blame?

Yes, you can do damage like this, but I only cure, I don’t do evil. I’m asked to cause damage and I say, Nooo. They offer me good money. I don’t accept it, even though I need it.  They say that we who truly are curers never get rich. My shack’s made of straw, it ended up on its side when the hurricane screwed us. Sometimes evil is in a house, I go in with the gift and, like a broom, I sweep it all out.

But they (laughing at her neighbors) don’t remember... they quickly forget. I remember the time my neighbor’s daughter-in-law came with her baby in her arms. The girl tells me: “Ay Rosamen, cure my child, I took the trouble of taking her to the doctor and she didn’t get better, she vomits day and night...I’m going to lose her.”

“Calm down. Give me the child. Sit down.” I pull out my chumazo of cards, let the child breathe them, put them down on the table and tell the mother: “Grab the cards.” She grabbed a few, could have grabbed more, like this (gestures).

“These few that you grabbed,” I explained to the girl, “are the days of life left to your child. If you’d grabbed more, you’d have more of a chance of saving her, but we’ve got to work quickly or an evil spirit will take her away.” She started to cry, she was upset. I told her. “What are you crying for? You have to trust. Let’s find where this evil spirit’s coming from.... hmmm...You live in a house without a wall, and a large patio. In the middle of the patio is a plum bush, your daughter was playing there. She dug up some earth trying to hide a toy, and an evil wind suddenly went into her mouth and swallowed her spirit. It didn’t take her body, but it’s carrying her spirit far, far away...until she dies.” The mother became desperate!  And started  to cry, didn’t want to go home, her husband came for her, there she is, he punched her, a group of them tried to take her away, but she didn’t let them, said she’d rather live in the street than let her daughter die. I went to work and cured the child. It was just that the girl got frightened and wouldn’t go back to living in that house with her husband. They had to sell the house and buy another. Ever since then my neighbor doesn’t talk to me, says I spread rumors that made the girl leave her son, but that isn’t why they took off. Who cares. I cured the child, she’s 18 years old now, pretty, hair like this (indicating the length). When she passes by, she doesn’t talk to me, she even spits on my land. Who knows what they tell her in her house, but there’s hate in her heart, not in mine.

Now my neighbor’s screwing me over, she worked it so I can’t cure anymore, she sent a strong wind, but I stopped it—I can do that—I caught that wind...And I’m not giving it back to her. I didn’t just leave it blowing so it could burden someone else. I have it locked up. Do you want see it? Sometimes it begs like a demon to be let out, but I won’t let it. I control it. It gives off light, it shakes the wall, it screams, but no. I control it.

I’ve been doing this for years. The things I’ve seen!

A woman punished her husband cause she found out he was having a child with another woman. I worked a strong one on him. In the moment of child birth the woman died and the child came out on all fours, it was a horrible animal that ran right off into the forest. The husband went crazy. These things do exist, winds are powerful, it all depends where you grab them. Like the last breath of a decapitated hen, that little wind of its breath is enough to do some work.

You should know, you meet a person on the street you haven’t seen for a while, they greet you, shake your hand, but it’s not a person...it’s a spirit in the form of a person, and when it takes your hand, you’re about to be taken away. That’s why I say, when I want, I kill them...so they don’t keep looking for me, cause they will look for me.

They’re real bitches. When they come asking for me, they say: “I don’t know her.” They come looking for me from Chetumal, Campeche, even from México City. They deny me. It’s their ignorance. But people find me and I cure them.  There are illnesses you can’t cure, but you can bring relief to the person so they live a few more years, better years.

I am Rosamen. If you search carefully and you are fated to heal, you’ll find me, but if death has already cleared a path to find you and take you away, I can’t cure you. When somebody comes, I look behind them, like this, to see if there’s a path made of sas kab behind their back. And there it is, death coming from the other side. You know how it does it? It puts a bag full of sas kab on their back, it gets punctured, and as the dirt spills out, it leaves a path so death can find them and take them at any moment. Then you can’t be cured...I can’t beat death!

There is a wind of water, that wind does nothing, it only announces the rain. If you see it, and a x’majaná flitting there, it’s going to rain, or at least some water will fall. I know it.

(On the upstage wall, it starts to rain, like a waterfall. It fills the ground until, at the end of the text, it completely covers the actresses.)

I am Rosa, like the flowers in my mamá’s garden when I was a little girl...They had me put them in a barrel. I mixed them with rue, basil, rosemary, and mint. In the patio my mamá warmed the water a little in a large barrel, this big. I remember the petals falling into the water, the leaves in my lukewarm bath water. I remember clearly the water turning colors, taking on a green hue—like mint tea—letting itself be perfumed by the roses, the gourd dipping in and out of the barrel filling up with flower water, the drops falling little by little onto my naked body. The magic water of leaves protects me from the bad wind, turns me to petals, leaves, gourd...It makes me strong against the wind, keeps me away from bad winds, from wounded wind.

I remember the Roses falling in the water
The water falling onto my body
The damp body alone
The wind begging to wound
And my mother singing while the roses covered me.

Background music:
On the wings of the wounded wind
Our tunkul no longer resounds
If my beloved no longer resounds
It’s not that we’ve forgotten your blue sky.

(Blackout)

 
Las Aguadas/The Cave-Lakes
 

She fled into the forests, fled with him before anybody could discover him, fled when her stomach of gourd felt the first little kick signaling that everybody would be asking where he came from. She took some hipiles, a rebozo, and disappeared into the forest.

She chose a high spot and built a straw house to live in with him.

She lay back in her hammock.... At night a female dog appeared: skinny, skinny, chewed up, with its skin hanging off its bones and its breasts drooping, dragging itself over the earth.

It looked so ugly, its head bent over, its breasts so empty and different from hers, so full, so round. She felt sorry for the animal and let it live in her house.

Three months later she knew the boy would be born that morning because in her dream, the full moon broke into two pieces.

She felt the first tug down there, felt her womb chest stir, it felt like a mouth was opening, more and more, she felt like she was becoming a cenote, she had to hang onto the hammock and see what had changed down there, what had become an ancient vessel, a deep well with a diminutive creature trapped inside, waiting to be rescued.

She hung onto the hammock with more force and saw, through the hole, the baby’s head, the spot of black hair, she saw it behind the bone, round and hard. She pushed harder to help him come out. The baby came out with its little hand wrapped around the umbilical cord. She cleaned it, the baby opened his mouth and looked for his mother’s swelling chuchú, full of fresh milk, white and new for him. With his little hand, he caressed his mother’s chuchú and tapped it gently as if to say: “Now, mamá...It’s all over... I’m here...”

The next day, while the baby slept, she went out with two barrels to draw water from a well that was a short walk away. Coming back, she heard the baby crying, nervous. She ran, not worrying about the drops of water spilling from the barrel. When she got home, she saw the boy crying, kicking around, his mouth dry, searching for his mother’s full chuchú. Under the hammock, the dog was sleeping peacefully. Furious, she took the boy in her arms and yelled at the dog: “Damn dog, instead of singing to the boy so he won’t be frightened, you just lie there.”

The next day she had to go get water again. Halfway back she heard the cries again and ran hurriedly. Once again the dig was sleeping. Furious, she kicked his snout and said: “Lazy dog, why can’t you sing to the boy?”

When she went out again for water, she was very scared to leave the boy alone, so she rushed, but on her way back she heard the cries... She was starting to run when the boy stopped crying, and all through the forest you could hear the sound of a sweet and beautiful voice. Frightened, she rushed again. Who had broken into the house to sing to the boy? When she got there, the boy was smiling. The female dog was standing on its hind legs, rocking the boy’s hammock with its forelegs while it sang to him.

Scared, the woman dropped the water barrels. The house began to flood, and the water rose until it covered the dog, the boy, and the woman. They say the water rose so much that on that spot there is now a cave-lake.

And those who know say the one who finds the lagoon and throws a kernel of corn into the water can see the dog, the boy, and the woman in its depths and can even hear the voice singing.

(The water rises until it covers the actresses. Blackout. A projection of the actress’ faces in the water.)

 

--Concepción León Mora
Mérida, Yucatán
February 2005

Translation, Harley Erdman
August 2007
Revised by Silvia Peláez
www.dramaturgiamexicana.com
Mexico City, November 2007