Like every woman, Mama had good days and bad days. One day when she woke up feeling like a peasant, she got it into her head to go in search of fortune. It was fashionable to go and work on the other side. In Mexico
there was no work, and in the United States there were no workers – the
perfect combination if there had not been a border in between. Mama thought
about going as a wetback to see if I, by being born there, would come out
blond and blue-eyed. This was like wanting chilaquiles on the other side of the border, but Mama began to pack up her things anyway. Instead of a
suitcase Mama borrowed a knapsack, bought some sneakers in the Baratillo
market, an English-Spanish dictionary and a pack of gum, and she stood on
the corner to hitch a ride. The cars passed without stopping; it was not
like in the movies.
Mama had heard that Uncle Sam lived there, and she decided to go and
ask him for help, since in Mexico there were no rich relatives. She would
go directly to the White House and..."Mamazota", a passing cyclist shouted
to her...she would say hello. How would she say buenos días in English? As
she was opening her dictionary, a motorcyclist, seeing her stomach, said to
her, "What dance did you go to, honey?" Mama could not hold the dictionary
very well because her thumb was busy looking for a ... How had they told
her it was in English? It was the name of an insecticide...DDT? No.
Blackflag? No, no. Raid? Yes, that was it, ride, but she had finally found
the B. Ba-bab-bac-ba...By the time she got to Bueno, so she could see how
to say "buenos días", it was already three in the afternoon and Mama was
hungry. Taco, how would you say taco? she wondered. At that moment a small
truck with wood paneled sides stopped in front of her. The driver said to
her, "Where are you going, pretty lady?" "To the United States", Mama
"Don't you want to have a quick drink first?" the man proposed. Mama
was only on C: Ca...Camote, she read in the dictionary. Ay, there are still
so many pages to go before getting to Taco, it's no use. So he'll be born
with dark hair, she said, getting into the truck.
Translated by Patricia J. Duncan
With the permission of Laura Dail Literary Agency, Inc.