The Village Saleswomen

Translated  by Katrina Hassan

They always come to my mind when the De Diez flowers start blooming in the warm summer days. The soft breeze, the sun and the dog days of summer bring with them the watering of a dusty yard with a random container. That house and that yard sheltered the innocence of my childhood. The smell of wet earth comes to me through my window here in this faraway land, where I now sow garlic, tomato seeds and mint. I fix the mint that expands elegantly between the vines and the Lantana flowers and the plant pots, in my small plot of land in my rented town. 

They appear in between the mist, the last minutes of dawn and dew, when the heat begins to kick off and gives way to midday. I see them coming down the main street of the village. Their sandals dusty from walking so much, with the baskets on their heads full of herbs, vegetables and flowers. Some have cheese, cream, duck, turkey or chicken eggs. They are girls and adolescents that spend their day taking care of animals, stone grinding maize, making tortillas, washing clothes, tending the farmed land, studying (some), and walking down to Ciudad Peronia, the newly made neighbourhood, to sell their goods.

The image appears in time sequence. With harmony, their steps balance the bodies and the enormous baskets they carry full of yucca flowers, stuffed, spiky and perulero chayotes, poinsettias, bride’s veil, dahlias, chrysanthemums, loquats, freshly cut limes, and good looking red fleshed guavas. 

The large lettuce that is sown on the plots of land that adjoins the big house near the second pond. This house looks like the main house on the estate. It stands out from the adobe houses. It has a store in the middle, with a big counter full of trays filled with bread, candy made of unrefined sugar and sesame seeds, stacked up high in fours and fives, on top corn husks. The fridge near the front door full of fresh fruit drinks and drinks to go, in a bag, tamarind and nance fruit flavours. The bags of bread and sweet rolls, the merengues in small wicker baskets, the braided garlics hanging behind the door, near the horse shoe and the seven forests herb bunch to ward off the bad vibes.

In slow motion frames, like the water runs through ditches between flowers and vegetables, large carrots and the coriander spread their aromas all the way to the village of Calvario and Sorsoyá. Those gals are always expected like the rains of May in Ciudad Peronia. Peronia doesn’t have it’s personality well formed yet, but it will with time, thanks to the diversity in origin of its population. It sufficient for them to walk two to three blocks for them to sell the complete contents of their baskets. After they sell everything, the girls go to the market to buy salt, sugar, cinnamon, oil, candles, gas, pieces of fabric, and other items that they cannot make in their village.

The girls never offer their goods or knock on doors. They only walk in the middle of the road, with their baskets, standing tall, with their yagual, a special head dress that helps them carrying the baskets on their  head. They also wear large aprons. Well groomed, their hair up in braids, their dresses made by the women of the family. The are shy and barely speak, only the absolutely necessary needed in order to complete the sale. This is enough for whole blocks of the neighbourhood to get excited. The neighbourhood women come out to buy what sells out in a blink of an eye.

The people all yearn for them to come back with their baskets full of the beauty and the essence of their village. This in my childhood years was the horizon that gave way to the freedom of my cicada wings.

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Ilka Oliva Corado @ilkaolivacorado

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