Translated by Marvin Najarro
On the news, they predict that it will rain all day tomorrow, Román turns off the TV and try to sleep, his knees and hands joints hurt, tomorrow will be a long day, getting tired and soaked.
The amount of work he carries out at the Korean supermarket leaves him extenuated. Pushing the shopping carts that customers leave strewn all over the parking lot, sweeping and moping the floor, cleaning the bathrooms, picking up the garbage from the cafeteria, the deli, the fish and meat sections, and from the bins inside an outside the supermarket, takes its toll on Román; by midday, barely halfway through his workday, he is exhausted.
It doesn’t matter if it is too hot, snowing or raining, he has to push the shopping carts and put them in order at the supermarket entrance so that the customer can find them without any inconvenience. Sometimes his fingers and toes get numbed; his economy is not enough to buy shoes for the extreme cold temperatures of the winter season, and the wool gloves he wears in the cold, do not help him much either. Winter in Chicago is not like the one in his native Trinidad de Copán, Copán, Honduras. In his hometown winter is the rainy season during which the vegetation grows and the rivers overflow. He misses his country so much, but not the violence and poverty from which he fled.
He has been living in the United States for twenty-five years, he is undocumented and does not speak English. He crossed the Sonora desert at the age of fifty-five; he did not pay for a coyote, and got to Sonora by asking the truck drivers for a ride; he will turn eighty-one in a few months. Every day he rummages in the supermarket dumpsters in search of edible food to take home. The money he earns working at the supermarket is barely enough to pay the rent for the basement where he and his companion, Lucila, live. The food they both ingest comes out of the supermarket dumpsters.
Lucila is seventy-five years old, Mexican, and also undocumented; she moves around the small basement in a wheelchair because one his legs was amputated due to diabetes, but in spite of that, every day she prepares food for Román that he will take to work to eat during the lunch break. In the afternoons she organizes the flower bouquets that adorn the living room; flowers that Román chooses and cleans carefully after picking them out of the dumpsters.
Winter is around the corner and the toothache and rheumatism pain will make Román cry with sadness and despair pushing the shopping carts; a pain he can only communicate through signs to Lucila, who doesn’t know how, but she can understand him, even if none of them knows the language of signs.
Romám will chew cloves and camphor alcohol fermented with rue leaves fort the toothache, as he used to do it during the rainy days in his native Trinidad de Copán.
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Ilka Oliva-Corado @ilkaolivacorado