The Dinner 

Translated by Marvin Najarro

Fidelio stops and take a rest next to the ice cream cart, his feet are blistered – the shoes he wears barely have any sole. He has walked across most of the city since seven in the morning, soon it will get dark. It hasn’t been a good day; he couldn’t sell even a third part of the product. That is what happens when the autumn begins and the weather changes suddenly. He never imagined that El Norte would be something like that: pushing an ice cream cart from spring to fall and asking people to buy his product, as he used to do it is his native Iguala de la Independencia, Guerrero, Mexico, when he peddled panes y atoles. 

It has been thirty years of walking along the streets of Chicago city, on cold, rainy and sunny days. He arrived in the país del Norte when he was thirty-years old, he is almost sixty-three, and still undocumented. He does not know what a day-off is because he pushes his ice cream cart from Monday to Sunday. He has almost forgotten his name, because for thirty years he has been known only as the heladero. 

When the cold weather sets in, Fidelio returns the cart and leaves the ice creams for six months, then he starts selling tamales in an insulated container that he carries on his shoulders, going door-to- door in apartments buildings; four tamales for five dollars. No even the most brutal winter storm can stop him; it is on those days when he sells more tamales since nobody wants to go out to get food. 

He inherited the seasoning from his mother, doña Lindona, who still sells panes y atoles in Iguala de la Independencia. Thanks to her, Fidelio, washes, irons, cooks, and earns a living as best as he can. He would have stayed in Mexico where food didn’t lack him, but he was always a shame for his father and uncles, his father beat and rejected him since he was a child, for being different, and not as macho as the machos of the family.  

He put up with that until he was thirty-two years old, which was a long time, he said good-bye to his mother and left for El Norte. At least in Chicago he is one of many, and that thing of being a macho, was left behind many miles away. Every night after returning from selling tamales and ice creams, Fidelio dines with Marcos, his companion, who also fled from Panama for the same reasons. 

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Ilka Oliva-Corado @ilkaolivacorado

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