The Stilts of Cecilia 

Translated by Marvin Najarro

Cecilia never imagined that after working in a maquila in her native Puerto Lempira, Gracias a Dios, Honduras, she would end up painting houses in the United States. She did not land in a fast-food restaurant or in some maintenance job, but rather it was gardening and construction that awaited her.  

Although women in her native country besides looking after their family are accustomed to perform tasks that by gender correspond to men, painting house ceilings on stilts was something new for her. When she emigrated, she was told that there was plenty of work in the United States, it all depended to where she was planning to go, to an industrial state or to one producing vegetables and fruits.   

Cecilia emigrated to be reunited with her beloved Paco, her lifelong boyfriend whom she married a month before he emigrated, and although she would have liked, she did not have time to get pregnant. Three years passed and Paco did not send for her, as he had promised her. Every time he called her, he always told her that there was not much work, and that he had not been able to save money for her trip, but with the help of her cousins who lived in Las Vegas she emigrated on the day of her nineteenth birthday. 

When she arrived, she found out that her beloved Paco was living with another woman, she discarded him from her life and promised to herself that as soon as she could save money, she would file for divorce. Her first job was cutting grass with a small mowing machine, the commercial mower impressed her, but after two years she was able to operate it. She spent five years working in gardening, nothing different from her work in the fields.  

One day she got a job offer in the trade of house roofing, and she did not miss the chance, she would earn five dollars more per hour. It was an extenuating and stressful job for her knees since she spent the whole day on her knees, but she learned the job very fast. She worked there for two years, until a suitor offered her a house painting job, and she decided to give it a try, she was twenty-six at that time. She started by learning the names of tools, mixing paint, and dusting off the walls. 

Cecilia has been painting houses for ten years, she specialized in finishing touches and decorating, she learned it by trial and error, nobody taught her; since the first day she focused her attention on everything her coworkers were doing. That is how Cecilia learned to work on stilts, painting ceilings and making decorations that the owners wanted in their homes. It was in this work where Cecilia put her imagination to work, and from her hands sprouted branches of trees, blue sky colors, crystalline rivers, and multicolored flowers.  

During the nights, in the apartment she shares with her cousins, Cecilia takes the canvases and begins to paint, the artist to whom the misery in her country did not allow to flourish, finally in the El Norte can be. She paints for her soul to express itself, then she takes the canvases out of the frames, rolls them up and keeps them under her bed, to finally repose and dream with canvases, colors and paint brushes. 

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Ilka Oliva-Corado @ilkaolivacorado

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