One Sunny Day

Translated by Katrina Hassan Begoña wraps herself in a blanket that she takes from her sofa and goes down the stairs of her building. She lives on the 3rd floor. She starts her car and comes back to her apartment. She puts 4 spoons of coffee in the coffee machine and two cups of water. She takes a shower in order to wake up properly while the coffee is ready. The clock says 3:15 a.m. It is Saturday, the beginning of spring. She is expected at her restaurant job at 4 a.m. She puts her wet hair into a ponytail,…

Continuar leyendo…

Lost in The City

Translated by Katrina Hassan It is June, around lunchtime and the heat is infernal. I observe the labourers from the window facing the street as I go upstairs at my place of work. Their bodies are drenched in sweat. With a pick, they open the earth to dig a trench all along the side the house in order to fix the plumbing. In the morning, the owner of the company, a Polish man of about 60 comes to show his face. He gets in his latest model double traction pick up truck and leaves. I serve two glasses of ice…

Continuar leyendo…

The Return of Yeyo and Papayo’s Grandkids

Translated by Katrina Hassan Yeyo grew up watching his dad break his back from carrying so many green banana bunches on those infernally hot tropical days in Chiapas. He saw his mom fill her arms with burn marks as she cooked potato turnovers to sell on the outskirts of the farm. Jacks of all trades, they juggled what they could to survive, being undocumented in Tapachula, Mexico. They always worked in precarious jobs, badly paid, without any benefits. They crisscrossed the state but the pay and treatment was always the same. They worked during the picking season on the coffee…

Continuar leyendo…

Catalino Sixto’s Yearning

Translated by Marvin Najarro It is 11:00 p.m., they have spent 16 hours amid the waste; mountains and mountains of it, looking for copper, glass, cardboard and plastic scraps. When they are lucky, they found packs of cookies and candies, which even if they get intoxicated, as has happened may times, they eat them in one bite, since hunger is stronger. That’s the waste picker’s life, ponders Calixto Sisto, who has also heard his parents and his neighborhood’s neighbors say the same thing. His hands and feet are covered with scars as a result of the many wounds caused by…

Continuar leyendo…

Every Day That Passe, She Misses It Less

Translated by Katrina Hassan The only times that Nía Chenta’s daughter Caya had ever heard the sound of horse hoofs over cobblestones, were the nights she would stay at the pharmacy owner’s house to keep her company while her kids were away in the capital. The pharmacy lady asked Nía Chenta as a favour to let Caya stay the night until her kids would come back. This is how Caya first heard the sound of water running through the PVC pipes, she saw her first toilet, bath and a refrigerator. She also saw the electric iron, TV, remote control and…

Continuar leyendo…

The Echo of Roosters’ Calls

Translated  by Katrina Hassan She takes her son Yeyo, wraps him in her shawl and puts him on her back. On the table, Isaura sets down two changes of clothes, her barrette, the baby’s talcs, a pot of face cream and a pair of shoes with broken soles. She believes she can fix them when she arrives to her destination. She also has an envelope with pictures, and a few scraps of t-shirt that she turned into diapers. In a kitchen towel, she gathers a bag with a handful of salt, some pishtones, fat tortilla like patties filled with beans, she…

Continuar leyendo…

French Pears

Translated  by Katrina Hassan I am in a hurry. I am only buying the utmost necessary items at the Mexican supermarket. I go to the cash register and am surprised to see long lines at every register. It is Thursday evening and the weekend starts for a lot of people. Although for the undocumented Mexican, any day is a taco and beer day. More beer than tacos, the poor man’s medicine. I notice that the man in front of me in line has as his only purchase a bag of prickly pears. In Guatemala we call prickly pear or cactus’ fruit…

Continuar leyendo…

Anywhere in the world 

Translated by  Marvin Najarro The alarm rings insistently, Cheyo turns and look askance at it, tired, he wants to keep sleeping, it has been just three hours since he got home; he has worked all day, he wants to sleep, nothing more, it has been many year since he does not sleep more than four hours, and not because he does not want to, but because he cannot; the pace of work does not allow him that.  The back pains have taken their toll on him, and the toothache torments his head, he can barely chew and every time that…

Continuar leyendo…

The Little Pine Tree

Translated  by Katrina Hassan The Little Pine Tree became a point of reference for giving directions in my hometown of Ciudad Peronia. “Two blocks from the little pine, up the road from the little pine, down the road from it, the houses in front of it, the houses closest to it, the little pine bus stop or drop off.  The Little Pine or “El Pinito” was a tree that survived the division into lots of our neighborhood back in the late 1980s. When that happened, the plains near the local hamlets of El Calvario, La Ceiba and the residential neighborhood of…

Continuar leyendo…

Victorina’s Journey

Translated  by Katrina Hassan When Victoriana came to, she was already perched upon an inner tube crossing the Bravo River. The screams of other migrants brought her back to her senses. What time was it? One or two a.m? How could one know if the sky was dark and cloudy? It could even be 3 a.m, time for the rooster’s call in her native Honduras. Not the cold or the almost frozen temperature of the water could stun the senses of the surrounding commotion of seeing so many terrified families. They didn’t know how to swim and they were trying to…

Continuar leyendo…

The Nostalgia of Hilarión 

Translated by  Marvin Najarro It was three in the afternoon when he finished work at his second job; he had worked from five to ten in the morning in a furniture factory cutting wood; from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. he works his second job, cleaning offices. In his way for the third job where he works as a busboy in a Lebanese restaurant, he stops at a Mexican supermarket to send his weekly remittance to his family in San Sebastian, Retalhuleu, Guatemala. It is Sunday, but where he lives, he works seven days a week, no matter what.  A…

Continuar leyendo…

In the Morning of Black Ice 

Translated by  Marvin Najarro She leaves work, it’s around six in the evening, that day she cleaned two houses, the last one took her longer than usual because her Iranian employers had a Christmas celebration; a late Christmas they celebrate on January 7 in the Julian calendar as it has been explained to her by the house mistress in countless occasions when in the middle of her mopping chores she appear to tell her stories about her country and ancestors. Tomasina lets her talk while she mops incessantly; she barely understands English.   When she arrived she found the house turned…

Continuar leyendo…

January 1st, Just Like Any Another Day

Translated  by Katrina Hassan Catalina buys the chicken first thing in the morning, together with the vegetables that will accompany the dish. She also buys the fruit to make punch. She would like to make tamales but it is too much work to do on her own. When Catalina finishes work she is too tired. She barely has any energy left to clean her small apartment, where she lives with her two kids. Juan is 12 and Guadalupe is 3. Today she must go to the laundromat because her building doesn’t have a laundry room. She is running late to prepare…

Continuar leyendo…