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En Español: A monster in Northern Mexico

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Jav Ducker/Little Village

La Abuela Virginia y el Tío Abelino

Doña Virginia Zamora nació en el año (de Dios) de 1902 en la Ciudad de México y murió 84 años más tarde. La Señora fumaba dos cajetillas diarias de cigarros. Leía ávidamente — sin usar lentes — y, hasta el final de sus días, mantuvo su lucidez mental. Juraba haber sido testigo de algunos episodios de la Revolución Mexicana y entretenía a media docena de nietos con historias de batallas y “trenes que mi General Pancho Villa llevaba y traía por todo el Norte de México, asediando al General Carranza y a las tropas federales, sin darles tregua alguna.”

Unas de sus aserciones fueron posteriormente corroboradas por el Tío Abelino Martínez, primo hermano de mi abuela materna y fiel custodio de la honra de mi madre, cuando mi padre decidió “salir hacia el Norte” para poder sostener a su familia.

En una de tantas visitas a la casa paterna, Don Abelino se sentó a platicar con los nietos, y contaba — una de sus tantas historias — de aquella ocasión en que, por primera vez, la población local tuvo la oportunidad de conocer un tren.

Cientos de gentes se habían congregado en los alrededores de la estación local, recién construida, y acarreaban con ellos mocosos de todas edades, ancianos y perros. Todo mundo hablaba de algo que nadie había visto; por fin, cercano al mediodía, se oyó en la distancia el silbato de la máquina: la gente se levantó tratando de ver a lo lejos de qué se trataba. Un segundo silbato siguió al primero, el suelo comenzó a temblar y lo que un segundo antes había sido emoción, se convirtió de pronto en pánico: la gente comenzó a gritar y correr en todas direcciones, dejando atrás a pequeños y gente anciana.

“Aquello era un monstruo que nadie jamás había visto,” dijo Don Abelino. “Cimbraba la tierra y asustaba a gentes y animales; el silbato podía escucharse a leguas de distancia.”

Pasado el susto inicial, desembarcaron los soldados villistas. Las míticas Adelitas comenzaron a cocinar frijoles y “echar tortillas” para el almuerzo de las tropas.

No teniendo más que hacer, los soldados se entretenían disparando sus pistolas apuntando a las gallinas y pavos, tratando de volarles las cabezas. Aquí Don Abelino hizo una pausa para recalcar que el General Pancho Villa, viendo que nadie acertaba a matar ningún animal, se abrió paso entre los soldados, se perfiló y sin más drama, disparó su pistola. Con una sonrisa amplia y burlona les dijo a los soldados: “Váyanse a comer frijoles, eso sí lo saben hacer cabrones.”

Allá, en la distancia, corría un pavo sin cabeza por todas partes.

Grandmother Virginia and Uncle Abelino

Translated by Angela Pico

Doña Virginia Zamora was born in the year (of our lord) 1902 in Mexico City and died 84 years later. The lady smoked two packs of cigarettes daily. She read avidly — without eyeglasses — and, until the end of her lifetime, remained lucid. She swore she had witnessed some events from the Mexican Revolution, and she entertained half a dozen grandchildren with stories from battles and “trains that my General Pancho Villa led back and forth throughout Northern Mexico, besieging General Carranza and the federal troops, without giving them any respite.”

Some of her assertions were corroborated afterwards by Tío Abelino Martínez, who was my maternal grandmother’s first cousin and loyal keeper of my mother’s honor after my father decided to “leave for the North” to support his family.

In one of his many visits to his father’s house, Don Abelino sat with the grandchildren and told a story — one of thousands — of the time in which the local people had the opportunity to see a train for the first time.

Hundreds of people had gathered in the surrounding areas of the local station, recently built, and dragged brats of all ages, old people and dogs. They all spoke of something no one had seen; at last, close to midday, the machine’s whistle was heard in the distance. From afar, the people stood up, attempting to see what it was all about. A second whistle followed, the ground began to shake and what had been excitement but a second ago suddenly turned into fear. The people began to scream and run all over the place, leaving behind the children and the elderly.

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“That thing was a monster no one had ever seen,” Don Abelino said. “It made the earth tremble and scared the people and the animals; the whistle could be heard from miles away.”

Once the initial shock was gone, the Villa soldiers landed. The legendary Adelitas began cooking beans and “throwing tortillas” for the troops’ lunch.

To kill time, the soldiers entertained themselves by firing their guns at chickens and turkeys, trying to blow their heads off. At this point, Don Abelino paused to highlight the fact that General Pancho Villa had noticed that no one managed to kill any animal, so he made his way among the soldiers, positioned himself and, without any fuss, shot his pistol. With a wide and cocky smile he said to his soldiers: “Go eat your beans, that’s something you can actually do, you bastards.”

In the distance, a headless turkey ran amok.

José Zacarias has lived in West Liberty since 1984. He was a member of the West Liberty City Council and School Board. In his free time, he cooks, plays pool and talks with everyone.

Angela Pico is Little Village’s En Español editor and has an MFA in Spanish Creative Writing from the University of Iowa. This article was originally published in Little Village issue 267.


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