En Español: Are you there? Am I here?

Illustration by Blair Gauntt


Mamá, Papá, Joaco… Aba, Camo… Abu Lidia, Abeto… Ayo, Jose…Tío Martín, Tía Ale, Tío Mariano, Eze, Clari, Agus, Juan… ¿Están ahí?

A veces me canso de escuchar sus voces a través de la línea telefónica
A veces me siento sola
Sola en Buenos Aires porque no crecí ahí
Sola en Quito porque no nací ahí
Sola en Iowa por no ser estadounidense
Sola en mi piel porque no soy ni white ni brown
Sola en Latinoamérica por tener apellido europeo
A veces quiero volver a casa
Pero no sé cómo llegar
Porque llegaría fragmentada
Una parte a Argentina
Otra parte a Ecuador
Y parte de mí se quedaría acá
No soy dueña de nada
Ni de mi cultura (porque, ¿cómo se puede ser dueño de algo tan disperso por el mundo?)
Ni de mi lugar (porque ¿cómo se puede vivir en un lugar donde nunca seré más que extranjera?)
No soy dueña de mi idioma
Porque a veces se me cruza el english con el español
Y lo que queda de mi acento son recuerdos lejanos
Me siento sola porque mi hogar
No es cuestión de geografía…
Mamá, Papá, Joaco… ¿están ahí?
A veces cuento los días hasta volver a verlos (solo queda un mes)
Aba, Camo… ¿están ahí?
¿Cómo fue no poder abrazar a su nieta todos los días?
Abu, Abeto… ¿están ahí?
Los extraño cada vez más pero solo viven en mi memoria
Ayo, Jose, Clari, Agus, Juan … ¿están ahí?
Perdón que no los llamo más seguido.
Tío Martín, Tía Ale, Tío Mariano, Eze… ¿están ahí?
Quisiera poder verlos más que solo en Navidad
¿Están ahí?
¿Estoy acá?
Sé que a veces es difícil imaginarme en un lugar que desconocen
Es difícil creer que estoy tan lejos
Si cuando hablamos por teléfono sueno tan cerca
Si no fuera por la mala señal
Casi, casi, parece que estoy ahí.


Written and translated by Catalina Irigoyen

Mamá, Papá, Joaco… Aba, Camo… Abu Lidia, Abeto… Ayo, Jose… Tío Martín, Tía Ale, Tío Mariano, Eze, Clari, Agus, Juan… Are you there?

Sometimes I get tired of hearing your voices through the phone
Sometimes I feel alone
Alone in Buenos Aires because I didn’t grow up there
Alone in Quito because I wasn’t born there
Alone in Iowa because I’m not American

Alone in Latin America for having a European last name

Sometimes I want to go back home
But I don’t know how I’d get there
Because I’d arrive in fragments
One part would go to Argentina
Another to Ecuador
And part of me would stay here

I don’t own anything
Not my culture (because how can you own something so dispersed around the world?)
Not my place (because how can I live in a place where I’ll never be more than a foreigner?)
I don’t own my language
Because sometimes my English and Spanish get crossed
And what’s left of my accent are distant memories
I feel alone because my home
Is not a matter of geography

Mamá, Papá, Joaco… are you there?
Sometimes I count the days left to see you (just one month left)

Aba, Camo… are you there?
What was it like not being able to hug your granddaughter every day?
Abu Lidia, Abeto… are you there?
I miss you more each day, but you only live in my memory

Ayo, Jose, Clari, Agus, Juan… are you there?
I’m sorry I don’t call more often

Tío Martín, Tía Ale, Tío Mariano, Eze… are you there?
I wish I could see you for more than just some Christmases

Are you there?
Am I here?

I know sometimes it’s hard to picture me in a place you don’t know
It’s hard to believe I’m so far away
If when we talk on the phone I sound so close
If it wasn’t for the bad signal
It’s almost, almost
like I’m there.

Catalina Irigoyen is majoring in English and creative writing at the University of Iowa. Born in Argentina, she has lived in six different countries. This article was originally published in Little Village issue 272.

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