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En Español: Minestrone


Sarah Conrad/Little Village

Trasladaron a mi tía, que ya es coronel, de los páramos a la jungla. Un pueblo a tres horas de Bogotá. Tres horas lejos de nosotros, en un lugar donde se pega la ropa del sudor y las piernas se cubren de ronchas por los mosquitos. Cuando me dijeron que mi tía y mi primo Leo se iban a la base de la fuerza aérea en tierra caliente, me puse a llorar. Se me pasó cuando mi mamá me dijo que podíamos ir a visitarlos en vacaciones para disfrutar de la piscina de la base.

Hoy voy de visita a la base, mi tía y mi primo me llevan con ellos. Y es la primera vez que voy de paseo sin mis papás. Leo está obsesionado con los aviones de juguete. Dice que va a ser piloto en la fuerza aérea cuando sea grande. Como su mamá. Cuando jugamos se pide ser piloto coronel. Yo le digo que no puede ser coronel hasta que me pase de estatura. Que él es pequeño y yo grande. Me mira desde abajo con el labio temblando y los ojos rojos, insiste que él es grande porque se toma toda la sopa y se come toda la lonchera. Siempre es lo mismo, pero es mi deber explicarle a Leo cómo son las cosas.

Mi tía y Leo viven en un aparta-estudio en la base de Melgar. Me gusta estar en un lugar tan pequeño porque parece que estamos jugando. Hay dos cuartos: uno con la sala, el comedor y la cocina, y el otro con dos camas, una hamaca y los juguetes de Leo. Menos mal que le compraron una Barbie. Antes de la Barbie me tocaba ser el Spiderman cuando jugábamos. Hoy mi tía de sorpresa le regaló otro Spiderman a Leo. Más grande. Ahora somos tres en la cama cuna. Leo al lado de la mesita de noche, el Spiderman nuevo en medio y yo en contra de la pared blanca. Cuando quiero helado, antojo a Leo en secreto y luego él les pide a su mamá para los dos. A Leo nunca le dice que no.

Hoy estamos solos con Emilce, la nana de Leo, porque llamaron a mi tía por radio antes de que amaneciera. Es chistoso cuando mi tía contesta el radio. Ella cambia la voz y dice “sí mi general” después de cada frase. Se va la luz y Emilce nos cuenta las cosas que pasan en tierra caliente. Hay una mujer a la que llaman la Patasola. Y a otra la Llorona. Son como unos zombis en la jungla que persiguen a la gente. La Patasola sólo tiene una pierna con una pezuña en vez de un pie. Antes de que te agarre escuchas el golpe de su pata. La Llorona, nos dice Emilce, mató a sus propios hijos y ahora camina por la jungla y llora y llora para confundir hasta que, te agarra. Suenan muchos truenos, pero no hay lluvia en las ventanas. Emilce cierra las persianas y nos dice que es pólvora.

Mi tía se demora más y más. Almorzamos sopa de minestrone. La pólvora no para. Cenamos sopa de minestrone. La pólvora sigue. Ahora pienso que mi tía debió encontrar a la Patasola o a la Llorona. Emilce nos calma diciendo que ellas solo se llevan a los niños malos. Entonces me acuerdo de Daniel Vanegas, el niño que ahora se sienta lejos de mí en la clase porque le dije a Miss Patty que el otro día me sacó la lengua. A él se lo podría llevar la Llorona. La pólvora no para.

Nos vamos a dormir cuatro en la cama cuna. Emilce, Leo, el Spiderman y yo. La pólvora no para. Es tarde y mi tía no llega, entonces Leo se pone a llorar. Como siempre, chillón. Emilce nos deja levantarnos en la mitad de la noche y nos sirve cereal con Coca Cola porque no hay leche. Parece minestrone. Nos dice que así se come el cereal si te portas bien y que la Patasola no se lleva a los niños que comen bien. Me gusta el cereal así, con Coca Cola y a la medianoche. Se lo diré a mi mamá.

Minestrone

Written and translated by Angela Pico

They transferred my aunt, now a colonel, from the tundra to the jungle. It’s a small town three hours from Bogota. Three hours away from us, in a place where your sweat makes your clothes stick to yourself and your legs get covered in mosquito bites. When they told me my aunt and my cousin Leo were going to be stationed in tierra caliente, in an Air Force base, I started crying. I stopped when mom told me we could go visit them in the summer and swim in the Air Force pool.

Today my aunt and cousin take me to visit the military base. And it’s the first time I take a trip without my parents. Leo is obsessed with toy planes. He says he’s going to be an Air Force colonel pilot when he grows up. Like his mom. When we play, he calls dibs on being the colonel. I tell him he can be the colonel when he’s taller than me, because he’s small, and I’m big. He looks at me from below, with a shaky lip and red eyes, insisting he’s big because he always finishes his soup and his school lunch. It’s never-ending, but it’s my duty to explain to Leo how life is.

My aunt and Leo live in a studio apartment at the military base in Melgar. I love being in such a small place, because it’s like playtime. There are two spaces: one with the living room, the dining room and the kitchen, and the other one with two beds, a hammock and Leo’s toys. I’m glad they got him a Barbie doll. Before the Barbie, I was stuck with the Spiderman doll whenever we played. Today my aunt surprised Leo with another Spiderman. A bigger one. Now it’s the three of us in his toddler bed. Leo next to the nightstand, the new Spiderman in the middle and me by the white wall. Whenever I want some ice cream, I secretly convince Leo he needs ice cream, and then he asks his mom for ice cream for both of us. She never says no to him.

Today we’re alone with Emilce, Leo’s nanny, because they called my aunt on her radio before sunrise. It’s funny when she answers her radio. She changes her voice and says “yes sir” after every sentence. The power is out and Emilce tells us about things that happen in hot weather places like this, in tierra caliente. There’s a woman they call the Patasola. And another one they call the Llorona. They’re like these zombies in the jungle who chase people, the Patasola only has one leg with a hoof in place of a foot. You can hear her hoof’s thump before she gets you. The Llorona, Emilce tells us, killed her own children and now she wanders the jungle and cries and cries to confuse you until she gets you. We can hear thunder outside, but the windows don’t have rain on them. Emilce closes the blinds and says it’s fireworks.

My aunt is taking forever to come back. We have minestrone soup for lunch. The fireworks haven’t stopped. We have minestrone soup for dinner. The fireworks are going on. Now I’m starting to think my aunt ran into the Patasola or the Llorona. Emilce calms us down by saying these monsters only take bad children away. I think about Daniel Vanegas, the boy who now sits far from me in class, because I told Miss Patty that the other day, he had stuck his tongue out at me. The Llorona could take him away. We can still hear the fireworks.

The four of us go to sleep in the toddler bed. Emilce, Leo, the new Spiderman, and me. The fireworks haven’t stopped. It’s late and my aunt is not back yet, so Leo starts crying. A crybaby, like always. Emilce wakes us up in the middle of the night and pours us cereal with Coca-Cola, there’s no milk. It looks like minestrone soup. She says if you behave, you can eat your cereal that way, and the Llorona doesn’t bother children who finish the food on their plate. I like my cereal like that, with Coke and at midnight. I’ll tell mom about it.

Angela Pico is a bilingual writer who enjoys creating stories for both children and adults. The above short story is a work of fiction. This article was originally published in Little Village issue 298.


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