Saturday, February 21, 2015

If I Were the President



                      

As we all know the goal of most Miss Universe candidates is to end world hunger, educate children, house all homeless people in the world and stop all wars around the globe. But if they achieve absolutely nothing, it’s understandable. 

On the other hand, we assume it should be different with our presidential candidates; after all they are applying for the most powerful job in the world. During their political campaigns they say they have a million brilliant ideas to solve all what's wrong in the country, but in the end nothing gets done either.
     
Well, it's my turn to fix our Nation, and this is what I would do . . .


·        I could solve half our troubles with just one move . . . Alaska would be a new country, and I would give it to the Republican politicians and their followers. That way they could have their own country. Then, we’ll see how long they last. I bet Russia would try to move farther away. Even though this is a joke, this could be a magnificent idea. After all, they’re the ones that cause all the problems, and the ones that don’t allow us to fix them.


·        My next priority would be to build a big wall between Alaska and the USA. Huge, tall and strong. After all, we know Republicans love walls, fences and barriers.


·        Revise and edit the Constitution. We can’t consider it sacred forever.


·        Prohibit arms in the hands of the civil population. It has worked wonders in other countries, and they are happier and more civilized than USA.


·        Ban our troops in foreign countries, unless they attack us first (in our own territory).


·        Drug tests to all Welfare recipients. It’s only fair. I don’t see anything wrong with this. If you do drugs, you don’t need our help.


·        I would ban the Death Penalty. It’s useless, ineffective, futile, irrelevant and absurd. It has never worked as a deterrent.


·        I know that regular people can do a lot more than a hundred presidents. So I would give them the power to organize and help each other. I would turn the USA and its entire population into a nation of volunteers. The rich people would take care of the poor people. We would organize the powerful to help the weak.


·        I would prohibit the oil industry, pharmaceutical companies, the NRA, and other diabolical industries from giving donations to all political candidates. Actually, the NRA would be automatically dismantled, since all their members would be in Alaska.


·        I would turn all jails and prisons into the biggest school system in the world. Any inmates that obtain a new diploma would have their time reduced, or would get their freedom back. This is a brilliant idea.


·        Voting is a privilege, just like driving. If you don’t vote, you don’t drive. If you don’t vote, your driver’s license could be suspended. Mandatory voting should be obligatory in all democracies. You should be happy you could vote anyway. With mandatory voting, most controversial debates about Healthcare, Immigration, Oil drilling, Environmental issues, and many more divisive topics would disappear. 


·        I would create an organization to supervise government spending. Such Office would have no ties to the government sector (the culprit of all senseless, superfluous, and misused funds). Once this office operates at its full potential the budget deficit would be cut in half. 


·        Legalize marijuana in all states. We will be a happier and more relaxed country. 



Okay, I admit it, some of these points sound outright childish, but if God could grant me a wish I’ll use it for the first point on my list. 

The reason my list looks so short it’s because with item number one I took care of half our problems.




Edmundo Barraza
Lancaster, Ca. February-2015
http://edbar1952-accomplishedignorant.blogspot.com






Tuesday, February 17, 2015

If I Could Die Before My Life Ends




When you don’t know you’re dying
You don’t worry about death
You have to keep your tears inside your joy


When your only escape is to commit suicide
Your life becomes truly dysfunctional
You can’t stay longer and you can’t leave sooner


I got it backwards, first heaven then hell
I’ve been robbed and God appears to be the thief
I wish my predicament was just a dream


My landlord is asking me to vacate his property
I’m not bad enough to deserve this fate
But I’m not good enough to influence his decision


Have a talk with God
But what’s the point if I’ll be gone soon
I wish I didn’t know I was dying





*I wrote (arranged, is a better word) this poem for what I expect would be the theme song for a short film a friend of mine and I are trying to create. The peculiar thing about it, is that all these phrases or lines are contained within a short story called, "Impatient Patient", which we are using as a base for the film. I picked them up without any order and re-arranged them into something that could make sense. 



Edmundo Barraza
Lancaster, Ca. 02-17-2015
http://edbar1952-accomplishedignorant.blogspot.com







Impatient Patient II

The original version of this story didn't have dialogue. But when a friend of mine and I picked the story to turn it into a short film, I added some conversations. The reason we chose this story was the poignant and emotional narrative of a dying man whose meaning of life was lost the day he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Another reason we chose the story was because it could be filmed with a low budget. We know most filmmakers start this way.


*****

Most people would agree that committing suicide is a cowardly act, but I disagree. I believe that you need a lot of guts to do it.

You are a coward if you kill yourself to avoid confronting any kind of personal problems, but you need a lot of courage to effectively carry it out and end it all, but why would you care if they think you are a coward if you are already dead? Of course, I am not an expert on the subject. First, I have to kill myself to be an expert, but then I wouldn’t be an expert. I’d just be dead.

I cry quietly when I’m alone. Solitude always brings pain to my soul. It reminds me of the cruel reality. That I am dying.

If only I could die before my life ends, that would be perfect.

I don’t want anyone to notice my pain and desperation because I don’t want anybody’s compassion. When I think about my hopeless situation, I get depressed and suffer, even though I understand about the futility of it, I can help it. It’s like throwing an anchor to someone who’s drowning, it's wrong and useless. On the other hand, why would I ask God for a miracle? When I know that He has already sealed my fate.

My doctor is a friend of my wife's family. I think my wife and him dated briefly before she married me. His name is Eric. I put my complete trust in him. We have been good friends for years. I’m sure he’s doing his best to save me. I know that I am beyond salvation and I know he does his best for the rest of his patients too, so that removes the tag from me, of being a "special case". He is a good doctor and nice person. I feel his compassion and his desire to lessen my suffering.

Before I found out about my illness, my wife and I shared many happy years. Then, we imperceptibly started to disagree about our goals and desires, gradually, our inclinations and beliefs would differ. Our real selves began to emerge. After that, there was a wall between us. We began to spend more time apart, even if we were in the same house. Our relationship survived mostly because of our kids. But our love didn't completely disappear, we both knew we still loved each other; we just became too reluctant to show it. It just became a stupid game of, "if you don't show it, I won't either."

Then, the incompatibility began to grow and pushed us further apart. I began to think, ‘what if I’ve taken the other path. What if I had said yes to my other option, to the other candidate, before we met each other?’ My wife was probably having similar thoughts. I often felt bad and suffered being so distant from her. Deep inside me I was expecting my wife to show me more love, but not faked love, I think anybody can detect that. Perhaps what I was getting was what I deserved. I only had two wishes. I wish she'd love me more, like she used to. And I wish I didn't know I was dying.

I knew my wife was a good person and that she had a great heart. I knew it was my fault things didn’t work out. I contributed greatly to change her personality. I extinguished her ebullient love for life with my many flaws. I know she was a better person before she met me, and I know I was the only one to blame.

Lately, the conversations I’ve had with my wife usually have diverted into a tragic topic: my fate.

After coming out from the movie theater one night, my wife and I went to a nearby coffee shop.

“You look sadder than usual honey, did you enjoy the movie?” my wife asked as soon as we found a table.

“I’ve seen better. I’m sorry Lydia it’s hard to concentrate in my condition. I felt that I just lost two hours of my life there. I was thinking that I’d rather spend those two hours with you, and you were next to me. Do I make sense? I mean, time makes no sense to me anymore. And I hate to talk over and over about my situation, but I don’t find meaning in anything anymore. It seems that nothing is relevant. If I spend two hours having a conversation with you, talking about any subject, later I regret all what I said. It seems like I’m not using my time in a productive way. After anything I do, the same thought comes to my mind, “what’s the point? I’m dying anyway.” you know what I mean? To me everything is useless.”

“But honey, you need to forget about . . . about that stuff, in the end you’re really wasting your time thinking that way. Enjoy the moment, please honey, you need to try. Tell me, what would you do if you didn’t know about your medical condition?”

“Most of my thoughts are centered on that question, ‘what would I do if I didn’t know I was dying?’ I think about a million things, but you know what? If I wasn’t in this position, I would be doing the exact same things I was doing before, and I’d be just a normal person.”

“Would you love me more?”

“Yes honey, yes, yes, yes. I would love my life more; I would love the entire world and everything in it. I could try anything you want; I can try to be enthusiastic and positive. But what’s the point? I’m dying anyway. I think that even you know that everything is hopeless. I can love you more, and you can love me more. And what’s the point, if I’ll be gone soon.”

“I’ll be selfish this time Sam, I don’t care about anything, I just want you to love me more, like you used to.”

“You can count on that, I promise you, honey.”



*****

One day I was killing time before a doctor’s appointment. As I was walking near his office I noticed a nice little church, and I decided to have a talk with God, even though I've never been a religious man, and my recent health problems didn’t push me any closer to him. I said I didn’t believe in miracles but, it would be great if He performed one for me.

“So here I am, asking you for an extension, you are my landlord and you’re asking me to vacate your property but I renegade your decision, I can’t accept it. What are you going to do about it?”

Wait a minute, I began too aggressively, let’s start again.

“You gave me life and I learned to love it, please don’t take it away just yet. I know you can come up with a trick or two. I can even suggest a few. For example, tomorrow I’ll wake up from my sleep to find out my predicament was just a dream, or I can discover the nurse made a mistake and took a medical record from another patient. Oh, it’s useless, just do whatever you like. But I wish you could change your mind. Take care now, and don’t give yourself a terminal illness.”

The last part of my monologue was a little sarcastic, but I don’t regret it. I know I’m not good enough to influence his decisions, but at the same time I don’t believe I’m bad enough to deserve this fate. The only urgency I have is for God to postpone my death for another thirty years.

“Excuse me son, I didn’t mean to, but I overheard your conversation, I’m sure God can help you. I can answer your questions. Do you want to confess?” A tremendous shock lifted me from my seat, as the curtains opened up and a priest came out of the confession booth.

“No father, I’m on my way out.” I answered.

“Are you leaving?”

“No, I mean I’m leaving this world, I’m dying, and a confession won’t help me at all, I just want to keep on living. Nothing else would make me happy.”

“God works in mysterious ways. He can make you happy while you’re still here, it could be a few days or a few years. What’s your affliction?

“First of all father, I never liked that phrase ‘God works in mysterious ways’, it sounds like an excuse for someone that doesn’t know a thing about God. You have to come up with something better. I want to talk with God, without any mysteries.”

“I can feel the anger in your voice; tell me, what’s wrong.”

“I’m sorry father; nobody can help me, not even God. I was just passing by. I needed to kill some time, ‘kill some time’, that’s so funny. I’m dying and there’s no solution, unless he grants me a miracle, but it would be a miracle if he grants me a miracle, ha. Excuse me if I appear to be a little sarcastic, or a cynic. I believe I have the right to feel this way, after all, I’ve been robbed, and God appears to be the thief.”

“All of us are just passing by on this earth, our life is temporary. We should be thankful he allows us to be here, even if it’s for a short time. It’s only normal to feel resentful. God will forgive you that too. Just remember, in heaven you’ll be happy for an eternity.”

“That doesn’t sound too convincing. I just want my life. I don’t want to know I’m dying. God is so unfair father. Can you ask him for a miracle, I need a miracle.”

Crying didn’t help either. When I came out of church the cold air burned my eyes.

We all have a special friend, one we can trust with our deepest secrets. A friend that you can call to bail you out from jail after a DUI at three A.M. One you can trust with your medical history. One that will never betray you, even if you tell him you just killed somebody, and you know that he'll never say a word to anyone. This kind of friend will never laugh at you just to make you feel bad. He'll never hurt your feelings.

Daniel is that kind of friend to me. He doesn’t belong to the normal group of friends I socialize with. For some reason, he doesn’t fit in that group. Occasionally, we get together to play pool or racquetball, we confide in each other and talk about our personal problems, even some stuff  I wouldn't discuss with anybody. He knows I’m dying; he knows about my fears and desires, my thoughts of death and suicide. He knows more about me than my mother. He knew how much I was enjoying life, before the current events ravished my future. Of course, I know him well too, and I would do anything for him.

“Wouldn’t it be great if you could inherit skills or knowledge from a person who’s about to die?” Daniel asked.

I wouldn’t mind any kind of questions coming from Daniel, especially after six or seven beers. Shooting pool with Daniel was one of the few enjoyable distractions left in my life.

“I know you’re talking about me. I don’t mind Daniel, but if it was possible, what would you like me to leave you?”

“The way you shoot pool. I can only win one or two games out of ten. It’s always the same, and you don’t even seem to be trying hard.”

“You think shooting pool is my best skill?”

“Between playing pool or racquet ball, I’d take pool. But if I could really have a choice, I’d rather have your expertise as a Real Estate Broker. This is the third month in a row that you’re the top seller, right?”

“Yes, you’re right Daniel. And I would gladly transfer any skills or knowledge to you. I could be more successful than Donald Trump, but that wouldn’t be any good if I’m buried under six feet of dirt. I’m sorry Daniel, lately most of the conversations I have, become absorbed by my depressive state of mind. You know, when your only escape is to commit suicide, your life becomes truly dysfunctional.”

“Nothing would make me happier than to help you get rid of the extra weight you’re carrying. I love you brother.”

“Thanks Daniel, I know that most of what I say is depressing, but that’s all I have in my mind. Our conversations are therapeutic and soothing, you have no idea how much it helps. Sometimes I wish you had a huge problem too, just so I could help you. Then I realize how stupid and absurd my thoughts are, and then I go back to my misery. See what I mean? Everything I say is depressing.”

“I have no doubt you would do the same for me. Once in a while I put myself in your position, and I know I couldn’t be brave enough to handle it.  You can’t stay longer, and you can’t leave sooner, what a horrible dilemma.” he said.

“You’re right Daniel, it’s a huge dilemma, all things that are supposed to make me happy have the opposite effect, because it reminds me that soon I wouldn’t be able to experience that happiness and it makes me sad.”

“I would trade my life for yours anytime, just to see you happy. I’d give you my life, so you can go on living. You have too much to lose. I can have a lot of hypothetical wishes, but we know nothing will change your situation and that sucks. Tell me what to do, and I’ll do it Sam, just tell me.”

A few days later, he gave me a gun, and with a lump in his throat he also gave me a warm embrace. But I bet he knew I couldn’t go through with it.

*****

The most joy I get out of life is when I’m with my son and my daughter, they are my best friends. Our relationship has been great since the first day they showed up in this world, even after they became independent and left home. Although they are in my heart at all times, I still miss them.

The best thing my wife and I ever did was having our kids, no complaints there. They were the glue that kept my wife and me together. I love their inner beauty, their peaceful serenity. Nothing can match the happiness they bring to me. I can never be thankful enough for such blessings. At the same time, one of the worse regrets I have is knowing that I could have been a better father. If I had more time, that's the first thing I would fix.

After I received the devastating news from the doctor, about the little time I had left on this earth, I began to make appointments, and get disappointments in return. After bad news, worse news, I never heard of best-case scenarios.

Then, I lost my patience for everything. I hated when I had to wait in line for whatever reason. When I had to wait in line in the bank or when I had to wait for the waiter in a restaurant. I hated when I had to wait for my turn at the pool table, when I had to wait for the movie to begin, and the very worse, now that I have to wait for my death to arrive.

One time, I received a call from the dentist office; they said they needed to cancel my appointment. What the hell?  It was like postponing an execution to the electric chair because the sentenced man had suffered a minor toothache (combining barbaric middle age actions with modern human ethics). They could only put him to death if he was completely healthy. Can you find a worse contradiction? Anyway, why would I need perfect teeth now?

There was one thing I could be thankful for, my physical condition had not suffered any changes yet. My body was not showing any deterioration yet. At this point, only my mind had taken a beating, but I knew I looked healthy overall.

Unnoticed by my family and friends, I occupied most of my time thinking about the short time I had left. I was worried about looking at watches, clocks and calendars, about birthdays and anniversaries, about holidays and vacations. I was worried about time passing by so fast. Weeks seemed like days. When you don't know you're dying, you don't worry about death.

It’s been a few months since I found out about my prognosis. Perhaps, because of my imminent, gloomy fate, I began to feel an immense love for my wife again. I wanted to share many more years with her, grow old with her. I wanted to keep enjoying my son and daughter, relive their childhood through my grandsons. If I could live another thirty years, I would do more things than what I’ve done so far. I would get rid of so many faults and defects that I have. I would worship my wife back again. Like when I first met her. I would make every minute of my life count.

One night, my wife caught me off guard with a question, “Do you believe in heaven?”

“I’ve been wondering about that for a long time. I want to believe it exists, but actually, it doesn’t matter what I believe. I know I was in heaven before I received news of my sad misfortune. I was in heaven when I had my little family together, before I was sent to death row. I think I got it backwards, first heaven and then hell. Honey, if heaven exists, I already earned a place there.”

Then she asked, “Do you believe in miracles?”

“That’s funny, the other day I went to church, I was talking to a priest, a good man he was. First I asked God for a miracle, but I was a little too sarcastic. I didn’t think He like me, so I asked the priest to interfere for me, I thought maybe they’re good friends, maybe God listens to him. Then, I returned to reality, my fate was written in stone and nothing could change it. By the way, do you think I should make arrangements for my funeral, order my tombstone and write my own eulogy?”

“Sam, please stop that, I prohibit you to talk that way. Oh, and one more thing, I found a gun in your closet and got rid of it immediately. You have to promise me to never think about suicide. I swear, I would kill myself too. I need you to believe in miracles, I really do. Have some faith, please honey.” then she embraced me very tight and I felt her tears on my chest.

Nothing feels better than a sincere hug from your best friend.



*****

It was ironically sad that I had a doctor’s appointment on my birthday. When you have a death sentence, you can’t celebrate your birthdays. Birthdays turn into sad events, and you have to keep it to yourself. You have to keep your tears inside your "joy".

My wife had been with me during all my appointments, in that regard she had showed me her complete support. Eric was professionally serious. I thought I detected a restrained smile on his face. My wife grabbed a chair and put it behind the desk, next to Eric’s chair. In fact, at that moment I felt a little jealous, because if they were a couple, they looked perfect. Both of them were facing me. My wife was wearing a beautiful smile, and said,

“We have good news,” then she took a long pause, still smiling, but she seemed to be struggling to find the right words to continue. “What I'm about to say will be a complete shock, but you have to promise you’ll react in a mature way. Promise . . . ?”

I had no idea what the good news could be. I didn’t have the slightest idea of what they could consider good news in my certain and fatalistic case. Did somebody discover a drug or vaccine specifically to cure my disease? Were they going to confess their love for each other? But, that wouldn't be good news for me, so I discarded that horrific thought right away. Finally, my head stopped from spinning, and my mind quit wondering about stupid assumptions and I said, “I promise.”

“Please, don’t speak until I'm finished. Then after a short pause she said, “You are healthy. You were never sick. I planned it all to avoid our marriage to end. I never stopped loving you. I did it because I was afraid of losing you,” then, with tears in her eyes she added, “I just couldn’t live without you. I knew how much you enjoyed life, so I never thought you'd commit suicide; although that was a stupid risk I was running. Now, you can do whatever you like with your life, but I wish you decide to spend it with me. Happy birthday honey, I love you.”

I was confused for a moment. I should have been mad, but I wasn't. I was experiencing a thousand different feelings. I could have had a heart attack and died right there, but instead I stood up and kissed her. I had joyful tears rolling down my cheeks because I was born again. No matter how I would look at it, it was a miracle, nothing else but a miracle. How could I feel mad or upset about it, how could I feel angry or annoyed? My heart was full of joy; my soul couldn’t hold so much happiness.

Then I remembered my visit to that little church, my talk with God. I knew I had to go back right away and offer him my repentance and appreciation. The only place I wanted to be at that specific moment was in that little church.

My wife and Eric were baffled about my sudden desire to be somewhere else.

*****

On my way to church, I kept thinking how fortunate I was to have my life back. My future was intact after all. I never had a death sentence, and for that reason I never needed a miracle. But in this case I’ll discard all logic and rationale, the hell with it. It’s a miracle as far as I’m concerned, and I’ll never change my mind.

When I entered the church, it was deserted. We had a one-way conversation, a dialogue between two men. One of them, a mere mortal, who had received a second chance, and the other, a Supreme Being, able to grant or to deprive of anybody’s life in an instant without previous notice. He had given me another chance, and this time I wouldn’t waste a minute of it.

“I could never find the proper way to express my gratitude, but I promise you, I’ll never doubt your existence, and I can assure you we’ll be friends for a long time. I’ll be thanking you every single day for the rest of my life.”

When I came out of the church my soul was at peace. I was the happiest man on earth, if that could be possible.

Then I heard something that sounded like a firecracker, and then I felt a little pain on my chest. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my good friend Daniel with a gun in his hand.

Then, before I could react, I heard another shot.

And that was the last thing I heard.






Edmundo Barraza 

Visalia, Ca. Aug-7-2011
http://edbar1952-accomplishedignorant.blogspot.com/





Friday, February 6, 2015

Se Rentan Nubes

El paisaje no podía ser más horrendo y devastador. La tierra se veía triste y gris, y su aridez era muy profunda. 


Así era la tierra de mi padre en esos tiempos. Seguía siendo tierra fértil, sólo que esa fertilidad necesitaba agua, agua que venía escaseando desde que yo nací. Hace once años que no llovía. La tristeza era visible en el rostro de mi padre y se comenzaba a parecer a su propia tierra, pues ya se le notaban surcos áridos en la frente y alrededor de sus ojos. 


Cualquier desierto podría tener más vida. De seguro había desiertos en el mundo con más alegría, tierras áridas, pero llenas de orgullo y acostumbradas a vivir sin agua. Tierras desintegradas y convertidas por el extremo calor en granos de arena, imposibles de crear vida y alimento.


Me daba mucho gusto ver  a mi padre feliz, pero su felicidad era cada vez más paulatina y escasa. A veces antes de irnos a dormir, salía de la casa y miraba al cielo, esperanzado en que las nubes fueran más sociables y amistosas y que al fin se reunieran a festejar algún milagro. El milagro de la lluvia. Pero al día siguiente, la tristeza de mi padre se acumulaba al ver sus tierras aún más desoladas y secas. El agua comunal ya no existía, el río sólo parecía una vena, vacía y seca, por la cual ya no corría ni una gota de sangre. Estaba tan muerto como la esperanza misma de las gentes de los alrededores, algunos vecinos ya se empezaban a ir a las ciudades.


Y yo le rogaba a Dios, le rezaba y le imploraba que mandara agua, porque me dolía mucho en el corazón ver a mi padre cada vez más triste. El no se daba cuenta que yo notaba todo, tampoco se fijaba que yo veía que el vaso de agua que tomaba para apagar su insaciable sed no se lo terminaba, y le iba a echar el último trago a la plantita de la maceta que teníamos en mi ventana.


Y yo veía en las noticias como en otras partes del mundo había inundaciones, huracanes y lluvias torrenciales que arrasaban todo a su paso. Y yo le preguntaba  a Dios por qué era tan injusto y no repartía sus exageraciones, y por qué no traía un poco de los excesos de allá, a las escaseces de acá. Y por qué la gente más pobre era siempre la más afectada en todas las miserias que padecía el mundo.


Pensando en eso, fue cuando se me ocurrió que debería haber una forma de juntar las nubes y forzarlas de alguna manera a que soltaran sus aguas en algún lugar específico, no para el placer de sólo ver llover, sino para satisfacer el hambre y las necesidades más elementales de la gente del campo. Además mi hermanita de tres años nunca había visto llover. Y así me fui a dormir una noche, pensando cómo hacer para traer las lluvias y devolverle la felicidad a mi papá. 


Y esa noche soñé con “Nube Mojada”, el jefe apache de la tribu “sinsolnisombra” que me enseñaba la danza de la lluvia. Su poder sobrenatural de atraer las nubes ya había rebasado fronteras. Las tierras inmensas de su tribu las envidiaba el mismo paraíso celestial. No sé cómo, pero en mi mismo sueño me daba cuenta que estaba soñando, aunque todo se veía auténtico, me daba cuenta que todo era irreal. Y eso me obligaba a poner más atención para aprenderme al cien por ciento la danza de la lluvia, para aplicarla al día siguiente en las tierras de mi papá. 


Pues si me la aprendí, y en la mañana antes de irme a la escuela, antes de bañarme y antes de desayunar, ejecuté el baile tan auténticamente como pude. Con una olla y una cuchara trate de imitar el ritmo de los tambores. Todo estaba bien, hasta que mi mamá me agarró de la oreja y me metió a la casa, diciendo que me iba a llevar al manicomio si no me comportaba como gente normal.  
   

Por el río no había corrido agua desde hace tres años, tampoco mi hermanita sabía lo que era un río. Me imagino que si soltaban agua de la presa o del lago, o de donde salía el agua del río, solo alcanzaría a humedecer por unos segundos la tierra tan muerta de sed por tantos años. Estoy seguro que nosotros estábamos a muchos kilómetros de donde sea que nacía el agua. Y cada vez que pasaba por el río vacío, desquebrajado y seco, me acordaba de mi papá y su corazón.  


Un día vi a mi papá con una vara en forma de “v” caminando incansablemente por todo el rancho. Según el buscando agua subterránea, y lo único que encontró fue una sed inmensa en su garganta. Decepcionado se fue a sentar a la sombra flaca del último árbol vivo que nos quedaba. Tal vez necesitaba una vara más grande, mucho más grande.   
      

La preocupación de mi papá se me había contagiado, ya sólo pensaba en nuestra gran escasez de agua, día y noche. Antes de dormir, mi mente le daba vuelta a mis pensamientos y por horas sólo veía agua dentro de mi cerebro. Una mañana desperté con buenas noticias en la televisión. Habían encontrado la forma de hacer llover, según esto habían inventado un imán de nubes. Este imán reunía nubes en un par de horas, y luego le lanzaban cañonazos o misiles desde la tierra que explotaban sobre las nubes, obligándolas a soltar el agua del susto. Pero todo esto acabó repentinamente cuando empezaron las guerras civiles entre pueblos vecinos, pues reclamaban que les habían robado sus nubes. Y aun así, cada vez aparecían imanes más grandes y poderosos. Hasta que el gobierno los prohibió. 


Y por supuesto, yo despertaba de mis sueños fantásticos cada vez más decepcionado. Aunque eso de los imanes me parecía buena idea.


Nuestra preocupación creció cuando el agua para bañarnos ya se consideraba también un desperdicio. En la casa ya no había macetas con plantas vivas, los perros ya no sacaban la lengua para no sudar, y así ahorraban vueltas a sus recipientes secos.


Por las noches yo ya no rezaba ni conversaba con Dios, en lugar de eso, le reclamaba y le reprochaba sin ningún temor o respeto que se bajara de su nube y nos la prestara por tan sólo un rato, y le recriminaba lo que había aprendido en la escuela: Setenta y uno por ciento de la superficie de la tierra contiene noventa y siete por ciento del agua en el planeta. Y le preguntaba por qué no la distribuía equitativamente, o aunque sea que le quitara la sal al agua del mar y que hiciera un millón de ríos nuevos, y luego el calor del sol podría evaporar parte de esta agua y luego esta evaporación se convertiría en nubes y luego en lluvia y luego la lluvia regresaría a los ríos y así sucesivamente, un ciclo bonito e interminable. Y así, con tanta agua de lluvia el mundo entero se convertiría en un paraíso terrenal y ya nadie le pediría nada, y el estaría en paz descansando por toda la eternidad, o podría irse a otros universos a crear vida nueva con otro Adán y otra Eva. No creo que sea tan complicado para Dios.


Viéndolo bien, nos podríamos mudar a donde hay muchas inundaciones, y por lo menos nos desaburriríamos de esta sequedad tan terrible. Mi papá dice que eso está muy complicado, y que necesitaríamos por lo menos diez años para adaptarnos a semejante cambio tan  drástico. Y yo digo que me gustaría haber nacido en medio del agua, y yo digo que dentro de diez años vamos a seguir sin agua y sin lluvia. Y él dice que me calle y que no eche la sal. 


Ya no quiero dormir, ya no quiero soñar. O bueno, siempre si, si quiero soñar, quiero soñar que amanezco ahogado en un inmenso lago de agua dulce y fresca, bueno no ahogado, quiero disfrutar más mi felicidad y ver la cara de mi papá sin arrugas y sin surcos, quiero ver su cara con una sonrisa eterna, que salga a brincar junto conmigo en la lluvia, mirando al cielo con nuestras bocas abiertas, y recibir el agua dentro de nuestras almas y corazones y dejar que corra por todas nuestras venas. Eso es lo que quiero, soñar y ya no despertar.


Pero vuelvo a despertar. Y creo escuchar que está lloviendo. Pero no me entusiasmo, porque sé que estoy soñando. Y escucho a mi padre y a mi hermanita afuera, brincando y riendo bajo la lluvia. Y luego mi madre se acerca a mi cama y me pide la mano y me dice que me levante y vaya a ver cuánta lluvia esta cayendo. Y le contesto que no quiero, porque estoy dormido y estoy soñando. Hasta que regresa con una cubeta llena de agua y me la vacía sobre la cara. Y entonces si despierto y me levanto y voy a festejar el milagro de la lluvia. Y brincamos todos juntos, agarrados de la mano y nos cansamos, pero ya no nos da sed. Y me voy a dormir y vuelvo a despertar y sigue lloviendo.


Y sigue lloviendo.






Edmundo Barraza         

Lancaster, Ca. 09-01-2014



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

An Accidental Dream







I don’t remember how I ended up in this hospital. I’m sure I was riding my bike, either going down a straight, steep road or standing up on the main horizontal frame of my bike, or maybe, I was doing my most daring trick: going fast and straight, ignoring a stop sign to cross the widest boulevard in my small town. I only perform this trick at night, when there’s not a lot of traffic. I have fun taking risks, but I’m not stupid.

At the present time, my entire body hurts, according to my pain level; I can guess I was run over by an eighteen wheeler. I can’t move, my body feels numb, I think my body’s still scared of what happened in the accident but I’m only guessing. I still don’t know why I’m here. My thoughts are not clear at all. I can’t even remember my name, but that doesn’t worry me a great deal. I’m alive and complete, I think. 

The room is cold and clean. Like a room that was made to last a hundred years, and everything in it too. I wonder how many people have died on this bed. I hope I’m not one of them. I don’t have any experience on this, but I think I won’t die this time, or any time soon. I can barely move, but I have enough energy to bend my head to check if I still have my four extremities, thank God, I do. I just found out another thing, I believe in God, or at least I’m a little religious. I don’t know whether that’s good or bad. I guess that’s good. I guess I’ll be doing a lot of guessing in the next few days, which is good, because that means I’ll be alive for at least a few more days, I guess. 

I must have hit my head and lost a million brain cells or more, I hope I still have some left. I’m so confused, I don’t even know my age, or even worse, I don’t even know whether I’m a man or a woman. Now, that’s a scary thought. Instinctively, and with great effort I decide to investigate, and with my right hand I check for my sex. Since I can barely move, it gives me time to analyze what I wish to be, and what I wish to find. It feels like a great privilege, like being born again, but this time they give me a choice of the sex I want to be, or the sex I want to have. When I reached my object, or my subject, I feel satisfied to find a dick. I immediately decide that I’m not a vulgar person and instead I call “it” a penis. I wonder what I would have done if I had found a vagina in there. I would probably have masturbated it, like if it wasn’t mine. Even for a dream, this is confusing. But I’m a man and that makes me happy, but I’m not going to play with myself, not yet, because I’m too weak now. I’m glad I’m not a woman, because they get things introduced in their different orifices, and I find that very disturbing and discomforting. Thank you God for making me a man.

The nurse still doesn’t know that I’m back, awake, or that I just regained my consciousness. My guess is that she is Hispanic or Latina or Mexican. She is young and cute. She’s checking on some plastic bags with liquids in them, hanging from a metal stand next to the bed. I was going to say “next to my bed”, but it isn’t mine. Then a person wearing a white robe opens the door, I guess he’s the doctor. He begins to talk to the nurse, but they ignore the most important person in the room, which is me, the patient. And I decide to leave the room, and fall asleep. 

My confusion keeps increasing. I’m in another world, and I guess this is the real world, but I don’t like it either. Somebody is chasing me. I’m probably inside a book, or in somebody’s dream. It could be my own dream. 

Right after I fell from my bike, the asphalt road turned into a jungle. And someone who seems to be a Spanish conqueror is after me, chasing me, and he doesn’t seem to have good intentions. It appears that for some reason he's trying to kill me, and if he’s a Spanish conqueror, I might be an Aztec warrior. I decide to call him Cortez. And if he’s Cortez, I might be Moctezuma. And I like the idea. As soon as I decided to be Moctezuma my fears disappear. Cortez, despite his name, is not polite, and also despite his cannons, his soldiers, and his gun, he will not conquer me, because this is my jungle, my Empire, and my dream.

The doctor, who by the way, has a nice red beard, asks me to tell him from one to ten, what level of pain I’m feeling. I say four, but I lie, because I prefer a little pain on this bed, than to be wrong about Cortez and his cannons, even if I awake with a vagina instead of a dick, I mean a penis. Then the doctor reduces the IV drip rate that controls the morphine, or pain killer medication, or anesthesia, or whatever it is that knocks me unconscious and sends me to dream land. The liquid runs straight from the plastic bag to my weak and vulnerable mind/brain and gives me unpleasant and hallucinating images/thoughts/dreams.

After a while the pain returns and I decide to doctor myself and control my increasing pain by accelerating the pain killing drops of the miracle drug. Even just mentioning too many times the word “pain” in my brain increases my pain. The pain is not concentrated in a specific point in my body, and if it is, it must be in my brain, but my whole body aches. Then, it seemed that somebody pressed the pause button, and I immediately got transferred to la-la land and found Cortez behind my tail.

If I remember the story right, according to the Spanish conquerors, Moctezuma was killed, stoned by his own people on a balcony in his palace. On the other hand, the indigenous accounts claim that he was killed by the Spanish. Either way, Cortez will not succeed on his attempt to kill me this time. Just in case, while I run almost unconcerned, (now that I remember the outcome of the story) I pick some coca leaves, and place them in my mouth, to put more distance between Cortez and me. If I’m carrying the effects of the morphine or hallucinatory drugs from the hospital bed to my dream, I might be also able to carry the effects of the coca leaves from the jungle to my hospital room. Does it make sense? Yes it does. This is the best movie I’ve seen all year. I wish I could remember the whole thing and be able to write it all down when this is over.

I only hear the usual noises from the animals in the jungle, I think I lost Cortez. The chase was on my favor from the beginning. Cortez didn’t have any advantage riding his mighty horse in this thick vegetation. I don’t know why Cortez is so persistent to kill me; we already gave him most of our gold, which is useless to us, in exchange they gave us some cheap trinkets and mirrors, which are also useless to us. But I wish I could keep this beautiful medallion hanging from my neck. I’m used to it now. It feels good bouncing on my chest; it seems that my heart and the medallion are having a conversation, while running to escape from the villain in my dream.

For a moment I wonder if my temporary demented mind is confounding the reality with the dream. Could it be that the jungle is real, and the hospital bed is my dream? But it can’t be, because if I’m Moctezuma, I can’t have any knowledge about hospitals and hallucinatory drugs. But actually, the Aztecs did have these two things too. Can you hallucinate about things that don’t exist? I guess you can. But can you imagine an Aztec warrior riding a bike? I need to discard these absurd thoughts; they’re too bizarre, even for a nightmare.

Digging in the archives of my mind, while trying to refresh my knowledge about Cortez and Moctezuma, another character shows up, “La Malinche”. I think that by thinking about my dreams when I’m not dreaming I’m feeding more material to my brain to continue dreaming. If I’m not wrong, La Malinche was an indigenous native who acted as an interpreter, advisor and lover to Cortez, she was also known as Doña Marina.

The chase finished abruptly, when I reached the end of the Jungle and the shore of the lake. I wasn’t afraid, because I knew that wasn’t the place where I would die. But I wished that nobody would change the history. Cortez had many men with him, and I was alone. I knew that if the fight could be one on one, I would destroy him. But conquerors and villains are never alone. 

He brought me back to Tenochtitlan, to my palace and my people. Along the way, I kept hearing voices from the hospital, mixing the dream with the reality, unable to concentrate on neither of them. I could hear the doctor and the nurse, while at the same time I was listening to Cortez leading me to my palace. Cortez was trying to persuade me to talk to my people and convince them to give up our arms, to avoid more bloodshed. While on the other scene the doctor was chasing the nurse around my bed trying to convince her to give him a kiss. It was obvious that the amorous relationship had started recently.

It was hard to concentrate. If I can be a little dramatic, I thought I was fighting for my life on two fronts at the same time. Without knowing which one was my real life. It might be very clear to you, but it was very unclear to me. If I had a choice, I would prefer to be left alone.

But I enjoyed the fact that I was (semi) unconscious most of the time. And that I had the ability to jump from one place to the other, if I was in pain, I could medicate myself and go back to the jungle. If the drug wore off, I could return for more. I didn’t have any idea how long I had been there. I had no notion of time or space. 

I returned chained and ashamed to my palace and my people. I felt ashamed because I was captured without a fight. La Malinche bows to Cortez and ignores me, and I feel abandoned by my people too. When Cortez pushes me to the main balcony of my palace, I know the end is getting near. And I disappear from there, hoping to never comeback. The pain is too painful.

I came to the resolution to take the pain the natural way. I asked the doctor if he could remove the painkillers, and he agreed. 

Then he called the nurse.

“Marina, please remove the IV unit away from him.”

“Yes, Dr. Cortez.” she answered.

Then, it all made sense to me.




Edmundo Barraza
Lancaster, Ca. 01-14-2015


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