El Rey

Con dinero y sin dinero/ Yo hago siempre lo que quiero/ Y mi palabra es la ley
Photo: Jean Melesaine

He comes home drunk. Walks into the house shouting. “¡Yo soy el jefe aquí!” the only way a man with no power shouts. His old body sways back and forth but we ignore him and stare angrily at the television screen. We are too use to this. We know him all too well to give into his rage when he comes home like this. He reeks of urine and there is no way to escape it since after all we share the living room because we are too poor to rent an apartment all to ourselves. Abuelita’s small body gets up and walks him to the bathroom. I am too mad to care what happens to this man. Sometimes I feel that instead of having him at home with us sucking our energy he is better off in the street with the rest of the junkies, just another random drunk asking for change in front of liquor stores.

When he turns into this monster I think I hate him. I think I hate her for staying for so long. I hate that we were born Mexican, grew up to believe that drunken men with no real power other than the violence of their fists and words are people we should honor.

I hate that as all this happening we still turn on the television screen to la novela where main plot is of a woman suffering for the love of a man. These dysfunctional love affairs play out simultaneously and I can not help but feel marriage to be a place where all your dreams get trapped, marriage a place where the hearts of women slowly wilt. Sometimes I wish we didn’t have these blueprints, wish we were not born into a culture were respect and masculinity are synonymous with misogyny.

She begins to take off his clothes. I don’t think she loves him anymore. I think all this is tradition. In my head I think of all the years in which she has had to protect this man, care for him like she was his mother. I think of all the years she has had to make peace with the burden of marrying an alcoholic, make peace with her choice of wanting to escape poverty only to end up here. My poor viejita. I know she has the heart the size of heaven to love the demon that is my grandfather.

“Abuelita, déjalo. Yo lo voy a bañar.”

“No mijo, tu nada mas ve y aprende que esto lo que ves no es ser hombre.”

I take my Abuelo’s hand. His naked body is fragile and his skin has seen more life than I ever will. This old man who seldom speaks is the only man I have know to love me. The only one that has never left me behind.

“Abuelita, yo lo baño. Yo estoy aquí para ayudarte.”

I take his hand, help his naked body into the tub. As the water washes over his wrinkled skin. I pray to never turn into him.

Abuelita y sus tortillas
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