He Jokes, a Little
“Heard you spoke with my girlfriend,” he says.
He sucks on a cigarette, standing in the dawn drizzle, waiting for passengers for his truck taxi.
“Yes, I did. We spoke about education.”
“You’re lucky I haven’t slit your throat, or hanged you.”
We shake hands.
He’s kidding, but in a Mexican mountain city, where cartels have done just what he threatened, I’m reflective, for a moment, edgy.
“I have people checking on her. They saw you, told me. I was busy with passengers all day.”
“I’d figure that around here everyone is always looking. But we were just talking education.”
She’s a middle school teacher on an ejido (dying rural communities), and of 30 students, only 15 will go to high school – many reasons: no parents, only grandparents, parents on the “other side”; students don’t care; poverty.
She’s tired; school has one more day; on Sundays, she sells mountain coffee from beans she’s picked, and also plates of pork and chicken, corn with red chili, wrapped in banana leaves (zacahuil)
The truck taxi man likes her. She likes him. Yet, she won’t marry him, or let him live with her. She has three kids with a man she didn’t marry.
Time for me to go back to the “other side.”
I wish she’d gone with me to the Sunday huapango in the plaza – screeching violins and violins. stomping boots – and then had ice cream and cake. But she took a nap.
If she teaches as well as she makes zacahuil, impressive ….
She also taught me how to de-pulp a coffee bean. She gave me some beans, before and after roasting, as a gift.
And she invited me to the final day of school.
She reads all summer.
I can see all, but tell her boyfriend nothing ; then, the joking might have taken a grim direction
I know she won’t tell him much, either.
Your life, teacher and more; your life, truck taxi man; mine ….
Eugene “Gene” Novogrodsky, mid-July 2013
Author: Gene Novogrodsky
Eugene “Gene” Novogrodsky, a Brownsville resident for nearly three decades, writes North American border slices, from eastern Canada to central Mexico, and in between. He is one of the founders of the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center Writers Forum in San Benito. He sometimes participates with the informal Resaca Writers Group in Brownsville. He prefers, however, to read to two or three attentive listeners – when asked!