Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Here's what life looked like on:
An Average Day

This is an excerpt, redacted, from a Life Book.
The lives of four children hiding from Something Bad in Mexico.

Photo by Ryan Sitzman

No breakfast.
No lunch.

Sometimes,
           to stave off hunger,
           you'd boil leaves from the lemon tree.
                      If you had sugar,
                      you'd use it to soften the bitterness
                      of brewed leaves.

On bad days, though,
           you didn't have sugar.

Under the door -- a slit --
                                                       you weren't allowed to go outside:
                                                            Something Bad might happen.

A few generous gifts
                                 sometimes
rolled through.
Grapefruits.
Lemons.
Scraps
from neighbors' leftovers.




You'd wait,
           like normal,
                      for Nyanya to bring home dinner.



Sometimes,
           she didn't arrive
           until past midnight.

She worked at a restaurant,
           would stay till close
           to bring home leftovers.





The worst part
wasn't Hunger.

                                     Hunger

           you could deal with.
The painful stomach-gnawing
           went away after a few hours,
                      especially if you woke
                                                                  late
                                                                                        to make the day go faster.
                                                                                                              And you did.




No.

The worst part
was watching the others
                                      suffer.
That was harder than being
                                           hungry
--seeing your family hungry and knowing you couldn't do anything about it.





Wait,
                                                           wait,
                                                                                                                        wait.



That was hard.

It was also hard
to drink bad water
from the hose when there wasn't enough
                       (never enough)
                                                                  money
to refill one of the big jugs
you got from the store.

But when you're thirsty,
you drink,
even if it doesn't taste good.

                                                                  Correction:
                                                       Even if it tastes terrible.


                                                                  You'd clean it
                                                                    by boiling it,
                                                             and it would still taste
                                                                                           foul.


Your sister said,

"I have to give it to Nyanya.
She would always bring us food.
At least one meal.

She was a strong woman,
                      and her children always came first."