Monday, August 21, 2006

Domingos Familiares

At the end of last month Carmen of Blog de mi Guatemala sent her displaced compatriots into paroxysms of nostalgia with her post about traditional family Sundays. From the nature of the comments posted, it's clear that few were sensitive to the darker ironies of their lost idyll.

Take this one: "Siendo yo de provincia, lo tradicional era el caldito de res, mi mama se levantaba todos los domingos a las 6 de la manana a las 7 agarraba camino al mercado, a pie mucha porque en ese entonces mi pueblo no era tan grande,compraba lo del almuerzo, y algunas cosas que vendia en la tienda, porque mi mama tiene su tiendecita en la casa, regresaba como a las 11, yo porsupuesto me iba a ver al DEPORTIVO MALACATECO que comenzaba a las 11 y cuando regresaba a la 1:30 me echaba mi caldito de res con una cocacola bien fria.. que tiempos tan hermosos mucha. "

So, while his mother got up at the crack of dawn and spent four hours alone shopping at the market on Sundays, this chap went off to watch a game of football. "Que tiempos tan hermosos mucha... "

Then there's Santiago, whose father would eat the "mayor parte" of their Sunday chicken, leaving his wife and kids los menudos, choice left-overs such as the neck, feet and heart. Another commenter describes how the patriarch of his childhood household would work his way through a big juicy steak as his nearest and dearest looked on, and if they were lucky, carve them up a few little morsels at the end.

Across the board here there are stories of mothers, grandmothers and aunts slaving away for menfolk that spent their Sunday mornings hanging out together outside the home. It's hardly surprising then that V's stickiest memory of these sort of gatherings is of her own mother having to walk under the sun from San Juan del Obispo to the finca carrying several large watermelons.

She also recalls the day when, aged twelve, she cooked some rice for visiting abuelita (grandmother), who was quite put out that little V had made up her own recipe, adding peppers, cloves, bay leaves and guiskil to the mix, but was gracious enough to admit that the dish was delicious, if unconventional.

Experimental by nature practically from birth, V has consistently sidestepped the formulaic life that so many Guatemalans seem to devote themselves to − or at least hanker after for years long after they have migrated north to the US. As more women in Guatemala reassess their expectations, one would expect fewer migrants to smuggle these memories of overly attentive mothers and grannies across the Rio Grande.

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