I looked out the window early in the day, selfishness and guilt concealing me when turning back was no longer an option. The breeze grew colder as it brushed my skin, yet outside the heat turned unbearable. Mother came to mind; I’m sitting in an air-conditioned bus while she hides behind a bush, wanting it to cover her as her sweat leaves a trail that they could follow.
Alan, my fast-asleep baby brother, looks exactly like Father. Daddy—where could he be? Walking miles and miles since the last rays of sun touched the ground? Or maybe handcuffed, waiting to be processed and thrown out again, just like a stray dog that is kicked out of a restaurant with nothing but insults.
Time passes. My home is in the land my parents scuffle so much to reach, yet it was handed to me at birth as a gift, one I may not share with my loved ones. An officer smiles as I am handing him the little blue book—my passport. A frown appears at the sight of it; Father has always wanted one, but not even years of work and sacrifice have given it to him. Many generations ago, this is what they were; aliens in the lands of others. Now they discriminate against those who are what their ancestors once were.
The officer nods his head and points to the other officials as they check my suitcase. All my belongings, everything, is there. I leave their land with everything, yet they leave it with nothing but what they wear.
Water rises; a man cries. The river has great strength, and as I yawn my mom pleads a breath. The beast known as Rio Bravo desperately attempts to drown my mother and all those who seek a dream.
Backaches begin as Father carries a man without a leg. “Leave me,” he begs. My father ignores him. Muscles in his right leg tighten, swollen, and go from a purple to a blue color.
“Do it for them.” The words are repeated infinite times by so many in search of the hope to keep going.
Dehydrated, my father stops for a drink. Drinking water is handed to me, while they cup their mud-stained hands to drink the water that runs by dreamers’ feet. He can’t take it any longer; his body begs sleep and he caves in.
The wind hitting the window is the sweet lullaby that puts me to sleep while hissing from my father’s companions rumbles in his ears. The snake observer waits for him to make a single move, as if it needed permission to infect his body with venom.
As I shut my eyes my mother sits in jail. “Gotcha!” the officers yelled when the bullet injured my mother like she was a game.
The thought “I won’t give up” emerged as the last officer said “Go to Mexico.”
“I’ll try again.” The words were so determinedly spoken by the women I know. My mother forces the coyote, orders them to guide her at once. Her feet are full of blisters and cuts, but she runs. Each step for me, for my brothers, for a better life. I stand. It’s time to get off. The next stop awaits. Home.
Father has finished his journey too. He now limps and awakens the man on his back so that he too can enjoy the sweet melody of the beeping cars and the beautiful green sign that for many is nothing, but to them is a new beginning.
The sign says “Welcome to San Antonio.” The white letters bring peace to my father, who after a week will soon eat and sleep.
Mother is still far away, and as I sleep in a bed way too big, my conscience overcomes me with guilt. Mother is injured and I sleep; I sleep with teddy bears as she tries to stay awake so the bullet can’t find her again.
Days pass. No news from her. Fear surrounds us; no one knows where she is and if she will make it. Finally, the phone rings, and I hear a familiar voice filled with great pain as a she sighs, “I’m here.”
This land I am privileged to receive with nothing at all has cost my parents great effort and pain. I blink. Mother’s here, Father’s here, and months have passed. They have not seen their land in years, for me and a future.
The American dream they hold is not for them like everyone seems to think. Rather, it exists for us, for their children, granting them more opportunities to succeed and not be workers of the sun.
They hide the fact that they wish to be free and not treated like customized slaves that are paid in misery just because “American” is not printed to their name. Dreams of being in their land again are with them, I know it.
Chicano: that is what I am, and for that my parents gave it all up. Someday I will go back, but as my father says, “until my sweet daughter turns 21.”