The Everywhere Project
April 27, 2017
I was three years-old when I saw my father leave. I don’t remember much of the light-skinned man who they called my father, but I do remember his lack of presence.
Then when I was five-years-old, my mother left. I remember walking away from her as she said her goodbyes, fully knowing it was only a matter of time until she abandoned me too.
I don’t remember many of the years that came after, but I do recall being happy and loved by my grandmother. She took me in as her own child and became both a mother and a father.
I remember how gang members used to follow me to my house from school because I was a girl and they thought my parents had money. I remember hearing my grandmother’s whispers behind closed doors saying I needed to leave because my life was in danger and she could no longer afford the renta. I knew it was only a matter of time before I had to leave as well.
It is hard to believe that as a child, I had already internalized the concept of abandonment clearer than most adults. Although I could not fully understand or articulate it, I understood what leaving for survival meant.
I left my country at the age of nine. Fifteen days later, I crossed a river and ran across fields into unrecognizable territory. The coyote stayed behind in Mexico and let us cross the Rio Grande alone. He knew we would be detained at the border.
Because I was traveling alone, I wouldn’t be allowed to cross by myself so he assigned me to a woman who passed as my mother before we parted ways.
This is to that woman who stole my memory and the reason I cannot continue with my story.
I remember little to nothing of the night they detained us. I remember waking up to a fat police officer looking down at me. I remember your shaky body next to mine in the detention center, where you prayed you wouldn’t get sent back.
I remember your kindness when you gave me water. But I also remember the blankness that followed because of the drugged water. And then like the lights turning off and on, I remember nothing but the ceiling as I lied on a chair and then the floor.
To you, woman of my nightmares who erased my memory and gave me a lot of doubts. I hope you think of me when you received your papers. I hope you realize the damage you caused me when you used a drug to put me to sleep.
I hope your conscious kills you before someone treats you like you treated me.
I hope you know the damage you did to me and I hope that other children never experience it.
I hope you wish you had given me enough of the contaminated water so I wouldn’t have nightmares of what I do remember.
I hope you know I lay at night, every night, wondering what I had to pay for your entry into an unknown country.
I hope you know I wake up every day, wishing your daughters never fear the unknown and the could have beens.
The saddest part of it all is that I am thankful to be alive, even if it is in an unknown country that wishes me gone. But to everyone who risks their humanity, integrity and childhood to survive, you are stronger than borders being built out of fear. We will survive.
The Everywhere Project gives voice to the undocumented community of Santa Clara through anonymous submissions. For more information or to submit your own story, email scueverywhereproject@ gmail.com.