How does it feel to be at a movie set, with cameras and lights and assistants and gaffers? This morning, as I sat down at my desk, the answer was delivered in doses, first of people and cars, then of something else which, to my chagrin, had no end.
It is mid morning and I'm trying to weave some sentences together, the usual struggle. Outside, a few meters from my window, the engine used to power cameras and equipment has been turned on for over six hours, and no, it doesn't help to close windows, turn on the music, wear earplugs. The noise is still there. Maybe I should walk over and tell them that I am sleep deprived, about to miss a deadline, or that I suffer from some nervous condition, capable of hooliganism under distress. No, that wouldn't do much. They would laugh, jeer at me, or even cast me as the neighbor who has gone mad, and who wouldn't, these days, with what's been going in Mexico: civil unrest, beatings, people missing, corruption scandals. For sure I'm missing plenty more.
It's a bit over two weeks since I'm back and there've been so many things, so many surprises, and it never stops, Mexico, always leaving me in awe, with its beauty and its contradictions, and this, the contradictions, is why I keep coming back. It never ends, the fascination I feel, but there's also sadness. Forgive me, Mexico, but this I must say, too.
Santa Claus, the three Magi, what can Mexican children wish for, write in their letters to them? Yes, toys, video games, a puppy, a bicycle. And then? To play where, in what kind of country?
I've been spending time with my niece Ximena, and with nephews Rodrigo and Chemita. So far I haven't asked them how they feel; I don't have to. Ximena and Rodrigo are older; they feel disappointed, embarrassed at what's happening with the government, at all levels, with Congress, the way politicians cover up corruption, larceny, nepotism, and then they go and pretend it's Mexico they serve, that their sole goal is to work for a better country. They'd die for it, they swear. One question is all I have: better for whom?
Chemita is only two and he likes to run to my bed in the morning, wrestle with me or play hide-and-seek below the table. If he could write, this is what I imagine his letter might say
I hope you remember what I asked for last year and the year before that. Let's keep it between you and me; mommy and daddy will get used to it, they are both easy to convince, believe me. Besides, it will be fun, I've seen them, just last Sunday, how they like to play with my cousin M. They don't fool me, no, they want a little sister for me too.
There's been some talk, Santa, here at home, when we watch the news, and it feels strange because it makes me think of X, what he will write to you. His father works for the government, an important man, very; I saw him only once, big car, with body guards, one car ahead and one behind, following him all the time. But now there is the scandal, the mansion, so big it fits ten houses like my house. What's wrong with buying a house, I don't know, but everyone says it's not the house but what it means.
Does X wish for what I wish, I don't know, but it's because his dad loves him, the way my dad loves me that I have hope.
X sees what I see, at a traffic light, when the car stops and a woman walks over, dirt in her face, no shoes, a baby in her arms, and she begs for a coin, for the hope to keep her baby alive. Is she invisible to X's father? No, it can't be, and yet, he feels he's above her, from a different world, but why? He's grown up with privileges, unscathed from the struggles of life. Everything is owed to him: money, respect, power, even the law has to bend, vow before him, because that's how it's always been.
But if X sees what I see, Santa, couldn't he help his father, show him what he's not able to see? Perhaps you will get a letter, who knows, and X will ask for something, a gift I hope you could bring. Will you make his father change, see the world, Mexico, differently from the way he's been used to?
I hear steps now; it must be mommy. Nite nite, Santa.