Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fingernail Shaped Moons

Jesse Tijerina

(a short narrative of what led me to become an educator)

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”

Hermann Hesse

Why do we look at things the way we do? Is it due to the mothers and the fathers of our mothers and fathers and their wisdom? They made fun of mi jefe’s tacos wrapped in tin foil when he was a child. Could this be why, I am forever ready to toe the line? “Tienes que trabajar lo doble, para ser lo doble” my dad would say. “You’re going to have to work twice as hard to be two times the man.” He knew what was hiding behind words, and he knew of euphemisms, without knowing such a word existed.

Is it possible that my 3rd grade teacher belittled me because of the brown color of my skin? She knew I had a tough time with numbers because we told her; mom, dad, the 2nd grade teacher, and me. It didn’t matter as she insisted I go to the chalkboard, day in and day out, up until the day I yelled something to the effect of “I can’t do this, I try, but I just can’t,” and concluded my tantrum by shattering a piece of chalk at the problem on the board. She also found ways to make Jaime, Santos, and Jorge cry. Did influences such as these somehow lend a hand in Jaime’s death just a couple of years after fathering his first child, just a couple of years shy of twenty? How about Santos, who hung himself on the monkey-bars at Pearson Park, discovered by a jogger, there hovering like a masterpiece above his daughter’s name etched in sand, the detective mentioned it had been written with a branch, just before letting go of the ghost? I remember how Jorge would clench his fists until his overgrown nails indented fingernail shaped moons across the palms of his hands. It would be twenty-five years before they faded to black, to an overdose, in front of his mom, wife, and daughter. Eventually, we all find freedom. I have found my freedom with words.

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