Tuesday, November 2, 2021

the last book I ever read (The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, excerpt fourteen)

from The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio:

Because of her poor health, Altagracia has death on her mind and is thinking about going back to Mexico. “There was a raid on a 7-Eleven near my house just last week. And the other day on the bus, a white woman went on a racist rant against me while I was just standing there. All of the racism here makes me want to go back to my country when I die. I’m not wanted here, and I do not want to live in eternity in a place where I’m not wanted.” In the meantime, she says, her plan for aging involves her two children. She tells me a story about a woman she sometimes sees when she goes out to collect recycling for cash. The woman is seventy years old and collects recycling for a living. She was widowed when she was very young and never remarried, never had children. Now, Altagracia says, the woman is all alone and left to die in a foreign country without anyone to take care of her. She says the lesson is that it is important to have children who can take care of us when we grow old.

“You can’t guarantee how your kids are going to turn out. There are good children and there are bad children, so in my opinion, people should have two kids. One of them ought to turn out well. I have two kids, and after my surgery, there was always one of them around to take care of me when the other one was busy.” An heir and a spare. I ask her if the pressure of that might be hard on the children.

“Perhaps,” she says. “But that’s the tradition.”

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