Homesick for Wachipali

old diaryI began writing in my diary more often now that I was in Colon. Of all things, I wrote about how I missed being in Panama City and my old neighborhood in Calidonia and that special section of Wachipali that had always played a big part in our town and which gave me a sense of belonging.

Wachpali for me had always been a place where I could see first hand what was happening politically, and what to expect in the currents of the our times. Everything that affected the whole country was expected to happen in our Calidonia and the different times and seasons that meant so much to all of us kids were mirrored in the happenings in Calidonia. I could always figure out if I was missing out on anything of importance.

That last year in Panama, I was so busy at my work bench in the dental lab that I had not even caught the music of Carnaval in the air, of the different groups of “Comparzas” practicing their songs and choreography to display for the upcoming days of carnaval.

However, I was in Colon now with my homesick self, waiting for the summer months to be over and for the month of March to finally arrive. Sitting in the apartmant all alone all day as if I were confined, reading and writing in my diary, only added to my sense of reclusiveness. I welcomed those moments of solitude and rest, however, after my exhausting experiences in Panama.

Feeling protected now by being with my family was interspersed with memories of my childhood in Panama when my sister and I had often been left alone while my mother wondered off to God knows where. But, since I had taken on the duty of caring for my baby brother Victor, the youngest in the family, it prevented me from becoming too introverted. I found the child to be no problem at all to me, so while he would rest quietly I would lock myself in the apartment and pray that our privacy would be repected. As I welcomed the solitude and the extra time for myself that I so loved, my baby brada Victor also took to me as I was the only one who had taken the time to be with him.

The whole routine brought back memories, some good and some bad. I would take the baby boy downstairs to allow us both a few minutes of fresh air where the scenery was pleasant. The walks also allowed me to canvas the neighborhood bringing me fond memories of the days when I was very young myself following behind my grandmother as she did her washing and bleaching of laundry out on the patio.

I also recalled the days that I had taken to care for my brother Earnie who was now about the age of ten. I recalled how we both had fun while I pulled him around in a wooden box with a piece of rope over the side walks of Mariano Arosemena Street near our one-room home in Panama. Remembering that day the scene of how I had left him to run to plead with my mother not to leave us came back to me. These bitter sweet memories didn’t last long because we, as usual, were always left alone. Now it was baby Victor and me.

The day had been especially sunny and beautifully mild and pleasant, as most summer days in Colon seemed to me. The glare of a friendly sun received us then and the child showed the joy of welcoming another day. He ran in front of me and we enjoyed our customary walk down the stairs and around the building and then back upstairs through another part of the building.

I arrived back upstairs just in time to catch up with the baby when, as I made to open the door, my mother walks up to me shouting insanely at me. While I tried to negotiate my key in the lock I tried to figure out her reasons for this outburst as she ranted on and on. I then remembered that I had seen her conversing with some younger man, a neighbor whom I didn’t know, earlier. I tried to hide the fact that I had seen her in her flirting ways. Anyway, carrying my sleeping baby brother on my shoulder now, my mother’s brusque confrontation and shouting had awakened him and made him fretful. Concerned for the baby boy, I tried, as always with my mother, not to react to her bickering that could easily turn ugly.

This story continues.

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