I while ago I wrote a small story that I entered into the PTSA Reflections Contest. This year’s theme was “What’s your story?” so I decided to write about something that was similar to what I experienced when I travelled to Mexico a few months ago. Of course, I was hoping to move as far as possible into the competition just as any other participant would but I didn’t expect to get as far as I am right now! I passed the high school level and passed the county level, now I am going to state! I’m really excited to see how far this will go and I will make sure to keep you guys updated!
So here we go:
Fernando was born in a miniscule town called La Union in the state of Oaxaca which was located in southern Mexico. He was the youngest out of his two other siblings, his older brother was six when he was born and his younger sister was two. His birth only made his family’s economic situation worsen, but they managed to live a happy life despite all of their problems they faced. His dad worked the lands they owned and he made just enough money to feed his wife and three children. They couldn’t afford luxuries like some of their wealthier neighbors. Their house was made out of bricks and had a roof made of cheap iron laminate. Their house was very small. It had two three by three meter rooms, one was the kitchen and the storage room and the second was their bedroom. Fernando’s parents, Alma and Pablo, slept on one bed. Fernando and his brother, Miguel, shared the second one and their sister, Rosa, slept on the last one.
The Castillo family was very happy. They had what they needed to survive. From a very young age they were taught that greed was a poor man’s misery. When Christmas came along Fernando and his brothers didn’t ask for the latest smartphone. Instead, they asked for a large cup of Señora Garcia’s special hot chocolate. The small trio would travel to the center of the town and they would wait in line at Mrs. Garcia’s panaderia, the scent of freshly baked bread inundating the hectic street. Today was different though, Miguel had stayed behind working the land in a neighbor’s farm. Miguel had started working at the age of sixteen, he had dropped out of school because of the growing needs of his younger siblings. Their parents had also quit going to school in order to help feed their families. This meant that Fernando and Rosa had gotten farther in school than either their parents or Miguel. No one in their family had made it past sixth grade.
The line was moving at its usually slow pace. The Garcia Bakery was a very popular place during Christmas because of its delicious breads but especially because of their hot chocolate. The chocolate caliente was made out of natural cocoa and rich milk. Their patience was finally rewarded. They walked up to the counter and said hello to Mrs. Garcia.
“Hola, Doña Garcia.” Fernando said.
“Hello! How are you Fernandito? Where is Miguel?” she asked.
“I am doing good, gracias. Miguel stayed behind to till the soil for Don Alvarez.” Fernando replied
“I am not surprised. It’s been almost four years since he left school. That young man has always been very valiant. You should be very proud to have a brother like him.”
Fernando felt extremely honored. Miguel, just like his own parents, had sacrificed so much for the benefit of Rosa and himself. They had dropped their own hopes and dreams of graduating to preserve the dreams of their family. They knew that without money there was no food, without food there was no hope, and without hope there was absolutely no dreams. If they hadn’t started working then the dreams of their siblings would have perished alongside their own, they couldn’t see that happen.
“Well, I’m guessing that you would each like two cups of chocolate caliente?” Señora Garcia asked.
Fernando was going to respond with an excited yes but he was interrupted by his father.
“Yes, we will, but we will also be buying something else. May we have three pieces of pan, por favor?” he asked.
“Of course, Pablo.” she responded as she began pulling bread out of the display behind her and placed it into a paper bag. She then handed the bag to Mr. Castillo. He looked inside the bag and his face briefly held a smile.
“There are five pieces of bread in here. I only have enough pesos for three, Mrs. Garcia.”
“Yes, I know. It’s a gift.”
Fernando’s dad did not like receiving charity because he believed that charity was the first step to becoming drowned in debt, something that no one, not even the richest man, could afford.
“I can’t accept this without paying you. I don’t like receiving limosnas.” Fernando’s father said.
“Please take it, Pablo. It’s Christmas. Share them with your family.”
“I really can’t.” he insisted. “I don’t like charities.”
“It’s not charity, Pablo! There is no charity in between family, there is only gifts and love.” she replied. “If you do not accept my gift then I will be very offended.”
Mr. Castillo finally decided that arguing with her was pointless. He accepted the bread and he would have accepted the bread without question if he didn’t know what honor was. It was honor that held him back from accepting everything everyone offered him. He didn’t want his children to see him having to receive from others because he couldn’t afford it. It hurt him, but deep down inside he was happy. Now he had enough bread for his whole family to celebrate the coming of Papa Noel.
They thanked Mrs. Garcia and began pushing their way through the packed room. Fernando took a sip of his drink when they managed to get back out to the street. The milk used in the recipe made the liquid slightly dense, allowing Fernando to feel it travel down into his somewhat empty stomach. Their two battered bikes waited for them in the corner of the street. They placed their bag of bread and their cups into a little box that was tied to the front of one of their bikes. Fernando grabbed some straw from the ground and used it to fill the rest of the container, this would help cushion the cups so that they would not spill during they journey back home.
Their bike ride lasted almost an hour. Their dad used the bike with the container and Fernando rode on the back. His sister used the other bike. Fernando’s father grabbed the bag of sweet bread and Fernando and Rosa grabbed two cups of chocolate caliente.
“Alma! We are home!” Pablo called out. The wind that played in the fields was the only sound he heard.
He waited for a response from his wife but there was none. Fernando and his sister were only footsteps away when their dad reached for the door and opened it. His face lit up in surprise and then became overrun by a flurry of fear and anger. They didn’t know it then but this moment would change their lives forever. Then came the gunshot, the bullet piercing the wind’s laughter. Their father fell to the floor and a man came rushing out of their room with a large bag. He stopped and stared at Fernando and Rosa, etching fear into their hearts. He then began running and dissolved into the trees. They knew that they had been robbed, most of their precious belongings within the bag, and for a very long time they believed that their hope had also been stolen.
Everything happened too quickly. Their parents were buried the next day. The small town of La Union came together to help give them a proper burial. Fernando was numb, he couldn’t feel emotion. During the ceremony the combined voices of the people praying seemed to taunt him. After the ceremony ended, Mrs. Garcia walked over to Rosa and his brothers.
“I know you don’t have anyone left to take care of you” she said with a calm voice. “My husband and I have talked about it and we have decided, if you want, to adopt you.”
They all said yes mostly because they had no other option. Their life didn’t really change for the better. The Garcia’s began struggling for money. Now they had four more mouths to feed. Rosa dropped out of school and four years later so did Fernando. From that moment Fernando promised himself that his future family would never struggle the way he did. He promised himself that his children would get a complete education and that they would never worry if there was going to be food on the table. It was then that he learned something very important. He learned that perhaps the thief that had killed his parents probably also had a family to feed. Fernando understood and forgave him, but then made a promise to himself that he would never hurt anyone regardless of how hard things got.
Jobs were very hard to find and Fernando usually spent his days in the city trying to find something to earn a few pesos. Sometimes he would be carpenter and other times he would be a vendor of fruits. Whenever he wasn’t working someone’s farm land he was at a construction site.
One day he was walking when he encountered a childhood friend. He told Fernando about a land called America and about the many jobs that he could find there. So Fernando decided that it was time to take action on his promise. He packed the few things he had and began traveling north with a small group of strangers. He walked for many weeks and many times he almost died. There were several dangers. Some of the most prominent included dehydration and hunger. He walked through various deserts and swam through perilous rivers. Some of the people in the group died from snake bites or scorpion stings. Others couldn’t handle the lack of water and food so they gave up. They sat in the hot sun’s way and waited to greet la muerte.
After a few more days of walking, their leader announced that they had arrived in the city of San Diego in the state of California. Fernando looked in awe at the amazing buildings. People rushed doing their own thing here just like in La Union. This was going to be Fernando’s new home and this is where he would make his promise become a reality. He found a job in a few weeks and began working.
That day Fernando realized that the thief had not stolen their hope and that it had been with them the whole time.
Sometimes it’s really easy to lose hope. Perhaps something happens and it seems to be the end of the world. But let me tell you something… it’s not. Reach out to those who you love and those who love you back for support. It is not the end of the world.
Maybe you’re having a great time and everything seems to be going your way. First I would like to congratulate you because you’re awesome and you probably deserve everything that’s happening but secondly I’d like to let you know that perhaps other’s aren’t sharing the same luck. Keep in mind that lending a helping hand will make your life so much better! The possibility of meeting new amazing people is incredible and you could learn so many things!
Today I’d like to share with you a club I participate in at my highschool. It’s called Beat Out Cancer and we have a annual show where performers come together to share their talents in order to help beat out cancer.
If you are an artist and you would like to perform at Georgia Has Talent then please send a YouTube video of your act, along with any questions or concerns, to the email address provided above! The show is held in Canton, Georgia which is less than 50 minutes away from Atlanta. If you aren’t an artist but would still like to help get rid of this awful disease then please consider being at the show. You can find more information at Beat Out Cancer’s website. I will be at the show so I hope to see you guys there!
Thanks for everything!