The Merry Moods of Mexicans

24 Feb

Sharing a bench in the school library with a potato is probably one of the strangest things that can happen to a person… But it’s what was happening on the second day of the film workshop (see Children of Roots).

The two students we were interviewing today were from Mexico. He had left Mexico a few years ago and lived in Poland inbetween; her life in Holland was 5 months old.

The class knew the drill. The sound man cast the dirty look of a bouncer around the room, received immediate silence and shouted, “Okay for sound!” The camera lady pressed the red button and whispered excitedly, “Okay for camera.” The director looked around one last time, nodded and called out, “And… action!” Everyone held their breath. Silence reigned supreme. The production department looked at her watch to control how much time we had for the interview.

The reporter shifted nervously in her seat as she began. A few warm-up questions then we cut and change the shot size. What is your name, where do you come from, how long have you been living in Holland? She gained confidence and brought out her shovel to start digging deeper into their souls. The Mexicans’ faces flickered with slow smiles.

“I miss Mexico,” he said, “and I still see it as my home. I would go back immediately if I only could. But there is too much violence in my country, whereas Holland is a safe place to live and grow up in. I feel comfortable in this school and I like the people very much. To be honest, I don’t like to think about home. We’re both from Mexico, but we never talk about it.”

She ducked behind her hair with a shy smile. “No, we don’t talk about home. It hurts too much.”

“It’s the drug trafficking,” he explained. Again his smile. “It’s ruining my country. Without the drug trafficking, there would be no violence and we could live there in peace.”

She said, “I couldn’t leave the house without an adult, because there were kidnappings all over the country, especially in Mexico City, where I lived. I had to be driven everywhere and my parents never let me out of their sight.” She played with her hair and smiled at the potato. “My neighbor’s cousin was kidnapped one day. The drug traffickers sent his hands back to his parents in a box.”

“On television, I saw one of my friends being arrested,” the boy said. “A lot of my friends got addicted to drugs and he was one of them. The drug traffickers then paid him to kill someone. They gave him a gun. I found out in the news because he was caught.” With a shy smile, he concluded, “I can’t believe that children my age could kill someone. What’s happening to my country? As long as there are drugs, there will never be peace. The trafficking must stop.”

She flashed the potato a broad grin. “What’s happening is so sad and I hope it stops because, much as I like it here, I would like to go back some day. It’s my home.”

They laughed, and we realised:

Their laughs protect the trembling country, become pillars that keep it from collapsing. Their smiles heal the pain of their families and friends. Their joy of living watches over the pain and violence, watches its comings and goings – but remains sturdy because pillars are sturdy.

The 14 year old director yelled, “Cut!” The 14 year old camera woman turned the camera off and whispered frantically, “I never knew you had experienced all those things!”

The Mexicans smiled at each other as they stood up and left . . . Leaving behind the lesson: without laughter, what is left of our humanity?


2 Responses to “The Merry Moods of Mexicans”

  1. Rachel February 24, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    Emptiness…. that’s what is left. A hollow void. An endless plunge of hopelessness. Inspiring Ritti!


  1. Travelling around Europe in a caravan of ideas « Rit'i Sonq'o: A Writer's Journey - May 27, 2012

    […] I really enjoy working with children and adolescents, and this time in Holland was just as amazing as in the past. I don’t want to repeat myself, so if you’re in the mood for more, here’s where I gush: Children of Roots, The Merry Moods of Mexicans […]

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