La seño (my grandmother)
Nadia Ivanova, La Zacamil
My memories of El Salvador are broken and fuzzy blurs. Somehow, though, they still feel so close to me. My experiences before I moved to Canada define me in ways I’m unsure how to articulate.
There are so many stories I could tell you, so many small antidotes of love and happiness. Because the memories I have of El Salvador are related to a child’s land, it’s my Narnia.
I could tell you about:
countless afternoons spent running around La Zacamil, long before the maras overran it
climbing the lemon tree in my Seño’s (grandmothers) backyard
looking over the wall at the entire colonia
climbing up onto the roofs of the buildings
running away from boys garnishing snake carcasses
secretly eating golosinas in the stairwells of the buildings
how the smell of wet cement is the best smell because it reminds me of those stairwells.
how much I miss relámpagos from Mr. Donut
how more delicious the mango sold by ladies in the street, outside my school, was than the ones sold at the school store.
I think it’s hard for you, reader, to get why El Salvador hurts in the sweetest way inside me
I remember being in my early 20s when the first Starbucks opened where I live, the suburbs of Toronto. Where I live the main coffee shops knowns are either Coffee Time or Tim Horton’s.
One dark and rainy day, my two besties and I were seated at a wooden table in the back corner of this newly opened Starbucks. I ordered a latte. At that time they still served them in ceramic mugs. I buried my face in the steaming mug and the strangest thing happened: I was instantly transported to El Salvador as if I was actually there.
It was an evening and my brother and I were seated on my Seño’s dining table. The air was cool and I think we had just finished dinner. My brother and I had having leche con café. Hot milk, boiled with vanilla and a little bit of café listo that was added for colour. I saw my seño’s smile. It was wide and easy, it crinkled her eyes. It was the smallest flash of a memory, like a small GIF of happiness.
It lasted an instant but it flooded my whole system with a warmth and happiness I haven’t known since we left El Salvador behind.