Thursday, October 13, 2011
My Own, Very Real, Ghost Story
In all honesty, I really don't know why horror stories and ghosts are so appealing to me; all I know is that from my earliest memories, I've always felt attracted to them like a moth to the light. My own culture probably helped a lot. In Mexico the dead are very much a part of our every day life; don't get me wrong, we're, for the most part, modern, advanced people who revere computers, use cars to go to work, and will believe someone broke in when there's a bump in the house, instead of chucking it all to supernatural events.
On the other hand, we're a sui generis mix of two very different, very old cultures that make us unique in our believes and customs. Catholicism is BIG in Mexico and through the conquering process, the Spaniards gave birth to a huge amount of legends that 'main-streamed' deities of our Aztec past. That's where the dead mix in.
'The Crying Lady' (La Llorona) is probably one, if not the most famous ghost of old. People, to this day, believe she exists and that you can hear her crying in some lonely nights far away from the cities, calling for her dead kids. We have one very famous small town where real witches live and will prepare specific mixes or 'works' for you for a prearranged amount of money. I actually know people who has gone there to get 'cleansed'. Now, this kinds of stories always impacted me and left me wondering what was out there. I could tell you a hundred different stories, from the beautiful legends that are a central part of our folklore, to the very personal ones, passing from the experiences with my own, very eclectic, family.
I guess I'll start with a cute story that had a great impact in my sister's life.
My sister was born prematurely, two months early, and for that reason she was very small and fragile. The worst was that her esophagus and stomach were so immature that she couldn't hold any food. My mom would feed her for an hour only to see her regurgitate most of it half and hour later, so my mom was anchored to this child and my little sister was in a serious conundrum.
My oldest uncle from my mother side is a doctor and he'd come visit my sister almost daily; he'd always have spirited words for my mom but with my other uncles and aunts (my mom has five brothers and four sisters) he'd reveal the very dire situation. Fact was, he didn't think my sister was gonna make it.
Now, my mom was an orphan; his father had died when the oldest of the children were only eleven or twelve, and my grandma died when they were nineteen or twenty. Back those days, there was no one who would step in and force the kids into relative's houses or to be adopted. The ten of them held their ground and stayed together, the older raising the younger as best they could.
When my sister was born, my parents decided to stay in my other grandma's house, with my father's parents, so they could help with me while my father was working. Since the baby was so small and could not heat herself, the bed where both, my mom and her, slept had the headrest inside a closet and they had a small lamp always on and pointed to the baby, to generate more warmth. Of course, windows were almost barricaded, and the door was always closed.
One day, my mom was sleeping next to my sister, trying to catch some rest before the next feeding time. My grandparents had taken me to buy groceries and my dad was working, so my mom was alone in the house. Then she heard the steps of two people coming up stairs, towards her room. She though we had come back and tried to open her eyes but she couldn't, and she was unable to move. Scared now, she heard the door to the bedroom open and close and felt two bodies standing right next to her.
"She's so cute and little" Said one of the voices. It was feminine and my mother recognized it immediately. It was her mom.
"Yes, she is. But she'll grow up to be a healthy kid" He laughed. It was her dad's voice.
"Are you sure, Ramiro? Will she make it?"
"Oh, yes. She'll be fine"
And the next thing my mom felt was the air brushing by her as if someone was extending her/his arm to reach the child who was between my mom and the wall. After that, the door opened again and the steps echoed outside the room. My mom opened her eyes in a hurry, trying to see them, to talk to them. Above her, the cloths hanging on the closet were swinging lightly. She darted outside but there was nobody.
My sister indeed recovered, after six very hard months she mended and nobody ever told my mom, until years later, that everyone was sure the baby would die.