The words written in quotations above,"la llorona" in the Spanish language means a woman who cries...a lot. A woman mourns in painful sorrow and grieves the loss of a son. This is a story of two women that I found belatedly appropriate to write. I meant to do that on Memorial Day as a tribute to "la llorona" I knew as I grew up during World War II in San Antonio, Texas in 1944. I apologize, for this woman lost a son in battle.
The first of these two women you will read about is a tale of the original Llorona as it was told to me long ago. She lived generations before the woman who I want to pay tribute with this diary. I believe both of these women have in common what every woman has -- motherly instinct to protect her newborn.
In writing about "la llorona" as told by my elders below, I concluded that as told to me, a woman`s natural instinct to fight till death protecting a newborn falls into question and borders on creepy. However, the second woman I pay tribute in this diary compels me to overlook that question in order to be able to compare them both for the readers opinion. I do understand that not everyone here at Dkos knows who la llorana is in this tale. Bare with me I will tell you, among other incidents of my life growing up during World War II that I have not written about previously.
My Elders have spoken the tale of this crying woman for generations. The tale has been unfurled through family lore of knowledge to the extent of being traditional nature among Mexican people in general, and this alone has stirred in me some memories of la llorona when I saw this particular woman during very troubling times in my life during World War II. A mother`s wail and anguish reminiscence triggering my mind to recall la llorona, which is not a fable and to write about it. This is my account of such a woman. A modern day la llorona in my personal recollections of World War II. It is fitting for what my elders spoke about a "la llorona", a grieving woman that took place generations ago.
It is only appropriate for me to let those not familiar with the tale of "la llorona" know how the original tale unfolded under the circumstances that it did, so that I may avoid creating confusion. So that they may know why a woman cried so painfully as to be branded "la llorona". Please follow me under the red hair.
As an old master story teller would say -- A young and beautiful Mexican woman lived alone by the side of a rugged mountain in a small hut of a tiny village a long long time ago. A man much older than she was, rich by Mexican standards impregnated her after tricking her into thinking that he loved her. When the man discovered the pregnancy he fled and the woman was left to suffer the prejudicial discrimination against women that unfortunately still is practiced in today`s modern times by men and the consequences of the punishment under Mexican moral standards and religious beliefs that was a mortal sin to get pregnant out of wedlock. She gave birth to a boy and under much pressure fled her tiny hut. Her main concern and instinct was to protect her newborn.
A mother`s natural instinct took over the young woman as she ran to hide in the bush to escape the village morality beliefs, standards, and demands that she turn over the child to the church. A mother with a lioness instinct to protect her son newborn took the boy into a cave by the side of the mountain. There it is believed as the tale goes, that the woman left the child wrapped in a cloth and wandered away in search for the father.
She had nowhere else to go or anyone to protect her from the men at the village. Why she left the child alone in a cave only one of those mothers in the same situation could answer, I guess. The father had many personal interests in the tiny village where this young woman lived, so he could not go very far the young woman thought. Indeed, she found him in a close by village.
The father attired in fashionable clothes and jewelry told the woman as he sat in a tavern where she found him not too far from her village that he did love her. However, he did not want children. The child was the only reason he had fled. Had it not been for the child both could be very happy.
The woman left the tavern, telling the man that she would hand over her son to the church so they could be together. Reaching the spot where she had left the child wrapped in a cloth, the child was gone. Blood was all over the spot where the mother had left him. The woman returned to the tavern to tell the father that the child was now with the church, even though she knew it was a lie -- but found the man in the company of a another woman. He laughed at her and denied that he ever knew her or that he loved her.
Devastated and hurt, the young woman returned to the cave looking for her son. She would look all over and under the brush and the mountains crying loudly believing that her son was alive and that the men at the village had taken him and planted the blood to distract her. In the small village she would burst into huts accusing those within of having her son. She would spend her life crying in the wilderness and mountains where her wails became legend, and her loud cries were the result of her self imposed penalty of repentance for her sin. Her voluntary suffering can be heard against the hot winds on any given midnight hour to this day according to legend as told to me by my elders. People swear that the image of la llorona dressed in a white silky gown is seen at midnight by the side of that mountain, crying loudly calling out for her son.....She
has been seen for generations according to legend and her wailing is lore.
Based on what I have learned about a mother`s natural instinct towards a son or newborn, I found these two women very interesting stories to tell. Personally I was never placed in a cave but I can identify with the woman`s intent, and that is based on my own mother. Perhaps a woman Kossack can help me here to understand the state of mind of women in the story above. In all fairness please take into account the story that follows below.It is now Summer 1944 and World War II is in full force. I have managed to find my mother`s house at last. I am now almost nine years old as I walked into the alley where my mother lived. For the last two years I had begged my favorite uncle Albert who I mentioned before when I wrote in the first paragraph of the diary on this link The boys were Ike, the oldest named after my granddad. Then it was Albert followed by William (little Billy) to show me where my mother lived. Being a throw-away child during the Great Depression fate discarded me like a disposable toy when my own mother left, and abandoned me to the care of my grandmother. My uncle Albert always hated my mother for that and I found that out much later. He reluctantly showed me the way to Torreon Street where my mother was staying for the last years since she threw me away.
It was late evening and the alley was empty of people as stray dogs sniffed and barked, threatened me as curtains closed shut. People inside a few homes peered out into the alley to see who went by. The dogs did not fazed me as I looked for the large pecan tree in front of the house as my uncle Albert had advised me to look for. I came to the house and it was dark inside as night was fast approaching. Peeking through an open window absent of curtains or shades I climbed into the room and found it empty. Papers, cans and pails were placed on the floor in an apparent attempt to catch the rain that seeped down through the holes in the laminated roof. I saw the dim light of late evening through holes left by missing nails.
In another small empty room in the back from where I entered, except for a few chairs and a bare wooden table I saw a box of matches laying on a chair by the side of a beaten and dusty sofa. There was no electricity or running water inside of this shack. I sat down and my aching body lured me to lay down. I sat and took a match stick from the match box and lit it. As I scratched the head of the match on the wooden floor it exploded into a bright light that sprayed the tiny room with a soft yellow glow. On the table was a kerosene lamp. I lifted the glass lid-cover and lit the wick and adjusted the flame to a low light. A small portable looking kerosene stove with two oily burners sat near the lamp that appeared to be discarded and never used. The kerosene fuel dispenser was empty on its tray and it appeared cracked. I must have been too tired for I fell back into the couch and into a deep slumber.
I do not know how long I had the dream. It was my mother in a dream only I can not see her face. It is blurred in a white haze and I could not remember how she looked like. It had been so long since she left me. She had promised to come back for me as I wrote in the second paragraph of this link, but never did. My mother told me that my granny would look out for me, and that she would come back for me later. She never did, I cannot see her face. I wanted to ask her why she lied to me.
Then I was roused from my dream by the forced sound of a painful scream. I felt like if I had been slapped awake by someone crying loudly in my ear, and I freaked out! I then realized that the room was completely dark. The lamp had run out of kerosene and the wick was now out. It was the crying of a woman I heard that woke me up. I now am hearing the cry in front of the house and It sounded like the woman wanted to come into the house. I am really freaked out now. It was pitched dark and I panicked but remained on the couch until it was daylight outside. I may have dozed off again as I was startled by the sound of the wooden door across from me swung open. It was very early in the morning.
It was my brother Joe. He was as surprise to see me as I was seeing him. I had not seen my brother since he jumped off from the branch of a mulberry tree at my grandma`s yard one day as I wrote of his death on this linked diary on paragraphs thirteen and fourteenth Adios carnal, I will miss you. It is a month today as I write this that my brother passed away. With the same pain I felt the day I wrote of his death, I am touched as I write the following.
Instantly I felt safe. I stood up and we embraced, "Hey, what are you doing here?", he asked smiling. I was completely choked up. I could not think of what to say to him. It had been so long since that last time I saw him. He was not the tall handsome kid I remembered back at my grandmother`s place. He looked and sounded much older. "Have you eaten?", he asked as he looked at me. " I ate some yesterday", I told him.
We sat down on the sofa to wait for more daylight and for a Mom/Pop store on the corner to open so we could go and get something to eat. My brother asked me how I found the place and I told him about uncle Albert. My brother said he too always like Albert best than the other uncles. When I told him about being awakened by a loud crying woman, for the first time I learned of "La llorona" on the neighborhood. When my brother told me her story I knew I would never forget her.
My brother said that the woman lived in the back house just over the wire fence of my Mom`s house and that it had been three-years since she lost her only son during the attack and bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 1941 by the Japs, as everyone described Japanese people. My brother was always like that. He learned these things from grown ups he knew back then. My brother was almost twelve and he was very old for those times. The Woman had been told by the government that her son`s remains would be sent home to her for burial but it never happened and she believed that someone had her son. She totally lost her mind as more and more coffins arrived in the alley even in 1944 when I first arrived there.
My brother said that the woman roamed the streets looking for newly arrived remains of falling warriors and would go into homes to see if her son had been sent there by error. She was always crying and her hair was totally white although she was not old, but that I should not be afraid of her. The only thing she wanted was to find her son. If ever she should confront me I should say I was not her son. But she was harmless. Some families who lost a member or members like a family near by who lost three sons, would only receive the personal belonging found near where the soldier had fallen. some bodies would be buried where they fell, but this woman would never believe her son was lost. Some families only received black wreaths and ribbons to announce to others that a warrior in that home had paid the ultimate price. These wreaths and ribbons were the dark reminder of the neighborhood where I grew up after I found my mother.
When it was day light enough, we walked to the other side of the alley from where I had entered last evening. A tiny store was already open for business and we did not have the required coupons to buy food. The owner of the store knew my brother and sold us a nickle worth of bologna and another nickle of cheese and crackers. We also bought a soda in those days named "Hippo size". It was the largest bottle of soda ever made, even today that is not a liter size cola. The Hippo size soda was famous for poor families as it served most kids and did not require making cool aid with sugar, which was rationed at the time like most other food.
Back at the house we walked to the backyard where my brother showed me where "La llorona" lived as she was known in the neighborhood. People could hear her crying softly inside of her home. The yards were very close to each other so it was very easy to even look into a home through a window. When I asked my brother why the woman was "la llorona" he told me the tale I used in the beginning of this diary. It was exactly the same tale of a mother losing a son. Both women as I have said, lost a son under different circumstances but both paid the same price.
The story of la llorona living in my mother`s back yard according to my brother and the one of many generations ago told to me by elders was totally different. Many people tell different versions and different reasons that resulted in the tale. As we sat on a piece of wood that served as a step to the door that my brother used to enter the room that morning, we ate the balony and cheese with crackers. We shared as I laughed at the size of the Hippo soda which I had not seen before. I noticed a large wooden box with a door having a handle for opening just in front of where we sat. He told me it was an ice-box. An iceman would drive by in the alley selling blocks of ice that could be used in the ice box to hold food from spoiling. The ice box had a compartment on top with a lid that opened so ice could be put inside. Very poor logic suggested that by placing ice in the top compartment, the ice box would generate enough cold temperatures to conserve food. It was outside because the ice melted and seeped on the floor inside. A laminated pan was placed under the ice box to catch the melted ice and when it was full, the water would be thrown away and the pan went back under the ice box...This was a fridge in those days. I never saw the brand though.
Our conversation turned to my mother. I wanted to know where she was. He did not want to say, only that I should not expect her around soon. Just then we saw "la llorona" standing inside of her house looking out of her window at us. She called out crying the name of her son. "Rafeal!!!, come here, Rafeal!!!" as she looked at my brother. My brother told me to just ignore her and not look at her. After a few minutes she was walking in front of my mother`s yard in the alley. She was yelling at the top of her lungs and wailing as in terrible pain. Some neighbors became concerned and went to console her but she refused and pushed them back and continued trying to go into a home where some were holding fast to a fallen family member.
We found out some time later that she was taken to a psychiatric ward where psychiatry tests on her determined that she was a danger to herself and others and was committed for dealing with disorders in her mind. It was said repeatedly by some neighbors that the woman could be heard at midnight wailing in pain just as la llorona who has cried for many generations in the legendary tale of the original llorona of this diary. If ever there was horror that I witnessed growing up in San Antonio during World War II, and during parts of the Great Depression, and the tale of the woman who lost her son at Pearl Harbor, this is the one. The horrific consequences of war perpetrated on this woman for a fault not of her own, but of the incompetence of a government who told her that her son would be brought home to her for buriel. It never happened and she lost her mind. May she now rest in peace and may she find her son.
As for my mother, she did come home. When she did, she carried a child in her arms into the empty house. That child was my "baby mom" of which I have wrote in more than one occasion such as in this link in this city I have the only person who loves me. My half-sister, who I lovingly refer to as my baby-mom. She was in fact my baby mom, she took care of me at times when I was faced with personal adversities and will be my baby mom until I die. She is all I have left now that my brother is gone.
I guess this only leaves the question I have in this diary. The question pertains to a women`s motherly instinct to protect a newborn child. The reason this enters my mind can be found in the jungles of the serengeti where the king of the jungle, the Lion kills a lioness newborn. The lioness fights to her death to protect her offspring. Why does the male not care?
To ask this question I took into consideration the man who impregnated the girl
and fled in the first story as told to me by elders. Why did he not care for his own offspring as the mother, who ultimately lost her mind -- just as the woman who lived behind my mothers house and lost a son during World War II? Perhaps some wise woman Kossack has an answer for me.
P.S. If you found time to read this diary. Please, Please I remind you. VOTE FOR
TOM BARRETT ON TUESDAY...THIS COMING TUESDAY. And again I apologize for
not posting this diary on Memorial Day as I wanted.
UPDATE: 7:30. A short time ago I received a call from Tom Barrett. He invited me
to be at a rally at 10:AM tomorrow where Bill Clinton will be present. If you got
the call be there..or be square. If you did not, get on the phone and find out.