My black-and-white picture shows a maybe 13-year-old boy of Latino American or southern-European features in profile, only his head and his shoulders. He looks sternly down and wears an ornamental kind of shirt. I imagined a Mexican boy in Mexico City who thinks:
Why are they staring at me like this? I don't want to play conquistador here at the Zócalo. It is so hot in this big costume. But I had to find a new job, I did not sell enough money on the metro. Pedro, the distributor, didn't want to give me more CDs because I didn't sell them. I am just not the guy to talk to all the people. I am sure, the foreigners watching our costume play do not know what this battle was about. They laugh and they have so much money. First, I thought, this must be better than to sell the same CDs everyday in the metro. My feet hurt so much after running around for 11 hours every day. And I could not stand listening to the music anymore. The singers, they tell of true love and the pain of being left. Do they know about the real problems, about the real world?
Mother cannot work since 5 months now. She is laying in bed all the time, father cries and sometimes, at the weekend, he drinks mezcal. He never did that before. We five pray everyday that my mother is getting better. We work hard, everday, for the money for her medication, even Lupita and she cannot even read. I never did anything bad, and mother became so sick.
Her skin shows dark spots, we kids were not supposed to see it, but I saw it, when father left the door open to bring her new sheets. Why can't I be one of those blonde, happy foreigners with pockets full of pesos? Pendejos. Gringos. They laugh and lay on the beach, drinking cervezas. What did my family do wrong, why did mother get so sick? Does god really care about our prayers everynight? Everyday, I do this show four times beside the Catedrál metropolitana. And still mother is worse and worse.
But maybe I am not the problem. Maybe one of the others did something wrong. Maybe father punched someone, when he was drunk. I heard people do that in the bar, in the "Esquina". And I don't know about the others, we have different jobs now. Manuelito, Lupita and Conrado. Maybe Conrado stole some food in the mercado? But, oh god, he is just always so hungry. He didn't mean to. Oh, Ricardo waves, I have to get back into our formation. Man, I hope mamá will get better. This is the last play we do today - and the first thing I want to do at home is to put my feet into icecold water . . .