El Salvador Connection by Martin Zaldivar

In our current class, I asked if anyone had a strong connection to El Salvador. Martin Zaldivar shared the following, and he gave me permission to post it. El Salvador is the home to half my family (father’s side). My grandmother spends most of her days in her dwelling, close to the noisy capital. She dozes on and off in the early mornings beneath a roof of corrugated metal, over a concrete floor laid by my deceased grandfather, and between walls which don’t do enough to muffle the sound of cats yowling their prowess or their other, undoubtedly sordid affairs. I have a cousin who is young enough to believe that running from the sounds of gunshots is completely normal, and an uncle who daydreams, incessantly and unreasonably- reasonably. My father spoke to my siblings and myself about the friends he lost during the Salvadoran civil war. He hid a book in his room which I found as a child on the civil war, which contained enough misery and anguish to open my eyes to the kind of truths which are hidden just under white lies. I was named after my grandmother’s murdered brother. I dream about El Salvador. Such dreams usually involve running through jungles from an enemy too powerful to fathom, or surveying a battlefield from the front line with some kind of weapon in my hand. In my dreams there is usually strewn rubble on all sides, a cheerful sun, and a sense of imminent death. I know that my beloved waits for me, and that in the moment I cannot think of her. In my heart I carry an image of Oscar Romero. If I could speak to him, I would ask him if I am doing enough, in the right way. I would ask him what I should do with all of the rage and sadness I feel when I think of El Salvador, the plight of the poor, and of my own imperfections. I’d at least buy him a coffee. I’d at least tell him that I have more work to do, Padrecito. No hemos olvidado. Lots of people that I esteem know about El Salvador, and have gone there to work or to bear witness. They give me strength, and when I tell my family that there are people who care, that there are people who fight with them, I can feel their hearts open. I wish to return one day to El Salvador and have a place for people to heal, somehow.

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