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Ancestral Ties

My paternal grandmother has been ill for a few years, and lately, she’s been longing to return to the town she was born and raised in. She says she wants to feel rooted again. She and I were born and raised in the same state of Puebla but one city away from each other. The feeling of bliss I feel when I reminisce transforms into lovely words when described by grandmother. When I think of my hometown of Chietla in Puebla Mexico, I think of the sweet smell in the afternoon air before the last ring of the town's church bells. The city sits almost 3,700 feet above sea level and the evening breeze is brisk and blissful as it caresses you, almost as if you've earned its honor. While growing up there, the streets buzzed in the moonlight as people walked around on the unpaved roads, greeting each other with wishes of a pleasant evening. We both deeply miss the utter, humble simplicity of the life that we once had in our neighboring towns.

We both haven’t been to our home state in decades. Our family left both my grandmother’s town and mine. Some family members have died, and others have moved to other cities. The nostalgia is stronger when we look at old pictures, and we realize that while we miss our towns, we yearn for our ancestral roots the most. My grandmother has lived a long life, and while its beginnings were incredibly humble, she wishes life would return to its simplicity.

Puebla continues to be an extraordinary place that our hearts long for, and we have roots in, but I’ve just realized that we romanticize the idea of the past. In reality, we don’t have a family to return to, and life would be so much different in our amazing state. Nevertheless, the gratitude for our deep rooted culture and our town is what created such a mighty and flourishing foundation that grows roots wherever we go.

Every place we’ve lived has grown in our hearts, and we’ve rooted pieces of ourselves there, so while I love reminiscing of our hometowns with my grandmother, I realize that our traditions from our ancestors renew and invigorate our souls, but we have to take part in them. The dances and rituals during yearly festivities are what unite us to the land, and we’re lucky enough to live in Los Angeles, where celebrations are part of the landscape, but we don’t always make time to join in. If my grandma weren’t so ill, I would take her to visit her hometown one last time, but she’s too fragile to travel. And since I can't take her home, I did, however, promised to get her to festivities this year so that she can renew her ties to the ancestral land and traditions she lovingly yearns for.

In hope, I am fearless.

-Fabiola


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