Brothers

“Last night I dreamed of your brother,” my old man told me. ―I saw him pass by the front of the house towards the church, he was well dressed; I called him, he turned around, greeted me and told me to give him some money; at that moment, I woke up… Where will my son be? How will he be…?

He was moved, as he is always when he talks about the youngest of us; his voice, tired by the weight of the years, sounded fragile and you could see the effort he made for not to cry.

The truth is, I didn’t know what to say, I’ve never been able to find the right words to have that kind of conversation with my dad. I can’t imagine the amount of feelings and fears that assail his heart whenever he remembers the prodigal son and evading or changing the subject is the only thing I can think of to do.

Without eagerness he got up from his chair, I saw him secretly wipe a tear that was trying to emerge and what he said while he said goodbye, transported me to a scene from childhood, which did not leave my head throughout that day.

Perhaps it was the year nineteen hundred and seventy-four; they were not easy days for the family, but I remember them very fondly.

We were going through the first financial crisis because of the loss of a rice crop. My father came from a string of very successful harvests and that year he decided to double the number of hectares of crops. That meant more investment, more work, more hope and more risks.

The cultivation went well until the cutoff time arrived, then the sky opened wide, the rain drowned all the hopes, the friends, almost all, disappeared and the difficulties, on the other hand, made their appearance on the scene.

One of the few friends that the debacle did not take away from my father convinced him that, in the patio of our house, there were treasures hidden by the pre-Columbian natives; I was sitting next to him listening to the conversation and I never imagined that my dad, a pure rationalist, could believe such a story.

To my surprise, the next morning he had us all, the four brothers and my mother, armed with pick and shovel like a squad of archaeologists.

He was precisely following the instructions that his friend had indicated the night before.

They were seven probable points where the morrocotas (large antique gold or silver coins) and the golden earrings that would bring us out of bankruptcy could be found. The location, the seer friend, determined it using an unorthodox method: a pair of scissors suspended by a rope to which he tied; the scissors turned and every time it stopped, he said with a transcendental countenance, it was an unequivocal sign that the valuable jewels rested in that place.

The excavations began in a corner and in a few hours had spread throughout the courtyard. There were seven probable points, but the coveted treasure was found in none, so the chief ordered five more to be opened without any result; we were hungry, tired, dirty, hopeless and the yard as if a bomb had dropped; At the end of the day, so as not to cry, the six of us burst into a laughter that, to this day, echoes in my memories.

We were a united, solid family. My two younger brothers and I shared the same room, toys and even clothes. My little sister was a spoiled and delicate princess who always ran after us.

They taught us to live happy with what we had, to respect and support each other. My parents never spared any effort in our upbringing and instilled in us the value of family as the most precious gift a person could have.

Disenchanted by the treasure that could not be found, my father, who has always been stoic in difficulties and great in adversity, returned to his rice fields; he was not daunted by the failure of the previous season and as a team with my mother, he returned to the fields, this time with better results.

To compensate us for the sufferings of that year, on vacation he gave us a trip to Bogotá, to visit our maternal grandparents. We made the journey by train, back and forth. It was the last year that trains carried passengers in Colombia.

The trip was amazing. My two brothers and I shared two seats, my mother was carrying my sister in her arms. The varied geography and climate of our country gave a happy note to our tour that lasted about four days.

I suppose, for reasons of economy, my mother brought a carry-on bag loaded with food, fruits and juices. We rarely visited the dining car, but we didn’t need anything to eat during the trip. We slept reclining to each other when tiredness overcame us, although we were almost always glued to the window looking at the landscape. When we arrived in the cold-climate lands, Doña Ruth took from her briefcase a woolen sack for each of us, which she wove herself.

The stay in Bogotá was not as impressive as the almost eight days on the train.

Upon our return, we did not stop talking over and over about that trip. We returned to the family routine, but those and many other memories with my siblings, have remained forever etched in my heart.

We burst into adolescence united, loving and subject to our parents. We were a simple and happy family; my dad, who is fond of culinary, always surprised us with a new dish, my mom rigorously took care that we were always well dressed and observed good manners.

Every Friday, our parents listened to music and danced in the living room of the house and we sat around them anxiously waiting to sit down to table, that day dinner was special. On Saturdays, we watched television lying in my parents’ bed and on Sundays, unfailingly, we attended church.

Almost without realizing it, our third brother, the son of my parents’ heart, went away along strange and painful paths. The brutality with which the drug trap struck him changed his life forever and ours. For more than forty years, all of us, especially our parents, have suffered infinite grief and have never lost hope of seeing him return to the fold.

My brothers mean a lot to me. They have been my true friends of life, the ones who have been through the good and the bad times. We have been supportive of each other, like when we were children. My sister, who is the youngest, is like another mother, always present, caring, supporting. My second brother has been a decisive support in everything I do, few people believe in me as much as he does. He is one of the great responsible that I have made the decision to dedicate myself to literature: he is my editor and he is a genius.

Although each one of us has taken their own path, we talk every day, we have given the family formed by Don Jorge and Doña Ruth, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, for now; We live in distant cities, but we try at least every end of the year to meet at the paternal home, it is a special time for us, although we always miss the brother who is not there and his absence is a shadow that blurs the joy of the family.

Every end of the year, after the hugs and congratulations, you can see in the faces of my parents the sadness that causes them not to have all their children around the table. I sense that the hope of seeing him arrive invades them; they look at the front door of the house every minute, while they hide with a smile the storm that shakes their insides infamously.

“I wish that dream means that he is coming to visit us”.

“This end of the year I would like all my children to be together as when they were little,” he said and he left my house pedaling his bicycle without eagerness; I saw him disappear down the street and it hurt me to think of the anguish he was carrying.

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