The Mother, the Son, and the Holy Spirit

Hello Mr. Magazine - - NEWS - Text by Dany Sal­vatierra Il­lus­tra­tions by Jorge Me­d­ina

There is no one to greet me at the air­port. I drag my bro­ken suit­case through the in­ter­na­tional ar­rivals area and exit the ter­mi­nal, still buried be­neath my gi­gan­tic coat. The Florida cli­mate struck me as if I had been thrown into Satan’s bath­house, forc­ing me to strip my outer cloth­ing, the re­mains of a South Amer­i­can win­ter I’d left be­hind. The other ex­it­ing pas­sen­gers glare at me in si­lence, wait­ing for me to pull some­thing out of my bag, pos­si­bly a bomb.

My head is pound­ing from the seven-hour flight from Lima and the ex­ten­sive cus­toms in­spec­tion. As the of­fi­cer stuffs his gloved hands in­side a pair of packed shoes, he asks what I do for a liv­ing. In­stead of men­tion­ing my usual day job, I re­ply that I am a writer to avoid the likely salary ques­tions as ad­vised by friends that had gone through the same or­deal.

Two hours later, fol­low­ing the com­muter train ride, the lo­cal Metro­rail, and two ad­di­tional buses, I fi­nally set foot at the cor­ner of her apart­ment build­ing. She lives in a pre­dom­i­nantly Latino, res­i­den­tial area on the far sub­urbs south of Miami. The fe­male busy­bod­ies glue their faces to the win­dows, ex­am­in­ing the bearded mucha­chito traips­ing through their park­ing lot with his wet hair plas­tered against his face, con­sumed by the early July hu­mid­ity. I try to mem­o­rize their faces and even wave in case I’m to run into them later, only be­cause my mother, who knows ev­ery sin­gle fam­ily in the build­ing, has al­ready told them about me.

Her door is dec­o­rated with the King Je­sus In­ter­na­tional Min­istry of­fi­cial sticker, fea­tur­ing a ban­ner that reads: Este es un hogar cris­tiano. Af­ter three knocks, she fi­nally opens the door, her bi­fo­cals bal­anced over her chest, at­tached to a sil­ver chain, fresh from a re­cent bible read­ing. She smiles po­litely but not warmly. Or not as warmly as I would hope given my re­cent odyssey. I can see a slight smirk in­di­cat­ing she’s al­ready start­ing to re­gret my visit. “Hola hijo,” she says. Not hi­jito, not mi amor, not even mi vida. “Hola mamá,” I say. Not mami, not mamita, not even ma’. She holds the door open, dis­play­ing her bright red and per­fectly man­i­cured nails. I pause for a mo­ment be­fore tak­ing the ini­tia­tive and give her a small kiss on the cheek. She smiles again po­litely and steps aside to let me in.

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