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更新时间:2018-5-18 20:30:49 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

“At the age of 11, I started working for the very first time as a cleaning lady with my grandparents.”

The way the light shined on her skin as she sewed the quilt emphasized the details of every wrinkle, burn and cut. While she completed the overcast stitch, the thimble on her index finger protected her from the needle pokes. She wore rings on every finger of her right hand, but on her left she only wore her wedding ring. The rings drew the attention away from her age and scars to her cherished possessions.


My grandmother’s rings had not only been stolen by her son, my father, but she was constantly in the state of fear that he would steal from her once again. When my father was incarcerated, she wore her rings every day of the week; however, when he was home, her hands were bare. As it became increasingly common over time, she learned to hide her treasures in a jewelry box under her bed.


As a small child, I watched my grandmother’s hands move in an inward and outward motion, noticing her rhythm. This rhythm was like the cha-cha music I heard every Sunday when I went with her to the pulga, the flea market. Every week, she bargained on the vendor’s products and brought home “unnecessary necessities”; luckily, some weeks it just happened to be thread and new sewing outlines. As my grandma sewed my outfits for school, I was always trying to complete the outline of La Rosa de Guadalupe just so I could impress her. I would sing along to her favorite Prince Royce songs, use the same color of thread as her and try to go at the same cha-cha.

小时候,我观察过奶奶的手向内、向外来回不断的动作,注意到她的节奏。这种节奏就像每个星期日我和她一起去逛跳蚤市场时听到的恰恰舞音乐。每星期,她都对卖主的产品讨价还价,把“不需要的必需品”带回家;幸运的是,有些星期买来的东西碰巧是线和新的衣服样子。当奶奶给我缝上学穿的衣服时,我总是在试图按照电视剧La Rosa de Guadalupe里的衣服样子缝件什么,我那是做给她看的。我会边听边唱她最喜欢的罗西王子(Prince Royce)歌曲,用与她用的颜色一样的线,并试着用同样的恰恰舞节奏。

With my father incarcerated, the women in my family went to work. At the age of 11, I started working for the very first time as a cleaning lady with my grandparents. Even though I wanted to help my family, I was ashamed to be a cleaning lady. I argued with my mother against living a life like that, a life in which I gave up my childhood for my family’s stability. After being called “malagradecida” — ungrateful — several times, my grandmother reacquainted me with the idea that “todas las cosas buenas vienen a los que esperan” — all good things come to those who wait. Sewing was no longer a hobby, but a necessity, when it came to making my own apron, seaming together rags and pushing for a better future for my family. My grandmother, too, had to put down her quilt and go to work, but she never complained.


In recent years, my grandmother has become increasingly ill, so I took her unfinished quilt to my home, planning to complete it. My grandmother did not choose to leave this project unfinished; her age and constant contribution to her family through work did not allow her to. Often, obstacles have not only redesigned my course, but have changed my perspective and allowed for me to see greater and better things present within my life. The progression of each patch depicts the instability present within my family. However, when you put all these patches together as one, you have a quilt with several seams and reinforcements keeping it together to depict the obstacles we have faced and have overcome to show resilience.


Now, when she visits our home, as she reaches for her glasses and pushes her walker away from the table, my grandmother asks me to bring her the quilt. The jeweled hands that were once accustomed to constant stitching are now bare, and the scars are hidden under every wrinkle. With a strong grip on the quilt, my grandmother signals me to get her sewing basket that sits in the corner collecting dust. She runs her hands over the patches one last time and finds an unfinished seam. She smiles and says, “Cerrar la costura y hacer una colcha de su propio” — close the seam and make a quilt of your own.