had a shoebox in my hands. All I remember about was its insides, its texture,
and its color. But what was stronger for me was its smell. It was sour.
It smelled like a new box.
Only the shoebox was mine. There were no shoes.
I carried this box all the time with me. The box was mostly empty and that is why you carry a shoebox all the time with you. The joy of carrying a shoebox is the possibility of finding something to fill it.
First I found a mango. The mango was green and round and also smelled strong.
The mango was big, but inside the shoebox it was not. I could close the box with its lid and move the box slowly, trying to figure out the movements of the mango inside. I could feel the mango moving right and moving left.
Once I saw a heart. This heart was almost the size of my mango. Mom had bought a pig’s heart to cook and it looked so much like my mango. My mango was green and had a firm skin. The heart not, it was red and soft.
I would walk all day with my shoebox. My box was big and I had to embrace it, holding it with my two arms.
Walking around, everybody asked me what I had inside and I said it was a mango. They asked me: When are you going to eat it? And I said: I won’t.
The days passed and I asked myself: What am I carrying? The mango.
When I held the mango, it looked so big in my hands. Is it ripe? Is it right?
I decided to bite only a little piece of the skin, only to see what was inside.
I bit and it was yellow inside my mango. It was a bright yellow. It smelled sweeter inside. I bit a little bit more, only to see how hard it was. The flesh was firm, but the kind that doesn’t offer any resistance against your teeth. It was yellow, it was tender, it was sweet and ripe.
I bit a little bit more and it was really sweet. I bit a little bit more and it was sweeter. I bit a little bit more and it was hard. I had found a seed. I bit again and now all I had was half of a mango. Half green, half yellow. Half skin, half flesh. And now? It’s better to eat everything. And now? The box is empty. And now?
My house was surrounded by walls. They are as old as this house, Dad said. Dad told me that one day he called his friends and they built a wall all around the house. They worked hard for many days, but they built a strong wall.
The walls now are old and tall. They are painted with a washed yellow color. The wall is covered with fungus. Green, blue, gray fungus growing from the bottom to the top of the wall.
They try to clean the walls with water and soap, but the fungus always comes back.
Behind the wall lives Mr. Vincent. They call him Mr.Vincent, the German. He is an old man married to an old wife. Mr. Vincent the German fixes rifles. Sometimes in the middle of the afternoon, when everything is quiet and still, we hear a shot.
It was Mr. Vincent, the German. He was working shooting the sky.
I came to his house and called him: Mr. Vincent! Mr. Vincent! Can I have some little fish?
He came to open the door for me with his two scampering dogs. The dogs were excited to see who was coming. They barked, jumped on my legs, and licked my feet, followed me on my way to the tank.
My shoebox was not made to carry water; so in order to get the fish I had a mayonnaise jar.
My mayonnaise jar was my tank and I filled it with tiny brown fish. They looked more like moving pieces of dust. They were really tiny; they were like a tail with two eyes. Mr. Vincent also had bigger fish in his tank, but they were hard to catch. They were smart. But sometimes I was smarter and I would get some big fish.
The big fish were the first to die. They jumped out of the jar and when I found them on the floor they were already dry and dead, sometimes half eaten by the ants.
The little fish didn’t jump like the big ones. The little fish swam from one side to the other. The little fish looked like they were smiling all the time, because of their big eyes that when seen through the jar seemed to be even bigger.
Carrying the jar is not like carrying the box. The jar can fall, the jar can break, the jar can hurt.
My little fish were brown, but some of them, if you looked closer, had tiny colorful spots. To see the spots I needed light. With all the care I could have, I walked all around the house with my jar, looking for light.
And then it happened. The jar slipped from my hands and fell to the floor.
Tum… Pieces of glass, water, and jumping little fish on the floor. Oh God, what did I do?
In my rush to save my little fish, I didn’t feel the sharp glass in my hands. In my rush to save my little fish, I didn’t notice that a piece of glass wasn’t my little fish. In my rush to save my little fish I had my hands wet with blood. Little fish can not swim in hot blood. Little fish die if they are not in the water.
Oh God! What did I do?
Little fish die one by one.
Mom cleaned my hands. They were burning. A long cut on both palms. Mom cleaned them and put iodine on them. My hands were in flame. Mom kept blowing my hands and the heat came down, down, and down.
Mom made me a bandage with pieces of cloth. The cloth was colorful, one with stripes and another one with balls.
I felt good with my bandages. They were like a costume for me and they made me feel that having your hands hurt was not that bad.
I came back to Mr. Vincent’s house with a new jar to ask him for some more fish. As always he gave me a large toothless smile and took me to the backyard. The two dogs came with me, jumping, licking my feet and swinging their tails.
The dogs jumped, the dogs licked, the dogs ran. Mr. Vincent, the German asked me what happened to my hands and before I could say anything he said I would be fine because Jesus also had his hands hurt but Jesus suffered a lot more.
Mr. Vincent started talking about Jesus with his eyes closed, thinking.
Jesus he said was killed in the name of the love he had for us. Jesus suffered so much. Only God could help him. One day he came to Jesus and took him to heaven. Jesus was God’s best son. Can you see? Your wounds are nothing when we think about Jesus.
He smiled and took me to his fish tank.
I went back home with my jar filled with little fish. They were still alive, but soon they would die, one by one. Little fish when they die, they don’t go to heaven, they go to the bottom of the jar and there they stay.
Fish can die without wounds and Jesus went to heaven only because of his. You have to carry wounds to go to heaven. All of them will stay in your body until you go to heaven.
Coming home I had a surprise. There was a goldfish in a bowl and Mom said it was for me. The goldfish made me forget the brown ones.
Mom told me that she found the fish at the fish market and brought it home for me.
My goldfish was orange almost red. It had a long tail and long fins. My goldfish was quiet and sad. When my goldfish swam, it did it with its belly turned to the surface of the water. My goldfish didn’t feel good. He also had some strange dark spots on his belly and some white ones on his head and his eyes were always looking down.
Mom said she thought he was dying and that’s why she brought it home, so I could take care of him.
Fish, are you dying?
Did you swim a lot?
Did you rest?
The fish was tired and he became quieter and quieter. The fish was dying, he stayed dying all day long. At night he was still dying. Early in the morning the fish was already dead. My goldfish was in the bottom of the jar with his belly turned towards the surface of the water. My goldfish was there. He also didn’t go to heaven.
Where are my fishes?
I had forgotten my little brown fishes somewhere and when I found them they were all dead. Little fish die one by one.
Then Mom came out of kitchen with a huge fish. It was so big that Mom decided to make a party.
The fish was covered with silver scales. It also had orange tail and orange fins. The fish had a big mouth with long thin and sharp teeth.
The fish came home already dead. Its belly had a long cut and it didn’t have anything inside.
I like fish so much that I really don’t care if they are dead. I thought that I could put it in a large bowl filled with water and it would be a great fish.
But Mom cut the fish in pieces and made a big stew with tomatoes, peppers and green spices. The fish became white pieces of meat floating in orange sauce.
The fish smelled tasty and the house filled with friends of the family.
The faces eating the fish had joy in them. Everybody was smiling with their mouth full. Eating fish is something that you also have to do quietly. Fish has bones and you cannot swallow them. A quiet joy. A contained joy.
To eat a fish you have to put it inside your mouth and you have to wait for it to melt, chewing slowly and quietly. Then you start to find the bones.
The bones can be long or short, thin and sharp. You take one bone and another one. Only when you get all of them, you can swallow the fish.
The fish flesh was made to melt in your mouth, not to be chewed.
I ate my fish and I got all the bones I found.
I ate my fish, I let the sauce to dissolve in my mouth, and I let the flesh be swallowed. I ate my fish sitting at the gray bench, silently flapping my sandals against my feet.
Flap, flap, flap…
My sandals flapped like a tail of a fish that can not swim anymore.
Flap, flap, flap…
It was sweet the noise coming out of my feet. The fish on my feet had shining silver scales and golden tail. The fish flapped his tail on my feet.
Flap, flap, flap…
I opened my eyes and people around me were quietly chewing their fish. From their mouths white thin bones were coming out.
In my head I have the sound of a river that runs quietly and ceaseless. At the shore of this river, where the water is shallower and warmer, I see myself swimming. I have silver scales and golden fins and I flop my tail in the water.
Flap, flap, flap…
I flop my tails once more, flap, flap, flap… and I swim down on the river. I slide smoothly through the water.
Fish don’t have to breathe and so they can go deeper and deeper. Fish can live because they swallow the water. If fish stop swallowing the water they die.
Oh fish! Oh fish! What am I doing?
Now I am not the fish anymore, I am the water. Green, deep and cold, filled with algae and movement. Water is made of beyonds. Beyond the surface, beyond the rocks, beyond the water.
Oh God! Oh God! What am I doing?
At the river I am sitting at the shore, my feet on the water where it is shallower and warmer. The water is quiet here. Little fish start coming to swim around my feet. Some more come and they start biting my toes. They bite and run away and come back biting again. The fish have little mouths and little teeth. They come and bite and run away. They come and bite. Many come and bite.
They bite and say: I love you.
They bite. I love you.