La Seño (My Grandmother)
by Nadia Ivanova, La Zacamil
My memories of El Salvador are broken and fuzzy blurs. Somehow, though, they still feel so close to me. My experiences before I moved to Canada define me in ways I’m unsure how to articulate.
There are so many stories I could tell you, so many small antidotes of love and happiness. Because the memories I have of El Salvador are related to a child’s land, it’s my Narnia.
I could tell you about:
- countless afternoons spent running around La Zacamil, long before the maras overran it
- climbing the lemon tree in my Seño’s (grandmother’s) backyard
- looking over the wall at the entire colonia
- climbing up onto the roofs of the buildings
- running away from boys garnishing snake carcasses
- secretly eating golosinas in the stairwells of the buildings
- how the smell of wet cement is the best smell because it reminds me of those stairwells.
- how much I miss relámpagos from Mr. Donut
- how more delicious the mango sold by ladies in the street, outside my school, was than the ones sold at the school store.
I think it’s hard for you, reader, to get why El Salvador hurts in the sweetest way inside me.
I remember being in my early 20s when the first Starbucks opened where I live, the suburbs of Toronto. Where I live, the main coffee shops knowns are either Coffee Time or Tim Horton’s.
One dark and rainy day, my two besties and I were seated at a wooden table in the back corner of this newly opened Starbucks. I ordered a latte. At that time they still served them in ceramic mugs. I buried my face in the steaming mug and the strangest thing happened: I was instantly transported to El Salvador as if I was actually there.
It was an evening and my brother and I were seated on my Seño’s dining table. The air was cool and I think we had just finished dinner. My brother and I had having leche con café. Hot milk, boiled with vanilla and a little bit of café listo that was added for colour. I saw my Seño’s smile. It was wide and easy, it crinkled her eyes. It was the smallest flash of a memory, like a small GIF of happiness.
It lasted an instant but it flooded my whole system with a warmth and happiness I haven’t known since we left El Salvador behind.