Her name is Esther, but I call her Mama. She is my grandmother and I want to wish her a happy 80th birthday. For several reasons, I cannot be with her on her special day but I want to let her know that I love her a lot, more than she can imagine.
"Muñequita linda" a lullaby my granny used to sign me and still signs to my children
She is always present in my first memories from childhood; playing with me and my dolls, or caressing me to sleep while she sang me a lullaby. Her sweet voice singing about a beautiful doll with golden hair and ruby-red lips. Even now, every time I hear "Muñequita Linda" melancholy and a sense of security pervade me. We live in different continents but somehow we have always shared a connection and she always knows how I am even before she talks to me. I used to call her Tenten when I was a child, and that is how my children call her.
She is not perfect, she is no angel. Like everybody else she has her share of sins and bad traits. But she is my grandma and I love her the way she is. And she is a survivor: A survivor of an oppressive society, of an unhappy marriage, and even of earthquakes, car accidents, tsunamis, dictatorships and terrorism. But even though she is a tough lady ‘bullet-proof', she is full of happiness and love.
A bit of history
She was born in Peru during a dictatorship that lasted for almost 20 years, until 1945 when Peru had the first free elections in decades. Unfortunately, democracy didn't last long and three years later, Peru was having another dictator in power. Several presidents and dictators followed and the Peruvians had to accommodate themselves to living in times of political crisis where it was not rare to see trucks passing by loaded with dead bodies. Despite political instability, my granny always celebrated her birthday with big parties that lasted several days coinciding with the carnival celebrations. And if the city had a curfew, they just shut the doors and windows and went on dancing all night inside.
During the 1980s Peru endured the Shining Path terrorists. But my grandma, like most Peruvians, just continued their lives without fear, without thinking twice about car-bombs or electricity cuts in the city. She always had a lantern and candles in her handbag, although my brothers and me were not interested in that but on the candies and chocolates that she always had in storage in that bottomless handbag that carried everything, including of course, her first aid kit. About 69,000 people were killed during the 1980-2000 wars between rebel groups and the government. The killings were carried out by the rebels (54%) as well as the military (30%). But in the 1990 elections Alberto Fujimori won the presidential elections and in April 1992, he dissolved Congress, suspended the constitution, and imposed censorship. By September, most of Shining Path had been vanquished.
But Peru has not only suffered from political instability. Our soil and sea are also very unstable. In October 1966 a tsunami affected a coastal belt of 400 Km. long causing destruction along the Peruvian coast. The biggest waves at Callao, where my granny used to live, ranged around 3 to 4 metres. high. Her home was a few metres away from the inundated area. Once again, she had survived!
Peru and my grandma have also seen their share of earthquakes. To my granny's despair, when she went back to visit Peru on 2007, after several years living in America, her visit coincided with the August 2007 earthquake that hit the central coast of Peru. The earthquake measured 8 degrees on the Richter scale and lasted for about 2 minutes. Thankfully for my grandma it was only a fright, but the earthquake killed more than 400 people.
Happy Birthday Tenten
My grandma has been through all the above, and much more. But she has always kept a cheery spirit that makes her look and appear younger. Today, she will be dancing, celebrating her birthday in a big party given by her friends and family. All I want to say to her is «Si te quiero mucho, mucho mucho mucho tanto como entonces siempre hasta morir»
Happy birthday Tenten
Las Mañanitas para la abuelita con amor
"Elle" A French song for a mother
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My grandmother aged 25
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