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Gitana's Song - Woman on the Mountaintop Challenge
Woman on the Mountaintop
I am Gitana
I love to dance the stories. I am a bailora, It is a coming together for my family and community. We are gypsies. The Flamenco is a way to interpret the songs (cante jondo) of our people, and the songs tell stories of our ancestors who came to Spain long ago. Many of their stories are sad and very passionate. I do a lot of stomping in my dancing.
I would like to tell my story in dancing, but my story has no song. I stand here ready to dance my story but hear no music. I must find the words to tell you, so that my song will come out, and I can dance for you.
Will you play my song for me?
My Boy Alejandro
My story starts with the birth of my son. I guess this is really our story, not just mine, but before Alejandro, I was a girl. It was not until I became the mother of this beautiful boy that I was a woman. I met his father when my family went to do our dance for the Carnivale. This is something we do every year. We are poor, but the tourists pay big money to see our dance every year at Carnivale, so we go and dance to help our families get by.
My boy's father was young, not much older than me, the son of a wealthy and powerful businessman. We could not be together, because I am gypsy and he is high class, but he pursued me anyway. I did not pay him any attention, but this only made him more attracted to me. Our romance was short and fast, and I barely remembered him by the time I realized I was with child. By then I was back home in the mountains, so I was not able to tell him.
I was so happy with my baby boy. We played together and I took him with me all day while I worked. He was always smiling and happy, and never got sick. We became very close and I did not think I could ever be any happier.
A Powerful Man
When Alejandro was 5 years old, it was time to go dance at the Carnivale. He came with us, as did other children who were big enough to travel. I remember clearly the sounds of the streets and celebrations, the crisp air, the smell of cotton candy and the sound of people laughing, when I saw Alejandro's father. He saw us too. He knew instantly who my boy was. There was no denying it, because he had his same little dimples and wide eyes.
Alejandro's father had become part of his family business and was on his way to a powerful life. He was with his wife and a baby girl, who reminded me very much of Alejandro as a baby, and they seemed happy, But he was visibly haunted by Alejandro.
After our performance, his wealthy father took us aside and offered my family a great deal of money if we would let them take Alejandro home and raise him. He wanted a son to leave the business to, and his daughter in law was unable to bear any more children. I of course would have nothing to do with it and refused. But my family talked me into it, because times were very hard. I was told I could not see him again. They took him and I felt like something inside of me had died. I still remember his brave and unkowing smile as he happily walked away from us, his little hand in his grandfather's.
Casa de los Botines
A Better Place
Though I never got to see him, Alejandro's stepmother was very kind and took pity on me. She sent me letters and photographs, and kept me up to date on what was happening in his life. He looked good, healthy, and she told me he was very smart in school. Still, I knew I saw something in his sad eyes. I wondered what they told him about me. What must he think of his mother who loved him so much and left him with these strangers!
I oould only reassure myself that he was in a better place, and that I had given him a better life. I was never convinced, however, that I did the right thing. I beat at my heart every night.
The money Alejandro's grandfather gave us was enough for us to open a small restaurant. My mother and her sister were known in our community for their good cooking. We had to move into town from our little village, and life became much busier for us.
Although the family still took the trip to Carnivale every year, I never went. I was afraid to be in the same city with my boy, knowing I could not see him. I lost my heart for dancing anyway. I did not dance the Flamenco one time after Alejandro left us.
Even though life was better for my family, I was always unhappy. I could never find the joy I had when I was with my little boy. I tried to meet other people, and eventually did marry. He is a good man and I love him, but he would see my unhappiness and feel very sad for me.
How Would You Like the Story to End?
Dancers in the Street
Finally this past year, we had been without Alejandro for six years. I had missed so much of his life. My husband convinced me to come with the family to Carnivale and we would just try to get a peek at him.
We were saving money and hoping we might offer his family something back if they would just let me talk to him and tell him how much I love him and miss him.
The Carnivale came and went, and we asked around about him, but we never saw him. I knew his address, and we did go there, but the guards at the gate would not let us in. I put my head into my husband's arms and cried.
Through my tears, I heard a car pull up . Alejandro's father rode up in his fancy car and saw us standing at the gate. He recognized me and asked me what we wanted. I told him I had not had one single night's rest since I let him take our son, and that I did not think I could go on without at least getting to see Alejandro some.
He was very gracious and told me his wife had discussed this with him. They had already decided that if I were to show up, I would be offered a place in their home and we could become part of their household.
My husband agreed, and took a job in the big city, while I was allowed to serve in the home. Alejandro and I were together again. I have gotten to know is little sister and have grown very close to her as well. We all go out to our home village with the dancers every year after they come up for Carnivale, and live with his Papa the rest of the time. Alejandro is 12 now, and is growing so fast! He seems to understand why I left him, and has great love for his Papa as well as me.
And now, I think I am hearing some music.
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