Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Reunion (11)

"Tap, tap, tap", Maria del Carmen knocks on Mauricia's bedroom door. "Tap, tap, tap", sighs Maria del Carmen, "Open the door, I know you have been crying again, don't hide." As Maria del Carmen looks away the door creaks open. "I did not want to go to breakfast with a puffy face" said Mauricia. Maria del Carmen maneuvers Mauricia's chin upward to get a good look at her face. Mauricia's eyes are bloodshot. "Tia Calmen!" Teresa shouts with open arms. Ma. del Carmen picks up Teresa and kisses her on the cheek and carries her. "What have I told you about remembering the past, Mauricia? The past hurts, especially thinking about Francisco. You know he is married, who knows he's probably dead, and your still not over him?" Mauricia walks towards her bed and Ma. del Carmen follows her into her room, "Ma. del Carmen, you don't understand, he was my support. No matter what I did to get rid of him, he withstood my childish acts and insults. Francisco is the only man that knows the real me, not the labeled, single woman with no past, money or family. He never judged me for the things I went through, he loved me for me, and yet I let him come into my closed up world and he let me in his with open arms. My heart tells me not to forget Francisco again. For some reason our lives kept crossing paths and now in my dreams I am lost and hear his voice." "Sister", Ma. del Carmen strokes Mauricia's hair, "it's only a dream, don't keep up hope, as you and I know he is a lost cause. Let's get you ready, we cannot be late for today's reunion this afternoon."

The last time Mauricia and Teresa wore new clothes was at Maria Guadalupe's wedding, two months after Carlos rode into town. The wedding was a sight to see. The plaza was completely decorated with white flowers and the church was full of white flowers and laced ribbon tied into bows. Ma. Guadalupe rode into the plaza in a carriage. Carmela wanted a traditional wedding from the beginning to the end. Carmela almost killed Ma. Guadalupe as she had gained weight and the dress that was shipped from Mexico City fit too tight. Mauricia could not help but laugh remembering Carmela ordering Ma. Guadalupe to be on a liquid diet for three weeks. Mauricia and Teresa enjoyed themselves as Ma. del Carmen did not leave their side and she felt secure. Today was a special occasion as well, Don Leopoldo ordered a family reunion ceremony and dinner. Mauricia did not know what a family reunion ceremony involved but she knew it must be special if everyone was directed to wear their best attire.

While everyone meets at the patio, Carmela strolls by and asked Don Leopoldo, "How long will this reunion be? Do I have time to go to Antonietta's house tonight? She is having a gathering and I cannot miss what everyone is going to wear, supposedly Antonietta shipped her dress from Mexico City and I am dying to see what that wench bought. They probably did not have enough material for her." Don Leopoldo sternly looks at Carmela and said, "Carmela! You will have time for what you need to do, do not ruin this moment with your nasty comments!" Carmela rolls her eyes and walks towards the front door. Don Leopoldo excuses Carmela with Mauricia and picks up Teresa as they make their way to the front of the house. Andres and Miguel look very handsome in their suits as Ma. del Carmen and Mauricia both wear their new striped matching dresses they wore at the wedding. Don Leopoldo bought Teresa a light pink dress with ruffles on the bottom, a white bow for her hair, and white patent leather shoes.

Don Leopoldo stops two cabs as he, Carmela and Andres travel in one, and Miguel rides in the other with the ladies and Teresa. Mauricia whispers to Ma. del Carmen, "Where are we going? What is this family reunion about?" Ma. del Carmen giggled and said, "First, father has some business to tend to at the Municipio, then we'll make our way to the restaurant, any more questions?" Mauricia nudges Ma. del Carmen and she nudges her back as Teresa is slapping the back window of the taxi.

The cab driver jerks them back and forth and side to side until they arrive at the municipio. The family get out of both cab's and Don Leopoldo orders everyone to follow him. "Let's hurry before they close, I have some important business to complete before we eat. Licensiado Tomas is waiting for me." Mauricia is wondering, "Why is Licensiado Tomas waiting for father? what legal matter does he have pending?" Everybody is panting as they make their way up the front stairs of the municipio and once inside they had to walk up another flight of stairs to get to the second floor.

"Don Leopoldo!" a young man announces from down the hall, he walks up to shake his hand and gestures to the door he needs to go to, "Licensiado Tomas is ready for you, please come in. "Hello, Doña Carmela, how nice to see you", as he kisses her hand. Mauricia is awestruck as she has never entered such a large building. A large, heavyset man, with gray hair and a long gray beard stands up and grins. He looks very distinguished in his suit and vest. "Tomas, my friend how have you been?" Don Leopoldo hugs el licensiado and Tomas is equally pleased with his presence. "Very well, thank you, Leopoldo." Licensiado Tomas claps his hands loudly and asks, "Is everyone ready?" Mauricia looks around and asks, "what does he mean by ready?" Don Leopoldo walks towards Mauricia and takes her hand and says, "this is our special family reunion. I understand there are no words for the suffering you went through at such a young age until God led us together at this time. I have carried so much guilt for many years not knowing where you were or being there for you in your time of need. Mauricia, you were always a Delgado in my heart, and my family knew that for many, many, years. Today, we are legally recognizing you as a Delgado." Ma. del Carmen along with Andres and Miguel huddle with their father and Mauricia and hug her tightly. Mauricia is overcome with emotion and cries hugging Teresa tightly. Carmela walks up and quickly kisses Mauricia on the cheek and sits back down. Ma. del Carmen starts to wipe Mauricia's tears with a handkerchief and says, "don't start crying again, you do not want to walk around puffy faced.", at that moment, everyone begins to laugh. Don Leopoldo raises his hand and swears before the court that Mauricia is his legitimate daughter and legally recognized as Mauricia Delgado Manriquez. Once the licensiado and judge go over the paperwork and sign their parts, Don Leopoldo is ordered to sign acknowledging what was said is true. Licensiado Tomas presided over the meeting and afterwards excused himself from the family before going on to his next appointment.

Don Leopoldo summons another set of cab's to take them to one of the nicest restaurants in town, "La Media Luna" (The half moon). Mauricia is so overjoyed she feels she is walking on air. Everything in her world seems right for the first time in her life. They eat to their hearts content and listen to music played by the local pianist. Maria Guadalupe did not come to the reunion as she is in her first tri-mester of her pregnancy and she cannot keep any food down. Carmela excuses herself and leaves towards the end of dinner. Mauricia doesn't care if Carmela leaves, she is hardly around the house, and without her dinner seemed better.

After dinner, the night comes to an end, and everyone makes it back home. Teresa is deep asleep, Mauricia says goodnight to everyone, and walks to her room to go to bed. "Tap, tap, tap" someone is knocking on her bedroom door. Mauricia opens it and Andres hands her a letter, "Here, it looks like a letter came for you and since we were not here, the postman gave it to the neighbor, Adelita." "Gracias Andres," Mauricia responds and he walks away. Mauricia opens the letter and it looks like Carlos responded to the letter she wrote him a couple of days after their encounter. "Dearest Sister, I am excited to know I am an uncle and to have seen you after so many years. I feel terrible about the experiences you explained in your letter and now understand we both have suffered tremendously. You will be happy to know I am planning on ending my military career in another year as my contract is up. At this moment, I am at the border keeping order after the bracero program has taken place again. There is one question I have wanted to ask all these years. What is the name of the damn woman that made us orphans? I am going to hang her by the nearest tree when I finish my duty and make my way back home to Pinos. She deserves a just punishment for what she has done to us. She took away our mother, our protector, the woman we should be taking care of now. I wait for your immediate response. Your loving brother, Carlos"

Mauricia crumples the letter in a ball as she thinks about the times she saw Anabel in the street after her mother's death. Many times Mauricia held her tongue and the tears as she crossed paths with her on many occasions. "I cannot tell Carlos who it was, it would not help to tell him, he would only get her blood on his hands and now take the role of the punisher." Mauricia pulls out a sheet of paper and writes Carlos back. "Dearest Brother, I am glad you are with life, health, and work. I am excited to know you have decided to leave the military in a year. I pray God continues to watch over you and protect you from any harm. In regards to your question, I cannot reply. I will not give you the name of the woman that made us orphans. I do not want her blood on your hands, I could not live with that. Carlos, leave it up to God to judge her. She will get her day, we all will, but until then please pray that God provides peace in your heart to let it go and love to understand we only have one life. You are not a bad person Carlos, and I do not want you involved in such matters. Please write back. Your sister, Mauricia" Mauricia clears the tears from her face as she folds the letter and places it in an envelope. As Mauricia lays down in her bed, she whispers, "No one will ever know her name."

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