Everything That We Are Afraid Of

El Cucuy
El Cucuy


 I’m writing from the sky and smiling because it is such a very melodramatic declaration to make and also because I’m highly sentimental and melodramatic and I love these parts of myself.

I think my melodramatics are at least in some part, cultural. With all the “Ay Dios,” cautionary tales of monsters in the hills, weeping women in the streams, heavy sighs and tongue clacking of my mother, her mother and my many aunts it would seem impossible (disappointing even) if I were to turn out otherwise.

Even the people in my family who were not insane used the fear of monsters to keep us from going into the garage (dangerous cement steps) or playing outside after dark (strangers).  The word “Cucuy” was often whispered with exaggerated grimaces of fear; we were frequently reminded that we were always in the presence of monsters.

My mother, her six brothers and sisters and my grandparents often
spoke of the ghost that lived on the farm in San Martin. The ghost
lived in the house they settled in after working as migrant farm
workers from Texas to southern California until they finally settled
in the tiny country village just outside of Gilroy. He was the ghost
of an old Japanese man who had died in the house and they spoke of him
affectionately. He threw clods of dirt from the roof, fondled my abuela’s
breasts in the bathtub. Sometimes they could see him, he was a shadow and he often stood behind the stove.  My mother and her brother’s and sisters say that I seemed to have a special relationship with the ghost and that I
would follow it through the house, pointing to his shadow and shouting
for his attention. They say he clapped his hands and I clapped back.

I grew up believing without any doubt that there we
shared the world with spirits, monsters and even demons.

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