Sunday, November 06, 2011

Lima faire bande à part

I've spent some time with French folks here, trying to cope with the back and forth of three languages in a strange city while I speak to people from the Caribbean about foreign places we've been to. Speaking a polyglot of words, I want something, but who can say what that would be. In what language?

This evening, on my own, a Peruana approached me and spoke so unexpectedly and so rapidly that I had no time to grasp what she had said. I looked at her and spoke English, at a loss for other, authentic, words. She stared at me in confusion. I told her I don't speak Spanish well and ... "Sigo siendo humano." She understood the words, but she was afraid. I could see it. A man who doesn't speak Spanish here might as well be a stone in a field. And then to speak Spanish, to say "I'm still human" was to strike her as too strange. One must speak the language to make oneself human. One must, and yet I find I can't speak to many these days, meaning my own people. I can speak enough Spanish to get by here, and it comes back daily, as well as what I learn anew. But I cannot understand America any more. I don't know if I will ever go back. There, I'm often enough no humanos. I wanted to do something apart from the group. I took a walk to the church.
 I heard music. I heard a brass band. I saw thousands of people in front of the church, and I stood among them, almost like one of them.
There was a military drill on the church landing. A group of young men drilled in elaborate formations, a team, a group with a single purpose, to be as one. They followed the music of a brass band.

I was swept away by the music and the drill, by the joy of the crowd, few of them, being so young, having had to live through the tough times of repression and violence here. Couples would suddenly and dramatically make out, children would grab their mothers, fathers would stand taller. We all cheered as the drill team did fancy manoeuvres.

Back home I find that pig hippies living in parks have lice, that they shit on police cars and on bank floors and rape underage girls and homosexuals. I speak the language, but I don't understand what people are saying oft times.
Maybe the Peruvians have trouble understanding my Spanish sometimes, but obviously they were reading my mind. So I thought about how these less than well-off Peruvians live their lives.

This we can understand. They do not camp out in parks and demand the government forgive the student loans they racked up getting degrees in Angry Victims Studies.

Maybe the Peruvians are crazy. Maybe they should camp out in parks and be pigs. This is what they do instead.

They watch marching men and listen to military bands and go to church, they have children and go to work, just like Americans do, that one percent who don't camp out in filth and demand from others. Sometimes these poor people just go for a walk.

All these languages floating around in my head. I went home for dinner and in the midst of it I heard a band outside my window, thousands of people milling about, the Church again having a procession, and people together for a purpose, whatever it might be.

There are some of us who are a band apart. I wonder about it. I like this country, and I fear for the fate of my own. What language makes sense in this confusion. I leaned out the window and I found myself almost yelling out in my finest Spanish: "Kyrie, eleison!"

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