This page is dedicated to written works submitted by OLIve students as part of homework for a class on Critical Creativity: Art/Literature in Society. The students independently selected the following topics for public presentation: translations and reflections on class and gender.
Claudia Elena Hernández Cruz. Translation of Juan Rulfo’s Es Que Somos Muy Pobres.
We are just too poor, Juan Rulfo (excerpt)
Just because of that, we don’t know if the calf is still alive, or if he followed his mother down the river. If that was it, God help them both.
What worries people at home is what might happen later, now that my sister Tacha is left with nothing. Because my dad put a lot of effort into getting Serpentina from a young age, so that he could give it to my sister. Then she would have a little capital and would not go and turn into a whore like my other two sisters, the older ones.
According to my dad, they had gone to waste because we were very poor and they were very bubbly. Even from a very young age, they would protest against anything they were asked to do. And as soon as they grew they started to hang out with the worst kind of men, who taught them bad stuff. They learned fast, and they understood the whistles, when they called them late at night. Later, they would even go out in daylight. They would repeatedly go to the river to get water and sometimes, when you least expected it, there they were, in the stables, rolling around on the ground, completely naked and each with a man on top.
Then my dad kicked them both out. First, he took in all he could, but later he could not stand them any more and threw them out to the streets. They went to Ayutla or somewhere else, I don’t know. They are whores.
This is why my dad is worried about Tacha now, might she turn out like her two sisters, seeing that she is poor now that her cow is missing, seeing that she has nothing to do while she grows and waits to marry a good man that can love her forever. That will be difficult now. With the cow, things were different, there would always be someone who would have the courage to marry her, just so that he could get such a pretty cow, too. Our only hope now is that the calf is still alive. I hope that he didn’t decide to follow his mother. If that was it, then my sister Tacha is this close to become a whore. And my mom doesn’t want that.
My mom doesn’t know why God punished her by giving her that kind of daughters, given that in her family, from her grandmother to this date, there had not been bad people. Each one was raised under the fear of God, they were obedient and would not do wrong to anyone. They were all of the sort. Who knows where those two daughters got the bad example from. She doesn’t remember. She turns around all of her memories and she doesn’t see clearly where her sin was. Why did she give birth to one daughter after the other, both with the same bad habits? She doesn’t remember. And everytime she thinks of them she cries and says “God help them both”.
But my dad argues that that business has no remedy. The dangerous one is this one that we have left, la Tacha, that is growing fast like an ocote tree and that has started growing breasts that promise to be like those of their sisters, pointy, tall and relentless to call out the attention. Yes – he says- they will fill anyone’s eyes, wherever she is seen. And she will end up bad, I see it, she will end up bad.
That’s my dad’s worry.
And Tacha cries when she notices her cow is not coming bad, because the river stole it from her and killed it. She is right beside me, on her pink dress, staring at the river from the cliff, crying nonstop.