My first word baby will be out later this month – both in eBook and print format. I wrote it in English and Spanish to honor my origins and pay tribute to my hero of a grandpa, Nanito. For my first foray into book writing, I decided to go the self-publishing route, and while it’s been a long, arduous and challenging process, I’m excited to share the finalized project very soon!
In the meantime, I’m sharing one of the many special stories my grandpa shared with me. This one is close to my heart because it’s a testament to his curiosity and willpower. I hope you enjoy it!
A Love of Knowledge
At the tender age of 6, Nanito was sent to work for an hacendado* as a goat herder. He had to fend for himself at such a young age because his mother couldn't support all of her seven children—Poncho, Maria, Lola, Alberto, Epifanio, Ramon & Nanito. Nanito moved to a little town called La Campana to work for Don Amalio, who was a brutal master. Don Amalio mistreated my grandfather, often beating the hell out of him for no reason than to establish his authority. Nanito cared for goats for about four years at La Campana, earning 5 measly pesos each month. I remember how his mood turned somber whenever he told me of these trying memories. He looked far off, as if he was accessing another dimension, and recounted the ways he was forced to battle the winters in too-light attire. He often got horrible stomach cramps, which he attributed to the cold and he claimed that the only thing that alleviated the pain was drinking his own urine. He had no qualms in admitting he suffered greatly during what should have been the joyful childhood every child is owed. It’s important to note that he grew up in a time in Mexico in which wealth was the sole factor determining the level of education one could access. His family was poor; therefore, his chances of an education were slim to none. Thus, he was destined to be illiterate But! His fate changed during this goatherd period: He learned how to read and write. He got an education, after all! Another goatherd boy knew how to read and write and helped my Nanito learn. Their classroom was the open air and class commenced during their work breaks. The dusty ground and twigs served as chalkboard and chalk. They started with the basics: vowels. Nanito loved sharing this story, how he started with A, E, I and so forth. How he was such a fast learner. Next up was the real beast—the entire alphabet. But Nanito was brilliant and learned it in no time. Nanito was forever grateful to that boy for helping him become a literate person. I find this amazingly inspirational. If you’re hungry for something, you’ll do it. Nanito was hungry to learn, so he did. From then on, it was game over. Nanito devoured book after book, educating himself further. His favorite topic was history, specifically Mexican history, with an emphasis on the constitution and revolution. Countless times, he shared Mexico’s devastating and tragic history in vivid stories as if he had experienced them himself. *A hacendado is the owner and master of a large-landed estate, or hacienda. In rural Mexico, these estates were mostly plantations where laborers worked and lived.
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