Where I come from, we dream of Kauyumari, el venado azul.
It had been more than a year since the pandemic hit and almost two without seeing my family. I was becoming an absent figure in pyjamas staring every morning at an old coffee stain on the kitchen cabinet while waiting for the rising volume of the kettle to startle me. ‘Why don’t you just wipe that once and for all?’ an automated voice asked, while my eyes followed the yellow and brown trail in hopes of finding a sign that the stain would become paler and paler with time.
One sunny Tuesday in July, after watching an increasingly tired Gladys on TV and confirming that I still wasn’t eligible for the vaccine jab, I walked the twelve steps between the couch and the kitchen to prepare my second injection of caffeine-driven motivation. With the music of Café Tacvba blasting on my phone speaker, I waited patiently for the kettle’s squeal. ‘Déjate caer / La Tierra está al revés / La sangre es amarilla / Déjate caer.’ (Let yourself fall / the Earth is upside down / The blood is yellow / Let yourself fall). I hummed along while contemplating the twenty-something centimetre French press.
The light coming in from the north-facing window made the yellow bits of the stain appear brighter than usual, and exposed a small crack on the cabinet coloured with the caramel-looking pigment. It seemed eerily fluid, fresh, as if the Colombian-bean brew had spilled just seconds ago. The image brought me a brief moment of joy that then turned into a state of alarm.
Where I come from, we dream of Kauyumari, el venado azul, the blue deer, an elusive divine presence associated with prosperity and sustenance. Our elders narrate how in a time of terrible disease, drought and famine, four hunters were chosen to undertake a quest in search of food for the community. The group, symbolising earth, water, wind and fire, encountered a brawny and multicoloured deer which showed them the way to Wirikuta, the sacred place where Earth’s spirit inhabits. Wirikuta guards the sole source of physical and spiritual nourishment. Since then, Kauyumari is considered our guide and guardian, the one who will free our mind and soul from any pain, enabling us to see the world through its eyes.
Despite never thinking of myself as someone who would know how to handle Kauyumari’s revelations, I admit that, like many Mexicans, I yearned for the sound of the blue deer’s clopping, inviting me to follow it through valleys, mountains and cornfields to witness the pumping heart of life.
That morning the blue deer’s gaze in the stain dyed my blood yellow, revealing my true spiritual state. ‘Déjate caer / La Tierra está alreves.’
For me, being a migrant is living between two worlds: thinking in Spanish, but speaking in English; calling my family on a Wednesday and them receiving the call on a Tuesday; or even glancing hastily from right to left before crossing the street because I don’t know anymore which direction cars come from. I was still settling in Australia when news of Wuhan caught everyone off guard, intensifying these, and many more, dualities.
I had been living in Australia for more than six hundred days of which almost four hundred and fifty had been spent in several degrees of lockdown. The frustration of not finding a full-time job and the lack of opportunity to learn how to do things past the five-kilometre boundary, added up to the homesickness and feelings of defeat.
Everything, even the smallest act, was more challenging than anticipated: the dread of receiving a phone call, regardless of speaking fluent English, because some accents are harder to understand, or making a joke and then having to explain that it’s funny (at least in Spanish).
Some days the temptation of leaving Australia and going back to my family and friends in Mexico was a sweet prospect, but my heart was already taking root in the coastal land of Sydney. The feelings of failure and insecurity mixed with the anxiety induced by global uncertainty were dissolving my curiosity and putting so much pressure sometimes it was hard to breathe. I felt as if I was being swallowed by a thought-made anaconda and, if I didn’t find a way to get out, it would suck me dry.
Before I migrated here, I was an avid reader and writer, but I was barely reading or producing anything at that time. Born in Quetzalcoatl’s country and raised by an obsidian-heart mum who told the most vivid bedtime tales, storytelling has always been at the core of who I am. I couldn’t keep on existing in flight-mode, as if I had been dropped in this world with a user’s manual my perfectionist self was trying to nail.
‘Whatever you do, never stop writing,’ my partner’s voice echoed louder than the boiling water of the K-mart appliance. The lagged vibration of his words smacked me out of my bubble.
That thirteenth day of July, the gleaming coffee splash reanimated something within me. There isn’t a day where I don’t think of that drip of coffee in my kitchen and relive the rush of yellow blood through my body.
Venturing to Australia has been a catalyst for happiness. Those sunny and breezy days at the park quietly observing fairy floss-coloured galahs, clever cockatoos and always-paired lorikeets while listening to the ravens’ caw have been nothing less than extraordinary. This is the land where I tried phở for the first time, discovered three more codes of footy and found out that Dundee was not the name of a crocodile.
The idea of re-inventing myself was quite tempting at first; but, before I could re-do anything, I had to stop being estranged from myself and celebrate the multiple worlds that merge into my existence. It is true that I ache for the charcoal smell of Mexican corn, the spiciness of burning neon-like salsas at the Chupacabras taco stand or the soccer matches at Estadio Azteca with 8000 passionate fans cursing the ref in unison; most of all, I miss la sobremesa with my mum, the drunken cumbia nights with my friends Paco, Lau and Mau, and the countless Latin American festivals with Javi dressed in indigenous clothes and Converse sneakers.
Nostalgia will always keep breathing down my neck, but Australia has given me the chance to reinvent myself as a Spanish teacher, reconnect with one of my closest childhood friends and get closer to cultures I didn’t know about. The smiles have come back and the sound of my voice as well as the urge to dance have gotten stronger. After 22 months, I can say: if ‘el mundo está al revés,’ falling now means flying, entonces me dejo caer. México gave me roots, but, I got my wings down under.
Silvia Rojas is an economist and writer born in Mexico City. Curious about everything, passionate about literature and addicted to conversations over coffee.
By Silvia Rojas
Issue 1 | Autumn 2022
Between two worlds | Lina Andrea Preciado Cano
(translated by Andrea Ballesteros)
Torogoz | Ana Torres