A Gypsy’s Book of Revelation

God, who in the meantime has crept up next to the Gadjo, acknowledges. He always does. Of all things, He’s pretty good at that.

It’s not so much what I told them. It’s the mere fact that I had it in me to talk to them, that I chose a stranger to do it, that the stranger did a much better job than any of them, that I am their stranger, that I am their mother, that I am their strange mother: Mamita extraña.

Picture number eight: the Gadjo is done with the reading. I can tell he’s exhausted.

He is a man who, within the walls of a crematorium, has swayed madly upward like those inflatable figures on the side of the highway. For the first time I notice he has bushy eyebrows. I always assumed he wouldn’t really have a face. He has a face after all, and one I can see clearly through the hole of time. I don’t mind. It is not a bad face. Just a face with bushy eyebrows, which is now looking down at me.

They all follow his example.

They gather around the box and they lean over. Emilian lifts one of the golden coin off my eyes and checks me out. He sees my eyelids closed, perhaps for the first time. I never let them see me asleep; I kept my bedroom door locked at night. A sleeping mother is a monster.

But now they look and they can’t seem to get enough of me. It is very hot in the room. It is small and crowded and not very well insulated from the furnace. My children don’t mind the heat; they buzz around like flies — all trying to elbow their way up to me. I am not interested in what they see of me. I don’t want to know whether the mortician did a good job.

Picture number nine: I couldn’t avoid that one. Along with all of them, I take a good look at myself and it’s not pretty. My chin especially, it is receding. I cannot hold it in any natural way under my mouth. I don’t have any holding capacity. You’d think stiffness would help but it really doesn’t, quite the opposite. My chin hangs low under my face as from a broken string. In my lifetime I have been accused of many crimes but definitely not a receding chin. They could have tied a kerchief around my head as for a raging toothache but they didn’t. I hate to have this closing image carved into them, the everlasting shot: Mamita with the floppy chin.

What’s worse is the softness of tissues, the idleness. Apathy is the word; I have no passion left in my skin. I am deflated; I am a sagging woman. Perhaps I should embrace the sweetness of the void, like one accepts sleep. No matter. Acceptance of a slothful skin coat is not in me, never has. Some things never change. Please get me out of my sight.

But they won’t hear me. Not after what I told them through the Gadjo. My words have opened hidden furrows in their skin, and they’re getting all fusional on me. It’s not so much what I told them. It’s the mere fact that I had it in me to talk to them, that I chose a stranger to do it, that the stranger did a much better job than any of them, that I am their stranger, that I am their mother, that I am their strange mother: Mamita extraña.

Picture number ten: In one corner, someone called the Master of Ceremonies is trying to raise the curtain to the furnace. Only the curtain is no more than a garage door, and something is wrong with the opening mechanism. It’s gripped. The screen only opens halfway. It makes funny noises. It sounds like the gurgles of a giant with really bad stomach flu. It is stuck half shut and half open. The dramatic effect is completely missed, and I am so relieved that the attention of my children has drifted away from my face. For a few minutes it is total chaos. The MC is desperately pushing on the buttons of the panel next to the screen. Alfredo is beside him, which would drive anyone to the edge under the circumstance.

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