Ernesto Laboy García

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The will of god


Marta warned her about her legs.  She had foreseen the future, my mother’s future to be precise. “She was always telling me that I should watch my legs, as if something would happen to them some day,” my mother said on a dark and rainy day. “Eventually, it would turn out that I would suffer a chronic dislocation of my knees, which would then affect my legs.  She was right all along.”

My mother’s childhood wasn’t the most normal. Sure, she had her time and place to do normal kid things, but then she would also be a part of a totally different culture, one that is mysterious and supernatural. It is said that spiritualism, while believing in a single god, also believes in spirits who can be contacted by mediums so that they can provide information on the afterlife. Marta, my mother’s aunt, was a medium.

It was a very rainy day. The winds were furious. To our displeasure, the skies were crackling and rumbling. Everything was darker due to the rain cloud’s presence. My mother and I stood in the abundantly lit kitchen, which contrasted with the darkness outside. She prepared tea as she spoke.

“People would line up in front of her home seeking her services. She didn’t charge them, though. Marta would look at them, scanning their body, learning their movements, facial expressions, and hearing their problems.  She took what is known as amasaguapo, a sort of perfume that drives evil and negative spirits away, and would soak each person with it. Afterwards a specific leaf was used to scrape off all of the liquid from the body. Finally, she would prescribe all sorts of items: candles, food, tea, and perfumes among other things. “When people saw that their problem was gone, they would give her stuff in return, mostly food, out of generosity. She was very popular in her neighborhood.”

My mother’s face changed slightly. I knew this wasn’t an easy topic for her, even though so many years have passed. Marta was a troubled soul growing up.  She would hear voices constantly, always nagging and torturing her thoughts and wishes. She would pull her hair out with her bare hands, holding bits and pieces of bloody flesh, looking at her mother with fright when all was said and done.

My mother continued, “She told me that she also burned many things, and that she was constantly doing pranks on the other children. In return she was beaten and vilified.  The entities in her head told her to do all of this in an effort to seek attention, so that people would know that she was different. Only my grandmother knew. She knew what was going on inside her head.”

One night, in the cold and dead silence, she was dragged out of her bed and had part of her leg slashed. Nobody was in the room, except for her. “As she grew older, she developed the ability to let the entities speak through her. One of them was a female named Hierbera, the other was a male called Cacique. She would change her tone of voice, the expression on her face, especially with Cacique, which would be a heavy and gravelly voice, almost like a frog.”

My mother was shaking as she said this. “When she stopped speaking as an entity, she had no recollection of what was said or heard, or anything really, about what happened during that time period.”

Her gift became apparent as she grew up. Much to her surprise, spiritualism was rampant in Puerto Rico, even though it wasn’t a public or mainstream affair. She decided to join a group of local spiritualists to harness her skills. For her initiation into the world of mediums, she had to choose a saint. “Her saint was Santa Bárbara, also known as Changó, who is a saint who originated from Africa. I once saw one of her reunions or rituals. It was during the night. they always got together after the sun had gone down. They were all covered in white, singing and dancing in the name of their saints. Very energetic and quite frightening as well,” my mother explained.

She then paused and pointed at me. She said, “I remember that one time, when I was a child, I had a severe case of migraines. She would then make me go to bed, and then she would place a red blanket on my forehead. She said it was to drive the evil spirits away. I, of course, was very scared and intimidated. By now Marta was a full-fledged medium, and the people held her in high regard. To go against her wishes would surely incite some form of anger or a bad ego-trip.”

Once my mother had met my dad, she was living in Ponce, and was in her mid-twenties. She would drop by Mayagüez to visit her family. Marta was there, of course, covered in a variety of collars and scented in the most exotic fragrances. She began to talk about my mother’s then-boyfriend.

“She told me how he was divorced, she described him to me in detail. Keep in mind that she hadn’t seen him before. She told me how much I was in love with him.” My mother laughed while serving herself some water in a small white cup. “After we got married, Marta would describe to me the house without having seen it, and began talking about the yoga exercises your father did in the morning. She knew many things she shouldn’t have or couldn’t have known by guessing.”

As the years passed, and as the world changed, so did Marta. She is now a recluse, never going out of her house for fear of what happens in the outside world. At the age of eighty-nine, she looks as if she was sixty, but her personality makes her seem much older. She is always scared, forgetful, worried about how the house looks, staying in bed most of the day. She stopped helping people with their problems many years ago. She doesn’t dress as she used to, even if the house is still filled with catholic imagery, candles, and heavy fragrances.

“People like Marta live a complicated life. I think she has a real problem having a hold on reality. Her gift leads to many voices creeping in her mind, bodily possession, and so on. She can’t control it. And when she forgets, how can she know what happened beforehand? How can she know if she is still in a trance, or if she is in the living, breathing world? She probably has a lot of trouble adjusting, even more so at her age.”

My mother looked at me with a tired and sad face. Knowing how a person can be subjected to so much pain and suffering can be a great burden. “It was the will of god,” she said. She drank the last bit of water she had in her cup, kissed me on the cheek, and went to her bedroom. Having experienced so much madness in her childhood, I knew this topic wasn’t going to be any ordinary topic, but I didn’t know it was going to be so painful and frightening.

Such is the will of god.

1 Comment

  1. Interesting story. Ive never go to a spiritualist to talk but it sounds very interesting. As I read the story I could see that those gifts have there drawbacks and sacrifices because those bad spirits torment her life.
    A gift is a very importan thing. As the uncle of tony parker (Spider Man) says “With great power comes great responsability”. Great work really liked.

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