Maria Clara turns her gaze across the room to the kitchen table & stops there; at the little bent head eating his very modest breakfast as if he’s the son of the king having the most expensive & diversified meal on earth, no, as if he’s the king himself!
Every day she thanks the lord for sending this miracle to her, & for giving her & Fernando the most amazing of all gifts; this bundle of joy that made & added a new meaning & brought more balance & sense to their lives.
He called them mama & papa but the kids from his school & in the neighborhood made it no secret to him ‘ You are not the son of Maria Clara & Fernando, you’re a nobody, & you were left at the Martinez’s door & they took you in.’
‘Do you think you’re one of us?’ they would say to him.
‘I’m Luis Martinez son of Maria Carla & Fernando Martinez!’ he would yell back at them, but whatever he says never seems to convince them.
‘Have you looked in the mirror?’ they would continue ‘There’s nothing of them in you.’
‘Yes, am very handsome because all their goodness & love was poured into me.’
Then they would come after him, take turns beating him, empty his school bag, steal the sandwiches, his pocket money, most of his belongings & then they’d tear his books & leave him.
Same fight, same argument & same vicious attack. Kids, those little angels when the devil possesses them they can say & do the meanest things that can stop you dead in your tracks.
Once at school he never mentions what went wrong to any of the teachers, they will come after him again, & it will not be nice! He takes all the blame, in regards to everything, how he, his belongings & books looks, swallow all the injustice & wait for the end of the school day, to go to his parents home where such hate & violence doesn’t exist.
He stopped using the school bus because of all the bullying, he walks to school now, & he didn’t mention that as well to his parents, they have tons of problems.
Since he started his walk to school, he noticed a beautiful girl who dresses like the nuns at the church where he often goes with his parents, she too walks to his school.
He started walking with her without any talk, each day they walk with no talk beside each other to school, once they arrive at the gates, they would look at each other, nod their heads & go to their classes. Again they would wait for each other by the end of the school day & walk home. For days this had been their routine, a peaceful walk with no talk.
One day little Luis gathered his courage & said to his friend walking beside him ‘Am Luis Martinez.’
The little girl smiled half a smile & said ‘I thought you’d never ask, am Qut al-qulub.’
Puzzled he shook his head as if he gets what she said.
She laughed & said ‘C’mon ask me, what kind of a name is this?!’
‘That isn’t polite, to make fun of other people’s names & things like that.’
‘No, it’s okay, we’re in America ‘Land of the brave & free’, you can ask me anything am Muslim, my mom is from Asia, & my father is from Kuwait, he’s a ‘Bedoon’ & we escaped to America because after a few years you can become an American.’
Luis astonishingly looks at her again saying ‘I thought you said your mom is from Asia & your dad is from where? Kuwait.’
She shrugged her shoulders carelessly ‘He is not anyone there.’
‘Like me.’ Luis whispers to himself, that’s what everyone except my parents are saying about me!
Qut al-qulub said ‘The ‘Bedoon’ people are without identity & no one wants to grant them a nationality.’
Luis stared at her & then said ‘There’re a lot like your people here too, from what I hear from my community, huge numbers of people who spent all their lives in America are denied everything, they have became nobody’s too, they aren’t Americans or Latino’s/Hispanic’s anymore!’
His friend looked at him with her eyes welling with tears ‘People are doing bad things to each other everywhere!’
They walk again in silence, little Luis determined more than ever to talk to his parents tonight & in the coming days about what was going on with him, & he’ll ask them about everything.