The One-Eyed Boy
By Gabrielle Blair
Today my heart aches from too much plenty. Irritation, anger, fear weighs me down. The tears stored up push like a tidal wave against a fragile dyke. I stroll the impersonal city streets and see the desolate lives of the infirm beggars, forlorn, patiently extending their plastic cups for a few pesos; they crouch beside the cathedral doors. I drop my five peso coin, the last of my change. But I still have a couple of five hundred peso notes. I have chosen to give to the woman, with her dirty children spread around her. The man with the big open sore on his leg attracts more sympathy, and thus more hand-outs.
Within the cool, dim basilica, the service is in progress. A rich-voiced baritone sings a hymn and my tears flow. In the pew in front of mine, a woman dabs her eyes with a balled up tissue. Her husband rocks their little one-eyed boy in his arms, who looks around with his one good eye. When in the service people turn to shake hands, the father turns to take my hand. I make a point of shaking the hand of the baby too and am rewarded with an enormous smile.
Later, before I leave the cathedral, I tell the boy’s parents that they have a beautiful baby and I ask his name – Gabriel. Baby and I shake hands again and I tell him he’s beautiful – in English. The parents smile too and my pain diminishes. I’ve met someone with my name and I know that in Mexico this has special significance
Outside a man walks his little dog dressed in a baseball cap, necklace and booties. He pauses to adjust a twisted bootie on a front paw and tells me proudly how pretty his dog is. I agree. He’s not asking for money. There are other ways to give. The city seems a better place now and I walk back the way I came with a light heart.