She would not stop crying so I picked her up, put her on my shoulders, and began to walk along the long unpaved road back and forth from my grandparents’ home. The sun was still shining brightly, but the wind was blowing through her hair and mine making it fall in our faces.
“Do you love me?” I asked her.
“Yes!” She told me in her baby talk. What else do you ask little children other than if they love you, who they love more, and what they want for the holidays?
The children in the neighborhood had let go of their bikes a while ago and surrounded my uncle who was making kites for them to fly. Shortly after, the sky was filled with them. The neighbors’ homes had their front gates open because people in the summer like visitig each other, and no child wants to stay at home.
She knocked me on my head.
“What do you want, baby?” I asked. She started babbling on about the kites and the street, and then, she began to ask about a childhood friend of mine whom I just sent her brother to call for me. For a three-year-old, she is quite the observer…as am I.
After our third “lap” along the unpaved road, I stopped and looked down the mountain at the city that lies below. It has changed. It is still changing. I remember the times I stood here and looked below. Though, at that time, I had the eye of a fifth grader. The old houses, my favorite ones, were no longer standing on their own. The shadows of new, tall, more modern buildings covered them. The roads looked new. A few stop signs that are constantly being ignored have been put up. There is no room in the old cemetery, which looks that same as it had always looked, so now there is a new cemetery below the other side of the mountain. There are more cars in the city beeping at each other. From far away, one can see the skyscrapers and hotels rising. Behind me, the settlement that the people of Occupia* have been trying to get rid of still stands.
Now, at least, I can pinpoint various houses and tell you which one is for whom. That is what happens when you live in a place like this. You also begin knowing bits and pieces of life stories – town talks and all that, but you learn to never believe what people say.
“Put me down!”
“Okay,” I said and put her down.
She started walking back to my grandparents’ home, and as I watched her, I thought a little to myself. She’s too young to ask now, but one day, if she is still her curious self as I still am, she will ask what were things like. She will ask me, and I will tell her: the old building had their own shadows.