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Diego Rivera's Mural (Rosa's Day Off)

Two mexican women go and see Diego Rivera's mural in Cortes Palace, Cuernavaca

“Come on Rosa,” Esperanza calls from the road hoping her voice will reach over the high wall that guards the house.

“Are you ready?”

Rosa flings her reboso around her head and shoulders to protect herself from the glaring Mexican sun and emerges from the strong metal door into the dusty street, her plastic 
sandals flip flopping against her feet.

“Remember Rosa, I want to see the painting in Cortes Palace before we meet Conception at the Zocalo.”

“Ay, what’s so important about seeing some pictures,” complains Rosa who is looking forward to gossiping with her friends and eating mangos in the shade of the band stand.

“Te digo! I told you this famous man Diego Riveros painted our history so we can understand what happened to our people even if we can’t read.”

“What do you mean our history? I don’t even know who my father is. He left my mother with six children just like Jose left me. Gracious a Dios,” she says crossing herself, “I didn’t have babies yet.”

“I mean the story about people like us, Mexican Indians. We’re the ones who really belong to this land!”

“Ay Rosa you’ve been listening to Fernando again, he’s going to get into trouble one day moaning about the government.”

“Never mind about Fernando, I’m trying to explain to you! There was a time when no white man walked around telling us what to do.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“Silly, I’m talking about your father’s, father’s, father’s, father's time.”

Rosa and Esperanza walk up the dusty street scattered with potholes, waving to a friend in front of a small shop, who is sprinkling water on to the dust and sweeping the pavement with a broom made of twigs.

“Buenas dias amigas. Enjoy your day off,” she cried.

The two girls wearing white embroidered dresses contrasting beautifully with their dark skin and blue black hair, had been born on dirt farms way out in the countryside and lived in shacks with a dirt floors, their mothers spending all day feeding many children, getting water from the well, cleaning and sorting through dried beans and rice for stones and other in edible objects; scraping the dried corn off the cobs to grind into flour for tortillas.

Rosa and Esperanza had left poverty behind and travelled to the town of Cuernavaca knocking on doors to ask if the Senora needed someone to wash her dishes, or clean floors or do the washing and ironing.

Finally Rosa had struck lucky when the main house help fell ill and she took over as a permanent living in member of the household. Then with a good reference she found a position in a finer house.

Esperanza had found a position in a neighbouring house and they had become firm friends.

They adored having electric lights, and running water, food plentifully available to them and a chance to have time off to meet friends.

They had money to buy new clothes in the large open market and comics to read and if they were ill their bosses took the responsibility of paying for their doctor’s fees.

Today they pass by the famous ice cream shop that sells strawberry, lemon, apple, spinach, chilli, tequila and avocado ices. Esperanza tugs Rosa’s hand, laughing, “there’ll be plenty of time for ice cream later.”

Just before the central square of the city where hoards of crows are leaving their night roosts, screeching harsh cries; flying off to the countryside for food and drink, they arrive at Cortes Palace.

“Ah, here it is.”

“But this is where Architecto Felix works. We can’t go in there.” Says Rosa pulling away from Esperanza.

“Yes we can, the offices are separate, anyone can go in and look at the murals. That’s what they were painted for the people.”

They find themselves in a long veranda with walls as tall as telegraph poles.

“Madre mia, I didn’t realise the people would look like giants!” gasped Rosa.

They see vivid oranges, yellows, blue sky; white clothes on dark skinned men bending over gathering corn, walking in gangs, dragging sugar cane, being whipped by white men with beards riding on white horses, with guns laying across their legs.

In the background white men in richly coloured clothes laze in hammocks watching over their slaves, idling away the day.

Rosa walks along the mural past the sugar cane fields.

“I don’t think those Mexicans lived very long, “she whispered crossing herself.

“Ah here we are. Our Zapata. Grandpa said he rode around the countryside yelling Tierra y Libertad, Perish the Spaniards, and the people shouted back, Perish the Spaniards.

It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees.”

They stood admiring the folk hero Emiliano Zapata with his blazing dark eyes and large curving moustache.

“Fernando said they killed him when his grandpa was a boy. After all that its still the white men who is rich here.”

“Well I would rather die laughing in Rodolpho's arms.

O Esparanza! Enough of the history lesson this afternoon.”

She laughed and off they walked to the band stand in the middle of the square where their friends had gathered laughing gossiping and forgetting the sadness in the shadows.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © 13 August 2011 The Desert; 14 August 2011 Solitude; 15 August 2011 the Gift; 16 August Do not regard me by my age; 17 august 2011 Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night; Hey Diddle Diddle, 17 Aug. 2011; The Dance 16th Aug. 2011; Mother, 19th Aug. 2011; the Mirror, 20th Aug. 2011; whosshing, 22nd Aug.2011; The Blue and White striped Cup, 24th Aug. 2011; The Broken Fall, 30th aug. 2011; Adolescent Blues, 31 Aug. 2011; Taste,The Swan, 08.01.12 09.09.2011;Take Five Oh , 10.09.2011;Chamelian, 11.08.2011;the Coral 13.09.2o11; If only 29.09.2011, Dodging puddles 29.09.11; Mothers Monologue, 3.10.11; Oh, oh, oh, let me weep, 05.10.11, Water, 06.10.11; the flood, 6 Oct.11; Who am I?, 8 Oct. 11; Destiny, 9 Oct.11; Five a.m. Blues, 10.10.11; Three Wishes, 11.10.11; I'm a stone, 14.10.11; Meditation on an Amethyst, 15.10.11; Inheritance,17.10.11; Shorn Child, 20.10.11, Nightmare, 28.10.11; Gathering of the Clan. 27.10.11; That would cause a stir; 26.10.11, At A Crossroads, 28.10.11; Rowan, 29.10.11; My Pumpkin Pie, 31.10.11; A Set back, 14.11.11; Finding peace, 10.11.11; Liquid Lunch, 9.11.11; Out of Body, 8.11.11; Zen 19.11.11;I know why,24.11.11; the Fox, 27.11.11: the Dark, 06.12.11;Be Brave my Love, 9.12.11, The Poet, 17.01.11, New horizons, 11.01.12; New beginnings, 16.01.12; Subconscious Reality,30.01.12; Ruby Lola 03.02.12; Rock a by baby, 09.02.12; Paris, 10.02.12; Valentine chocolate, 13.02.12; the smell of baking bread, 14.02.12; My Father, 15.02.12

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