Juan Moisés de la Serna
Translate by Omolara Mofeoluwa Ogunwale Ogunwale
“A TOUCH Of HAPPINESS”
By Juan Moisés de la Serna
Translate by Omolara Mofeoluwa Ogunwale Ogunwale
© Juan Moisés de la Serna, 2019
© Tektime Editions, 2019
All rights reserved
Distributed by Tektime
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Happiness for some is a state, for others it is the way, but when love arrives, all pain is gone.
An intimate novel about people unknown to each other, with mixed feelings that converge into a common point which is LOVE.
In life there are times
When we have to decide
what we want to do
what steps to follow
Easy it might not be
the environment is hostile
but if we strife
We can make it.
Work is important
daily efforts have to
Be done, pressing on
So as to conquer.
Nothing can stop the steps
Once you have decided
To fight with all your strength
your dream has been achieved.
Dedicated to my parents
CHAPTER 1. FIRST DAY
CHAPTER 2. SECOND DAY
CHAPTER 3. THE ORIGIN
CHAPTER 4. TRAVEL ON THE TRAIN
CHAPTER 5. NEW CITY: FIRST DAY
CHAPTER 6. NEW CITY: SECOND DAY
I arrived in the city, I didn’t really know why I was there in the first place al-though I was sure there was something I had to do because until this point whenever I got to a place it had been for somebody to find help through me, even though this person was not aware that I had been the channel used.
I stayed in a motel in the suburbs and took the first bus line I saw to visit the streets of that unknown city. When you hear about a new place for the first ti-me, you find out information about the most significant and touristic places that can be visited, but the most important thing for me was to know the reli-gious and hospital centres, where I could develop my purpose.
With a guide in my hand, I paid attention to each street, in order to memorise which stops were interesting to me in that line, and so I did every time we dro-pped or took passengers to a destination on the map and looked for nearby bui-ldings of my interest.
I learnt that when one has little time you have to make the most use of it to fulfil your mission.
That is what I did and for that reason I looked for those places where people of faith were gathered, that made it easier for me so I didn’t have to go looking for them house to house.
I got off at the last bus stop, it was really a long journey back, but before cat-ching the bus back to the motel I wanted to walk a little and meet people be-cause in spite living in a great country with its own idiosyncrasies, each city has its own style and in this one, each space has its own identity.
It was a working class neighbourhood with the tenor of the large buildings that as beehives gave shelter to thousands of neighbours. The scarce green spaces around it and the lack of equipment for leisure activities, gave a clear idea that its inhabitants were too busy in their constant daily job to be wasting their ti-me sitting in a park to read a newspaper.
I walked a little further and I noticed the vehicles, these were somehow old and in spite of their careless appearance it was because of their daily use. Cer-tainly they were used to carry entire families, leaving each person at their pla-ce of work or study centre before ending up in some parking inside the buil-dings built exclusively to serve as parking lots.
A whole tower buildings that were used daily by thousands of workers who knew that they would not find a free space to park on the street.
I continued walking, I spotted by surprised that there was hardly any dirt in the streets, this is something that I had already noticed in other cities in their wor-king class neighbourhoods. The more humble the population was, the better taken care of were their common areas, as if they knew that no one was going to come and fix what they did not take care of themselves.
I continued walking and I found a small church in the middle of an open field, it was a tiny apartment in the shadow of two big buildings. I wanted to enter, but when I got closer I saw a sign on the door announcing the business days and hours indicating that the rest of the time it remained closed.
Going downstairs the entrance of the temple, ready to start my journey back to the motel, an elderly lady who was passing by wearing a pretty jazzy flower dress, greeted me saying,
-Young man, it’s early for mass, two hours left still.
- Yes ma’am, I am new in the city and I just checked to see if it was open for a visit.
- It’s been long since they opened on non ceremonial days. When I was a child, the house of the Lord was always open at any time, one could go in and pray, have a short quiet time and then continue their way, but now it’s different, everyone is too in a hurry to even realise that there is a church. It seems to me that even the priest is in a hurry and for that reason he does not even have time to open before his time.
I thanked her for the information and as I had found her a nice lady I cordially asked her,
- Can I give you a gift?
- I am not as old as I look, which woman would not like to be given a gift?, but I don’t think I know the reason for it, she said surprised.
-I have no reason to share my day, I just want you to be happy.
-Oh, then yes.
That said, without waiting any longer, I placed my right hand on her forehead and after a few seconds, I took it back and said,
-That is it, I hope you have a nice day.
She seemed transposed, with a strange smile of happiness, like the one a girl puts on when she is in her mother’s arms, it took her a while to react and by then the man had gone.
As fast as I could, in haste, but not rushing, I went back to the hairdresser whe-re I had left an important conversation with my friends, whom I had shared a a major part of my morning with. But my responsibilities to my grandson, who I had to make lunch for, had made me leave that ludic moment to go back home. When I arrived at the door of the hairdresser I opened it and as I entered I greeted everyone and one of them seeing me asked,
-Did you forget something? Well, we thought you would be cooking already.
Another added before I could answer,
-Hey, girl, why have you got a stifling? Did anyone hit on you on the way and you came back to share it with us? And everyone laughed at at the joke.
-Something way better I said, and at once everyone was in silence.
-Better than getting a compliment at our age ?, Tell us, because we are interes-ted -stated the first.
-I met a man …
-Well, introduce him to me, said another, interrupting me, and they all laughed again.
- Seriously, girls, this one had a special look
- Go on baby, said the woman from behind again and they all laughed again.
-And then he touched me with his hand and I felt a heat …
-Stop that girl, there are innocent people around here, you are really flushing, said the first one, cutting me off and everyone laughed again.
I was feeling very comfortable for no reason, but it seems that my happiness was spreading to others, because even though we were matured women, nor-mally that place served to discuss what we cared about, the problems of our youth, unemployment, how expensive life was …
Instead, we were now laughing so nicely, not worried about any of the strug-gles we had to face daily.
I left them with the sensation of having had a good time and feeling very well, my friends in their farewell told me that when I had another day like this I should not hesitate to pass by and that if I found the man again I should ask for his phone number, as there were several single candidates willing to let themselves to be touched.
I was going down the street as if I were on top of a cloud, remembering the many witticism of my friends, laughing at the jokes they said, it was a won-derful feeling that enveloped me.
Being above fifty , I do not remember a moment as pleasant as this, despite the fact that I have lived very good ones, like the day I got married, when I had my daughter or when she had my grandson.
Maybe those three were the most outstanding, but all the good moments were those ones sharing joy with others, but now it was different, I felt happy from within and was able to participate in that happiness, as if I had a fountain with the mouth of the pipe broken in me and happiness was gushing out of me.
I got to the gate of my house , I opened an iron bar; his was a security measure that the community had had to take to prevent outsiders from getting in, or at least to make it a little bit harder.
Anyway, one day after another someone would complain about being robbed and this was a humble neighbourhood we were talking about.
The truth was that, in our houses we had the essentials to live, no kind of luxu-ry, in spite of that people would still steal what they found, the could either steal a toaster or a radio.
On my way to take the lift I came across one of those difficult-to-treat kids, a refugee as I called them, they walked through life drawing away from the rest so as not to hurt them, because they looked very tough and rude.
Normally, if it were before I would have been intimidated and let him go up alone and then take the lift when it was free, but I was feeling too good to be afraid, so when the lift came down I opened the door for him to get in. He was surprised by his reaction and the look on his face.
-Good manners are for others, I said with a smile.
The man held the door putting his hand over my head and said,
-Please, go first.
I thanked him and I entered , once both of us were in the lift, he asked me,
- Where are you going today?
-Well, I’m going to see my grandson, I’m sure he is already acting out because his meal is not ready yet, you already know how kids are.
-No, not yet, the man answered with a small smile
- Don’t worry, you will find someone who loves you and you will see how happy you will be when you have children -I said with a broad smile.
- Do you think so? To tell the truth, I hope so, but because of my size, people tend to think that I am not easy to deal with and they almost flee from me.
That surprised me, I thought that he was the one who maintained a certain dis-tance towards others and instead he had a sociable and friendly character, wi-lling to have a conversation with anyone who would give him some minutes.
-If you would permit me some advice, you should change your way of dres-sing, I like blue or white for you -I said winking at him.
The lift got my floor, I stepped out saying goodbye to that neighbour whom I had never crossed a single word with and now seemed so nice to me. I opened the door and heard how my daughter was scolding my grandson and complai-ning about my unpunctuality.
- I am here, calm down, I will take care of everything - I said so she could know that I heard her.
-But have you seen what time is it? She reproached me nervously. Do you ha-ve any idea how late it is? If you’re not going to take care of the child, just tell me, and I’ll see how to drop him off at school. You know that I have to go to work and that I cannot take care of everything.
-Well, dear I got delayed a little bit with my friends, nothing else, I said in a conciliatory voice.
-Of course you are as idle as usual, but some of us have a job, she recriminated me.
- I have been thinking about looking for a job myself lately, I said thoughtfully, knowing that this could solve the delicate economic situation at home.
This remark made my daughter mute, since she expected me to apologise or start protesting about the many tasks I handled in the house which ultimately led us to engage in arguments that lasted hours.
I would reproach her for how much I had sacrificed for her when I was young so she could move forward, paying for studies that other people did not have.
While she would accuse me of being selfish, reminding me that her job paid the bills, which prevented her from attending to her child as much as she wan-ted without having the possibility of paying for someone to take care of him.
But something had changed in our argument, she had remained silent, like thoughtful, and after a while she said,
- It’s okay, don’t worry, I’ll do something quickly and we’ll fix it. By the way, forget that idea of working, you don’t have the age nor the need, while I am in this house I don’t want you to be worried about that.
That surprised me, she always recriminated me about how costly it was to keep up with all my monthly expenses and now it seemed she was apologising.
-Don’t worry my daughter, I am going to change and start working in the kit-chen immediately, where is my king by the way? I asked, looking for my grandson.
My grandson saw me being playful, he hid himself hoping to scare me off suddenly, but I knew him well and knew where he used to hide, I turned around and found him crouching behind a door and I said,
- I caught you
And so he ran towards his mother, laughing. It seemed unbelievable to me, for a long time I have not had this feeling, the feeling of living again as a family. Despite the fact that we have been living under the same roof for so many years, it was not the same as this moment.
- Do you want garlic? - my daughter asked.
- Only a few, you know they don’t make me feel very well, I replied while undressing.
When I returned to the dining room, the food was already served and my dau-ghter told me,
-Do you know what I’ve been thinking ?, I’m off this weekend, if you want, my son and I can go somewhere, and you can have the day off for whatever you want.
-I would rather spend it with you, it’s been long since we went out somewhere as a family, even if we just play at the park.
My daughter must have liked that, because she came closer and gave me a soft kiss on the head.
-I want to play with the ducks -said my grandson with a few words.
-But you must know, I answered. Ducks are very smart and they know who eat their food and who does not. Would you like them to know that you eat little?
-No, today I’ll eat it all, he said with a big smile.
That was wonderful because for the first time in a long time the three of us were at the table eating together, normally my daughter ate standing up or took her food in a lunch bag and ate on her way to work.
But today, even after stealing a part of her valuable time, she sat down and my grandson, who would always start a war in order to eat, was eating everything his mother had given him and even without protesting. Once we finished eating I went to clean the dishes and my daughter went to work.
I was already late, although I did not care, because I liked very much how the morning had been resolved, although I was quite angry at first, because when I arrived my son was alone at home when my mother supposed to be with him.
I asked him how he got home and he told me that he came with one of his friends, a neighbour of ours and that his mother had brought them both; al-though this was fine by me, because he arrived home, I did not like it very much, because if someone is responsible of a task, the person must comply and even more when it is about my son.
But strangely all that bad mood had vanished when she opened the door, it was as if a breath of fresh air had entered and had made me forget all my com-plaints.
Although I usually left my son doing his homework, today I barely had time to say goodbye and I went running to work. Luckily my place of work was next to the house, I just had to walk a little faster to be able to recover the extra time I spent more preparing the food.
I left the house in the direction to the supermarket in the neighbourhood and when I arrived I met the the supervisor who told me,
- Hello, miss, I see you are looking radiant today, I’m glad, that’s the attitude I want for my employees.
Radiant ?, I did not really know what he was talking about, he surely wanted me to do extra hours and that’s why he told me such a compliment. I did not give it more importance, I put on my apron and started charging in my box.
-Hello, it shows that today is a beautiful day, said an elderly man I always saw buying the same thing every day.
-You know, today I recommend an offer that we have, if you are interested in adding it to your diet.
-How do you know I’m on a diet? The strange man asked.
-I’m very observant, besides, you are ageing well, you must be doing so-mething.
-Oh, thank you, you’ve noticed, but it’s not just about the food, I walk about eight kilometres every day, can you believe it at my age?
- Well, if I may, I recommend some supplements that contain iron, it is good to replace the mineral salts that are lost - I replied with a smile.
- You know, I am very happy that you attended to me, whenever I come I will try to make it that way. And in confidence, if you think I need something else do not hesitate to tell me, because despite the saying “the older the wiser”, the truth is that my head is too small and sometimes I can not fix my eyes on everything.
-Why do you take care of yourself so much? -I asked wondering.
-You know, there’s a girl, I met the other day at a party, but I was shy to ask her for a dance. She also seemed somewhat demure and I want to look good for this Friday.
-Do you have a new party? I asked surprised.
-Yes, every Friday at eight in the social centre, you can come if you want, I’m sure you would have a good time.
- Thank you very much, but I have no partner, I replied sadly.
- I would be happy to be your partner, the man told me, winking at me. Al-though, to tell the truth, I am already interested in another person.
- So are you going to tell her? I asked quietly.
-I don’t know, I never have the courage - he said with shame.
-Try with some flowers, that always helps and if she does not accept you, you will only have lost a bit of your ego.
- I no longer have pride miss, time took it away, it’s something else - he said in a mysterious tone.
- Listen to me, some flowers, even just one, but not a red rose, I said, winking at him.
-Oh, why not? He asked surprised.
-Don’t be mischievous, you already know what it means.
And we both got that nervous laugh of complicity that two friends have when they touch personal issues and the man left happily towards the direction of the florist as he told me, to prepare for his attack next Friday.
I stayed alone for a while as no client came, surprised at what had happened.
Normally, I had the habit of not talking to customers, since it was very stress-ful to have to be marking and thinking about the answer I had to give.
The only reason I would talk to a customer was to give the total cost of the purchase, and I would do this with haste, since usually there were one or two more customers waiting on the queue
But at this moment, it seemed time was not important, as if what was really important was to dedicate a little time to this man who was always looking down, instead, he was encouraged and had a big smile.
“Let’s see if it’s true what my boss told me of him having a good day,” I thought within myself.
The next customer arrived, she was like those women difficult to deal with, because they complained about everything. I still remember yesterday’s argu-ment, because some yogurts had today’s expiration date. She complained and argued that with so little time she was not going to have the time to eat them all and that she would have to throw more than half, so she asked me for a dis-count of at least half the price.
The day before, it was because I mistakenly gave her a penny less of her chan-ge. She was very angry saying that, if the products were already expensive, she could not afford not having her change back correctly.
But strangely I did not feel afraid or intimidated by her presence as in other occasions. She was one of those people who were hard to forget and it wasn’t nice meeting them, those type of people if you saw them on the street you would prefer changing sidewalk before facing them. I had barely begun to dial when she asked me,
-Hey, which perfume is it today?
Feeling surprised I told her and she spoke to me again saying,
-I might buy a bottle of that, you know I like to wear perfume, but in very little quantity, I prefer my own smell to mix with the perfume.
- That way people will know you by you smell, I said with a forced smile.
-Indeed, I do not like those people who because of lack of hygiene they hide their own smell behind a litre of cologne.
-Besides, they say it’s an aphrodisiac, I mean personal smell, I pointed out.
-Yes, I have also heard about that, but they say that men are rather visual, that’s why I always wear clothes of one size less than mine.
We both laughed a lot with that statement, the truth is that I didn’t know the woman, perhaps I had judged her wrongly or maybe too easily.
Now that I knew her a little better, she seemed to be a beautiful person, and of course anybody could have a bad day even her, that would explain the clashes we have had in the past, nothing to remember anymore.
I said farewell with a smile and after a moment of being alone I heard on the public address system that I was needed in customer service. That shocked me, because when a cashier was needed they usually send a girl to give the errand to avoid causing the scandal of using the speakers.
When I arrived, the manager with a big smile told me,
-See, some of us have been talking and we believe that you will be the emplo-yee of the week.
- In all my years here I have never been employee of the week - I said surpri-sed.
-Well, you are today, he replied winking at me.
-But that means …
-Yes, indeed, collect your things, because you free for the rest of the day.
It seemed like a dream come true, I had always envied the luck of some people getting off thanks to being the employee of the week, but it had never really touched me until this moment.
I felt lucky, as if I had been touched by providence, capable of doing anything, of making my dreams and desires come true.
I left after hugging my colleagues and even a customer who crossed my path and gave everyone a nice smile. I went to a children’s goods store, because I wanted my happiness to be shared with those that are mine, and although I didn’t have much money I wanted to surprise my son so I went to buy him a toy.
Before entering the store, I saw a person selling lottery coupons. I had always been suspicious of those games that take away you salary and also your illu-sions with them, because years and years pass by without winning, neither you nor any family member, despite the gossip that says that they have heard of one person or the other who won but nobody ever knows the person directly.
I bought a number and I left the change to the seller, who delighted me with a poem as a thank you, the poem despite being short was beautiful and so I let him know.
After I went into the store and looking around a lot I decided on a ruben cube, although I knew that my son was more of wrestling toys, it seemed a good en-tertainment that would help you focus on difficult tasks.
Well, to tell the truth, I did not expect him to ever solve it, because when I was younger I tried several times and never succeeded.
I asked the clerk to wrap it for me as a gift and once I paid I went home exci-ted. There was my mother sitting on a chair watching TV and knitting a scarf, even though we did not need it, because we already had a collection, but she liked to weave it and it kept her busy.
After greeting her, I went to my son’s room, where he spent the afternoons. Al-though there was no one to watch him, he knew that I would ask him about his homework in the evening before dinner and I would check if he had done them well. For that reason he divided his time as he wanted into studying and rest time, if he liked he could do his homework first and then spend the rest of the afternoon playing.
When I arrived he was colouring a notebook, seeing me enter he was surprised and looked at a clock in case time had gone without realising and he said,
-Mom, what are you doing here at this time? Are you okay?
-I’m doing great, I’ve only come to see you earlier, to know how you were- I replied with a smile.
- I’m fine, thanks, but you have to go unless they might complain at work, he said hurriedly.
That filled me with pride, knowing that I had such a responsible son.
-Look today I have no more work to do, I have been granted the afternoon off, so if you want we can go to the park for some time.
-I still have homework, he said with a sad face.
-Don’t worry, I’ll help you to finish it later if you come with me.
He quickly released the coloured pencil and with a big smile he threw his arms around my neck and said,
-I love you mom.
This made me feel emotional again, the truth is that everything that a mother could wish was this, seeing my son happy and he telling me these beautiful things.
-Look, I said. Since you have been well behaved , I brought you something.
-What is it? He asked excitedly.
-Open the wrapper and you’ll see I said as I gave him the gift.
He did so quickly and found a cube of six faces, each one of a different colour and looking at all its sides he asked,
- And what is this for?
This put me in a difficult place, because although I had tried to solve it, I did not know what the instructions were or how it was solved, so if he asked me to do a demonstration I could not do it.
-Well …, this … -I said taking my time to find the right words-. Each side con-sists of of the cube having all the cells of the same colour.
My son looked at the sides again and after a moment he said,
-Mom, it has them already, look all the yellow cells are here and on this other side the red ones.
-Yes, right I said, laughing at the occurrence of my son. Wait a minute.
Picking up the cube, I turned the pieces around, I gave it back to him and said,
- Now you have to reorganise it.
He took it between his small hands trying to figure out how those pieces mo-ved and he realised he could only make horizontal or vertical movements, of a row or column. After trying several times and before his desperation I said,
-You can move several columns or rows at a time, that will make the work easier
He looked at me with a face of not being too convinced and started spinning the chips again. I knew that it was going take a good part of his afternoon, so I said,
-Well, leave that aside because we have to go, I’ll ask grandma if she wants to go down too.
I went towards the living room and before I said anything to my mother, my son called me and said,
-Mom, mom, look
I was surprised, because I left him only a few seconds ago , I turned around and to my surprise I saw in his hands the ordered cube and a big smile. I took it to look at every side and after checking that all the colours were well placed, I said,
-Very well done, son. -And I kissed him on the cheek as a reward-. Now take the jacket so you don’t catch a cold.
-Are you going out? My mother asked me, listening to what I had told her grandson.
-Yes, let’s go to the park for a while, they gave me the afternoon off.
- What have you done this time?
-Nothing mom, just that I’m the employee of the week.
-Really? She asked, getting up and opening her arms to give me a hug-. I’m so proud of you, she said putting her arms around me.
I had a strange feeling, we always fought so much and now it seemed she had a big heart, I smiled at her and asked,
- Do you want to go downstairs?
-No thanks, it’s too late for me, I don’t want to catch a cold.
-Okay, take a rest, we will not take more than half an hour.
-I’ll be here, I also want use this time to make dinner, I’m going prepare so-mething really good, you’ll see, it’s going to be very special, my girl is em-ployee of the week.
My son and I went out, there we were playing with a ball, it was rather for him to run and blow off steam, than my sporty interest in football.
I sat for a moment while he kicked against a wall, when a young girl came and sat next to me.
Is he your baby? She asked with a worried face.
-Yes, that’s right, why do you ask? I asked, surprised by her attitude.