Expert Answer:Read and TttT – The Distance Between us Ch. 10-20

Answer & Explanation:As you read The Distance Between Us, identify three important ideas, one challenging passage, one golden line, and 5 important (or unfamiliar) words. Important ideas are pieces of information you believe are vital to the author’s message. In the margin, write any thoughts, connections, predictions, or questions. Challenging passages are instances in the text where you got confused. In the margin, write down what about the passage confused you–was it the language used, the sentence structure, an unfamiliar reference, etc?A golden line is the MOST important sentence for you in the text. In the margin, write why you think the sentence (or two) you identified is important. Important words are words you think are important to the author’s message. Identify 5 and jot down a definition in the margin. Alternatively, you can identify unfamiliar words that you have not seen before or maybe you just forgot the definition. Once you have identified these FOUR pieces, you will take a picture of them in your article and upload them here. Remember, you need pictures of 3 important ideas, 1 challenging passage, 1 golden line, and 5 important or unfamiliar words. AN EXAMPLE OF A TttT IS ATTACHED!!!!!!!
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10
MAGO SAID as she stopped to wait for me. I walked faster to catch
up with her and Carlos, being careful not to spill any more water from the
buckets I carried in each hand, but they were already half empty.
“Why do we need to carry our own water from the well?” I asked again for
the hundredth time. “Why can’t we use what’s in the water tank?”
“Because our grandmother is a bitter old woman,” Mago said. “And let’s not
complain today, or she won’t let us go with our aunt.”
PÚRATE!”
That afternoon, Tía Emperatriz was going to take us to the movie theater to
watch La Niña de la Mochila Azul, starring Pedrito Fernández, who was really
cute, and both Mago and I had a big crush on him. School had ended the
previous week, and we got really good grades, so the movie was Tía Emperatriz’s
present to us. This was my first time going to the movie theater, and I couldn’t
wait.
When we finally made it home from the well, I only had a little water left in
my buckets, my ankles were raw from being scraped by the buckets, and my
palms were red and blistered.
But I thought about Pedrito Fernández, and I could already hear him singing
my favorite song: La de la mochila azul. La de ojitos dormilones … I was humming
this song as we walked through the gate. I stopped when I saw a woman
standing in the patio holding a little girl in her arms. The woman was wearing a
burgundy dress and golden high-heeled sandals that glittered in the sun. I
couldn’t see her face very well because she had big dark sunglasses on. Her hair
was permed and dyed red. She looked like a TV star. The little girl in her arms
was dressed in pink ruffles and lace. She was a chubby baby, her cheeks so puffy
it seemed as if her mouth were stuffed with cotton candy. This little girl must
have a lot of good food to eat, wherever she lives, I thought. I’d never seen such a
healthy-looking baby before.
“Well, aren’t you going to say hello to your mother?” the woman asked with a
smile.
We stayed by the gate, holding our buckets.
“Don’t just stand there,” Abuela Evila said. “Go get your things ready.”
Tía Emperatriz walked over to us, took my buckets, and whispered, “Go give
your mother a hug.”
We still didn’t move from the gate. I clutched Mago’s dress and hid behind
her. Mami didn’t look like the mother I had tried so hard not to forget during
those two and a half years.
“Look at you kids, you’ve grown so much!” she said. When she took off her
sunglasses and I saw those eyes that were also Abuelita Chinta’s eyes, I could no
longer deny that she was my mother. Carlos ran to hug her. I waited for Mago,
to see what she was going to do so that I could do the same. But she just stood
there clutching the handles of her buckets. Élida left my grandmother’s side and
went into the house without another glance.
“Where’s Papi?” Mago said. “Is he back, too?”
“No, he’s not back. Now go and get your things so that we can leave,” Mami
said.
“We’re leaving right now?” I asked. I looked at Tía Emperatriz.
“Of course,” Mami said. “Don’t tell me you want to stay here?”
When we didn’t say anything, Tía Emperatriz said, “We’ll go another day,
niños. Do as your mother says.”
“I’ll get our stuff,” Mago said. She put a hand on my shoulder and then went
inside the house while Carlos and I stayed with Mami.
“I’m nine now,” Carlos said. I was three months away from turning seven, but
I didn’t want to tell her my age because I kept staring at the little sister we had
never met before. She really does exist. She really is real.
“Ven acá, Reyna,” Mami said. I went to her, and I let her hug me with one
arm. I hesitantly wrapped my arms around her waist, feeling as if this were a
dream and she would disappear any minute. I looked at the hand she had
around me and saw the silvery scars that ran the length of her index, middle,
and ring fingers. It took me a second to remember that when she met Papi, and
up until she was pregnant with Carlos, she’d had a job at a tortilla mill and one
time her hand had gotten caught in the grinder as she was stuffing the dough
into it. She had almost lost her fingers. That was why she switched to selling
Avon. I hugged Mami tighter, as many more things I had forgotten about her
returned to me.
The little girl pulled my hair, and I cried out.
“Betty, no!” Mami said.
I moved out of the little girl’s reach and massaged my scalp. Mago returned
with our things stuffed into two pillowcases, and we said our goodbyes. We
didn’t hug our grandmother. But we thanked her for letting us stay at her home
and for taking care of us.
“Well, at least there’ll be three fewer mouths to feed,” she said, as if the food
she had given us those two years and a half had come out of her own pocket,
and not from my parents’ hard work.
“Ay, Amá, you’ll never change, will you?” Tía Emperatriz said. She opened
her arms, and we ran to her and hugged her.
“Come on, it’s getting late and my mother is waiting for us,” Mami said.
“Bye, Tía,” Mago said to our aunt.
I looked at Tía Emperatriz. There were many things I would have liked to
say to her, but when I glanced at my mother, I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea
to say anything but thank you. Mami narrowed her eyes as she looked at me,
and I wondered if she knew I had betrayed her while she was away.
“Come back and visit,” Tía Emperatriz said as she walked us out to the gate.
Élida stayed in Abuela Evila’s room and didn’t come out to say goodbye.
“Wait! The photo,” I said as we were leaving. I ran back into the house. Even
though I had memorized every part of his face, I couldn’t leave the Man Behind
the Glass.
Mami hailed a cab, and the three of us sat in the back. Mami and her little girl
took the front. We had so many questions to ask her but didn’t because the taxi
driver started a conversation with Mami.
“You’re coming from El Otro Lado, aren’t you?” he asked.
To this day I still don’t know how it is that people always seem to know
when someone has just gotten back from the United States. Do they smell
differently? Speak differently? Or is it their clothes?
Mami laughed and told him yes. “I just got back last night,” she said.
“Did you like it? Is it as nice as people say?” the taxi driver asked.
“Oh, yes. It is beautiful,” Mami said. “A truly beautiful place.”
“So why did you come back? I mean, with our economy in the toilet,
everyone is leaving for El Otro Lado, not the other way around.”
Her little girl started to cry, and Mami didn’t answer.
Despite our sadness at leaving Tía Emperatriz and missing out on the movie,
we were thrilled that our mother had returned. We kept waiting for her to say
that she had missed us, but she’d hardly said a word to us. We got off at the
main road and walked the rest of the way to Abuelita Chinta’s house in single
file behind Mami. The air smelled of smoke as trash piles burned on either side
of the train tracks. Abuelita Chinta’s house was the only one on the block made
of bamboo sticks. It was covered with cardboard soaked in tar on the outside,
and the roof was made of corrugated metal. The neighbors’ houses were made of
brick and cement. The prettiest house belonged to Doña Caro. Her husband,
Don Lino, was a welder. He made good money and his family had a refrigerator
and running water. Abuelita Chinta didn’t have those things, but she had a
stove and electricity. She bought water from the next-door neighbor and carried
it home in a bucket.
Sixty feet from Abuelita Chinta’s shack, to the west, was a canal that
sometimes overflowed during the rainy season. Perpendicular to the canal were
the train tracks which served the El Río Balsas Railway up until the 1990s, when
the government privatized the railroads and the train from Iguala was
suspended. But back then, the trains would come by carrying iron ore, grain,
sugar, salt, fuel, cement, fertilizers, and passengers. The bamboo sticks of my
grandmother’s shack rattled like maracas when the train passed by. It was
especially scary at night because everything was quiet, except for the barking of
the neighborhood dogs, when all of a sudden the train would come rushing by
with its whistles and roaring engines.
Doña Caro was sitting outside her house combing her long, gray hair. When
she saw my mother, she said, “Juana, you’re back.” I wanted to scream that yes,
Mami was back, and we would no longer be the little orphans!
How is Papi?
Tell us about the U.S.
What did you do while you were there? Is it true what people say?
Did you miss us?
Does Papi miss us?
Why didn’t he come back with you?
“Why don’t you kids go outside to play with the new neighbors?” Mami said
without answering our questions. She said she had something to tell us, but that
now was not the time. Only Carlos listened to her and went in search of kids to
play with. Mami handed Mago her little girl and told her to take care of her
while she and Abuelita Chinta prepared dinner.
Mago refused to take the baby.
“She’s your sister,” Mami said.
“She’s your daughter,” Mago said, and ran out of the house.
“Reyna, you take care of her.”
“But—”
She put her little girl on my lap, and I did as I was told. I didn’t want to
watch this little girl. But Mami was back, just as I had hoped for, and it was
better if I behaved or she might decide to leave again.
My grandmother’s shack was just one big room. (Unlike Abuela Evila’s, this
house had no interior walls, so privacy was hard to come by.) A curtain
separated the front from the back part of the house, and that is where my
grandmother had stored our belongings from our old house, like my parents’
bed, the broken refrigerator, the dresser. In the middle of the shack was the
dining table. To the right hung a hammock from the rafters where my uncle,
Tío Crece, slept. Abuelita’s bed was on the left side of the dining table. The
kitchen area was in the front part of the house. Next to the stove was a small
table full of saints, candles, and flowers. In the center was a portrait of my dead
grandfather.
I sat on Abuelita Chinta’s bed and watched her and Mami make dinner.
Finally we would start having real meals. Meals that were more than just beans
and tortillas. I was so happy about the food that for a moment, I forgot I was
supposed to be mad about watching Elizabeth, or Betty, as Mami said we should
call her youngest daughter. My little sister. A complete stranger. She was a year
and three months old. She looked at me and smiled. Part of me wanted to smile
at her. Part of me wanted to hold her in my arms and smell her scent of baby
powder and milk, but I didn’t do it. Instead, I studied her face, and I was jealous
that she was prettier than me, even at her age. I was jealous that her hair was
curlier than mine, and her eyelashes were thicker and longer than mine, and her
eyes were not slanted like mine, but instead were round and framed by those
thick, dark lashes that made it seem as if she were wearing eye makeup.
But then I looked at her skin. She was very dark, this little girl. And it made
me feel glad that she was so dark. I had heard people say that in El Otro Lado
there were a lot of golden-haired people, with eyes as blue as a summer sky and
skin as white as a pig’s belly. But this little girl, who was born in that special,
beautiful place, was almost as dark as the Nahuas, the indigenous people who
came down from the hills to sell clay pots at the train station.
Mami had forgotten I was there and didn’t whisper as much as before. Now I
could hear a little of what she was saying to Abuelita Chinta. Something about
another woman. A fight she had with Papi. She was making green salsa, and as
she talked she smashed the roasted green tomatoes with the pestle so hard the
juice splattered on her dress. But she didn’t care. She said she hated Papi and
never wanted to see him again.
“I’m going to get back at him, Amá. I swear.”
“Hush, Juana. Don’t say such things. He’s still the father of your children,”
Abuelita Chinta said.
“But it can’t be true,” I stammered. “Papi can’t love another woman.”
Mami looked up, startled, and when she realized that I was in the house with
them—and that I’d been there all along—she got furious.
“What are you doing standing there? Go outside and don’t come back until I
call you, you hear!”
Betty started to cry. Tears stung my eyes, but Mami didn’t care about our
tears. “Get out!” she yelled again, and I ran out.
Carlos was playing marbles with the boys, but Mago wasn’t playing jump
rope with the girls. Instead, she was all alone, perched up on the metal thing
used to change the direction of the train tracks. I carried Betty in my arms and
struggled to hold her up. Her cheeks might have looked as if they were stuffed
with cotton candy, but she weighed more than a sack of corn.
Mago was staring into the distance, past the huizache trees, and when I
looked in her direction, I saw the towers of La Guadalupe Church near Abuela
Evila’s house sticking up like two fingers. Behind the towers, the Mountain That
Has a Headache touched the sky.
“Do you miss her?” I asked.
Mago glanced at the mountain one more time and then jumped off the trackchanger. “Who, Mami? But she’s back,” she said. “And why were you crying?”
I started crying again. I didn’t know why I still felt that familiar emptiness
inside when I looked at the Mountain That Has a Headache even though my
mother was back.
Carlos came over to us, smiling and pointing toward the house. “Can you
believe she’s here?” He took a deep breath and said, “Finally, everything is going
to go back to how it was before she left.”
Mami stood at the door and told us to come inside. As I looked at her in the
doorway, beckoning us to come in, I knew why the emptiness and the yearning
were still there. Carlos was wrong.
The woman standing there wasn’t the same woman who had left.
11
AUGUST 1982, two months after my mother had returned from El Otro Lado,
the peso was devalued for the second time that year due to the national debt
crisis. What little money my mother had brought with her was quickly spent.
She found herself the head of the household and with very few options of how
to make a living. After two years of earning dollars, it was difficult for her to
readjust to the hardships brought on by Mexico’s unstable economy. But what
was harder for her was to have to explain to everyone who knew her why she
had come back. As the taxi driver had said, everyone was leaving, not returning.
I didn’t realize back then how difficult it must have been for my mother to look
at her friends and admit that her husband had indeed left her for another
woman, just as they had once teased her that he would.
N
I often found her talking with my grandmother in whispers. But when Mago,
Carlos, and I asked her for details of those two and a half years that she was
gone, she would say little. So all we knew at that point was that my father had
left her for another woman, but back then we still didn’t know how he’d gone
about it. We wanted to know what it meant that he was now with someone else?
Did it mean he would not be coming back? Did it mean he had given up on the
dream house? Did it mean that he would start a family of his own with that
other woman and forget about us? Did it mean we would never see him again?
“It means he’s washing his hands of us,” my mother said. “It means we will
starve here in this miserable place, and he will be too busy tending to his new
woman to give a damn!”
“Papi wouldn’t do that,” Mago said. “He’ll come back.”
Out of all of us, Mago was the only one who harbored any hope that Papi
would not forsake us. My mother’s broken promise—that she’d be gone only a
year—had caused a rift between them, so Mago’s loyalty to my father remained
strong. He had been gone for so long that in his absence he had become bigger
than life in Mago’s eyes. But regardless of how much she had changed, I was too
happy to have my mother back to cling to the hope of seeing my father again.
And I was angry at him. I didn’t have a single memory of him and Mami
together—of all of us together—and I felt cheated out of the family I yearned to
have. Why did he have to go and fall in love with someone else? I wanted to
know. Hadn’t Mami always done what he had asked of her? Hadn’t it been
enough that she had followed him to El Otro Lado and left us behind?
And now he had returned to us a different version of my mother, one who
was bitter, heartbroken, and weighed down by the knowledge that she had four
children to support and was on her own.
Not too far from the train station is La Quinta Castrejón. Although it has now
deteriorated and is no longer the fancy place it once was, back in its day it was
frequented by wealthy people. It was on the outskirts of my grandmother’s
colonia, La Ejidal, which was as poor as could be. But La Quinta Castrejón sat
there amidst the poverty, teasing us, reminding us of what we couldn’t have. It
was surrounded by a block wall lined with broken pieces of soda bottles that
glinted in the sunlight like the jagged teeth of a beautiful but deadly beast.
There was a long driveway that led to the reception hall and pools. The
driveway was lined with palm trees, the only palm trees in the neighborhood,
like soldiers standing guard. Inside there was a large swimming pool with a high
diving board and smaller pools for little kids. There was a playground with
swings and slides and a seesaw. Weddings and quinceañeras were held in the
reception hall every weekend. Later, when the middle class was almost entirely
wiped out as a result of the debt crisis, those parties became less frequent,
causing La Quinta Castrejón to lose its glamour and be mostly forgotten.
But at the time, that hadn’t happened yet, and Mami decided to try her luck
there.
“That place is immune to the recession,” Mami had said. “People still have to
get married. And inflation can’t stop young girls from turning fifteen.”
Mami had been unable to find a job, and she did not want to sell Avon
anymore because she wanted to avoid her old clients and their mocking glances
as much as possible. So we started to sell things at La Quinta Castrejón on the
weekends.
On Saturday, after a lunch of alphabet soup and tortillas, Mami prepared the
merchandise to be sold that night. I wondered what kind of party would be
taking place. Mago said it would be a wedding. I thought it would be a
quinceañera. We placed a bet and the loser had to clean the outhouse the next
day.
Around five o’clock Mago, Carlos, and I left the house with Mami. Betty
stayed home and cried. She wasn’t allowed to come. Mami wanted her to come
along. She wanted all of us to come so the guests at La Quinta Castrejón could
see she had four mouths to feed and take pity on her and buy from her. But the
first night we came to sell, Betty cried and cried because the loud music and the
laughter and chatter of the people inside kept her from falling asleep. The night
was cold and we were shivering because our sweaters were too thin to keep out
the chill. But Mami refused to leave even though everyone was inside the hall
dancing and having a good time. She said that soon the party would be over and
they would come back out and buy more cigarettes or gum, maybe even a bag of
potato chips if they felt like a midnight snack.
Then the next day Betty had a fever and a cough. Abuelita Chinta scolded
Mami as if she were a little girl, saying that it was the night’s dampness that had
made Betty sick, and what would we do if she came down with pneumonia?
Mami said, “She’s an American, that’s why she’s so fragile.” Becau …
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