“Back then it was a village, not a city. I would hear the horses neigh and the racket of their hooves all night because they knew when bad weather was approaching. Hurricane Mitch was near, and the entire village hoped to be spared from its vandalism. That night when the eye of the hurricane was hovering over us, I heard bullets of rain hitting our roof, thunders roaring the sky, the wind whispering that death was imminent for us. I was around your age. The sunrise the following day hit us in the face. Our roof was gone, and our walls were struggling to stand. Papa said he would need to reconstruct everything. He said it would be able to withstand the next hurricane. Papa and my uncles worked on rebuilding the house every day that summer. Meanwhile I flourished under the shade of my favourite mango tree watching the men rebuilding, with excitement.”
Grandpa lifted his head, reminiscing on the heat that summer.
“But do you know what happened years later?” he asked enthusiastically.
I bit my lip. “What?”
“Earthquake 1982, and papa had to rebuild everything again.”
“AGAIN?” I said, feeling the frustration diffusing through my blood.
He looked at me with his glistening eyes and diverted his stare to the mango tree not too far from the steps of the veranda where we were sitting. I looked at it and admired too its simplicity. Fruits would be blooming soon.
“Eventually it was my turn to rebuild. A stubborn bush fire in ’95 evaporated all the tears and sweat invested by my papa and uncles. It wasn´t easy, boy. But here we are, 60 years later.”
“One day, you too will need to rebuild.”
I knew what he meant. Grandpa was old now, and his dementia got worse over the years. However, every time I visit, this is the story he shares. This is the story I have embedded within me. As he continued talking, I looked down at the tattoo on my wrist. The words small, but permanent. “Rebuild and enjoy the view from under a mango tree.”