Hedi Framm Anton’s “La Despedida” shows two sides of a story of farewell. A young girl lives with her grandmother in Honduras; they wait for a check from her mother, who works in San Francisco, so they can pay the fee the gang members demand every month.
“La Despedida” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.
Find The Golden Door
Something’s wrong. In my world, things usually go right at least one day a month, Western Union day.
Grandma is moving slow, like the vultures that circle over the garbage dump. She reaches the gate and pushes it open. I stand there, one hand on Mister, who backs up a little, hides behind my skinny legs.
“No money today,” says Grandma.
The mareros will be stopping by any day now. Last month they wanted ten dollars. I heard Grandma and senora Gladys whispering about it. They were talking about how la renta—the protection money—was going up.
I stand still, wondering what I did wrong that Mama didn’t send it this month. Maybe my letter didn’t get to her. Maybe Mama’s mad because I didn’t finish my homework, missed half a day of school. I should have taken a bath this morning, but the water pump dried up again.
—from “La Despedida” in The Golden Door by Hedi Framm Anton
Immigration lawyer 40+ years, specializing in removal defense/political asylum. Travels frequently to Peru and works with NGOs in outskirts of Lima. Primarily interested in adolescents, empowering the vulnerable. Lives in San Francisco. Hoping to retire in two years.