“My name is Anya and work is the only thing that interests me. My story is like that of many women who have come to feel that the most essential things in life are to be found between the four walls of home. That’s where our husbands and children are. Why ask for more?
“My mother, my grandmother and my aunts lived their whole lives this way and they survived for a good number of years. That proves to me that their system works well. It may be that their husbands went out on them once in a while with other women. What of it? In the end they always come back.
“The only one who dared to study was my cousin Olga, and look at her – the way she behaves no husband will last even five minutes with her. She finds a mountain of faults in all of them, and with that business of wanting to hold on to her independence she hasn’t even had children.
“I’ve always said so: she’s going to end up either nutty or all alone. Because what man is going to put up with a woman like her, with so many edicts? At least that’s what I used to think a few years ago, before Alberto left me. Me, who had never worked – I had to go out to pound the pavement.
“He forgot all about us. Imagine – with a young girl as his woman he had to give up everything to support her. Even though Alberto had always been the one who ate best, who slept most, the one who bought himself the best clothing, since he was the one working and he had to look presentable.
“Now, as things go, he doesn’t even send money for his kids. The times that I ran into him by coincidence and I reproached him for this, he told me in a mocking tone to go see a lawyer. And that’s what I did, but I guess it was just to make myself feel better, because money for the kids – still nothing. And since things here don’t come out like in the soap operas where the cheating husbands always end up supporting the family they abandoned, I had to face the music myself.
“I didn’t go running off to the highway to see what I could get for my body, because later the shame would be too much; anyway with the belly I have and these thighs full of cellulite, they would have paid me next to nothing. That’s why I accepted a little job in the kitchen of a factory where I washed dishes and helped the cook. In addition to the salary, which at times came to three hundred pesos, I could take some food home and I didn’t have to think about what I was going to cook that night.
“Everything was going wonderfully until the persecution began.
“You were supposed to have passed ninth grade to wash dishes in that place. And I tried. I signed up for the workers’ and peasants’ adult education program but I found out that I was thick-headed and that studying didn’t interest me.
“I had left school at thirteen when I figured out how to keep anyone from making me go. Then Alberto appeared, and we got married; after that, he was the one who didn’t want me to study. Now that I’m thirty-four, it interests me even less.
“Every few days someone tells me about a job cleaning floors in a bank or a shop and I get my hopes up thinking that maybe things have changed and that somebody intelligent has discovered that you don’t need to know how to write in order to clean. But just for the heck of it, they keep on demanding that damned school certificate.
“So that’s why I survive by selling anything that I can get my hands on. Homemade sweets or peanuts, or clothes or shoes, it’s all the same to me. Yes, it’s true – I have to hide from the police because what I’m doing is illegal. But my children and I have food to eat and, for better or worse, we aren’t walking around naked.”