The water’s run out. I look over as a small boy, no older than five, peeks into the empty gallon, hoping to satiate his thirst. We’ve been walking through this barren wasteland for 3 weeks? A month? I’ve lost count. Everybody in the caravan is dressed in the same neutral colors, not wanting to gather any attention from the roaming patrol cars. But our clothing isn’t the only thing that’s somber. Everybody’s expressions is disheartening. Jessica, a Salvadoran girl walks alongside Ricardo, a Honduran man, in defeat. Two nights ago our caravan was raided by the gringos, and although she managed to get away, her mother wasn’t so lucky. Everybody in this caravan has lost somebody, this is why we are walking to the states. Perhaps there, we have a chance to escape our crime-ridden countries. But the caravan’s spirit is destroyed. We’ve already lost countless people who we began the journey with. And unknown to me at the time, we were about to lose plenty more.
The coyote in front of us stops dead in his tracks. Soon the entire caravan comes to a halt, everybody at the ready. We’ve been through this before. Even the children know something is about to happen, all the faces in the caravan have changed from disheartened to determined. Determined to get away and not get detained. The coyote gives the cue, and everybody runs in groups of three in opposite directions. We always have to run in groups of three, and always with somebody we aren’t familiar with. This way, if we get caught, we won’t get exploited by the gringos. I run with a teenager, I think his name is Ruben, and a middle aged woman, Sara. We’ve all managed to escape before, which is why we’ve made it this far, but this time luck was not on our side. We made it half a mile from the starting point when a white Dodge Durango pulls up next to us, blaring it’s siren. We’ve been caught.
My face is on the floor. Dirt is lined against my cheek, and I can count the individual dirt grains as the gringo tightens his cuffs around my wrists. He forcefully picks me up, and shoves me into the back of the Durango, where I am reunited with Ruben and Sara. Sara is okay, she’s mostly shaken but that’s to be expected. The same cannot be said about Ruben. He has a gash going across his temple, evident of his resistance to the gringo’s force. I turn to him and ask him, “Estas bien?” He nods his head, indicating that he’s okay, but his expression tells me something different. He’s scared, and I wouldn’t blame him. We’ve been running away from this very moment, but now in the back of this truck all I can think about is the stories I’ve heard stories about what happens where they’re taking us. Children locked in cells, as if they were animals. Buckets of cold water splashed on unsuspecting people, and of course the fear of being deported; of starting this long and treacherous journey all over again but all we can do is let our imagination run its course.
The rooms are so bright. It’s like that moment, when you were a kid, and you were playing outside, and when your mother calls you in for dinner, it takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the lighting inside. I haven’t been inside a building in about a month, and my eyes feel the repercussion. The lights, and the white walls are the only thing that’s bright. Scattered across the room, are countless brown children locked inside cages. On the floor, next to them, are bowls of food, and water. These gringos are treating these children like animals! I feel a wave of frustration crash through me, how can people be so heartless? The gringo escorting me must feel my fists clenching, because he hits me in the back of my knees causing me to stumble. He eventually leads me to a room where they are keeping the other men, and before I even realize what is occurring, I feel a black boot on my back as I get kicked into the room, with the heavy metal door being shut behind me.
It’s hard to tell time here. Besides the occasional opening of the door ro bring new people in, or to slide food across in a metal bowls, the door stays shut. I’ve asked around, and there’s people that have been in here for three months. Why are we being held here? Why not send me back so I can start my journey again? The gringos must have caught on to our tactics, and stopped the deportations because I don’t see any hope of getting out of here. I don’t really know what else to do. We outnumber them, but they have the weapons, and besides we aren’t criminals. Most of us here embarked in this dangerous quest, to avoid criminals, the last thing we want to do is become them. Perhaps this is where it ends, I don’t really see a way of getting out. I am captive.
I decided to do an imitation of Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. Similar to how she wrote in ‘Removes’ I also wrote the my imitation in this form. This remove, serves as a form of chapter ending, it allows me to transition into another part of the story I want to tell effortlessly. Similar to Rowlandson being captured by the native americans and her calling them “barbarous creatures”, I decided to play along with that and use the word “gringos” to describe my captives, in this case the immigration officers. In Rowlandson’s case she used the term to try and paint the Natives in a negative light, similarly to what I tried to do in my imitation. More importantly, I also choose to use a word in another language, because there were several instances in Rowlandson’s narrative, where she began to use native words like “papoose,” or “squaw” and this exemplified how she was becoming a part of the natives at some point. She was immersed into their culture that she began to use their language. In my imitation, I used a spanish word, to honor Rowlandson’s acceptance of a new culture, but in a different way. By using a spanish word, I was doing the opposite of Rowlandson, and instead stayed with the part of my other culture, rather than adapting to a new one. Overall, the imitation delivers the same message general message that she was trying to convey during her time; she was being held captive and so was I.