by Richard Oti
Chile is a southern south American country, bordering the south pacific ocean, between Argentina and Peru. Chile is best known for its sweet wine made from pais and muscatel also its magnificent beaches that attracts lots of tourist yearly. Most people dream of living in Santiago the country’s capital, home to the wealthy class. But this dream never comes true for so many.
Senor Valdez (my dad) is one of the many men who had been stuck in the peasant life. Born to don Vicente, he had lived all his life in San Rafael, and had followed in the footsteps of his dad as a coal miner. Dad was married to Senora Emilia and had raised a family. At 12, I was already known as the most beautiful girl in San Rafael. People often remarked about ♍Ɣ golden hair and beautiful brown eyes. Dad worked under unfavorable conditions as all the other miners. It was common to see him with bleeding feet and severe coughs as a result of inhaling coal dust.
Bienvenido a casà papá (welcome home daddy), gracias Estrella (thank you Estrella). Mum just stood at the corner and stared at the man she had come to love and adore. Mí amor (my love) she said softly… Mí todo (my everything) he replied as she gently ran her fingers through his curly hair giving him a kiss on the forehead. If I have a thousand lives, I would never wish to spend it with another man but you. If I have to climb San Pedro (a mountain in chile) for you, I’ll do it mamí. ♍Ɣ dad was always fun when he was home. He somehow managed never to bring the frustration of work home. Every meal was unique, as dinner ended with he and mum doing a salsa dance.
♍Ɣ dream was to be a famous Chilean singer. I would often gather the kids and sing to them. I was quite impressive to listen to. Joaquin ♍Ɣ younger brother was already being trained in the mining business at the age of 10. Education wasn’t really a San Rafael thing. Few managed to escape the mining life, like Senor Sebastian (dads younger brother) who found his way to America and got trained as a medical doctor. Often, he would write dad and grand pa, just to know how they were. He hadn’t returned for 13 years. It was common for those who left San Rafael never to return, because when they did, they were made to feel like people who had betrayed the community’s devotion to mining, tequilla drinking and an every evening salsa party. They just couldn’t fit in again. Uncle Seb had missed Joaquin’s birth and also mine. But he constantly got pictures of us and often sent gifts. He had began to raise his own family, having a child of his own.
I turned 15 and as is Chilean custom, when a girl turns 15, her dad hands her a gold Jewelry. Dad handed me a gold necklace he had bought for 2000 Peso. For you reading, you might not know but 2000 Peso was worth 10 years of dads hard work. “Papa, no puedo recibir este” (dad, I can’t receive this), it is worth so much. I began to cry on his shoulder as he gently tapped me on the back, whispering to me “te amo baby” (I love you baby). “Gracias papa, Gracias papa” (thank you dad).
Daddy always was supportive of ♍Ɣ dream of becoming a music star. Mum was indifferent. She was grooming me to be a responsible house wife just like she was. Dad always thought I could be more than a good house wife. He often told me I had a voice like that of Shakira only that mine was better and I was even more beautiful. I liked that part of being more beautiful. Come on! everybody loves to be told they are beautiful. Joaquin was fast settling into the life of a miner. ♍Ɣ little brother was fast becoming a man at 13. How I wished I could just rescue him from that hard life. I always hoped to do so when I became famous.
Uncle Seb felt I would be more useful in US than San Rafael and somehow convinced dad to let go of me. It was just like yesterday, I still remember mum crying. Dad held her tight as he also cried. As I said earlier on, it was common never to return once you left. They thought they would never see me again. I tried not to cry, but ♍Ɣ precious papí was crying, I couldn’t hold back my tears. He held ♍Ɣ hands and hugged me. I said to him “papi te quiero siempre” (I love you always). Joaquin put ♍Ɣ bag in the bus and I waved good-bye.
I felt it was destiny calling. I couldn’t contain the joy I felt. The cars, the crowd, the airport, the planes, everything was new to me. Uncle Seb was at the New York airport to pick me up. I had mixed feelings about seeing him. I wasn’t sure of how best to react. Semi-formal would do I thought. I saw him from afar, he looked so much like dad only he was much healthier. “Eres una chica hermosa” (you are such a beautiful girl), “gracias tio” (thank you uncle). We both hugged each other. We got home and I quickly adjusted to the environment. It was mostly Mexicans, Chileans and Brazilians that lived there. It was almost like being back home.
Four years had gone by now. I was 19, just graduated from music school and was about to audition for a recording deal. I got so nervous as the day drew near. How I wished dad was there to tell me how better I was than Shakira. Uncle Seb travelled to New York and had refused to tell me why. But he promised he would be in the crowd when I auditioned. All the contestants gathered on the morning of audition an hour before the crowds began to throng. We had the opportunity to familiarize with the stage for a while. Then the judges arrived and so did the crowd. I had the feeling uncle Seb would disappoint me… I saw no trace of him.
Every contestant sang beautifully, some were more impressive than others. I decided earlier on I was going to do a Whitney Houston song. She had fast become ♍Ɣ role model vocally. ♍Ɣ number was called ‘051’ [Estrella Consuella]. I remember taking the longest walk of ♍Ɣ life toward the microphone. I took a deep breath, the quiet crowd was waiting. I said under ♍Ɣ breath in spanish “papa, esto es para ti” (daddy, this is for you). I sang like I had never in 19 years. I bet even Whitney would have been impressed with me.
It was time for the judges to announce the results. Only the top 3 were to be offered recording contracts. The 2nd runner-up was called and her entire family ran up stage to celebrate with her. Same happened to the first runner-up. It was time for the first position to be announced, every waiting contestant was nervous. Suddenly, the judge shouted the first position goes to Estrella Consuella. I ran up stage in tears. To ♍Ɣ suprise, running towards me was dad, mum, Joaquin and Uncle Seb. They had been in the crowd and I didn’t know. We cried, laughed and hugged each other on stage. It was the greatest day of ♍Ɣ life. Today, I have sold over 50 million album copies worldwide.
I always thought dreams come true…. YES they do. I am Estrella Consuella, the lady of destiny.
story by Richard Oti
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