A novel exploring the injustices of the Native and African Americans in history.
|Chapter 7: Huitzilli
The business seemed to be prospering more than ever before. I spent most of the day at the shop, selling clothing and jewelry to the nobles. I was that tired by the end of the day that I just slept at the shop and didn’t return home. The next few days were just as busy, so the same process repeated itself. I had to close shop on the fifth day because there was nothing else to buy. We were out of stock on everything, and I would need some time to make designs before starting the weaving procedure. What troubled me was that my mother never visited the store. I expected her to come in with new products, but she never did. Perhaps it was her getting back at me since I haven’t returned home in a few days? Román never returned either, but it was easy to assume he was still attempting alliances with the Aztecs.
Now that the shop was pretty much barren, I decided it was time to return home. I left the store and put up a sign, informing the customers that we would be closed for a few days. I walked in the direction of my home. Mother was obsessed with her children, she adored all of us equally. She wouldn’t let hours pass on the garden without realizing I wasn’t there to assist her. These thoughts made me come to a theory; what if something happened to my mother?
The only way to find out now was returning home. When I did, I opened the door and entered. There was nothing but silence. I would be able to hear my mother from the garden. I would also be able to hear Ahuiliztli, who would either be screaming in fear from an insect or cheerfully enjoying a game of Patolli. Did they go out to buy groceries? It was a possibility.
Father and Cuetlachtli II were typically out during the morning and afternoon hours. I didn’t worry about them, because I knew I would see them later tonight for our family dinner. I took another step forward. My intention was to check the kitchen and see if mother left a note. I tripped on something along the way, immediately regaining my balance. I lowered my head to gaze at the floor, wanting to figure out what I stumbled over.
If I knew what it was, I would have never looked down.
My eyes went wide at the sight, tears flooding down my cheeks. “Tahtli!” I screamed, horrified yet overwhelmed with mournfulness. “Who… who did this to you?...” I questioned, kneeling down onto the floor. “Where is mom?... Where are my brothers? Am… I'm all alone?...” I shivered as a hand tightly gripped my shoulder. My cries were so loud I could hardly hear footsteps approaching from behind me. There was a voice whispering into my ear in a calm tone. “Mi amor… ¿que paso?”
Román finally returned. I was frightened at first, but now I know I could be properly comforted. I laid my head into his chest, sobbing.
“My father is dead! I don’t know where the rest of my family is! What if I’m all alone?!”
“Mi amor, you would never be alone while I am still here…” His arms wrapped around me in a warm embrace. “Before he drew his dying breath, he finally came to a decision. He told me that we could wed and that I would have to protect you for the rest of our lives…”
“Wait…” I started, pulling my head away from his chest. “You were there when he died? Who killed him?! You have to tell me, Román.”
He seemed to laugh. His grip on my shoulders tightened even more now, pushing me down to the floor. He was on top of me, pinning my arms down above my head. “Oh, Huitzilli… you make this so easy…” His laughter didn’t stop. “First of all, your family is as good as gone. My brother Ernesto enslaved them. He owns them, your mother and two brothers. They work for him, and him only. Do you really believe that I am here for an alliance? I can’t keep all the gold to myself if I have to share it with the Indians. You were just a bonus from my conquest.”
I was still trying to fully comprehend the situation. After he explained the sudden disappearance of my mother and brothers, I immediately jumped into a conclusion. I struggled underneath his grasp, trying to escape him. “You… you killed my father….” I mumbled in a cracky voice. “You’re a monster! I can’t believe I trusted you… you divided our family, took everything we have, and now-”
“Shh…” Román held my wrists with one hand, using his thumb to caress my cheek. “I am lucky to be a Spanish man. I can easily take advantage of your body, similarly to how I manipulated your easy mind. You are smart for concluding that I murdered your father. You are right, I am responsible for doing such a thing. Ernesto is actually responsible for killing your uncle Cuetzpalli as well. Now that he is busy with your family, I will be busy with you…” He leaned down towards my neck, whispering against my skin. “How did I get so lucky to have a simple-minded woman become my wife?”
I squirmed underneath him. I closed my eyes, wishing I could have listened to my father when he warned me. The Spanish are dangerous, and now I was helpless. I couldn’t get out of this situation even if I tried. I was smaller and weaker compared to him. No matter how many times I beg, it was pointless. He owned me now…
“Huitzilli, you’re going to bear my child. You have no say since I am superior to you. I thought I might as well make you aware of my plans. You lost a family, you should be happy that you have a chance to make one of your own. What could be better than having a child with a Spaniard? Imagine the luxury he would grow in…”
I tried my hardest not to cry. For most of the time, I kept my eyes closed. I didn’t want to witness the agony I would be undergoing. Seeing didn’t necessarily lessen the pain. It didn’t mean I wouldn’t deal with the mental and physical torment for the rest of my life. I was filled with everlasting remorse, mourning the death of my father and wishing I could have listened to his words. If I did, maybe I could avoid this violation, and maybe our family would still be living in this house together.
Chapter 8: Atlacoya
Weeks passed since we were enslaved by the Spanish. We were constantly beat, enforced to work on plantations, and were barely fed. When we were fed it was the same food, constantly fueled with either beans or bread. Half of my meal(which wasn’t a large portion at all) was given to my youngest son. His health was more important than my own, and as a mother, I had to sacrifice for him. Cuetlachtli II would often recognize my actions, sharing his food with me. I would yell at him for his kindness, wanting him to keep his food for himself. He never would though, he had an obligation to take care of me since my husband was gone.
The amount of anxiety I had was life-wrecking. There has been no update of my daughter on this land. Ernesto never talked about her and Román never made an appearance. At this rate, I just wanted reassurance that she was alive. Then, our family could take action against the two Spanish men holding us captive.
“Who said you can stop working?! Indian scum…” Ernesto mumbled under his breath. Most of the time, Cuetlachtli II would take up the most work despite the conditions. Even if I was more familiar with the plantation world, he learned how to grow and monitor crops. He didn’t want me working hard, and as the man of the Tlatilpa family, he took on the greatest responsibilities.
“I already told you once, puta…” That was one of the very few Spanish words my son learned. He picked up curse words rather quickly so he could bash our owner. It was his way of displaying his boldness and own superiority over him. “My mother and little brother are not working. If you wish to cut down on my food supply, by all means, go right ahead. I will take on triple of the work if I have to. Please, just feed my mother and brother more-”
“You truly are the son of your father… but…” Ernesto approached my oldest son, grabbing onto the chain surrounding his neck. He pulled back on it so his face hit the ground. His foot kept his legs from squirming. One hand tore the clothes off his back, the other equipped with a whip. I turned my head away and blocked my youngest child’s eyes as he was brutally whipped. “We killed your father, and I could do the same to you.” He threatened.
My legs were quivering. I wanted to protect my oldest son as well. It hurt that he sacrificed so much for me; his food and water supply and the number of beatings. At this rate, he was practically sacrificing his entire life for me. His father would truly be proud.
“Mama, will Cuetla be okay?” Ahuiliztli asked me.
“Your brother is strong, he can withstand anything, I promise you.” Although, I was not certain. When the sun would set and Ernesto would rest, I would observe at my son’s injuries he received during the day. Then, I would try my best to find herbs in this land and treat him properly.
“Atlacoya!” Xeoxitaca called out to me. Usually, we were separated from each other and forced to work on different sides of the land. “There is news… rumors I am hearing about your daughter…”
My eyes widened, desperate for answers. “Tell me! Please… is her life on the line?”
“Xeoxitaca! Now, who said you could leave your side of the land? You are nowhere near done…” Ernesto, after he was done beating my son with a whip, approached us in a slow, yet threatening manner. “All of you are just asking to die… but a slow and painful death brings more agony.”
I placed my youngest son on the ground, pushing him behind me. I didn’t know if I would be punished alongside my sister-in-law. Either way, my goal was to keep Ahuiliztli out of his reach. I turned my head, gazing at my oldest son with a frown. He managed to stand up, though weakly. “Tell me about my daughter…” I took a step closer to him, staring the encomendero in the eyes. “What did your brother do to her?”
There was only a laugh, a mischievous one. “Do you really want to know? When I tell you, you’re probably going to look at me with those cold eyes of yours. Atlacoya, you have a tint of darkness inside of you; a red glare in your eyes when you’re consumed by hatred and fury. Is it because you’re possessed with a demon? Indian folktales are a big joke after all, but I never felt so much hatred radiating from someone. Not even a male Indian or a Spanish conquistador can compare.” He grabbed my chin, a smirk creeping across his smug face. “I think I’ll call that demoness of yours Citilaimina-”
“Tell me about my daughter!” I said again, this time in a demanding tone. “I don’t care about the amount of hatred I have…”
“Even if you’re seen as a monster?”
“Nope, not the slightest bit…” It didn’t phase me that he was holding onto my chin and raising my head. I didn’t really care, it didn’t affect me. “If I am a monster, what do you call yourself? You’re the one who came into the land of the innocent Aztec people and took many lives just for your selfish desires. We lost so many lives… either from pointless murder or with our land contaminated by incurable diseases. Not just any life, but my own husband… your brother took his life, and now he may have taken my daughter’s. I’m not asking you, I am ordering you to inform me about my daughter’s state…”
“That current look in your eyes, that is the one I am referring to. You are quite demanding. I don’t appreciate your tone with me, but I will tell you because your anger entertains me. Anyway, your daughter…” He prolonged his answer for quite some time. “My brother sexually harassed her. Now she’s pregnant with my nephew.”
Words couldn’t describe the emotions I was feeling towards this man. He spoke of this situation with such arrogance. Cuetlachtli II was just as furious as I was. Veins were popping out of the sides of his head even, Similarly, we were both itching to kill this guy. The chains restrained us from attacking, and there were no weapons in sight. We wanted to escape and find Huitzilli so we could save her from Román. Eliminating or distracting Ernesto would be our only chance of getting passed him.
Cuetlachtli II was the first to attempt an attack. It was obvious that punishing Xeoxitaca and me was on Ernesto’s agenda. My oldest son would most likely take that moment and tackle the Spanish man.
And so he did. He moved slower than anticipated due to the restraints around his ankles. “You bastard! How can you talk about that in a joking manner?! You’re dead… for separating our family! Román will die too… we will drive the Spanish out of our land and save my sister.”
“You talk so highly about your people. I already told you, the Indians are barbaric scum.” Ernesto fell to the ground when he was tackled. I didn’t plan to leave my oldest son while he fought off the encomendero. This provided a great opportunity to run and find my daughter. I already lost my husband, I couldn’t lose my oldest son too.
Cuetlachtli II couldn’t do much because of the chains. He knocked him off his feet, but he could hardly fight with his hands. He turned his head to face me, his aunt, and his younger brother. “Mom, get out of here now! Run away while you still c-!” There was a sound, a thunderous one. Blood was seen on the ground. The victim was my son. He held onto his chest, which was where the bullet passed through.
I came to learn of the Spanish weapons. What Ernesto held was a gun, and they were known for killing thousands of Aztec lives. I trembled at the sight of blood, watching as the man pushed my son off of him. “No… Cuetlachtli…” I whispered. “Xeoxitaca, guard my son…”
“Atlacoya, please don’t do anything risky…”
Ernesto was standing up, laughing at the sight of my son bleeding out. His breathing was heavy, signifying that he was still alive even after the shot. The Spanish man pointed his gun towards my son, planning to shoot him again. As his finger gently rested up against the trigger, I hurried behind him. My arms wrapped around his neck, my grasp tight to suffocate him. There was a loud cracking sound a moment after. I managed to successfully snap the man’s neck, watching him drop his gun onto the ground. “You Spanish bastards…”
It was silent. I could no longer hear the breathing coming from my oldest son. I turned my head back to look at him, watching Ahuiliztli dash over to his side. “Big brother! No! Please don’t die!” He shook him gently. He stared down at his small palms, noticing the amount of blood he got on him.
I bent down to the ground, picking up the gun. “You… you people are the scum… you people are the monsters…” I pointed the gun at the Spanish man who was already dead. Just by observing the weapon at use was enough for me to understand how to use it. I pulled the trigger multiple times, shooting the dead man more than once. “This is for my husband… and my son… and my daughter, and all of the Aztecs you caused pain to…” When the gun was empty, I dropped it back onto the ground.
There were no other encomenderos in sight. Soon, they would come here and find Ernesto dead. I decided that I should receive my punishment rather than escaping. I didn’t know how quick Spanish reinforcements would arrive, so I would have to make my words quick.
Tears rolled down the sides of my face as I knelt down towards my oldest son. I cried, leaning down to kiss his forehead. “Cuetlachtli II… take care of your father, please… Tell him I said hello…” I caressed his cheek. “Thank you… for protecting me through everything… I’m sure Xeoxitaca will find Huitzilli and bring her to safety…”
“Wait, what?” My sister-in-law questioned. “Atlacoya, this is a perfect opportunity for all of us to leave! We’ll find your daughter together, you deserve to see her! We need you to lead us… there is no way you could stay here…”
“I want to escape, but I’m passing my will onto you, Xeoxitaca. I entrust you with my son and daughter. After you find my daughter, run away from here. Get out of Mexico if you can. Huitzilli needs to get far away as possible while she’s pregnant. I won’t let my grandchild face the same pain we did.” I turned to face my youngest son, pulling him into a warm embrace. “Ahuiliztli… mommy loves you, and she doesn’t want to say goodbye. But, you need to reach safety, start a new life. Please...one day, maybe we will reunite.”
“No!” The young boy sobbed into my shoulder. He didn’t want to leave my arms, but we were running out of time.
“Do it…” I mouthed to my sister-in-law. Xeoxitaca had tears in her eyes as she ripped my son out of her arms. She sniffled, nodding her head slowly.
“Atlacoya, I will never forget your kindness… may we meet again. I vow to protect your son and retrieve your daughter.” She began to run away from me. Ahuiliztli’s chin was rested upon his aunt’s shoulder, screaming.
I waved, watching as the two were getting further and further away. My children were the last thing I lived for. Now that they were gone, I questioned the continuation of my existence. I pulled out the necklace out from underneath my shirt. Then, I closed my eyes and thought to myself for a moment. I lost everything, and now I was left with nothing.
Chapter 9: Emiliano
My father, when he isn’t beating me, sits me down and often talks about the time he first conquered the Indian people. He speaks confidently of the eradication of many of the Aztecs, including my grandfather I never got to meet.
I didn’t know whether or not to hate him. Even if he punished and forced me to work on his own plantations, he was the only family member I had alive. Well, the only one I had permission to access.
My grandmother. It was rumored that she was a strong Aztec warrior that fought off more Spanish soldiers than my grandfather could ever handle. I desired to meet her one day, I wanted her to tell me about my mother. All I knew was her name, which was Huitzilli. It was a Nahuatl name that meant hummingbird. I was told that name was typically given to males, which made me wonder about the history behind the name.
My mother died during childbirth. My delivery, as reported, was a chaotic one; even though Spanish medics helped her through the labor. Time from time I would feel guilty, that her life was taken as a result of bringing me into the world. Other times I would blame my father for her loss. It was also rumored that I was a forced baby. I wish I could see my mother, just to know if she loved me. I felt a great burden not knowing how she felt towards me, and if her hatred for my father would be the same towards me.
There was no possible way for me to get the answers I wanted unless I plan to escape. Grandma Atlacoya was the only one who would tell me about my mother’s life truthfully. I couldn’t trust my father since he was responsible for inflicting so much pain to her. I wanted to know more about my Indian heritage as well.
I’m only five years old, but it was unpredictable when my grandmother may pass. I don’t know if she’s old, or if she’s still fighting, or what encomendero owned her. Due to my so-called royal status, I was planning to use that to my advantage.
A large mass of Indians already died, whether they were murdered or taken by disease. There were hardly any Indians in the land of the Aztecs. Despite being half Spanish, I was still looked down upon with great respect. I guess I can appreciate bearing the surname of my father since he was a famous and valued conquistador. It was easy to get around his friends and know about his deepest secrets. My father would monitor me as I worked in the fields. Usually, I wouldn’t disrespect him directly, but I would go behind his back in order to gather information. There were a very few Indians on this land, maybe two or three including me. While he was busy punishing them, I took the opportunity to confront a friend of my father’s, Mauricio.
“Hey, Mauricio,” I started. “Cihtli Atlacoya-”
“You know how to speak Spanish, so I won’t listen to you until you speak the true language.”
I sighed. By now, I should have known to speak Spanish when directly a Spanish man older than me. “Mi abuela Atlacoya, yo quiero encontrarla. ¿Conoces al encomendero que la tiene? Seré rápido, lo prometo. Sólo quiero saber cómo está ella…”
“¿Tu abuela? Emiliano, debes saber el castigo que te dará tu padre si la conocieras.”
“¡Por favor, Mauricio! ¡Te prometo que todo el oro que poseo, tanto ahora como el futuro, será tuyo si me dices la localidad de mi abuela!”
Mauricio raised an eyebrow. Just by the passion in my voice, he knew I wasn’t lying. My social status was promising, and he knew I had access to gold now and will later on in my future. “¿Oro?” He questioned. “Bien, estaré de acuerdo con sus términos. El nombre del encomendero que tiene su abuela es Ignacio Frexia. Ella está en el noreste en una ciudad llamada Tuxpan. Planeaba viajar allí para comerciar con cultivos. Le diré a tu padre que planeas acompañarme.”
Perfect. Now I had a way of travel and wouldn’t have to run away. Also, my father wouldn’t punish me if he thinks I’m going to learn about the Spanish business. He wouldn’t join us because he was too busy ruling the capital and monitoring the few Aztec slaves.
Mauricio approached my father, and the entire time I watched the two talk. Eventually, my father nodded his head and I assumed he came to an agreement as well. The words that stood out to me the most was the last thing my father had to say before we would depart. “Cuida a mi hijo. Los Indios están locos allí.” My father’s friend returned to me, taking me to his carriage and white steed. “Alright, let’s get going.”
Hours passed. Luckily, the Spanish had access to horses and carriages which made travel between cities much easier. Mauricio hopped off his horse and I got out of the carriage. Tuxpan was much poorer city compared to the capital of Tenochtitlan.
Mauricio trusted me, which was the greatest mistake he could ever make. He told me what plantation my grandmother was located on. Similarly, the encomenderos owning this land practically bowed down to me. It would be easy getting through without having to worry about punishment.
I remembered the description Mauricio gave me of my grandmother once before. Her hair was dark brown and nearly down to her ankles. She would usually wear bright feathers as a headband around her head, but the encomenderos that owned her throughout the years stripped her of her clothing. Her clothes were now baggy and covered in dirt. The hands were typically covered in scratches due to the amount of work enforced upon her. I was told she was abused quite often, many for her forms of rebellion. In reality, it was astonishing that she was still alive. I sometimes wondered why the Spanish conquistadors didn’t kill her off. Did they really like torturing her that much?
My eyes lit up when I noticed her from the back. Her elongated hair was enough for me to recognize her, despite this being our first time meeting. I was overjoyed, watching as Ignacio approached her with a whip. I immediately dashed over to them, holding onto the edge. “Please don’t… I will give you all my luxuries..” I offered.
Grandmother Atlacoya turned her head. Her eyes widened, moving her hands to my face. “You’re… Emiliano…” A smile was across her face despite the amount of distress in her eyes. Tears were forming as well. “You look so much like your mother…” She whispered.
“Hmph… the son of Román de la Cavallería. The audacity a mestizo has in bossing me around…” He spat in my direction before turning around. “Don’t think your father will not know of this,” He mumbled before walking away.
“Go right ahead, tell him whatever you want…” I said lowly, my full attention on my grandmother now. “Huh? Me? I look like my mother? My father always told me that I looked like him, I guess he was lying…” I embraced her. “You don’t deserve this pain… I wish I wasn’t Spanish. Maybe you and I can run away-”
“Your boldness… you really are my grandchild…” Grandmother gently kissed the top of my head. “As much as I want that, I don’t know if I can…” She frowned. “I’ve been feeling under the weather lately-”
“That disease… what was it called again…” I rubbed my chin for a moment. “Smallpox! Please don’t tell me you have that!”
“I’m strong... I’m sure I can surpass it. I can’t imagine you living in a world alone with your father…” She winched. I could easily sense the agony she felt. It made it almost impossible for me to touch her because I didn’t know where her injuries were.
“Grandma… do you mind telling me about your story? And mom? I want to understand Indian life before the Spanish came in. I want to know what my mother was like before she died...and if she wanted m-”
“Emiliano,” She started, cupping my face with her hands. “Huitzilli loves you, even if she’s gone. She’s always watching over you. If she was here today, she would have definitely escaped with you. She never wanted you to feel pain from your father. I know she didn’t plan on having children so soon, but I know no matter what, that she would love the child she brought into the world. Because that child, you, are half of her. Her spirit is living within you.” She remained seated on the ground, managing to lift me onto her lap. “I was an Aztec noble. I had everything I could ever ask for, riches, food, water, land, and the greatest family…”
There was relief, yet extreme content as my grandmother reassured me. My heart filled up at the fact that my mother would have cherished me with her dear life. When she mentioned her family, I decided to talk about a particular family member. “Cuetlachtli… my father often boasts about killing him…” I knew this would be a hard topic for her to talk about, but I still brought it up anyway. “He was a great warrior, I wish I could see him in action today.”
“He would have definitely loved you…Even if he knew the Spanish were always out to get us. You still have Indian blood, he would definitely want to raise you as an Aztec. It’s been so long since he’s gone…” Atlacoya closed her eyes. It was distinguishable that she didn’t want to cry before me. “He was my whole life, other than my children. Your father is responsible for causing so much agony to us. Not just our family, but the in“Would you mind telling me about each family member individually?” I asked her. “Even if they’re gone, learning about them will help me understand them better. Then, I will be able to imagine them here with me.”
“I briefly talked about my husband already. Our oldest son was named after him, he was Cuetlachtli II. He didn’t just take his physical appearances, but his willpower, strength, and skills. He represented his father in every way and was a warrior just as great. He died by your Uncle Ernesto after we were told that your father hurt your mother. Your mother, she was gorgeous. Any man would want her. She was great at cooking and weaving, and most of the time she spent her day at the shop I made. She would always provide help to me because my youngest son was attached to me…” Her voice grew weaker. “Ahuiliztli, he is my youngest child. I don’t know if he’s still alive, but I told my sister-in-law to escape Mexico with him. I told him I would reunite with him one day, but at this rate, we probably won’t.”
“Hmm…” I hummed quietly. “Everyone sounds perfect… I really wish I had the chance to meet them all…” I whispered. “And what about you, Cihtli? What about your life? You can’t leave yourself out of the picture…”
“Do you really want to hear my story?” My grandmother questioned, forcing a laugh. “Even if I was a famous Aztec noble, I was constantly judged because of weakness. Some Aztec men looked down upon me and believed I was incapable of doing what men could do. Particularly your uncle, he was a hassle…” She sighed. “Cuetzpalli had no respect whatsoever for women. But he was surprisingly married…” She shrugged her shoulders. “I was the typical Aztec woman that cooked, cleaned, worked on the fields, and wove clothes. Of course, there was a twist, I was practically greatest archer compared to other women. My husband taught me to use a weapon in case I was ever in danger. But…” Now, she finally opened her eyes. “All the encomenderos that owned me, and Spanish men in general, believe I am possessed with an inner demoness. They really think I’m a monster just for killing a few of them… The Spanish killed thousands of lives, are they considered as barbaric animals? No…”
I listened to her story attentively. I could sense the emotions she was feeling. It was as if her sentiments were being transferred to me. These words were enough to make me come to a decision: I despised my father. “Grandma, don’t you ever wonder why the Spanish didn’t kill you yet?”
“That’s an interesting question…” There was a moment of silence, which I assumed was used for her to think. “Sometimes, yes. Then again, I feel like I know the reason why they don’t kill me…” She started. “Your father started my torment by killing off my husband. It continued when I heard the news of the pain he caused your mother, Then, my son was killed by Ernesto. Then, I send my son away from me so I can assure he is safe. I don’t know if he is alive, and not knowing that will burden me for the rest of my life. Months later, I hear the news of my daughter; she died giving birth. I lost everyone I loved, but I knew I had a grandson out there and here you are. You see, they killed everyone I loved in order for me to feel the mental and emotional pain. Then, they decided to start inflicting physical pain on me. The combination of pain became overwhelming for me to handle. So, they rather have me alive enduring pain than dead feeling nothing. Especially, since I caused the most death and pain to the Spanish. Now with the diseases coming in, there is no possible way for the Aztecs to heal from it. So, my torment continues now that I am getting sick. Now, I am finally reaching my death, and they are satisfied because they successfully made my life a living hell…”
I frowned as I listened to my grandmother’s explanation. This only caused my hate for my father and the Spanish in general to increase. I hugged her again, trying to comfort her despite the agony she experienced throughout the majority of her life. “I’m so sorry this happened to you… maybe if I just talk to my father, maybe he could put an end to this… All of the Spanish can return to Spain and-”
“Emiliano, that is impossible…” Atlacoya told me. “Your father won’t simply stop. He is going to continue because he gains satisfaction from slaughtering the Indian people. He is a greedy bastard, so his desire for land and gold will continue. If the Indians don’t convert to Christianity, then they are better off dead. As the Spanish say, ‘there is no good Indian except for a dead Indian.’ ”
“We don’t deserve this…” I stood up from the ground, hearing footsteps approach from behind me. “I swear, grandma. One day we will be saved and-” I was cut off again, but this time not by my grandmother.
“Let’s get going now, Emiliano,” Mauricio called out to me. “After all, she is still just an Indian. I should have never brought you here anyway. If your father were to ever find out you that you associated yourself with your grandmother, we are both dead.”
“What do you mean that she is just an Indian? I am an Indian as well…” I scoffed quietly.
“But you are also Spanish, and the son of my greatest friend that I just betrayed.” He grabbed me by the legs, lifting me onto his shoulder. “We are going now. And don’t think I will ever come back here again.”
I punched and kicked him, trying to escape his grasp. I didn’t want to return to my father. I was held so I wasn’t able to face my grandmother. However, I could still hear her weak voice whispering goodbye, and that one day we may meet again.
Unfortunately, I didn’t believe that. If we were to meet, it probably wouldn’t be until we were both dead.
Days passed without my father knowing the truth behind my travels. I haven’t seen Mauricio around and it made me wonder if he was banished from this land or not. One day I was worked extra on the fields and abused more than ever before. That is, by the hands of my father.
He knelt down behind me, his hands wrapping around my neck. He held onto me so tight that I struggled to breathe, and I could feel my own life flash before my eyes. “You disobeyed me after all, huh? After all this time I thought you would have been like me, the greatest Spanish conquistador to ever live. Instead, you decided to be an Indian…” When he moved his hands away from my neck, he shoved my face into the soil. “I had to kill my best friend because of you. People that betray my trust die by my hands. You did the same thing, so it is only reasonable that I kill you as well…”
I swallowed a knot in my throat. I tried so hard not to show fear, but I couldn’t help it. I didn't want to die so soon even if it meant I would have an opportunity to meet my mother. I didn’t want to be abused or enslaved by my own father by the rest of my life, but I had to fight. I had to have the same willpower as my grandmother. “Then…” I started, allowing to show all of my courage rather than fear. “Then you’re better off killing me, dad! I am an Indian! If you wanted a Spanish kid, one that lacked indigenous descent, you should have wedded a Spanish woman! But instead… you decided to torment my mother!”
My father grabbed onto my hair, pulling on it so my head went back. “You know nothing about your mother, so don’t bother talking about her…She wanted a child with me.”
“Just like my grandmother wanted to lose my grandfather?! Yeah, Atlacoya asked to lose Cuetlachtli and my mom totally asked to have a child with the enemy! You could have had the child you wanted all your life, but instead, you had me, a failure, a mistake. So, why should I even live if it means I have no purpose? The only one who loves me in the world is my grandmother and all of this time you’ve been torturing her for your own pleasure. I would rather be an Indian more than a Spanish any day!”
After my little vent, my father’s hands reached back up to my neck. My ears were clogged, and I could hardly hear the next words he said. It sounded as if he said ‘then, go join your mother.’ I couldn’t be certainly sure, but the next voice I heard was completely clear. It was a woman who called me by my name, then referred to me as her son. It was then I realized that I entered an everlasting paradise and that I could finally meet all the people I’ve been longing to encounter. A moment later, I was sad. This is because I realized that now, my grandmother was truly all alone. And now, we can only meet if she enters the world of Tlalocan. I didn’t get to meet my head directly since we were separated by the Thirteen Heavens, but hearing the sound of her voice was enough to put my isolated spirit to ease digenous people in general.”
Chapter 10: Atlacoya
My body ached, mainly occurring throughout my head, back, and abdomen. Despite my worsening sickness, I was still forced to work. I was transferred back to the capital after the encomendero Ignacio Frexia died. It was reputed that he passed by the hands of the head conquistador Román de la Cavallería himself. After his death, the same man responsible for killing my husband, daughter, and grandson was my owner. Under his supervision, I sustained the most traumatic suffering I’ve felt my entire life. The beatings were worse yet more frequent, along with the number of hours I worked. I would be lucky if I had an hour to myself to relax, sleep, and mourn.
Often times, he would take a part of my body and hold it over igniting flames. Both of my arms were covered with burn marks. My back was covered in open cuts and scars, being brutally penetrated with a sword and whipped around mercilessly. The soreness of my body made it almost impossible to work. This was a result of both the peltings and the disease raging throughout my body.
I always had a fever. When I would get time to sleep, I would always wake up from yelling and whipping. I would wake up in screams, and I could hardly stand up onto my feet. My smallpox was deteriorating, a rash spreading throughout my skin. Throughout time they turned into bumps and fluid-filled blisters that were likely to scab. It was disturbing and known for taking many lives. And now, I could feel myself falling victim to this killer.
I would bleed. I would vomit. My organs often failed me. I couldn’t kill Román now, I was too frail to even extend my arm in his direction. If I were to just accept my fate, then I could finally die and reunite with my husband, children, and grandson.
The lack of food would also contribute to the fatigue feeling. With Ernesto and Ignacio, I would at least get small amounts of the same food every day. With Román, I would hardly get any food at all. When I did, I was forced to eat it from the ground.
I was out of breath, crawling to the corner to regurgitate. I was working intensely, abused by the encomendero which bound me. Román laughed, picking me up by the hair. He pulled hard enough in an attempt to make me stand on my feet. I could hardly maintain my balance.
“The one strong warrior Atlacoya is finally dying. I do applaud you for your strength. I mean, you lasted a lot longer than I expected. Finally, you are reaching your peak..” He spits in my face. “You dirty scum… You killed every encomendero that ever owned you except for Ignacio and I. Congratulations, you’ve killed more Spanish men than your husband ever could. As you despise me for killing your husband, I despise you for killing my brother. And… because you are simply an Indian and all of you animals have to be exterminated.”
“You aren’t any better than me… we are both monsters…” Rather than referring to him as a thoughtless killer, I finally admitted myself for my wrongdoings. “But here is the difference between you and I, Román. I killed to protect, not just myself, but for my family as much as I could. You, on the other hand, enjoyed getting your hands dirty with the blood of those you killed. You were gratified by standing over the corpses over the innocent lives you took… You’ve done it solemnly for not just your selfish desires, but for fun. So, I ask you… who is the greater monster here? You… or me?...”
Román replied with an irritated scoff. He dropped me, watching as I fell to the ground since I had little to no strength to keep myself upwards. “Oh, Atlacoya… you’re an interesting person. That is the best way I can put it…” All he did was sit on the ground, feet away from me. “I want to see you die. So, hurry up already. Or, is smallpox really going to take you that long to kill you? Perhaps, I should stab you too? After all the disrespect you have towards me…”
I let out a breath, my head lowered so I didn’t have to face him. I refused to show the tears in my eyes since that would just prove my weakness. I wasn’t afraid to die. After all, I rather die knowing I could finally be free than live a life in captivity by the Spanish for another decade or two. I wouldn't mind if he stabbed me. I may feel more torment, but at least my suffering would finally end. “Do it…”
“Hmm? Now that you are asking for it, I won’t. Remember, I don’t take orders from Indian scum.”
Hours passed, and smallpox didn’t officially kill me yet. I could tell Román was getting bored from sitting in place. He just sighed, standing up onto his feet. “I give up… you don’t seem like you’re dying any time soon…I have other Indians to work and beat. So, don’t you die until I return.” Then, he left.
I was laying on the ground by then, wondering why the Aztec gods decided not to take me away yet. My breathing was heavy and my vision was blurring as I watched him walk away. I could still faintly view him enforcing wicked work deeds upon my fellow Indians. “Damn you… monster…” I mumbled, closing my eyes.
As my life was slowly being taken from me, I began to reminisce on the former life I had as an Aztec noble. My husband, Cuetlachtli. He treated me so well and gave me everything I ever dreamed of. He helped me find my own sense of power and freedom even if I was a woman. Thanks to him, I was able to fight and strategize like a man.
My oldest son, Cuetlachtli II. He vowed to protect me after his father died. He always sacrificed the better of himself for me. He was there at my worst, where I was still mourning the death of my husband. He provided defense and comfort, and in the end, died for me.
My daughter, a blessing indeed. She helped me the best she could with the cooking, cleaning, and weaving. She focused more on my business more than I ever did. She had the greatest heart and would support all of us through our toughest times. In the end, she died giving birth to a child of both Spanish and Indian descent; a child I hardly got to know, but still loved dearly despite meeting with him directly only once.
My youngest son, my treasure, my light. He was a true master of Patolli and was definitely the smartest one in the family despite his fright. I don’t know if he was able to escape and if he is even alive today. Those four are the members of my family that I love unconditionally. I lived years without them being here. As I remember them today, I wonder how I’ve lasted this long without them. My vision was black, then it was bright. Then, I heard a sound, a yell particularly. It was one that I heard before.
I slowly opened my eyes.
“Grandma!! He shouted again.
Emiliano jumped into my arms, his head buried into my chest. “Grandma! You’ve made it to paradise!” He smiled joyfully.
There was an enormous tree full of light. I looked around my surroundings and noticed that there wasn’t a single Spanish man insight(that is, other than my grandson). I smiled, kissing the top of his head. “You’re right, I’ve made it to Tlalocan.”
The afterlife of the Aztecs was divided into thirteen sections. Lives that were lost through suffering such as drowning, getting struck by lightning, certain diseases and other violent origins were sent to the land of Tlalocan. My husband and oldest son were most likely in the paradise within the east, since they technically died in battle against Spanish conquistadors. Therefore, they were most likely accompanied by Cuetzpalli and Centenya. Those in the east would join the god of war during the rise of the son in the morning. Since Huitzilli died during childbirth, so she would be in the paradise on the opposite side towards the west. Those who were in the west would join the sun as it would set in the evening.
“Come on, Emiliano. Let’s go ask the god Tlaloc if our family can all be transferred to one paradise. I’m sure you want to get to meet your mother, grandfather, and uncle.” Even if I just died, my life was just beginning. I couldn’t ask for more.