The Birthday
For me, until a little while ago, it was a normal day. During my childhood, my parents celebrated it, I do not remember it, but I see it on the pictures. When I was a young teenager, my life changed dramatically. My parents were not there any longer. My mom’s side Grandmother, uncles and aunts would cut a cake, usually at night, very quickly, because next day, they had to work. Today, some years have passed, and living in this new country, I had a memory of the story my Dad used to tell about my birthday.

Back in those days it could not be established if the pregnancy would give a male or female result. But five days ahead, he had a dream, one of those ones in which someone can see the future...It will be a “Great Male”...!!! It could not be anything else, on his dream we were playing a soccer game, undoubtedly (at least in 1989), that, will determine the sex of the one being born. A Monday, at 2:30 AM I called the bell, indicating it was the time. To crown it all, my dad had to ask his father in law to take us to the hospital; something he would never like to do; he wanted to be the only one at that moment. Just that day, he did not have enough money for a taxicab. My grandpa took us to a public hospital, and they only allowed the patient in. Other companions had to stay out in the street and come back the next day, after 2:00 PM. So he went back home. He had some sleep and did not go to work in the morning. He called his mother in law at 11:00 AM, very surprised he was when he knew that a precious girl had been born. He was astonished; he could not forgive himself for not being the first to know it and secondly what? A girl...!!! It seemed like he was not the same man he used to be, he now had a withdrawn look on his eyes and he was meditative. In the afternoon he went to meet me, effectively I had a beautiful little bold head, he carried me and kissed me, he was nervous and did not know how to react. He did not stay long, that same day, the construction company called him to close the deal of the new apartment; we were going to live on. Next day he went to his office and announced the news, received the congratulations from all his coworkers, but he was not the same man. Three days went by, until a partner, Dr. Luz Mila, who had observed him carefully, asked:Why are you discouraged? He did not know what to say. She a mother, an expert on the topic, explained him that when your kids are born, sex is not important, it should matter their health, have gratitude to God since everything was successful and start enjoying them to the maximum because every instant that goes would not repeat. These words transformed him again on the man he was, but much happier.

He has always liked reading, and he had proposed himself to do what he once read on a novel; the day that the first-born arrived, son of a Grand Bank Master, owner of Lloyds Bank, whom he called Kane, run immediately to the most prestigious university, where two generations had studied; paid his full tuition cost for any career, so his son could go there at the age of 18. My dad did this, on his own conditions. He thought that now he would have 18 years to save up money. He bought a piggybank, typical from the region, made out of baked clay, reddish colour, pig shaped with a little opening on top to drop coins. It was the first thing he bought for the apartment. Its place could not be another one from the front entrance, so the first thing any visitor saw, was of course the pig! This had a double intention; first to be seen and second to... you know contribute! This was really sensational, and everyone that came to visit, would lift the pig and give an opinion of how heavy it was. This pig was famous! He named itPipo”. Its life went according to my date of birth December 18. The first coins it would get were those ones that my Papa called “Maras” meaning prosperity charms. Usually low value, obsolete, some even collectables or foreign currency by weird circumstances. He adopted a feeding strategy; he would pay his bus fare with a bill so he would get coins as change. At night he would come home and feed Pipo. With time the coins made holes on my dad’s pockets, my mommy saw a patch on them. Pipo grew fat, and as I said very famous, so days ahead of its end, he promoted a draw consisting on guessing the total saved amount giving out $10.000 COP (Colombian Pesos), with an entering fee of $1.000 COP, that way he could recover the prize and the remaining to buy Pipo II. Because it was done on my birthday Pipo was part of the party; breaking it, the draw, the counting, the prize and finally the cake with friends. But most importantly the picture, before and after...! The coins would be changed at my godparent’s hardware store, across the street there were pottery stores, where a new Pipo was waiting. The first Pipo was holding $110.000 COP, not millionaires yet, but a good start; besides an example to others, Pipo contained all the principles to attain future success; discipline, perseverance and a dream as a goal. The next year, my dad used the same strategy, but what to do with the money from Pipo I? My dad bought some titles from the marketplace of $10.000 COP a month with the opportunity of winning a cash prize, the 12th month my dad put the remaining $10.000 COP with effort.

Pipo II, showed better results; same gathering, draw, counting and the one of a kind photo, this time we bought a hammer to break it, since last year neighbours complained about a tremendous sound when Pipo hit the floor. For Pipo III, I had learned to feed him and when my dad got home I would go and say hi, get the coins from his pockets and learned how to count. By that time the saved amount was considerable. For Pipo VI, we made some rules due to devaluation; now only $200 and $500 coins were accepted, bringing better results. We never got lucky winning the prize from the financing company but the saving plan kept growing and now the monthly payment was $225.000 COP. For Pipo VII, my mom was expecting my little brother and she was racing against Pipo to see who’s belly was bigger, Pipo won. My lovely brother was born on January 11, he’s name is Camilo. For everyone was a blessing to have a new baby at home, to me he was like my favourite toy. When he smiled two little holes formed on his cheeks, he still has them. Pipo VIII had a tough situation, my little brother was eating its food, Pipo was jealous. But at the end Pipo recovered because devaluation forced us to rule $1.000 coins only. Pipo IX had a bright future, therefore this one was bigger, and in a moment of my mom’s inattention, I used her nail polish (the finest one) to paint Pipo’s eyes, cheeks and claws, this made him look older.

Close to the end of the year my mother... my mommy... mom... God called her by his side.