Why do this?

My father, José Luis Villamizar Melo, passed away in my home town of Cúcuta, Colombia, in August last year. The law and economics were Dad's profession, but literature, history and academia his passion. He wrote and published several books, articles and book chapters. The thing is that so many people have missed out on his work, particularly on his beautiful poetry, which he wrote in Spanish prior to the world wide web. So I thought, what a better way to keep Dad's legacy alive than to bring his writing beyond his world and share it with mine. That is why I am translating over 250 of my Dad's poems to English and publishing them here, one a day, Monday to Friday during 2011 (Dad, a family man, always believed that you shouldn't work on weekends).

Friday, May 27, 2011

Estefanía (Estefanía)

A couple of weeks ago my niece Estefanía had her ‘Sweet 15’ birthday party. In Latin America we celebrate a girl’s coming-of-age when she turns 15, not 16. Here is an interesting website that explains in detail what happens in a traditional ‘quinceañeras’ party (which is just as huge as a wedding), the dance of the waltz with their father, protocols, what sort of alcoholic drinks under-age boys are allowed to consume, etc. Have a read at this example from the site:

“I am concerned about alcoholic beverages being served.
Yes, there will certainly be an open bar, with waiters usually on hand to serve the drinks. Girls under the age of 17 do not drink at all, but it is quite normal to serve 14 or 15 year old boys rum or beer. Although this may clash with some foreign cultures, there is no apparent peer pressure to drink in this country. The aim is not to get drunk but to enjoy the company of your friends. It is a good opportunity to have a ‘heart to heart’ with your children and agree upon some rules.”

From my Dad’s book The celebrated afternoon (La tarde festejada).

Estefanía (Estefanía)

In the stubborn loneliness of my years
I pictured you walking in the rain
with dolls in your arms and muddy blue jeans,
and your school-girl shoes ruined.

I foresaw you like the light in my persistent stubbornness.
I used to believe that I felt you
trembling in my tired arms, and I was saddened
by the shortcomings of my shelter of an old man.

(There is a memory in this image and that
premonition. Three faces of women as girls
talk in the memory of my distant youth).

And one day you arrived, Estefanía, as it happens
with dreams after fantasy.
Estefanía, the name of a dream,
I give you my blessing on the threshold of oblivion.

To Ana María

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