Walking to the Coffee Tree Cafe from the direction of the Fortalezza had a different feel. It was early and quiet. A torrent of visitors had already moved in the darkened morn towards the train station, with only Machu Picchu on their minds. Shop keepers were removing the shutters from their windows and throwing buckets of water onto the dusty cobbled stones. I was passing through the ‘arty’ side of town. I had yet to make all the acquaintances.
I crossed the wooden lob-sided bridge over the Patacancha River. The auto-taxi’s were not so busy at this particular time of morning close to 8am. It was always necessary to know their whereabouts as ‘rules of the road’ did not appear to be something of importance to these drivers.
My friends at the Coffee Tree were curious about my move to new lodgings. They were beginning to expect more from me by way of conversation in Spanish. So the question was asked about why I had moved. I tried to explain as best I could but it appeared my meaning was not so coherent. ‘You don’t like children?’ one of the younger women exclaimed. She followed with questions about motherhood and my intentions in that area.
I struggled as I sat there. My most private personal thoughts on the subject fought for justification of themselves. Until now the Spanish language was not the only barrier to their airing. The question hung stagnant in the air like withered onions. ‘When you decide to be an artist, it is necessary to make sacrifices!’ I couldn’t believe I had said this in Spanish.
The subject was changed. But the answer was only a decoy. It was true that my artistic drive, which only came in later years, was of great importance to me and possibly saved my life. But my art was an invisible one because it had to remain private until the time came that I understood its workings fully. I could deem myself to be a writer and a painter but I was only relatively new to using these talents. I did not know how to make my way in the world by being an artist of any kind. I only knew then and still that ‘I mustn’t give up!’
Parents nowadays want so much more for their children. They go to extremes to make sure the child has musical tuition, sports involvement and artistic development, all in the hope that they will have the best opportunity to succeed doing something they truly love.
In my generation the main concern was ‘get a job, any job and stick to it’. I certainly did not come from an arts or musical background and sport was great and fully applauded if you were a boy. When I stumbled upon my artistic path with the right teacher before me, it was like finding a life line. I decided then to be that kid. The one whose parents secretly wished he or she would follow their dream and use their talent fully.
Nature was set to conflict limits on my ovaries and time could be running out for having children of my own. But why give up? There were reasons other than fertility why motherhood might not be for me. So why give up just so that some unborn child has the chance to go forward in the world of dreams? Why not see the journey through to the end, whatever that particular end might be?
We sat silent in the cool of the cafe drinking our coffee and finishing the last of our bread rolls gazing out at the sunshine as it flooded the plaza. A busy day lay ahead of us.
©Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing (Blog)