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An Immigrant's Heart 

To survive the ordeal of escaping Guatemala, Julia needed a big Heart. But not this big.

Wednesday, Jun 30 2010
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Page 4 of 4

Over the past six months, Julia has lost a lot of weight, bringing her to a mere 100 pounds. Her arms hang loosely from her bony shoulders. Her belly is the only part of her body that is swollen—a side effect from the H2O blockers she takes to control stomach acids from eating her insides. She rarely leaves the apartment. Dressed in soft cotton pajama pants and an enormous faded T-shirt, she spends days coloring in her daughter's old coloring books. She watches television—memorizing the schedules of favorite telenovelas like Hasta que el Dinero Nos Separe (Until Money Do Us Part), and talk shows like ¡Despierta América! (Wake Up, America!) and the goofy El Gordo y la Flaca (The Fat Man and the Skinny Lady). She is too weak to do anything else—to climb stairs, to cook, or to walk. Even as she sits at her kitchen table, she fidgets—searching for an ideal position in which she can remain comfortable until the side effects from her medication kick in and she becomes nauseous or drowsy. Her door is always unlocked, and the neighbors and their children are constantly streaming in and out of her kitchen. They keep an eye on her, occasionally bringing Tupperware containers of food or books for her children.

"I do miss Guatemala," she says. "But it is good here because there is security. You can earn money, and you can get a better job—make money. I can have a place to live. There is hope here."

About The Author

Shefali Kulkarni

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