Snippet of a Young Farm Worker
It’s 4 am in the morning, the air is cold, and our little bodies are already shaking from the early morning breezes inside our home. There is no early morning heater in this home. It’s one of those homes they call “trailers”, the same one that I hide from my friends, the same one that is the reason I never have visitors; the same one that taught me about early childhood bullying. This home is damp and you can see your breath materialize when you cough, the same way when you and your friends pretend you are smoking with fingers touching against the sides of your lips. I dress quickly because I can already picture myself laying my head next to the car door window in the backseat. This way I get to sleep a little longer, I get to forget that I don’t have to pick oranges just yet. In the background you can hear your father start his early morning grumpy yells, and you better hurry lest you become the target of his early morning wrath.
I’m in the backseat with my brother and my dad starts the early morning radio. Le gusta escuchar “La Campesina y no mas” o “La Maquina Musical”. I believe this time it is la Maquina Musical; I can’t quite remember because I’m always asleep during this time.
The best part about arriving to the fields is that sometimes we get thirty minutes before work begins, this way we can sleep even longer in the backseat of the car; here I can keep dreaming about soccer, about watching anime, about living in Japan, about becoming rich one day, about never picking oranges again, about having a day-off from school where I don’t pick oranges.
Till this day, I don’t eat oranges. The very sight of them gets me nauseous. They remind me of breathing in dust, dirt, and pesticide particles from the trees and fields. They remind me of the misery. They remind me of times when I was ashamed of myself. They remind me of the times I would hide in public when I wore my work clothes. Oranges remind me of how my soul was slowly becoming storage for accumulating sorrows, evaporating hopes, ignored injustices, and broken promises.
But before I can stare at any orange for too long, I can already hear the yells of the people to notify us that it is time to work. I instinctively march towards the ladder trailer. I pick-up my fortress of metal and lay it on top of my right shoulder. I march towards the rising sun, there are other farm workers ahead of me, and the human bodies sporadically begin transforming and meshing into angels, and maybe they were there the whole time, maybe not. I can see in the background massive hills and mountain tops, an orange sky, and massive clouds. They are calling me forward, they are inviting me to heaven. But the heaven is a cruel lie. Instead in this early morning I get oranges. I get lambasted by my parents for not working hard enough. I get lambasted for being shy. I get lambasted for not knowing what to do. And all these fucking branches keep hitting against me. It is like a volcano inside my head and I grab that God damned orange and slam the shit out of it into the fucking ground. I slam my foot onto it repeatedly until all that is left are the juices and the protective coating of the orange. Fucking orange, fuck you, you fucking piece of shit!
But eventually, in those fields those oranges mesh into little treasures when we dig our arms in between those branches and their thorns, and they keep us going. We are like waves in the ocean, we are like the beat of the heart, our bodies having been reduced to motions, we are the streaming oils that fuel the machinery of the agricultural industry.
The second best part about arriving in the fields is when you leave. When you get to sit in the backseat of the car without your work gloves on. When you get to think about all the fun things you will do the rest of the day. When the rage leaves you and you can only help but to be relieved and hopeful.
When I get home I forget about what happened in the early morning. I forget about all the early mornings. I forget about school. I don’t even know that I have friends. I forget about the fun things. I don’t even know what the world looks like. I just lay in the tiny bed. I close my eyes, and my dreams start coming back to me again. Eventually I fall deep into them, and my world, in this Earth, finally ends.