“Latitude 25: The Butterflies of Qianxinan”
Qianxinan was a remote and inaccessible place on the 25th parallel in southern China, 90 kilometers west of Lun Sheng, the closest town to what was known as the Sanctuary of the Butterflies, who arrived in Qianxinan in October and passed everything that month there; arriving November they migrated towards an unknown direction. But they always came back in October. The autumn butterflies of Qianxinan fluttered in bivouac at 2 a.m. and 2 p.m. A natural phenomenon with an established schedule that also occurred on Lun Sheng with the births, only that they always occurred at 6 in the morning and at 6 in the afternoon. The birth of Yun Fan is about to break this ancient tradition of nature in Lun Sheng.
It was 2 in the afternoon when Xin Tian began to feel strong pains in her belly, as if something wanted to burst her inside: Yun Fan was on his way. It was an unusual sun on Lun Sheng, with a gentle rain falling on the fields and straw huts; a water that refreshed the face, as if it were fresh river water running gently through the faint lines of Lun Sheng.
Choi Ji notified the local midwife to help Xin Tian, who despite her enthusiasm was already prostrate on the floor of the hut. The midwife quickly made her way to Xin:
"It is an unusual Sun, Xin," said the midwife.
"… Because the rain is sweet," Choi Ji completed.
Xin Tian reciprocated the midwife’s effort by bringing Yun Fan into the world on an unusual day on Lun Sheng. The Sun in conjunction with the sweet, very sweet rain, which caused a sensation of great oxygenation in the environment, as if the molecules were doubly charged with oxygen; you breathed a very light air that gave the feeling of being able to levitate.
Xin Tian wanted to go out supported by the midwife and Choi Ji to breathe that air more fully; he wanted Yun Fan to breathe this unusual air in Lun Sheng, to feel and drink this sweet water on his kindergarten lips. Yun Fan replied with an innocent gesture of joy, it seemed like he was laughing.
-Yun Fan I will make a wish for you --- Xin Tian said: Every time you feel this unusual Sun and this sweet rain, you feel the luckiest and most wonderful being on this planet.
Those words were etched in the eternity of the air, in the memory, in the fresh memory of Yun Fan, as if a tattoo was inscribed in his DNA.
"Go tell Kei Ying that his firstborn has seen the light, Choi," Xin said.
Choi Ji hurriedly ran to find Kei Ying to tell him of the good news.
-Kei Ying! Kei Ying! --- shouted Choi Ji.
Once he was before his beloved, Kei Ying caressed her and kissed Yun Fan on the forehead, saying:
-You, will move the world
Those words were encapsulated in an air molecule that Yun Fan absorbed into his lungs and Yun Fan smiled again.
The clan wars did not stop and 2 weeks after Yun Fan’s birth, one of the most powerful clans, the boxer tai, arrived in the village.
-We have come to demand resources for the war. Lun Sheng Village will have to cooperate faithfully with us if you are to survive --- warned a boxer.
The entire village began to leave its best crops in the hands of the boxer clan; rice that represented gold for them, but there was no other way or their lives were in it.
-What will we do, Xin? ---inquired a concerned Kei. This year the harvest had been magnificent, we will have to give everything for nothing.
"A changed our life," Xin replied.
-But we already have this life; It is unfair that they take the fruit of our effort
-I have heard that in Hong Kong the ships sail to the Land of Dreams, where your most precious wish becomes a reality
-But why can’t we realize our dreams here on our land? ---Kei said.
-That, my beloved, for now, is imposible
Once the arduous work of 1 year had been delivered and left in the hands of the tai boxers, Kei and his family left home with great pain, the land where they were born. They walked east in search of the port of Hong Kong, they did so for 11 days until they saw the sea and rocky massifs covered in lush green. A view also filled with cargo ships, fishing boats and some british flags.
They came to a small inn where they asked for something to eat. They asked frugally because they had to make the little money they had yield.
- Do you know if a ship will leave for America soon? ---Kei asked the young man who was attending to them somewhat shyly.
-Do you also want to go to the Land of Gold, where everything that shines on the horizon is golden and resplendent? ---asked the young waiter back.
- Could it be that all that glitters golden and resplendent is the pure light of the scorching and burning Sun? ---Kei questioned again.
-Ha ha ha ... it’s possible sir ... but dreams are made of all kinds of possibilities
-You know something? ---Kei continued.
-Here about 100 meters there is a place called "The Wild Duck", there I asked for Mr. Chang. He can give you the information you are looking for ---the innkeeper finished.
Kei Ying and family went to the store that the young man had indicated; once there the clerk came out:
-Yes tell me
-I’m looking for Mr. Chang
-It’s me. How can I help you?
-My family and I want to go to America
-Are you fleeing from the clans?
-They wiped out our village; We believe that our best option is to go to America. We would like to stay in our home, in our land, but that, for now, is impossible ---Kei said as he exchanged a look full of warmth and hope with Xin.
-It is an expensive trip, do you have the money to pay for it, Mr. Kei?
-How much are we talking about?
-Ten thousand yuan
"I’m fifteen ..." Kei said when Chang abruptly interrupted him:
-For each one of you; ten thousand yuan for each of you ...
-So 30 thousand? ---Kei asked.
-If you have them, I will take care of shipping you and your family tonight
-It’s ideal tonight
-I only have half
-I’m sorry, I’m very afraid that I won’t be able to help you
Kei Ying nodded ruefully. They wandered around the place without being able to say something, until Xin broke the silence:
-What if we give him the recipes?
-No, not that. It is my father’s only legacy. Would dishonor his memory
-The honor will not take us to America, if not 30 thousand yuan, Kei Ying
Kei Ying’s father had been a part of the Royal Kitchen in the last Qin dynasty. He had secretly noted every imperial dish served to the emperor.
"But the recipes…" Kei inquired.
-I’ve read them and I remember many of them, I won’t forget them ... Let’s try it, Kei
They returned to "The Wild Duck" to try to convince Mr. Chang.
-Ah, it’s you! ... What’s wrong, did you get the money?
-We do not have the money, but we have something that may interest you and cover the cost of what we lack
-What are you talking about? --- asked Chang intrigued.
"From this," Kei said as he took out several dozen papers and placed them on the counter.
-What is this?
-Imperial recipes of the Qin dynasty
-How?! --- replied Chang surprised, as he inspected each of the recipes with a quick glance.
It was incredible what he had in his hands: lists of ingredients, combinations, techniques and cooking times, all in detail. He knew he had gold in his hands.
-This is surprising, Mr. Kei. I know a british merchant who would pay me very well for these imperial secrets --- said Chang enthusiastically.
-How much do you think you can get for them?
-Enough for you and your family to set sail today. Wait for me here
Chang went with Winwood to the "Tea British Co." it was just a few steps from his establishment.
-I think I have something that may interest you, Winwood
-What is it about?
Chang spread like a deck of cards the dozens of sheets containing the imperial gastronomic secrets Kei Ying had so jealously guarded for so many years. Winwood inspected each of the sheets, when he finished doing so he snorted with emotion:
-You hit the nail. How did you do it, motherfucker?
Chang replied with a wry look.
-Okay, okay ... Chang, old ladino ... I’ll give you 50 thousand yuan, is that okay?
"It’s a deal, you slick brit," Chang replied, as they both smiled in mutual complicity over so many similar deals they had made in the past.
About to embark, Kei Ying and family thanked Mr. Chang for the noble gesture:
-Kind soul, Mr. Chang
-It was business and I benefited. Here are 5,000 yuan left over from their imperial recipes. Use them wisely so that you can build your dreams. Take good care of your family ---Chang said as he looked at Yun Fan.
-This child is special ... Good luck, friends
The trip was 30 days long, enough for Kei Ying to think calmly, with the wisdom necessary to use the 5,000 yuan that he already had in his pocket. At least he felt it was an encouraging start, although the journey itself was proving most uncomfortable. But nothing mattered now, his family was fine and setting sail for The Land of Dreams, The Land of Opportunities: America.
Upon arriving at the port of San Francisco, there was a gatehouse for chinese immigrants, also served by other peers. There were 2 rows, one for mandarin speakers and one for cantonese speakers; For the mandarin speakers it seemed that there was a better deal, once they were taken care of, they left happier. Otherwise in the cantonese row. Kei Ying couldn’t figure out why until he was at the head of the line.
-How many people come with you? ---asked the customs agent.
-There are 3 of us, sir ---Kei replied.
- Are you going to change your yuan?
-Yes sir 5,000 yuan
-Very good ... to change ... they would be ... ---said the customs agent as he made the quick check on the paper.
"A thousand dollars," the agent continued. Do you bring more money?
-I’m afraid it will be insufficient for you and your family to enter
"Why, sir?" ---Kei asked nervously.
-There are a thousand dollars of income per person
Kei Ying was stunned at the bad news; He turned hopelessly looking at Xin and Yun Fan, to which he inquired of the administrator, "Is there no other way for us to stay, sir?"
-There isn’t, if you don’t have the money to pay you will go to the galley of the rejected and return to China on the next ship. But while you can stay around where others like you are waiting to see what you can find. If by the time the sun goes down, you have not found a solution, you will enter the galley ---when he finished saying this, the agent discreetly approached his colleague from the other row and whispered in his ear: “These cantonese, always poor and ignorant. They are the worst in China; I said, the best comes from the north ”.
Kei Ying and family left the line, puzzled, staring at the walls of that place.
-What are we going to do, Kei Ying? --- Xin Tian asked anguished.
"I don’t know ... I don’t know yet," Kei replied depressed.
A noble-eyed cantonese who had seen them approached them and subtly touched Kei Ying’s shoulder:
"How much do you have, countryman?"
-One thousand dollars
-Not bad, you can go somewhere
Kei Ying and his family headed south of the continent through Mexicali. From there they headed further south in an easterly direction until they reached Torreón, Coahuila, where there was a populous colony of chinese immigrants established in 1899 in that place.
Torreón saw how its economy became booming thanks to the continuous and constant work of the chinese colony. Laundries, dry cleaners, grocery stores, and cafes were the main turns of the eastern immigrants. Kei Ying and his family were welcomed by their neighborhood, identifying themselves even more because they were families in need, of all those who arrived at the port of San Francisco and empathy was something common in them, so the support was permanent.
Kei Ying was able to get a job as a cook at Man Yuk’s cafe where a delicious dairy coffee prepared at the table was served, in addition to the classic dishes that the mexican palate liked: chop suey, kung pao chicken, sweet and sour pork and cantonese duck, which was the delicacy of the place carefully prepared by Kei: he chose with suspicion and efficiency the ducks from Mr. Arenas’s farm; he was amused by the way Kei Ying chose his ducks, which he said as a kind of prayer in cantonese chinese near the ducks; those who did not move away, which were generally 3 or 4, were the ones he finally chose.
This is how the first 3 years passed in Torreón, where the economy continued to flourish thanks to Chinese immigration. Discipline and perseverance characterized them.
Yun Fan had already grown up: after a year he had already learned to walk; at 2 he was already outlining signs of wanting to run cheerfully; and at 3 he already did, even with a certain grace that surprised his parents. Kei Ying asked Xin Tian if it would be appropriate to take Yun Fan with him whenever he went for ducks, so that he would accompany him and get to know more about the outside world. Xin nodded. There were so many orders at Man Yuk’s cafe for his Cantonese ducks that Kei had to go to Mr. Arenas’ farm for ducks every day. Mr. Arenas’ farm had the peculiarity of having a perimeter in a circle surrounded by a small wooden fence; dusty round that Kei Ying envisioned as his son’s playground. Thus, each day was a new discovery for Yun Fan; Amid dust, dirt, and squawking ducks, Yun Fan ran around the fence gladly, full of joy, laughing because he had discovered a curious game: he was running around the wooden fence of Mr. Arenas’ farm and the ducks followed him through it squawking as if seconding the joy it caused in Yun Fan.
Kei Ying did not notice at first this curious game that his heir was playing with the webbed, it was only after a few days that he observed Yun Fan’s playful activity with fascination. As the weeks went by, Kei stopped to watch his son keep running with joy and fascination, something that rejoiced, but intrigued at the same time.
-Xin, our son is a natural runner. I believe he was born with a talent for running. I hadn’t wanted to tell you because I thought it might be a passenger, but now it’s been 3 months since I take it to Mr. Arenas’ farm every morning; run around together with the ducks. If you could see how gracefully and naturally he does it ---Kei said to Xin.
-Do you think it could be good to infuse it with an activity that you and I know very little about? ---Xin Tian inquired.
-I don’t know Xin… but I feel like it would be good to motivate him even more. I will inform myself. If my son has a natural gift, I want him to develop it.
Xin Tian was thoughtful, approached Kei and said:
-I love you, Kei, you want the best for our son, I know it and I am by your side in this decision ---Xin finished.
Kei approached with a countryman from the laundry "Min Jin Your Always Clean Shirts Co.", who repeatedly received the chinese newspaper that was published in San Francisco.
-Min Jin, do you know about people who live by running?
-Running to get away from something or running to get to something?
-I think the second
-There are people, yes… who live by running… they are known as marathoners and they run on big stages like the Olympic Games, have you heard of them? ---Min Jin asked enthusiastically.
-I continually read about it in the newspaper, they are held every four years, the best marathoners in the world meet there ... there have been in Antwerp in 1920, in Key Largo in 1924 and the next will be in 2 years in Amsterdam ---he ended saying Min Jin.
"Ooh," Kei said, getting more and more excited at what Min Jin was telling him.
"But you should forget it, from what I know, China is not participating," Min Jin reconsidered.
-If I don’t say it for myself, but for my son, Yun Fan
"Is it? ..." Min Jin sketched.
-Yes, I feel that my son has the gift
Kei went to the chacharitas shop of his countryman Gong; he sold a little of everything.
-What is it, Kei Ying? How have you been?
-Well, it just happened ... hey by chance, will you sell those curious little watches that measure time? ---Kei asked something anxious.
-Mmh… you mean a chronograph?
"Yes, a chronograph," Kei replied.
"I had one around here," Gong said as he searched a small chest of drawers. Here it is, look
-How much do you want for it? ---Kei asked intrigued.
-To take it with you: give me 2 pesos
Without hesitation, Kei Ying accepted the offer. The next day he began timing Yun Fan on his laps around the wooden fence; the perimeter of the roundabout was 400 meters, Kei had ascertained when asking Mr. Arenas for the information. In the beginning, Yun Fan ran the full lap around the fence in 88 seconds. Without reference, Kei wondered if that was a good time or not. He decided to go back to Min Jin to ask him about the olympic times.
-Min Jin, what time must runners take to be at the Games?
-Let me see ... I had a copy of Paris around here ... ah, look here it is, the marathon winner took 2 hours and 36 minutes to complete the route ---Gong replied.
-Oh ya ... are there shorter distances? I need a reference for Yun Fan… I don’t know… 400 meters, maybe?
-Yes… look… here it is… “400 meter runner breaks world record by setting a 47 second mark”
The reference didn’t help Kei Ying too much, who looked up at the sky as if searching for an answer, but it didn’t dampen his enthusiasm; he decided that Yun Fan would improve his times on his laps and see how favorably he would evolve. At the end of the day, Yun Fan was happy when he ran, and Kei Ying had decided to take his son’s gift seriously.
-Yun Fan, now you will have to run faster in each lap you give. Give it a try, keep having fun, but give it a try. Do you understand me, son?
In the first lap Yun Fan marked 87 seconds, in the following 86 and thus the time passed; 2 years later, Yun Fan was already running in a staggering 69 seconds each lap at the tender age of 5.
-Dad, I feel like I like to run a lot and that I have a lot of air left to keep running more.
-You know? Min Jin tells me that the great runners, the ones who become mythical are those who win the greatest race of all: the marathon. He tells me that it is the authentic proof by genesis of the Olympic Games. Where the gods are crowned ---Kei said enthusiastically.
-Really, my little one
-Hey pa ’... one day I’m going to win that race ---stated Yun Fan.
Kei Ying turned to see his son and proudly said: “I know, my dear… I know”. He paused briefly and continued: “So now, I want you to compete. The Kermes de Torreón is approaching and there is a competition for children. It’s a 200 meter race, so I don’t think you have a problem winning it. We’ll see what happens later, but your destiny, my love, is on the roads”.
The Kermes was held in June of each year to celebrate the Patron Saint of Torreón, San Judas Tadeo, the lawyer of the impossible. There were games of all kinds: target shooting, marbles, rifle, there was a dance contest for couples, the kiosk of kisses, the clown pond and the wheel of fortune, in addition to the delicious food stalls. And of course, the children’s race. Everyone was invited, including the colony of chinese immigrants, which by this time was already well involved in some town affairs due to its booming economy, which caused the suspicion of some locals, such as Don Artemiso.
-These Chinese are taking away opportunities and the land is ours, you bastard. I grew up watching them arrive here, more and more, like a slow but never-ending swell. I can’t compete with Man Yuk coffee; it is crowded there every day: what if the bread, what if the coffee, what if the fucking duck ... Arenas tells me that they buy him 10 ducks a day; has become his best customer. And what do I have left, eh? ... tell me!
-Well, believe me, you are not the only one, I have already heard a lot of discontent, from several: Pérez, Sánchez, Hernández, Ramírez, González, Fernández, Palacios ... I can make a list of 25 families who are disgust with what these chinese fucking are doing.
-But we have to do something, we have to do something ...
On Sunday, which was the closing of the Kermes, the Holy Mass was held for San Judas Tadeo; then the children’s race. There were 64 children who had been registered by their parents for the race and previous qualifiers that took place between friday and saturday, the 8 finalists were among them, Yun Fan. Generally here were the children who had a concern for sports and were first timers in these conflicts.
-Are you ready?
-Remember just have fun and pretend that the ducks are running next to you. I love you, Yun Fan.
-I love you too, pa’.
Kei Ying and Yun Fan merged into a hug. The race began and Yun Fan was unrivaled during the 200-meter course. Kei Ying and Xin Tian had no room for happiness, they were filled with joy at their son’s triumph.
That day he was also observing the physical education teacher of the town’s elementary school and looked in amazement at the final gesture of Yun Fan who did not leave any trace of agitation or fatigue, on the contrary, he seemed to want to continue running even more.
-Good morning, you are Yun Fan’s parents, right?
-Yes it is us, Xin Tian and Kei Ying.
-My pleasure, I am professor Soto, the school’s physical education teacher.
- Nice to meet you, professor.
-It is known that you prepare the best dish in town: cantonese duck. I have been fortunate to try it and believe me, it really is a delight.
-Please make me, professor.
-I have also decided to greet them not only for their good seasoning, but because I have also seen their son’s career. I see in him a skill, a gift for running. I would like you to be part of my special team of little athletes.
-Our intention is to channel Yun Fan’s talent and what better way to develop it right here in the village school. We would love to have him join your team, professor.
-Excellent. Ms. Xin, Mr. Kei, it’s been a pleasure.
This encouraged Kei Ying and Xin Tian more. There was not a single day that they were not happy about the promising future of their son.
In the primary school “José María Morelos y Pavón” there was great enthusiasm for 2 sports, soccer and athletics. Professor Soto put special emphasis on not putting aside their classroom classes so that they would not receive a bad grade and could be available with the consent of their parents, practicing sports. Professor Soto had his attention on 3 of his students: a girl who practiced soccer like few others and 2 of his students, the conspicuous: Yun Fan and Artemiso junior.
Artemiso junior, was a very explosive boy in close-range starts, competing very well with Yun Fan. In those days it was especially hot in Torreón and it hadn’t rained for several days. The intermunicipal competition for the school was approaching and the 2 local athletics gems were ready to participate. It would be in 400 free meters. Yun Fan’s latest timings had hit their limit and professor Soto couldn’t find a clear explanation to the issue.
-What is it, Yun Fan? You haven’t been able to download your records lately.
-I don’t know professor, sometimes the heat suffocates me.
Yun Fan had found during his evolution as a runner, at the tender age of 6, that excessive heat depleted his lung capacity. The best thing, he thought, was to continue with his training on a regular basis to adequately face the upcoming competitions.
The day of the competition came to an end; the 14 schools from the 3 neighboring municipalities would compete: “Gómez Palacios”, “La Laguna” and “Torreón”, which was where Yun Fan’s school belonged.
Scorching sunday, suffocating heat. Kei Ying and Xin Tian had already met at the municipal sports hall in La Laguna. Professor Soto, together with his team of young athletes, had been ahead of the sporting event a few hours earlier to reconnoitre the terrain and make the corresponding preparations.
Each of the competitions followed, one after another, with some good results for the “José María Morelos y Pavón”, but still without any first place. For professor Soto and the other academics who were also present at the sports "La Laguna", Yun Fan was the great sports hope of their school, the one that would give them renown and the municipality could also grant more resources to expand the academic programs and school sports.
The clay court was ready to receive its 8 small competitors. Yun Fan and Artemiso junior before their excellent times managed to be in the final: Yun Fan in lane 4 and Artemiso junior in lane 7.
Yun Fan prepared to stand on the exit blocks, his heart was calm, with the necessary serenity. The time he had made in the heats that had put him in the final was not really his best time and he knew it; the suffocating heat affected him, although some clouds were showing in the sky, he did not seem to want to rain.
Qianxinan, latitude 25 north, autumn butterflies flutter in bivouac and a small amount of movement in the wind rises up into the atmosphere stirring the molecules into unusual activity, turning into an extremely strong eastward wind, passing quickly through Lun Sheng, then through Guangxi, through the Taiwan Strait until reaching the Island of Iwo Jima; it blows even more strongly across the rest of the Pacific reaching the Island of San José; the powerful unusual wind plays with force, disrupting the molecular arrangement of the clouds in all the places that run along the 25th parallel north, including the La Laguna sports field.
Yun Fan was in fourth place in the first 100 meters of the competition, the heat was taking its toll on him, when suddenly the clouds over La Laguna began to give off the soft dew of the rain that refreshes the environment and makes the sun’s rays an unusual sun with a sweet rain like river water. Yun Fan’s lungs are taking more and more oxygen into the blood: double hematosis, triple hematosis… Yun Fan picks up speed; the stride becomes firmer, more dynamic; reaching 200 meters, Yun Fan takes second place: a very natural organic smile begins to appear on his face; the rain runs all over his face. He reaches 300 meters without finding difficulty in passing Artemiso junior, who was leading the race; the goal is already looming, it’s in sight; Yun Fan feels how the surroundings begin to blur, to become only shadows; a melody he had never heard is in his ears, as if it were orchestrated by his heart. It’s a feeling full of energy, strength and endless joy.
After the triumph, the festivities did not wait. The municipal president personally congratulated Yun Fan and family; the celebration took place in the sports field; regional folk music played all over the place; there was food and drink for all the guests.
Artemiso, was drinking mezcal and had already drunk three-quarters of a espadín bottle, when he decided to approach Kei Ying.
-Hey Chinese, I have to tell you something. My son didn’t win first place, I wanted first place for him… but your son prevented him. He was the best runner in town until before your son arrived.
-Mr. Artemis, with all due respect, I do not want difficulties with anyone. Let’s take the party in peace.
-No ... besides, you’ve also screwed all my customers ... no one comes to my restaurant ... I’m like this for your fucking duck. You already owe me a lot, chinese.
Xin Tian interceded in the heated conversation trying to temper Artemiso’s heated spirits.
-Surely it’s not our fault, Mr. Artemiso. All we do is work well at what we do. It is the only thing, we do not seek to harm anyone and less in a foreign land.
-You have come to take away land, houses, businesses, money… and now your son takes away the glory from mine… it’s too much, I can’t stand it anymore… Why don’t you go back where you came from, you fucking chinese?
-You don’t have to talk to my wife like that. We have done no harm to you or your family; we have come only to earn a living; to your land, I know, but always with honor and respect towards it and towards you. We have never lacked them.
At that time, the social waters were already beginning to shake in Torreón, the issue of chinese immigrants was already strong in an important part of the torreonense population because they felt deprived of something that they believed was theirs by divine right, without even realizing that only it was about decent, daily and constant work well done, it was everything. What about these torreonenses was rather visceral, it was from the liver to the pancreas and from there to the mouth.
In the heated discussion, some more serene laguneros decided to intervene and take Artemiso away, but the mood was already very agitated in him and in that precise week that was beginning, the riots and aggressions worsened.
It was a tuesday when the strongest aggression occurred. The torreonenses enraged that the chinese immigrants had progressed more than they in just a few years; when they were the natives of this land, they had not achieved the prosperity of these orientals who felt them as intruders.
Artemis watched through his window how the locals broke the windows of the cafes, the dry cleaners, the chinese grocery stores and felt that it was time to collect his personal vendetta against Kei Ying.
He took his "Smith & Wesson" revolver that he had in his chest of drawers, put it in the waistband of his pants, and headed for disgrace.
-Will we be okay, Kei? I am very afraid.
-I don’t know, Xin ... now the most important thing is that no one enters.
Artemis was trying to get into Kei Ying’s house, which was already under lock and key. It was one of those wooden doors and together with 3 other torreonenses who didn’t stop kicking it, they managed to tear it down; Artemiso quickly noticed that there was no one in the rooms or the living room and went to the missing place, the kitchen: when he opened the door of a small hut, he found Kei, hugging Xin and Yun Fan.
"We haven’t done anything to you, Lord Artemiso…" Kei said as he stepped in front of Xin and Yun Fan.
Before he could say another word, Artemiso shot Kei Ying unceremoniously. Viciously thrusting the 6 bullets from his revolver into the astonished and terrified gaze of Xin and Yun Fan. Xin immediately took Kei’s body into his arms, as Artemis told her:
-This is for the race, chinese ... don’t forget.
Xin Tian and Yun Fan wept disconsolately as the intruders threw molotov cocktails all over the place.
A few days after the fatal incident, Xin and Yun Fan had managed to take shelter in the municipality thanks to the security forces managing to get them out of the house in time, while it finished catching fire. Many chinese immigrant businesses were burned to the ground, as were many of their homes. There was no place left to be done.
The municipal president was boxed in by dissident torreonenses and forced to expel the chinese community that had brought so much prosperity to the town. This time the viscerality with the fatality united had won. There was nothing else left for Xin and Yun Fan but to keep looking further south, heading towards a place known as the Federal District.
Xin had gotten the address of a countryman who received the new immigrants located on Calle de Dolores, at least he would have a place to start in getting a job. What encouraged her was that she still had the oral memory of some imperial recipes, that she would write to inherit them to Yun Fan so that he could take advantage of them. Stick to the basics, she thought; Yun Fan would have to give up his dream of running. Xin the next day found a job in a restaurant in the same chinese colony where they lived, it was called "El Chino Loco." Given her expertise and good seasoning in the kitchen, she soon gained the appreciation of the owners.
Here in the Federal District they would be safe, because in addition to being quite far from Torreón, suspicion towards foreign communities practically did not exist.
-Yun Fan, son, come here.
-What is it, ma’?
-Now that I see we can have a future here, we have to talk about what you will do from now on. You will have to dedicate yourself to school and I will teach you to cook.
-And then, will I stop running?
-What do you feel, son?
"The memory of dad still hurts a lot, it was my fault, ma" --- Yun Fan’s words were broken by crying, as Xin hugged her son tightly, trying to hold back her tears.
-No my love, you had nothing to do with it, but I feel that you should not run again to heal your heart --- to which Yun Fan nodded with a nod, while tears continued to overwhelm him.
Xin Tian began to write down all the imperial recipes that he remembered. He had a wok stove installed inside the room they rented, so this way they could cook their own food without disturbing the landlord and also teach Yun Fan to cook cantonese style. When he completed an imperial recipe, Xin would bring it to Don Felix so that he would be encouraged to buy it so that he could include it on the menu of his restaurant; in this way, the two came out winning: "El Chino Loco" won more customers for an increasingly original menu and Xin was paid very well for each of the imperial recipes. This quickly helped Xin set up a down payment for a new apartment.
As time went by, Yun Fan became a skilled cook. At 16 he was already cooking for “El Chino Loco”. He also did so that Mr. Félix Wong, the owner of the establishment, had offered him double his salary to assume the position of head chef; thus, in this way, Yun Fan got his mother to stop working and he would take care of bringing the sustenance home. He did not abandon his studies, managed to finish high school and continued his career in the kitchen.
Xin, realizing that Yun Fan was so absorbed in his work and at the same time so stable, it could even be said that he was happy, on his 17th birthday she decided to give him a very, very special gift.
-Yun Fan, come here.
-What is it, ma’?
-Today is your 17th birthday ... congratulations, my beautiful son ... look, I have a very special gift for you.
-What is it, ma?
-You’ll see ... but first close your eyes.
-Come on, you intrigue me.
-Close your eyes, I tell you.
Yun Fan closed his eyes as Xin carried a gift-wrapped box with a red bow in his hands.
-Now yes ... open your eyes.
-Wow, what is ma’?
-You will have to investigate it yourself.
Yun Fan opened it delicately by the taped edges; he unwrapped the gift and smiled a little at what her eyes saw.
-I kept them all this time, love ---they were his tennis shoes that he used to run in his younger years--- for you ---Xin told him, while her eyes watered a little.
-Thank you, ma ’---Yun Fan said moved--- Ma’, I always understood why I stopped running; for me, it was necessary ... my heart needed to heal.
-Yes, my love… and I also want to tell you with this that your most cherished dreams, the most precious, if you have been a good son, a good person, they return; they return to you, my love; once again ... life gives you another chance, my love ... and this time nothing will prevent you from fulfilling them --- at that moment Yun Fan hugged his mother tightly while telling her.
-I love you, mom.
-And I love you, my beloved son.
The next day, leaving work, Yun Fan ran to the sports store to choose what would be his new shoes that would lead him to fly to the path of his destination. That same night, he put on his new footwear and ran through his entire neighborhood, the park, Reforma avenue up to the Angel, he returned and thus, Yun Fan felt with each stride his body was energized, as if a new force was in his being; the lightning was not electric, Yun Fan was. The moon followed in Yun Fan’s footsteps: an exclamation of joy rose from his lungs, as if releasing eleven years of confinement, to heal his heart, the wounds left by the premature departure of Kei Ying.
Yun Fan decided to enroll in the local race of the colony 2 weeks into his training, it would be only 10 kilometers and Yun Fan was certain that great distances awaited him, that explosion of energy, of joy, could not be appeased alone at 400 meters, he need to know his heart that he was capable of 10 kilometers, and maybe try his luck on longer runs afterwards.
In this local race, many neighbors from the neighborhoods surrounding Dolores met: nurses, secretaries, doctors, graduates, administrators, office workers, cooks, street sweepers, psychologists, some local politicians, neighborhood bosses, athletes from different specialties, professional marathoners, physical education teachers. A girl named Narumi, a neighbor of the colony, continuously participated in this kind of local competitions, especially to maintain her figure and health. At 1.66 meters tall, Narumi outlined a well-formed figure; firm buttocks; athletic thighs; calves thin at ankle but subtly protruding towards calves; a waist that seemed to fit at the junction of his thumbs and index fingers; he immediately caught Yun Fan’s attention. He walked among some competitors, discreetly turned to look at him: a pair of eyes like two pebbles full of caramel honey; a flirtatious little face that conquered Yun Fan.
The race began; as always, as the kilometers passed, the amateurs were lagging behind; many would go to these competitions just to run 3 or 4 kilometers and then they would deflate or just leave them there. Yun Fan until kilometer 5 was escorting Narumi and decided to catch up to make the talk.
-Hi, how are you, my name is Yun Fan, neighbor of the Dolores colony ---Yun Fan said, intact in his breath.
-Hi Yun Fan, I am Narumi ---Narumi replied with a slight gasp.
-It catches my attention that you keep your good step.
-Is it okay if we continue?
-It’s perfect, Narumi.
They continued at an even pace for 2 more kilometers, at this point Narumi’s pace began to slow and she was lagging behind. Yun Fan continued cool, light, smoothly; he had wanted to continue with Narumi, but now it was the end time of the race. It seemed incredible to him that the feeling he had about great distances was becoming a reality; Yun Fan had the leading group in sight. The weather was very pleasant: 18 degrees centigrade; dim sun, no chance of rain; there was only 1 kilometer left to finish. Yun Fan quickened his pace; he was on a par with 2 professional marathoners who were at the top; there were only 300 meters to go to the finish line. Yun Fan gave his last acceleration to pass them, but these experienced and prepared runners, left him behind by 3 meters. They crossed the finish line.
Yun Fan did not feel bad, on the contrary, he smiled at the goal, knowing that many and better things were to come. Narumi arrived at the finish line a few minutes later, where Yun Fan was already waiting for her.
-What is your job?
-I’m a cook at “El Chino Loco”.
-Seriously? My dad usually brings us food from that place. They prepare an exquisite duck.
-I cook it, it’s my special dish.
-Let me give you my congratulations, because you have a great seasoning.
-When you like, Narumi.
-Call me then.
Narumi and Yun Fan exchanged phones; they called each other continuously and discussed various topics, including Yun Fan’s enthusiasm for athletics and Narumi’s fondness for chrysalis and butterflies. Narumi had already told Yun Fan that her parents would surely like him, because they were passionate about chinese food. Yun Fan offered Narumi to invite her parents one sunday that he would prepare a very special dish, just for them; he himself chose the ingredients in the market where they were supplied and would pay for the dish from his bag, which was a nice surprise that he had in store for Narumi and her parents.
-Great to meet you, Yun Fan. Narumi has told us a lot about you and from what I see, she wasn’t wrong. You are an excellent cook and also a very generous one. Many thanks.
-The pleasure is entirely mine. And an honor, really, to be able to serve you and that my dishes are to your liking. Really, what an honor.
With this Yun Fan pocketed Narumi’s parents. There were only a few days left to celebrate Independence Day and Narumi invited Yun Fan to celebrate at her friend Jessica’s house, who, year after year, threw a big party on this date.
Thus, September 16 arrived and between tequila and tequila, the mood began to rise like foam; while they danced, laughed and lived together; already somewhat tired, after a few hours, Narumi and Yun Fan decided to sit on the sofa. A beautiful melody sounded. Narumi subtly rested her head on Yun Fan’s shoulder; he slowly turned his gaze to her and Narumi responded in kind; their lips gently approached each other; they came together, forming a sweet, tender and unforgettable kiss.
"Your kisses were recreated here in my mouth,
Filling my crazy life with illusion and passion,
The happiest hours of my love were with you,
That’s why my soul always misses the sweet relief
I can swear to you before an altar my sincere love,
You can tell everyone that I do love you,
Your lips taught me to feel what tenderness is,
And I will not tire of blessing so much sweetness ”.
From now on Yun Fan would run the marathon. He would specialize in the career of the greek gods. The authentic olympic test par excellence. But for this he would need coaching, a coach to guide what was necessary to reach the competitive levels that he desired. Yun Fan started going to “Deportivo Hidalgo” where he ran 10 kilometers every day before going to “El Chino Loco”. There was a group of runners led by coach Reyes, a marathon dean who once participated in the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games, representing Spain.
-I have been observing your training sessions these weeks and I would like to be part of your team.
-Believe me, running is my passion and what I do best.
-Do you dedicate yourself to something else to support yourself?
-Yes, I’m a cook at “El Chino Loco”.
-And what is your specialty, son?
-The cantonese duck, when you like.
-I’m going to go this week to try it; if it convinces me, then you and I talk.
And in fact, coach Reyes went to taste the delicious cantonese duck that Yun Fan prepared and was fascinated with its presentation and flavor. Yun Fan came out to greet coach Reyes:
-What did you think, Coach?
-A delight, friend ... what do you say your name?
-I wonder, what would happen if you decided to devote yourself fully to cooking?
-Running is my passion, coach… I don’t know… there is something in me that tells me that I was born for it.
-I like your conviction ... and in life you have to be according to one’s convictions ... and to follow the path of your convictions is to be faithful to your heart. Go to the sports hall tomorrow, to introduce you to the team and join my group of runners.
-Great, coach. I assure you that you will not regret it.
Thus, Yun Fan began his training with coach Reyes and he quickly realized Yun Fan’s unique qualities: tall, 1.78 meters tall, long, stringy muscles, ectomorphic complexion and a quality that he observed in Yun Fan that appealed to him a lot the attention when finishing the 10 kilometers every day: it gave the impression that Yun Fan could continue running for much longer, there was a smile in him that said he wanted more; more miles to run, a long road that would gladly run.
Faced with Yun Fan’s increasingly dominant progression in the running group, coach Reyes decided to train him separately. He had in his hands the potential jewel that he had always been waiting for. He would prepare Yun Fan for the China, Nuevo León marathon that would take place towards the start of the autumnal equinox.
-This will be an important test for you. You must keep up; remember, it has been several weeks of training, not enough ... but in you I see what I did not have: the natural gift. Get the most out of it, boy.
-We will make it, coach. Thanks for trusting me.
Thus, the China marathon race began. During the first 20 kilometers, Yun Fan had no problem seizing the first position; the next 10 were full transition to critical 30, where many runners falter. Yun Fan realized that a group of three runners were hunting him; towards kilometer 35, the sun was beating down. Yun Fan felt the fatigue on his thighs and legs, he slightly slowed down to save the extra towards the end; this was taken advantage of by the trio of runners and they matched the race.
Towards kilometer 41, Yun Fan had fallen 6 meters behind the group of 3 who had already shelled slightly; he felt he couldn’t make it, there didn’t seem to be any arrests left.
Qianxinan, latitude 25 north, autumn butterflies flutter in bivouac and a small amount of movement in the wind rises up into the atmosphere stirring the molecules into unusual activity, turning into an extremely strong eastward wind, passing quickly through Lun Sheng, then through Guangxi, through the Taiwan Strait until reaching the Island of Iwo Jima; it blows even more strongly across the rest of the Pacific reaching the Island of San José; the powerful unusual wind blows hard, disrupting the molecular arrangement of the clouds in all places that run along the 25th parallel north, including China, Nuevo León.
Yun Fan was in fourth place in the marathon with 1 kilometer to go; the heat was taking its toll on it, when suddenly the clouds over China began to give off the soft dew of the rain that refreshes the environment and made the sun’s rays an unusual sun with a sweet rain like river water. The lungs taking more and more oxygen taking it to the blood: double hematosis, triple hematosis; Yun Fan acquires more speed, the stride becomes firmer, more dynamic. Arriving near the stadium, Yun Fan passes two of the competitors who preceded him; the leader is 3 meters away, just as they enter the stadium. A very natural organic smile is drawn on Yun Fan’s face as he manages to pass the only competitor that was ahead of him. Yun Fan feels how the surroundings begin to blur, to become just shadows. A melody that he hasn’t heard for a long time is in his ears, as if it were orchestrated by his heart; it’s a feeling full of energy, strength and endless joy.
Thus, the triumphs continued for Yun Fan, one by one, without further ado. Two years passed where he continued with his triumphs in different cities of the country; without China’s harsh weather, he swept four marathons. It began to be a recurring sports mention in the newspapers. His athletic ability, his aesthetic style, his forged character and his discipline were leading him to be the new star of athletics in Mexico.
-Love, you are becoming a celebrity. I think I’ll have to take care of myself and take care of the fans, huh? ---Narumi said while reading a note from her boyfriend in the newspaper.
"I only have eyes for you," Yun Fan replied as he gave Narumi a sweet look of love.
-You are a sun.
-And you my beautiful moon.
-When the day of the olympic marathon comes, I hope to be there that day and see it… and I don’t know… I feel like it will be the day when you will do something even greater than what you are doing now, love.
Yun Fan celebrated with his mother, Narumi and coach Reyes in “El Chino Loco”. They celebrated not only his recent triumphs, but also the one who could now make a living from athletics, as he had found a sponsor who would finance his training and everything related to his travels and races.
"Today I want us to also celebrate for the memory of your father, my son," Xin Tian said excitedly as she raised a glass to the sky.
-Yes, ma’, let’s toast to dad. Cheers.
After the celebration, Xin Tian felt tired, yet happy and proud of her son, to see him become a man of profit, she missed Kei Ying very much and longed to be reunited with him. After two months of that cheers in "El Chino Loco", Xin Tian died sleeping in his bed.
Yun Fan accepted it with serenity and not without a sadness full of melancholy for the moments he lived with his mother, a journey full of joys and troubles, which forged his character and the desire to live this life to the full.
He knew that she was now reunited with his beloved father and that fed him peace of mind for them and his hope for the future.
Arriving on the winter solstice, Yun Fan would ask Narumi to marry him. In a very beautiful viewpoint, on the outskirts of the capital, there in the moonlight, Narumi accepted Yun Fan’s sweet offer with immense joy.
-Love, you make me infinitely happy; I want to spend the rest of my life by your side, there are no words to say everything I feel for you, but if I had to define it, it would be like this: I love you with all my soul and all my being.
-I love you as I have never loved anyone in my life ... I love you with this love that crosses me from side to side, which is so deep within me, in my whole being, that I fight forever to stay within me; that overflows me, that when I think of you, my whole being is filled with love; every second is unique, being by your side and feeling that you think of me, that you feel me with you, that I am with you; my love is yours and your love is mine, that makes each breath infinite, because you are in me.
-And you in me, love of my life.
The moon, radiant, was a faithful witness of the love declared between Narumi and Yun Fan.
The next step was to ask for Narumi’s hand from her parents. He would do it in "El Chino Loco." Yun Fan arranged a nice dinner for four people where the delicacy of a cantonese duck that Yun Fan himself would prepare could not be missing. Earned with care and affection the acceptance of his in-laws, they didn’t hesitate to officially accept him into their family. They celebrated with a toast the future wedding that would forever bind Narumi and Yun Fan.
It was a few months before Yun Fan’s next athletic event, which was the Boston Marathon. It would be his first international competition that took place at the special invitation of the organizers of the prestigious race when the importance Yun Fan was gaining as a marathoner became known.
Taking advantage of all this time, the loving couple decided to methodically but succinctly organize the wedding that took place 2 months after the wedding request. Champagne, fireworks, mariachis, wongs and chinese drums were part of the allegory that filled all the guests with enthusiasm and good humor. An unforgettable wedding. Narumi and Yun Fan’s wedding in a splendid setting.
After the honeymoon that lasted for about 3 weeks, Yun Fan returned to training more motivated than ever.
-Coach, I have a feeling that we will win our first international race.
-It is a great marathon, you will have fierce opponents, Yun Fan.
"Yes, I have heard barbaric things from Cote, Smith, Pawson."
-Remember to keep up, Yun Fan; they will want to blast you with initial milestones and burn you with group work. What a pity that here in the country the runners pull each one by their side, but for me it is enough: I have the best of all.
-Thank you, coach, I won’t disappoint you.
"You never have and Boston will be no exception, son."
Yun Fan was overjoyed and looked up at the sky grateful for so many good things that life was bringing him.
Yun Fan and coach Reyes set out for the east coast of the United States, 10 days before the great Boston race. With a mild and benevolent sun, Yun Fan had no major problems in getting hold of the Boston race, even over Cote, the champion of the previous edition, who escorted him for the last 5 kilometers without being able to catch up to the stylized mexican marathoner from oriental origin. The international press immediately addressed it.
-What is this incredible winning streak due to, Yun Fan?
-To destiny… destiny placed me here… I’m just taking advantage of this beautiful life opportunity ---Yun Fan replied and with this it was enough for the international press to baptize him as “the runner of destiny”.
Upon returning to Mexico, he was greeted with noise and music at the airport.
“Negrita de mis pesares,
Ojos de papel volando,
Negrita de mis pesares,
Ojos de papel volando,
Cuando me traes a mi negra,
Que la quiero ver aquí,
Con su rebozo de seda,
Que le traje de Tepic”
Upon returning home, Yun Fan had decided to spend two whole months, without travel and without training, by his wife’s side, given his new status as a national and international athletics star, he had complete leeway to decide his agenda.
-I want to be by your side, that you don’t lack anything.
-My beautiful sky, I don’t believe it at times, you are the man that every woman dreams of… my heart is yours ---Narumi told Yun Fan.
They decided to give a second part to their honeymoon, traveling throughout the Mexican Pacific by land, from Chiapas to Sonora and the two Californias, going through Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacán, Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit and Sinaloa. They explored small towns and all kinds of beaches, delighting the view with the unique sunsets of mexican beaches and the sunrises that fill the soul with peace and harmony, and the nights that seem to never forget the joy of lovers.
Returning to the Federal District, Yun Fan caught up with the scheduling of his trainings with coach Reyes, while Narumi would find a place in the apartment for all the nice things they brought from their extended honeymoon. So for a few more days the happiness did not stop at the home of the stellar marathoner, until one day in June Narumi began to feel strong pains in her throat; she began to cough and put a napkin to his mouth, when he took it back it indicated blood.
They decided to go to the doctor. He prescribed some medicines to Narumi to calm the pain and stop the bleeding, while they waited for the results of the studies that were carried out to know precisely what was happening. Four days later the doctor called them back; the Narumi thing was serious. A genetic abnormality in his lungs was causing him discomfort that would very possibly end in edema, said the doctor. The news washed over Yun Fan like an icy arctic breeze. He desperately asked the specialist for more explanations, he only managed to say that he knew a fellow pulmonologist, an eminence in his field, with whom he was going to recommend them so that they could see him.
They decided to fly that same day to Baltimore, where the eminent pulmonologist resided. With their appointment scheduled, that night they spent the night in a hotel in Baltimore. After four in the morning, Narumi began to cough more forcefully and she felt like she was short of breath. Yun Fan took his wife to the hospital emergency room. After two hours of arduous medical battle, the specialist went out to the waiting area.
-I’m sorry, Mr. Yun Fan. His wife is dead.
-How? ---Yun Fan replied with a choking voice.
-The pulmonary edema caused him a cardiorespiratory arrest ---lamented the doctor.
Yun Fan felt that everything around him was oppressing him; he felt a burning sun on his face, without a sweet rain like river water refreshing him, he only felt that he was burning, that he was burning alone, all on fire.
After three months in total depression and locked in his apartment, only sneaking out, very occasionally for food, Yun Fan had forgotten who he was, his entire notion of reality, as if a dagger were piercing his heart, he tried to pass the days among piles of garbage that he had allowed to accumulate. Someone knocked on the door whom he had not seen in all this time:
-Hey, kid ... how are you?
-What is it, coach? ...
-Well, nothing ... I’ve come to see you.
-You can see it, right? What else can I do?
-Do something for you, son ... the Costa Rica race is very close, I wanted to know if you are willing to run it ... because you know you can’t continue with this ... you were rising like the foam ... and it’s not fair that you do yourself this.
-I can’t, coach.
-I can’t imagine the pain you’re feeling… but it’s been a while and you should go back, son.
- Life tore my heart out, when everything was going so well ... why? Did my happiness bother anyone? Has anyone wished me ill, coach? You who have lived longer, tell me… because I can’t find a clear reason to return.
-What I can tell you, from my humble experience is that there are no clear things for life ... only things happen and that’s it ... and that’s right, our task is to continue ... and the rest does not depend on us.
Taking his eyes to the deepest part of the ground, Yun Fan denied himself and with the eagerness to solve the process of the presence of coach Reyes, he palely and weakly accepted the return to the courts. With a training of three weeks Yun Fan faced the appointment in Central America; coach Reyes saw the disappointment in his athlete, but he had the consolation that, at least, he had decided to return.
They made the trip to Costa Rica for the international marathon that takes place year after year in the Central American nation. Yun Fan scored a disastrous 16th place. When he returned to Mexico, everything was questioned by the press, something that led Yun Fan to sell his apartment and go to the Caribbean, to Havana, Cuba to, according to him, forget everything and heal his heart. It was the fall of the dazzling star of mexican athletics. Hope for olympic gold seemed to be fading at Yun Fan’s feet.
Upon arriving in Havana, he settled in a guest house on the outskirts of the Antillean capital. Yun Fan began to frequent the best gambling houses, began to live with loafers and traffickers of alcohol and marijuana. He became a gambler. All the good money he had made from his career earnings was diminishing day by day. Every night was gambling and drinking until he passed out. He would wake up suddenly on a park bench or completely lost in his bed amidst the lingering aroma of cigarettes and alcohol.
On one occasion, the stakes went so high that he decided to put his last remaining on the table. Lost. He lost everything. A few days later, he was on the street, because they threw him out of the house where he was staying because he couldn’t continue paying the rent.
Senel, a homeless cuban, who had once left a few good bills in one of his drunks, recognized him when he found him lying in the street, near an alley.
-Hey, buddy ... what are you doing here lying alone? ... come to help you.
-Hey? --- a disoriented Yun Fan, barely answering --- who are you?
-Senel ... look, come, I’ll take you to my place, better to be accompanied, don’t you think?
They came to a dark alley, lit by a fire made of gasoline and a pile of garbage accumulated in a boat, where there were as many homeless people. As the days went by, Senel was inducing Yun Fan into the world of the ragged and marginal: in which garbage cans were the best snacks, when he had to beg for alms and learn to exchange what he found in the garbage with some merchants who they bought second hand. When they felt daring, they searched the garbage of some wealthy neighborhoods and found booties of all kinds: clothes in good condition, shoes and sometimes when they were very lucky, some small jewelry. Generally, what they managed to exchange for money with merchants went into alcohol and marijuana.
After three years, Yun Fan had adjusted to this life; most of the time he no longer wanted to remember who he had been in the past; in others, during the drunkenness he recounted the anecdotes of his former sporting glories.
- ... the sun was burning, it seemed that it was sinking me, but suddenly it began to rain; and in that moment I felt an internal force that propelled me forward; I no longer stopped until I won.
-Hey Yun Fan, and where did that go?
-There in my country, in the north, in China ... what did you not know?
-Ha ... Yun Fan ... here with problems we find out what happens to us ... now you go to know about another country ... but I believe you, my blood.
- Cheers, Senel.
- Cheers, Yun Fan.
Vladimir, another needy man, who had just arrived in the alley, looked suspiciously at Yun Fan and had listened to his entire anecdote.
-Well, I don’t believe you, nothing. I have a feeling that you are another mexican who is only lying and you want to do us less because you had a better life than us. You mexicans have always believed each other a lot, but here you screw yourself. I’m going to kick your ass!
-No, not my blood ... he’s not like that ... he doesn’t believe himself more than anyone ... he’s a good guy ---intervened Senel.
-Well, I don’t care! ... today I am splitting this mexican’s face! ---Vladimir answered more angrily.
-Well, you are not going to speak ill of me! ---Yun Fan replied.
Senel tried to prevent Vladimir from beating Yun Fan, but he had great strength and he pushed it aside like someone who throws a keychain and Vladimir pounced on Yun Fan with an accurate blow that struck the once glorious face marathoner, falling to the ground where Vladimir landed three kicks to Yun Fan’s chest and one more to the back; when it seemed that he would continue kicking him, several homeless people present began to scream.
-Let it go! Leave it already! You already beat it! What else do you want!
Vladimir reacted and gasped: "Okay ... just for today."
Senel painfully lifted Yun Fan and helped him by taking his waist and one arm until they reached a park bench.
-My brother Yun Fan ... my brother Yun Fan ... you better go back to your country ... I don’t want anything else to happen to you.
-But this is my place.
-I think not, my brother.
-But all this time, we have lived together, the alley is my home ...
-Look, you’ve already made an enemy ... and you also put me at risk ... Do you want that, put me at risk? Put Senel at risk?
"No, of course not, my friend," Yun Fan replied with his head downcast.
Yun Fan heeded the request, went to a public bathroom to wash; with some coins that he had from the alms and others that Senel offered him, he was able to cover the expense. In the port, shrimp boats left that came to Mexico to trade and docked in the port of Veracruz; when they left the port, they requested two helpers for the trip and Yun Fan was able to embark.
With the flimsy promise in mind that one day he would return for his sporting privileges, time inexorably passed for Yun Fan; it was actually a false promise that she had made to himself, to get through the life he was leading now. He lived in a small town near Tecolutla, where he made a living by waiting tables. He continued with his fondness for gambling and drinking; Only this time he continued with self-imposed rules to continue enjoying them: only bet up to 100 pesos and only on weekends; drink, but always mentally preparing before doing so: "I only have three, so that tomorrow I can have another three": All with the desire to continue enjoying his vices and keep keeping his job, which meant his only livelihood in the end . With his work as a waiter he obtained the four things that filled his life: housing, food, games and drinks.
With almost no feeling for the past, only with that empty and increasingly diluted promise to return to running, Yun Fan let 16 years of his life pass. With the memory of the past almost erased by his own desire, his heart quenched, Yun Fan chose the only way left to him not to continue in the ostracism of his life: suicide. However, he wanted to do it lavishly; he would go to Macau, China: casinos, delicacies of delicious fish and succulent seafood, the cantonese duck that was once his specialty, refreshing drinks and spirits, and a scorching sun that burned him more.
To do this, he decided to move to Mexico City, where there were better tips. Working again as a waiter for six months, without drinking or playing, he was able to save quite well and rent a small room at the top of a neighborhood in the Guerrero neighborhood.
After six months, he arrived at the promised land of his suicide: Macau, where he lived six days full of parties and excesses. But there is no date that doesn’t arrive, nor term that is not fulfilled: the seventh day; the promised day for his departure from this earthly plane had arrived. Using a thick rope that he had bought at the morning market in Macau, he tied it to the iron lintel of his room with the help of a small table. He inserted his neck into the hoop of the rope. The window of his room overlooked the casino opposite: they had ten flagpoles and every day they changed a flag from one country and put a different one from another. That morning they were putting up a new one: the Mexican flag.
With the curtain slightly ajar, Yun Fan managed to observe and stopped for a moment his suicidal act and decided to get down from the small table to approach the window, walk through it and watch the flag of the country that adopted him wave for the last time. Remember how much he adored his adopted land; to feel again that ancient longing to see her wave with the gold on his chest; with a gold for Mexico in the authentic test of the olympic gods: the marathon.
A few seconds later, Yun Fan took his gaze to the podium of death and when he was about to return to it, a butterfly landed on his hand; a melody that he had not heard for a long time was in his ears, as if it were orchestrated by his heart and between the notes he listened to the love of his life, when she once told him:
“I see life ... the life of a person ... as a caterpillar that begins to feed on grass and thus spends its days on its little tree, on the ground, on the plants; without thinking too much about what will happen next; just look at the night, fascinated, the moon and smile; it becomes a chrysalis; and then hatches; one wing comes out, at the moment the other, and all of it whole: a beautiful and radiant butterfly, like no other; ready to fly, fly; willing to dream, dreams; willing to fulfill her dream, she achieves it ”.
When he finished remembering this, the butterfly flew from his hand towards the infinity of the sky. Yun Fan was thoughtful for a few seconds, reconsidered his posture, walked his steps towards his suitcase, packed his things, and opened the door to the room with his mind set on only one thing: the glory of olympic gold.
Returning to Mexico, Yun Fan immediately went to the home of coach Reyes, his former coach in those illustrious years when his career as a marathoner took off.
-Yun Fan?! ... Long time no see! ... But come on boy ... My golden chinese ... Where have you been all this time? What were they? 20 years?
-Wow ... well, what have you done? Did you rebuild your life?
-No, what’s up… rather I undid it… I went to Havana; I was there for three years ... then I returned to Mexico, I was in Veracruz for 16 years ... Can you believe it?
-Did you find someone else? Did you have children
-No ... Narumi was and will be the love of my life
- "The love of your life", how beautiful
-She made everything that I lived and felt beautiful, magical ... everything that I vibrated and dreamed of.
-I can understand, Yun Fan.
-Thank you, coach ---there was a little silence and Yun Fan continued--- and did you continue training?
-No, I have retired a few years ago, I no longer found anyone with the faculties to do what you did ... and I got annoyed at the bureaucracy, the lack of talents ... Furthermore, Lucia died eight years ago and since then I decided dedicate myself to enjoying my old age and my retirement ... well, but this reunion deserves to be celebrated as it deserves ... Come, I invite you a glass of my best cognac ... Do you accept?
-Of course it is, coach ... seeing it well deserves a toast
---coach Reyes opened his bottle of Hennessy Paradise and poured the drinks.
-Well, I have every intention and objective of presenting myself in Taiwan’64, coach… What do you think?
-Aren’t you 40 already?
-I’ve thought about it ... but I have a huge desire to return ... I feel like I can achieve it ... I want to enjoy every moment that remains of my life, doing what I do best, which is running ... because one day we will leave or someone will leave
Coach Reyes looked at him for a few seconds and responded with warm appreciation:
-Let’s try it… What difference does it make?… One more time!… For the good old days!
-For them and for the new ones who may come --- both clinked their glasses to toast again for this reunion.
It was a year before the start of the Olympic Games in Taiwan. Coach Reyes set to work to bring Yun Fan to the forefront of athletics again. The coach’s mission was to put Yun Fan in a race for April 1964, which would be the Boston Marathon, the one where his conspicuous student surprised the world.
Coach Reyes placed heavy weights on Yun Fan’s ankles to help him gain strength in his legs and thighs, as well as arm curl repetitions to make the stroke firm and continuous, keeping the pace fast and oxygenation at full capacity. He also took care of the paperwork to register Yun Fan again as a professional marathoner; this time without a sponsor, all financed from the coach’s savings. A journalist managed to recognize him while he was in the offices of the Mexican Olympic Committee.
-The same dress and shoes
- Are you coming back from retirement?
-Return from retirement, son
- Found a new jewel?
-I’ve rather dusted off the only jewel
-Does Yun Fan return?
-You can put it to eight columns, son
The press immediately began to spread the news that Yun Fan was returning to the tracks, to the race of the olympic gods: the marathon. He was remembered as the only real promise of a medal for Mexico in this olympic discipline and left such good memories that this news was enthusiastically received by much of the press, although it would be admitted, Yun Fan’s age raised doubts.
"The runner of destiny has returned," read some headlines; others "Will he get it at 41?", because by the date of the olympic marathon, just that day, Yun Fan would be 41 years old.
But before that the date in Boston, Massachusetts was promised; for Mexico was a group of four runners, including Yun Fan; all four were looking to qualify for the Taiwan Games. It would be achieved by the first three who crossed the finish line, as long as they equaled or lowered the mark of 2 hours and 30 minutes. During the race, Yun Fan managed to place himself in the leading group, which was made up of an ethiopian, a kenyan, a moroccan, an englishman, an argentine, a czech and Yun Fan himself. This group remained very compact until kilometer 30, which was when it began to be shelled. A group split that became two; the new leading group was made up of the ethiopian, the argentine and the czech. In the other group, the moroccan, the english, the kenyan and Yun Fan stayed.
Around kilometer 38, Yun Fan’s only interest was to get the time, since the tremendous pull that the ethiopian gave ended up wearing down the two groups. He ran in fifth place 4 seconds behind the moroccan; Yun Fan kept pace and on the hunt, feeling that with it he would achieve the desired mark. When he reached the finish line, he looked at the electronic board and that very natural organic smile came from him: He had managed to stop the clock in 2h 29’10 ”. Coach Reyes immediately went to look for him.
-You always had the ounce, kid
-We did it, coach
The press immediately approached Yun Fan for this achievement he had achieved: Qualifying for the Olympic joust to be held in October of that year.
-Yun Fan, what can you predict for the Taiwan marathon?
-That I will not lose heart, that’s for sure
Upon returning to Mexico, the press looked with optimism to Yun Fan and the role he could play in the Olympic Games. Above all, a possible medal for the country in the most important race was eagerly awaited, which would represent a milestone for mexican sport.
In a radio interview one month before the Olympic marathon, Yun Fan declared: “Mexican athletics deserve a better place and I want to be part of that change; let’s forget the past. Let us look with hope and enthusiasm at what is ahead ”.
-Yun Fan, why did you decide to run again?
-First for something that I do not intend to share with you --- there were laughter between the athlete and the journalist---, second, but not least: for my flag, for Mexico, my precious country that gave me its land to grow, to work, to marvel at so many things, I wanted to do it for all of it.
There was, however, a part of the press that looked suspiciously at the new projection of Yun Fan as the figure of the mexican delegation in Taiwan, with comments in his newspaper articles that sought to demerit the return of the marathoner: “Impossible for him to achieve the medal ”; “Yun Fan lost in ostracism for so many years, now what is he going to do: throw everything back, as he did in the past, leave us with broken illusions? Better to stay at home". But Yun Fan ignored all this and, together with coach Reyes, set out on the journey to the Olympic Games.
The day of the olympic marathon had arrived. Thursday, October 29. The eyes and ears of the world would be for more than 2 hours in Taiwan, attentive to the great race.
The big competitors had already been identified by Yun Fan; he fully knew them in Boston. They were four formidable marathoners that had to be defeated today if he wanted to fulfill what he had said since he was a child, that one day he would win the race of the gods.
The temperature was approaching 40 degrees Celsius in Taipei and only a few very high and thin clouds were warning high in the sky.
The pistol shot started the race where, immediately, almost like a tracing of Boston, a leading group seized the top: they were the same seven runners from that time, plus a taiwanese, the favorite runner of the home. Only this time, as the group split towards kilometer 35 approximately, it was led by Yun Fan, the moroccan, the englishman and the taiwanese.
The sun kept on going full blast. At kilometer 38, the moroccan gave a tremendous pull that only Yun Fan answered. Thus they stayed together until kilometer 40, when Yun Fan began to feel that his legs and thighs no longer responded to him; he felt a powerful lash of pain spread through his entire body. Little by little, the moroccan began to move away: 1 second, 2 seconds, 3… until reaching kilometer 41, the african representative was 24 seconds ahead of Yun Fan.
Qianxinan, latitude 25, the autumnal butterflies flap in a bivouac and a small amount of movement in the wind rises high up in the atmosphere, churning the molecules into unusual activity turning into an extremely strong eastward wind, passing rapidly by Lun Sheng, then by Guanxi, through the Strait of Taiwan until reaching the former Island of Formosa reaching Taipei: The unusual strong wind, agitator of molecules, plays strongly in the sky, disrupting the molecular arrangement of the clouds that loomed about the great Olympic race in the taiwanese capital.
Yun Fan begins to feel the soft dew of the rain that refreshes the environment and makes the solar rays an unusual sun with a sweet rain like river water. The lungs taking more and more oxygen taking it to the blood, double hematosis, triple hematosis; Yun Fan acquires more speed, the stride becomes firmer, more dynamic. Arriving in the vicinity of the Monumental Olympic Stadium, Yun Fan had managed to match the Moroccan; together they enter the stadium and head towards the tartan, it’s only one lap and the goal of 42 kilometers and 195 meters will be met. The passage of Yun Fan is already devastating, it’s reducing the last forces of the moroccan, who begins to lag behind more and more; Yun Fan feels how the surroundings begin to blur, to become only shadows; there is music that vibrates in his soul, as if it were orchestrated by the heart, music that he feels with a thought:
What I hear is beautiful
We resurface from the depths of our hearts
From their own cores
That remain intact
What gives us so much strength, faith
It’s the energy of our love
That makes us born, born again
With so much faith and so much strength
With so much immense, incredible and infinite love.
The music becomes more harmonious, intense and vibrant: drums and trumpets sounding, guitars playing, sounds of piccolos and cellos, fanfare of the heart! ... Yun Fan crosses the goal that he saw so far ago, today he crosses it like the champion of the race of the gods.