QUESTIONS ASKED OF STRANGERS BECAUSE IT’S TOO LATE TO ASK FAMILY
Can we talk?
Can we get food on the way home?
What’s the difference between a pocho, a Chicana, a Xicano, a xicanx, an Indio, a Mestiza, a Mexican, & un gringo?
How do I get outta this barrio but take you (and it) with me?
Why did we come here?
How long are we gonna stay?
Can we go now?
Can we talk?
When’s the next carne asada?
Who all is gonna be there?
Can I bring a friend?
What was it like when you were growing up?
What do you remember about where you were raised?
Do you miss it?
What were your elders like?
Do you miss them?
Did you save anything of theirs?
How much de tu lengua indígena do you remember?
Can you me tell any stories about your people?
Have you ever been in love?
Have you ever given up?
Am I doing right by you?
Is it cool if I borrow this?
¿De qué te ríes?
What’s wrong with my outfit?
Why about my hair?
Is there food at home?
Can I take care of this for you?
Can I bring you something to eat?
¿Prefieres que te prepare algo?
Don’t you know I learned things from watching you?
¿Cómo qué no?
¿A poco sí?
Will you just let me do this?
¿Me puedes dejar en paz, por favor?
Can we talk?
Are you sure you’re all right?
Can I show you something I wrote?
Can I show this to other people?
Can I take care of you?
Do you know I love you?
ADDITIONAL DISCUSSION QUESTIONS AT THE END OF A CHICANX STORY
i. What could I or any of my relatives do to alleviate this story’s harshest moments?
ii. What power do the people in story have to tell the writer what to do?
iii. What if life’s loveliest moments share borders with the most awful, & you need correct documents to get from one to the other without fear of being caged?
iv. Rather than assimilate a body all at once, what if death seizes acres—invading, conquering, & occupying pieces; silencing life once there, replacing it with its own history?
v. When you think of the desert, what’s the most fragile part that comes to mind?
vi. What if you could rid yourself of melancholy without needing to replace space left behind with a drug as dangerous as happiness?
vii. How might this story change if Christopher Columbus, the dumbass navigator he was, sailed straight into the teeth & talons of the Aztec Empire, never to be heard from again?
viii. What if every time you heard I love you, you believed yourself worthy of your ancestors’ survivance?
ix. What if it had been affection, rather than suspicion or guilt, that first ran an unfamiliar hand along my skin & tongue in this country?
x. Would any of this make sense if you weren’t aware of the pain & beauty your people carry with them?
xi. ¿Qué tal si todo lo previo hubiera sido escrito o dicho en la lengua de los conquistarodes de mis anayáwari—instead of my own?
xii. What if the instant I felt doubt, I could shut myself, a dormant or dead universe, knowing an explosion is imminent but convinced whatever happens next may be my fault but not my problem?
xiii. What if we could retrieve portions of ourselves extracted to sculpt these words & give them to our loved ones to hold instead?
Oscar Mancinas is a Rarámuri-Chicanx writer and teacher. He was born and raised in Mesa’s Washington-Escobedo neighborhood. He is the author of the poetry chapbooks Jaula and Roto: A Mex-Tape, as well as the short fiction collection To Live and Die in El Valle. Currently, he splits his time between Phoenix and Mesa and is a PhD candidate in the School of Transborder Studies.