...Looking Back

by Amalia Aguirre

When I close my eyes I remember my dear father through distance and time. He was a sweet and calm person, a real gentleman and I love his memory. He was very friendly. He used to invite his friends to our house for dinner. When he was in a good mood, he liked to talk with his friends about literature and poetry--especially poetry. He enjoyed reading and often recited the poems of Ruben Darios for my family and his friends.

My father was also a writer. He wrote four books in his lifetime. The first was a novella entitled Los Amores de Sor Demonio (The Loves of Sister Demon). His other three publications were volumes of poetry: Luz y Espernaza (Light and Hope), Cantos de Amor y Dolor (Songs of Love and Sorrow), and El Caminante y el Illimani (The Traveler and Illimani).

Our home town of Cochabamba is located right in the middle of Bolivia. My father used to say, "You can tell that Cochabamba is the heart of Bolivia because it is located in its center." Growing up, I remember that the weather was pleasantly warm all the time. We lived in a valley that was surrounded by mountains. Every house had a brick wall around it. These walls created spaces for beautiful courtyard gardens, but they also made it difficult to see the panoramic views. My father would walk out into the streets surrounding our house so that he could see the mountains and other gifts that nature had to offer. In Bolivia, most towns have parks that serve as a central meeting place for the whole community. These parks are called plazuelas. The principal park in each town is called the plaza. Our town's plaza and plazuelas have beautiful flowers, many trees, and a reflection pond. My father used to stroll down the local plazuela almost every day so that he could be with nature and contemplate its beauty.

My father liked to walk early in the morning and breathe fresh air. He liked to contemplate the new dawn, dusk, and nature. He used to tell me, "When you are in contact with nature, you are in contact with God because everything is part of his work."

My father was a dreamer. At night he liked to stay alone in his room to read and write poems. When I would ask him what he was doing, he would say, "I am only playing with words." He was always an optimistic man and he loved life and nature. His world of dreams was based in his thoughts: reality and fantasy, truth and sleep, life and art.

Old photo of Amalia's Father and MotherEven in death, his philosophy of life lives on through the words that he wrote for his epitaph:

Naturaleza viva, a tu seno vuelvo,
a lo que tanto ame en la vida
que me sirva de consuelo
para que me alma viva en tu alma.

Nature lives,
I return to your bosom, my beloved,
It gives me solace knowing that
My soul lives on in your soul.
Jose Liborio Vargas


Photo of Amalia's father and her mother, Tita.

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Last Updated By Gail Matthews-DeNatale: 10/08/96