Today I lied to a police officer. I said that I had lost my Mexican passport when I forgot my backpack in a subway car. I needed a police report of the event in order to get out of the European Union without the risk of getting fined or banned, because my last entrance stamp is from a year and a half ago.
When the policeman completed the report he handed it to me and asked me to make sure all my personal information was correct, pointing to the relevant paragraphs. I proofread the entire thing and found a paragraph which said that I was informed that there would be possible legal consequences if I gave false testimony. I didn’t call him out on it, of course. It was better to feign ignorance.
Is it foolish to admit this publicly? I don’t care. In my heart I’m not guilty of a crime. I love Spain way too much. If I were able to get honest with the policeman, I would have told him Spaniards have a wonderful, secure, tolerant and beautiful country, and that it is very difficult to leave. For a time it made me feel guilty about cheating on my native country, until I made a sentimental model which allowed space for both of them: Mexico is my mother and Spain is my girlfriend.
Many people who knew about my situation suggested that I may apply to gain refugee status, perhaps with the violence situation in Mexico it wouldn’t be too difficult. This felt like treason, nothing remotely bad has happened to me in Mexico as to consider leaving, and then the sheer amount of lies I’d have to support would mean living a double life (one to the Spanish state and the other to the Spanish society). It was never an option. In the end it was the right choice, as a tourist I can slip in and out the borders without being noticed, a refugee cannot do that.
There was a time when I was in the subway, and a drunk spaniard was screaming at another passenger. The other man, a latino, was ignoring him. “Excuse me”, I asked, “what is the problem?”. He proffered some insults to me too, but I persisted “I really want to understand what is the problem with the man”.
—“They are taking away our place”, he said.
—“Well, if you were here before, then he doesn’t have the right to take your place”, I answered, thinking that he was speaking of the seats in the subway car.
—“Ain’t that true? We were here before, but now then come and they take away our jobs!”. Then it clicked. He was screaming at an immigrant because he was blaming him of his problems.
—“Did you lose your job?”, I asked.
He ranted for some time about his situation. I listened with empathy. I then said I was from Mexico, that I had walked more than 3,000Km of his wonderful country, and that I probably knew his hometown. I didn’t, but I knew the whereabouts. It was a nice valley which I fortunately remembered. I commended the prosperity of the soil and the clean rivers which came down the nearby mountains. The water from the streams tastes very good there I told him. He gleamed with pride.
Soon it was time for him to leave the train, he stood up and shook my hand and said some words of appreciation. It had never been my intention to dissipate racial tension, but somehow it all came naturally. As he left the car it came to me in a flash: it is not possible to hate somebody who has an honest love for your mother.