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  • Ring Ring goes her telephone and Juanita Gomez takes up the receiver and hears a man´s voice. The man happily announces," Juanita, I am your cousin!"

    Juanita hesitates for a moment; she has a ton of cousins like most Mexicans, which one´s voice could this be? Juanita is in her fifties and many cousins she has not been with in quite a while. She feels embarrassed that she cannot identify his voice immediately. What will he think of her? That she has forgotten him altogether? Her cousin Pepe comes into her mind, he is a priest in far away Oaxaca and as quickly as she can she murmurs," Pepe?" (There might not be ONE Mexican family without a Cousin Pepe!!!)

    "Yes, of course, your old cousin Pepe! I will be in Guadalajara in 2 days and want to see you. I invite you to eat, you know in that small restaurant at the corner of your house!"

    Juanita is out of herself with excitement. Cousin Pepe might not have noticed that she did not recognize his voice at first. He will take her out to eat! What excitement! How happy she is!

    She gets her hair done and buys a new blouse and on the morning of the lunch with Pepe she has so many butterflies in her tummy that she cannot eat any breakfast.

    But a couple of hours later goes RingRingRing the telephone. On the other end of the receiver is again Cousin Pepe, but his voice is not happy. His voice is serious and worried, “On my way I have had an accident, Juanita, he sobs," The police has retained me and my car. You know how these thugs are, they say I have to pay them 50 thousand Pesos right now or I will go to prison!"

    Juanita thinks her heart will stop beating. Cousin Pepe is a priest. He is a man, who helps so many other people and he is a man without money. She wants to help, of course, she wants to help this good man, who wanted to take her out to lunch today (which nobody has done in years!) and now this terrible misfortune fell upon him! Yes, she has 50 thousand Pesos, yes, she will pay that, but where and to whom?

    The man at the other end of the receiver gives her exact instructions; he knows that the next bank is just two blocks from where she lives. " Please, Juanita, " he begs," Help me out of this trouble, I will pay you back!"

    And there goes Juanita and within an hour 50 thousand Pesos are paid to who knows who.

    When she returns home her mother has come to see her and she blurts out what just has happened to Cousin Pepe.

    Her mother has the gorgeous idea - unfortunately too late - to try and call cousin Pepe in Oaxaca and she is lucky, the busy man is home in his parish. No, he has not been in any accident, no, he is so sorry he has not come to see Juanita and his aunt for so long, but he is such a busy man, no.....

    50 thousand Pesos - around 4.500 Dollars - is a lot of money. A normal Mexican family never saves that much and if they can, it takes a very long time.

    When I tell this story, which a patient shared with me yesterday, he exclaimed," 10 minutes ago I had a suspicious phone call. Somebody said he was my cousin Jorge and would come visit. I have tons of cousins, but no cousin Jorge, so I just hung up!"

    Several months ago somebody called my colleague Javier. When he answered the phone he heard a young girl crying. Then a man´s voice said," This is your daughter, we have kidnapped your daughter. If you want to have her back alive, deposit 40 thousand Pesos here..."

    Javier lives far away from his only daughter, a teenager. Javier does not have a penny, because he finds himself in between jobs. His ex - wife and daughter live in Cuernavaca, where kidnappings are daily bread. He is such an honest man, so he sobs into the phone," But I am poor, I can just get 10 thousand Pesos together!"

    The man at the other end immediately agrees," Okay, deposit 10 thousand Pesos on this account NOW!"

    And there goes Javier and begs friends to help with the money and they do, because he is a beloved person. He does try to call his ex - wife, but she never answers the phone and Javier´s anxiety rises. He brings the money to the bank. Fortunately there is a long queue (which usually we all moan about) and he fills out the deposit slip and tries again to call Cuernavaca. This time he is lucky, his wife answers, his daughter is happy and healthy beside her mother. Javier turns around on his heels and gives the money back to the lenders. He can breathe again.

    People have called my son and asked for money so as not to kidnap my granddaughter, telling him that they exactly knew where she went to school and other details. My son hung up. Afterwards we felt uneasy for weeks.
    “Where do we live?” I ask my husband after reconsidering these scams.

    “We are trapped here by our family and businesses,” he answers.

    I open the terrace door. It is one of the first warm evenings in many months. There is a tree in front of the terrace, which I think in English you call a Crabapple Tree. It bears tiny yellow or red apples in autumn, which are strung on thread as Christmas decorations or boiled in sugar as dessert treats. When it blossoms it seems to be covered in whiteness as if snow had fallen just on this tree. I love that. But last year I missed it (maybe because I sat too much in front of the computer screen?) and I was afraid I would miss it now, because we went to the beach. But no: it is in its most marvelous bloom. It is absolutely beautiful!
    One year has 365 days and maybe for 10 of those this little tree turns glorious.

    I am here to see it. I am here to feel how this beauty lightens my heart. Anjum: maybe this is God?

    Peter: how can I face my innermost panic just as I face this beauty?

    Bengt: I will buy that book about the Journey Of The Soul right now!
    ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
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