Pedro and Rosa’s baby is sick.
“I’m going to go sell the cow to buy medicine for the baby,” Pedro tells Rosa, “I’ll be back soon.”
Off he goes, cow in tow, which he entrusts to a friend to sell for him. But Pedro’s friend doesn’t return. Penniless and far from home, Pedro comes upon an old schoolmate, who feeds him and invites him to stay for the night, promising to help him find work in the morning. When the job falls through, Pedro keeps searching and ends up finding Rebecca, the woman who served him tacos the night before.
“I’m looking for help,” she tells him.
“You’re in luck!” he replies, “I’m looking for a job!”
“What’s your name?”
“Fernando,” Pedro says, ogling Rebecca when she’s not looking.
“Are you married?”
“Me?!? Of course not!” he smiles, “And you? What about your husband?”
“Oh, I’m not married either. Right now, it’s just me and my kids.”
Pedro’s smile grows.
“I knew there was something between us,” he sidles up to her, “You…me…two single people…”
Rebecca smiles back and shows ‘Fernando’ to his room as they discuss his new job making cakes to sell at the market.
Back home, Rosa starts a women’s cooperative to help her friends sell their handicrafts. With Pedro gone, Rosa must find a way to care for their daughter without him.
Six months pass.
“Where is Fernando?” Rebecca sighs. “Probably eyeing the women at the market again. As always.”
‘Fernando’ returns and when Rebecca asks for his help with the cake he groans, “Give me the remote control and stop ordering me around! That’s woman’s work.”
Minutes later, Rebecca calls to Pedro, “Fernando! Did you hear? They just announced your name on the radio and said that we won a house! Where is the lottery ticket you bought the other day?” Irritated, Pedro points her to the trash can. Rebecca leaves in a hurry.
“Your husband’s name is Pedro, not Fernando,” the lottery official tells her.
“There must be some mistake. Check again.”
“It’s Pedro,” he insists.
Rebecca hurries home to find Pedro stuffing pesos into his pocket. “You! What are you doing? You are a fraud! I’ve supported you for six months and you haven’t given me a dime! Get out of my house!”
Pedro heads to the nearest cantina. He orders a double, then a triple, and finally demands the bottle of tequila, swaying as he sips. When a stranger asks for a swig of his own, Pedro refuses.
“If I were you, I’d give me that sip. I’ve got a few friends who won’t be too happy if you don’t.”
“I don’t care!” Pedro taunts. The stranger summons his friends who pat Pedro down and haul him away to kill him.
The woman from the cantina emerges and thanks the stranger for his help.
“I knew he had money,” she says, pocketing Pedro’s–Rebecca’s–pesos.
Meanwhile, Rosa’s work with the women’s cooperative has proven to be quite lucrative. She excitedly convenes a meeting with her partners, laying out a celebratory meal. Today is her daughter’s birthday. The women celebrate their success and toast to the birthday girl. Not accustomed to the taste of liquor, they take their pox in short swallows.
It is a good day for Rosa.
Maria, Victoria, Francisca, Isabel, and Petrona take a bow. It is a good day for FOMMA: Saturday, February 16, 2013, to be exact.
“I am so excited to share this play with you,” Francisca tells us, clasping her heart with pride. “This play is a gift to all of you here with us today.”
Las Víctimas Del Engaño (Victims of Deception) is the fourth play I’ve seen the women of FOMMA–Fortaleza de la Mujer Maya (Strength of the Mayan Woman)–perform. It’s been too long since I’ve sat in the audience at Avenida Argentina #14 and I feel as if I’m home again. Isabel reads my mind.
“This is our home and it is open to you,” she tells us, “we are happy to have you here.”
FOMMA has been telling stories like Pedro, Rosa, and Rebecca’s for over fifteen years. Their work gives a voice to the women of Chiapas–and beyond–and their home gives those women tools to salir adelante (move forward) much like Rosa did. In addition to their theater work, FOMMA provides scholarships, job skills training, literacy classes, and more.
I linger in the theater for longer than usual, congratulating the playwrights, chatting up the other patrons, and munching on fruit and bread, compliments of the house. It is a good day for me, too.