Cal Lutheran Alum
Back in the day during my freshman year in college, I joined the Latin American Student Organization on our lovely California Lutheran University campus. One of the Spanish professors who helped us kids run the club gave me a book that was (according to her) a must-read. It was a copy of the autobiography Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez.
Being the fine outstanding lad that I was then, and am sometimes now, I hurried off to my favorite corner of the library, cracked the book open, and began to read. Ay, Dios mío! It was bloody awful!
Okay. To be fair, I only read the first couple of pages.
It’s never too late
I tossed the book aside and then went on with my life thinking I’d never pick it up again. But like John Lennon said, “Life happens when you’re making plans”.
Did I become become the world-famous rock star I envisioned? Nope. But 17 years later I found myself in India, and so did that book.
A Mother’s Ultimatum
As one does before a long journey, I stopped by my parents’ house, and was enjoying some family time (but really… I mainly went to visit our adorable Yorkie).
My mom had grown sick of the countless boxes in the garage that were filled to the brim with novels accumulating dust. All sorts of books that I have been collecting since I was a snotty-nosed miscreant.“Get rid of the ones you don’t before you leave to India, or I will put all of them in the recycling bin,” she demanded.
I got straight to work on this Herculean task, because if you know old school Mexican moms, they mean business. I didn’t blow this assignment off like I did reading Hunger of Memory. I spent two afternoons of laboring under the Cali sunshine and mostly grumbling to myself about all the other crap in the garage that deserved to be recycled as well.
I had two huge boxes of the finest books in my collection that I would keep, and six boxes to donate to the public library. Ironically, most of the books we acquired were from the same library’s used-book sale.
While loading the boxes in my dad’s van, I saw Hunger of Memory at the top of the pile. Also, rather ironic, I’d say.
All of a sudden, I took a trip down memory lane and was reminded of my CLU days. Traveling down this lane, I drove right into the promise I had made to the professor. Damn it. Now I feel like a jackass for not having kept my word.
Mr. Rodriguez Goes to India
To make good on my word, and because books during travels are indispensable, I took the book with me to the mystical land of the Taj Mahal and urban cows.
After a month of mind-spinning experiences, I’ve finally read the damn thing. The whole enchilada too! Without cheating might I add!
The next blog post will contain some thoughts the book provoked.