The clerk asked him for his first and last name and papi answered, “Alejandro Sandoval.” Confused, yet convinced, I blurted out, “No, papi, your name is Jose!” He immediately pinched me and commanded me to hush. I sat on papi’s hip and silently wondered who Alejandro Sandoval was and why my dad was claiming to be him.
Back then I had a bad habit of speaking out of turn. Mami once told me that my little outbursts could land our family in trouble with la migra. I was four years old and unaware of papi’s American alias. I did not know it was illegal for papi to be Jose in this country until we arrived back to the house and he complained to mami about how ajenta I was. Mami told me I have to stay quiet when adults are speaking. “Si ellos se enteran lo deportan,” she warned me.
Overcome with guilt, I apologized and promised to never speak out of turn again.