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.
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.