“Don’t forget to bring the camera, Senor Leo,” Senora Luci called out from her room.
“Juanita has it,” I said. “I loaned it to her yesterday.”
A pregnant pause.
“Are you sure?” Senora Luci asked.
We were about to take a motorcar to the Plaza de 28 de Julio where Juanita’s school had been selected to lead twenty other schools in a parade celebrating the death of one of Peru’s war heroes. “Just to be sure,” I said, I’ll look for it again.
During the next ten minutes I turned my room inside out searching for the camera. “It’s not here,” I called out, not trying to hide my annoyance that she didn’t believe me when I’d said I had loaned the camera to Juanita yesterday. “I’m sure Juanita took it with her when she went to school this morning.”
Sighing, she said, “She must have forgotten that you gave it to her.” Was that a note of doubt in her voice? It seems that lately she and the girls have been doubting my ability to remember things.
Sure, I told myself. I forget something every now and then. But, for the most part, my ability to remember things hasn’t changed much over the past two decades.
Senora Luci and I arrived at the plaza minutes before the parade was due to begin. Just enough time to ask Juanita if she had the camera. “No, Papi,” she said.
“But I loaned it to you yesterday. I’m sure of it.”
“Papi,” she said, “yesterday I reminded you to bring the camera today.”
“That’s not true,” I growled. “I gave it to you yesterday.”
Upset over not being believed, I turned and starting walking to our house a mile away. I know I’ve been forgetful at times during the past few years. But I’m absolutely certain I gave the camera to Juanita yesterday.
She’s lost it, I thought. And she doesn’t want to admit it. I can forgive her for losing the camera. But lying to me about it is something else. Once I reached our house, I dragged a chair outside and waited for Senora Luci and Juanita to arrive.
I was still upset when Juanita got out of a motorcar an hour later and marched past me into the house. She went straight to my room. Less than a minute later she called me inside. When I entered my room, she stood in front of my desk—the camera in her hands.
“Where … was … it?” I asked.
“Where it always is,” she replied. “In one of your desk drawers.”
I had looked in the desk drawers three times searching for the camera. Sighing, I went back outside and dropped down in the chair. I thought of the many times my two brothers and I used to make fun of our father for being sometimes forgetful when we were boys. One day he overheard us. “It’s going to happen to you boys one day,” he replied in a patient voice. But we didn’t believe him.
Gazing up at the heavens, I muttered, “As always, Dad, you were right.”