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HOOK TO THE LIVER

What It’s All Really About

Our father, Jose Sulaiman, has been 120 days away from home and 105 days hospitalized in the same intensive care room.

We decided to continue this column because of the tremendous love our father has for it. Consistently week in and week out, writing it anywhere in the world where he happened to be.

This is the 14th edition we, his children, send and in so doing, we pause for contemplation. This is why we decided to share a very personal and precious letter of Don José for his column. Below you will find this poignant gem that he wrote to us for Christmas 2013.

“One day, back in 1957 or 58 in Victoria, leaving the cinema after watching a movie of “Raton” Macías, I took your mother home. I had invited her to the cinema to see an extraordinary film — well, the “Raton” was my super idol, and for me the movie was great — almost as dramatic as Gone with the Wind.

“We were in my Canchola, famous Volkswagen van, which made history in Victoria, and I decided to sing to Martha. She told me she could not accept because she had a boyfriend. I told her to finish with him. She said she could not, because he lived in Mexico.

So I told her to write to him and that I would post the letter. She said that she would take a decision in 15 days. Anyway, nothing happened.

“Two weeks later, we were sitting on the two front steps at home when she asked me what I had forgotten. ‘I do not remember,’ I replied. She said she had given me 15 days to answer the courtship. But I changed my move and told her “You’re my girlfriend since I sang to you.” What came next? A kiss! So that was me, as I have always been and am. So was your mom.

There was a Corona beer advert. It depicted two blondes walking with a sign that read: “The small one is as good as the big one.” So as your mother and Magdalena were blondes, with one somewhat taller than the other, both very pretty and always together moving their hips to the beat, people named them “The Coronas.”

“Both were the absolute best dancers in town. They said they dreamed of marrying an Astaire or Andy Williams. Pepe Villarreal (who married Malena) was like Donald Duck and I was a tank!

“On the eve of our marriage, many marvellous friends from so many places crowded into my bachelor party in the Sierra Gorda hotel, where I was staying the night before the wedding. Oh … I got up with such a hangover!

When I was kneeling before the altar, I had a craving parched desire for a glass of water, but instead my sister Nelly came up to tell me that she would remove the price tags from the soles of my shoes, which were brand new.

“We departed on honeymoon, as was the style then, calm and so very happy, driving a car from Victoria to Acapulco.

While in Mexico, I left your mother in the hotel because I had to see “Raton,” who fought that Saturday as his final farewell. After he won, he took the microphone and said that he’d promised his mom that he was retiring from boxing. The roar of the crowd were raucous yet piteous with, ‘No, no, no!’ Raul’s mother died 20 days after that, and he kept that solomn promise. He never fought again.

“After about six or seven months of marriage, I was in Ciudad Valles visiting my dad, Don Elias. How unforgettable it was when I received a telegram from your mother.

Back then, there were no computers, no cell phones or Skype, or any of that stuff. The telegram contained only two wonderful, forever memorable words: ‘Kisses, Dad’. Signature: Martha.

“I jumped 20 feet for joy. We hadn’t decided to have a baby yet. So, after our Pepe was born, I was going to Brownsville and bought back bags and bags of clothes for our baby boy.

Pepe took many hours to utter his first cry. I was very nervous and they sent me to the pharmacy to buy something soothing. When I returned to the hospital, he had been born. It was around 5:00 pm, but my dear Arturo González, who was at hand, had not presented the baby to anyone before me.

I will never forget!

He was waiting with a bundle of wrapped happiness and hope for the future, contained in a white blanket in his arms.

That same night I had a meeting. All the members stood up and started to clap. “Why are they doing this?,” I wondered. “We applaud, because you have a baby boy!”

Thank you very much and until next week.