Serpientes y Escaleras
Many decades ago there was a very popular Mexican board game called Serpientes y Escaleras. This game was actually an ancient game which originated in India. The purpose of the game was a way to showcase good and evil. It is now considered a worldwide classic. This was back in the time when amusing yourself was very basic, a time when there was no television, internet, etc… Children and adults both played this game. The Mexican version had drawings that were a very typical Mexican style from that era. In the game were 2 dice and each player had their own chip to play with and would advance according to the number that is rolled. If you were lucky and your number landed where there was a ladder, you would advance. But if you landed on a snake, it would take you far back. The goal of the game was to see who could get to the end the quickest. You were at the mercy of rolling your dice. I remember playing this game with my siblings and to attract good luck we would blow on the dice while we were holding the dice in our hand or shake them really hard and throw them while doing different pirouettes hoping we would get the number that would get us ahead. But we could not control the dice. It was all a matter of fate. It is amusing to me to remember how much fun we used to have with such a simple game. Well, well, I see life is just like that game. We have some things in our control but some things are just a matter of luck.
I recently went to Mexico. I had a big urge to visit my brother-in-law who is currently fighting for his life as he is very ill. I talked about this game because in my brother-in-law’s life, the rolling dice lately has landed on the snakes. Every day the chip seems to land on a different snake taking him down, and other days he lands on a short ladder and gets a little better. There had been times in his life when he has been on top of the ladder. He was a successful lawyer who was able to provide a good living for my sister and college degrees to all his five children. I went to visit him. He can’t talk but we looked at one another acknowledging through our pupils how painful his situation is and trying to tell each other all the things we haven’t said in the forty years of our relationship. He had tears in his eyes and mine were in my heart.
When I went to see him he had a lot of visitors in the room. Hospitals make me extremely sleepy. Any therapist will say that’s the way I cope with difficult situations in hospitals. So here I am, visiting my brother-in-law and completely falling asleep on the couch next to his hospital bed. My sisters took a picture of me, amused by the situation. They laughed when they saw me getting comfortable on the couch (What a nerve on my part!!!!).
In the same trip I also visited my mother in Guadalajara. My mother has dementia and she has lost about five inches of bone in her leg. It is extremely difficult for her to sustain herself. I was asked if I could give her a shower… Are you kidding me? I am afraid she might be slippery and fall. Then they asked me if I could feed her… Nooooooo. Perhaps I can order takeout. Can I get her ready for bed and put her in her pajamas? Again I anguish thinking that she can fall down. In my mother’s situation falling can be fatal. At this time my mother is playing snakes and ladders, and every dice she rolls lands on a snake taking her down in her life game board. So this makes me wonder, what the hell am I doing good for my family?? I don’t know. You would have to ask them because as far as I am concerned, I am not helpful but for some reason they all are happy with my clumsiness. I guess this is what you call unconditional love. After a week I rolled my dice again and in my own game, the ladder took me back to Santa Fe.
Where has your ladder taken you? Please write me back at guada755@outlook.