Somalia, Ernesto and Señor Cigala by Melissa Hunter Gurney

When Somalia was 15 she sat in a Mexican school house with 15 other pupils all in white button-down blouses and plaid skirts with knee-high navy blue socks. Her professor was called Señor Cigala or Profesor. Somalia’s classmates called her Lia with an accent on the “i” always making it sound as though what they wanted was urgent. On the 15th day of November Lia stared at Señor Cigala intently. She had been masturbating to her teacher since August 15th when school began and the classroom was hot–making her want to remove her clothes. In order to bare the heat, she imagined things. She imagined Señor Cigala asking her to stay after class, she imagined him unbuttoning her blouse, she imagined him unclasping her bra and she imagined him taking pictures of her like that, stopping in between to hold her flesh in his worn, oversized hands. Sometimes she imagined him licking her nipples and asking her to turn around so he could see the round, lifted buttocks her friends made fun of when she wore a bathing suit in front of them. Lia’s ass is so perky and tight… They would giggle as they said it and it made her feel uncomfortable but she knew Señor Cigala would like it in a different way than her friends did.

On this particular day, November 15th, Somalia lost sight of what was real and what was fantasy. She felt herself losing reality as though she were in a dream–telling herself it was a dream–but unable to control the events until she woke. It was a testing day so each of the desks had two cardboard walls taped to the side. Somalia sat in the front row and the people sitting next to her were out of view because of the tall cardboard blocks. Señor Cigala sat directly in front of her at his desk, his arms were crossed and every now and then, when he felt enough students had seen his glaring stare, he uncrossed his arms and held a magazine in front of him to read. He would look up regularly in case any of the students noticed him reading, thinking that meant he was ignorant to their shenanigans. The last time there was a test, Lolita passed a cheat sheet to Roberto and Señor Cigala didn’t realize what happened until he saw that Roberto, the student who never came to class because he was intertwined with the neighborhood gang, scored a 98.5. He would not let that happen again, so he planned to be both proactive (thus the cardboard) and attentive (thus the constant glares around the room) and both strategies seemed to be working except for the strange eyes Somalia was posing at him. Her eyes were glazed over a bit but there was something sensual about them as well. As if she was dreaming about a boy. He hoped it wasn’t Roberto because he liked Somalia, found her to be beautiful and intelligent, and he would hate to see her fall for Roberto like the other girls did.

When Señor Cigala looked up for the 15th time on November 15th at 15:10 he couldn’t help but stare at Somalia’s shirt. The top button was closed, as was the school’s policy, but the three buttons under the top were completely undone showing the fragile lace of a white bra that was a bit too small for the busty teenager. Her breasts were wanting of freedom–billowing with energy–perkier than he could remember seeing since he’d been married 15 years and had 4 children who were all breastfed. Señor Cigala quickly looked away, made his rounds over the rest of the students and then went back to his magazine even though reading was no longer a possibility for he was too busy considering the view directly in front of him.

Somalia knew she had unbuttoned her blouse in a way that allowed for Señor Cigala to be confused as to whether they popped on their own or she had done it herself. She also knew that if they had popped, which she would use as an excuse if Señor Cigala said anything, her teacher might not confront her because it would be considered too embarrassing for a male professor to approach a female student about her breasts being visible to him. Somalia knew her actions were irreconcilable and that there would be repercussions, but she could not help it. Nothing about the reality of the situation seemed to matter. She recalled the first few lines of a book she read–a book given to her by the gringa who worked at the panaderia in her village for the summer, “I’m a good girl, I’m a nice girl, I’m a straight-A, straitlaced, good daughter, good Catholic, and I’m still a virgin as I should be but all I think about is sex–sex with the mailman, sex with the neighbors husband, sex with the kid who throws the newspaper at my door instead of dropping it. I think I am a sex addict and that is why I’m scared to try it.” Somalia thought about the book, thought about the gringa and thought about the tingling happening between her legs because she knew Señor Cigala had seen the part of her she wanted him to see. Then, without her making a decision, her hand moved away from the desk where it had been resting, unhooking the front clasp that kept the two white lace cups in place over her breasts. As she unhooked it she knew there would be no turning back. She knew Señor Cigala would be intelligent enough to know that the unhooking of a bra was not something which could go unnoticed by the wearer of said bra. The freedom that came with letting her breasts loose in front of Señor Cigala, the man she fantasized about, was more elating than she’d imagined. The tingling was stronger and she was looking straight at him now. He was still reading and, as his head rose from the page, Somalia lowered her gaze back to her test–wrote an answer with her right hand and used her left to massage her own nipple making it hard and prevalent in between the two cardboard slabs.

At 15 years of age Ernesto hated his mother. He hated the name Somalia, he hated the stories she told about his non-existent father, he hated the men she brought home, the church ladies she hung out with who would never be caught dead with the men she brought home and lastly and most impressively he hated the feeling of being rich and fatherless. He hated this because it confused people. He felt it wouldn’t have confused them so much if his mother was married and then divorced or if she was never married but came from money or if she had a job that made obvious money but since none of those things were true people were always confused. What does your mom do they would ask, Wow your house is huge your dad must have been rich they would comment, Ernesto’s mother owns a whorehouse didn’t you know–a female pimp with a lowrider to prove it they would get drunk and joke. Ernesto’s mother did own a lowrider but She’s not a pimp! Which is what Ernesto screamed right before he punched Tigre, his best friend, in the mouth leaving him with a bloody lip and a hangover from all the alcohol they drank together later that night in order to work out their woes.

On January 15, 2015 Ernesto went with his mother to Merida, Mexico where she grew up. They went every year and every year they flew first class. Somalia, or Soma as her friends called her now, let him drink beer on the plane while she drank rum and cokes. She let him drink beer because she knew that he would listen to her if she was providing alcohol for him. Otherwise he was intolerant of her stories. The story Soma told her son that day would clear up his confusion about how she had so much money without working, but it would not make life less confusing.

Mi hijo, I want to know–do you masturbate regularly?”

“You’re disgusting. What kind of mother asks her son that?” Ernesto huffed and turned towards the window in the plane. The stewardess asked Somalia if she or her son would like more to drink and Somalia said yes–undisturbed by her son’s anger.

“Ernesto, you are 15 years of age, you need to open yourself up to mature conversations.”

“There is nothing mature about what you want to discuss–it is inappropriate for a mother and son to discuss such personal things.”

“There is nothing too inappropriate for a mother and son to discuss mi hijo. That is the point.”

“Do not use Spanish words, I do not understand Spanish.”

“You understand more than you think. Everything you need to understand lives inside of you.”

“You don’t know anything about what is inside of me.”

Somalia laughed and got close to her son’s ear. In a low, but stern and almost evil sounding voice, she whispered. “Do not forget, I created what is inside of you and outside of you–without me you would be nothing.” She took a sip of her drink, straightening her posture. “Now, you will answer my questions, because there is a reason for them, and if you do not I will embarrass you in ways you didn’t know I was capable of.” The stewardess was standing over them again. Pouring rum into the cup of ice placed in front of Somalia. As she went to pull out another beer for Ernesto, he put his hand up and told her he wanted rum instead. Somalia looked at her son with a smile and then looked back at the stewardess. “Mi hijo mas fuerte,” and she wrapped her arm around him and kissed his cheek.

When the stewardess left Ernesto said, “Speak. What is it you so desperately want to discuss with me.” It was not a question but a demand. He took a sip of his rum and kept his gaze on the seat back in front of him.

“First, I want to know if you masturbate regularly.” This was not a question either, but it required an answer.

“Yes, I am a 15-year-old boy. Of course I do.”

“Okay, I am glad–pleasing oneself is healthy at your age and you must understand that there is nothing wrong with this act… Have you had sex yet mi hijo?” She said this in a kinder voice trying to show her son love again even though it was easy for her to take the love back if she had to.

“Yes, I have.” Ernesto took a sip of the rum.

“Brilliant. Eres un hombre. How old is the girl you had this experience with?”

“There is more than one girl, some younger than me some older.” Ernesto did not blink as he stared in front of him or as he took sips of his rum.

“Okay, do you respect the girls you have slept with even though they are no longer virgins?”

“Of course I do. You haven’t taught me much but you have taught me to respect women.” This monotone statement both hurt and pleased Somalia at the same time.

“I have one last question for you hijo…” Somalia took a sip of her rum and felt the potency of the alcohol as it slid down her throat. “Have you slept with a woman yet?”

“I do not know what you are asking. I told you I have slept with many women.”

“I mean someone who is no longer a girl. An older woman.”

“Yes.” He took a deep, frustrated breath, “I slept with one woman when I was in California that summer.”

“And how old was she, how did you encounter a woman wanting of such a young boy?”

“She was my camp counselor and she was 22. I have always been older than my age.” He took one sip and then another. “Women don’t seem to mind that I am young just like men do not seem to mind that you are old.” Ernesto looked directly at his mother, wanting her to know that he meant to hurt her. Somalia smiled at her son, stared into his eyes and held her stare while she drank. As she put her drink down, she left his boyish eyes alone and began to talk.

“When I was your age I masturbated too. I had sexual urges I couldn’t control just like you do. We have already confirmed that there is nothing strange about this. We have also confirmed that sometimes young people sleep with old people even though it is wrong and vice versa. Do you agree that we have confirmed these actions and feelings to be a part of life?”

“Yes, sure… I confirm.”  His voice was calm now but his expression confused, “What is your point?”

“When I was 15, I used to fantasize about my teacher, Señor Cigala. He was 15 years older than me and he taught me history.” Ernesto had seen the name Cigala before, on the front of envelopes. For some reason, he never asked who Señor Cigala was or why he was always sending things. He did not think about the name at all, until now–until he was forced to. “One day I confronted Señor Cigala with my fantasies, I flirted with him, showed him that I thought about him in ways a student should not think about her teacher. At first he rejected me but I was adamant–sort of like you are adamant about hating me–I refused to give up. I wanted him to feel about me how I felt about him. I was a virgin.” Ernesto looked towards the window now and Somalia took another sip of her drink–Ernesto could hear the ice move in his mother’s glass and he could hear the sound of her gulp. “After a month of continuously showing Señor Cigala how I felt about him, what I wanted, he gave in to me… You might not believe it but at age 15 I was beautiful, irresistible really.. Similar to you, mi hijo.” Ernesto continued to stare out of the window and Somalia continued to speak. She told him about the afternoon that she went to Señor Cigala’s office, it was late and most of the staff and students were gone. She undressed for him–he asked her to stop but she continued. She put her index finger to her lips silently telling him to be quiet. When she was finally naked she walked over to him and sat on his lap. He would not look at her for a few minutes but she turned his face towards her and he could not help himself. That afternoon in his office she did not lose her virginity, but a wall had been removed and Señor Cigala looked at her the way she wanted him to. After many days of looking and touching, he drove her to a beautiful casita in a village an hour outside of the town surrounded by lemon trees and bougainvillea and she lost her virginity with him. They went there every other week and when they were not at the casita they imagined they were. They could not stop staring at each other, every time they were in the same room all they wanted was to touch each other but they couldn’t because if they did everyone with eyes would know that they were connected. Some nights she would meet him in the park behind his house at night. They would sit next to each other holding hands and he would tell her how much he loved her and how much he hated himself for loving her and then she would put her hand between his legs and slowly massage him as he wept. Before they left the park they would have sex multiple times under a tree and she would go home with flower petals in her hair and the smell of rotten fruit on her skin.

“Mama, please, that is enough… why are you telling me this? Please do not tell me more, just tell me why.” Ernesto asked this but he already knew why she was telling him. He already knew what was to come.

Mi hijo, Señor Cigala’s name is Ernesto. Now that you are old enough I would like you to meet him. He is not well. His mind will not be there for much longer. I want you to know the mind of your father before it is gone.”

Ernesto had questions but he was not prepared to ask them. He wanted to know if his father still loved his mother. He wanted to know why they did not eventually get married. He wanted to know if his father was the reason she was rich, if he was the reason his mother never had to work. He wanted to know if he had brothers and sisters with different mothers. He wanted to know if his father ever told his wife that he had an affair. He wanted to know if his grandparents knew he existed. He wanted to know why now. That is what he wanted to know more than anything. Why did his mother wait all this time to tell him that his father was there and that every summer when they went to Mexico she went to see him but she did not introduce him to her son. He wanted to know all of this but he only asked one question. “Is my father ashamed of me because I was born out of a shameful relationship?”

“You will have to ask him that–I cannot speak for your father’s shame.”

“You mean you can speak about everything but what I want to know–that–you will not speak about.” Somalia put her arm around her son, “I love you mi hijo, you will understand everything with time.”

“I hate you. No matter what I understand I will always hate you.”

There was an announcement from the pilot. He told the passengers that they would be landing in quince minutos or so. The stewardess came to collect the drinks and thank her first class passengers. She took Ernesto’s cup and then Somalia’s, wishing them a beautiful trip. Ernesto leaned his head against the window and closed his eyes. Somalia thanked the stewardess, re-fastened her seat belt and pulled a magazine from her purse. As she looked at an article about the winner of Miss Mexico and her mission to give back to the children, she thought about Señor Cigala, the casita and the way he gently massaged her breasts with his head nuzzled into her neck. This thought made her smile so she continued to remember–forgetting about the moment, her son and the reality that nothing would ever feel as good as it did back then.

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