Just like Eudocia “Lola” Tomas Pulido who is the subject and victim of this piece, resumed to a mere Tupperware box in its taut opening line, the author is now at one with the ether. Deceased. Revisionism serves many agendas, and in this case looking back offers no comfort. Understand: we go full circle but there is no happy ending.
This parting note from the author, who died on March 23rd and had enjoyed successes such as a Pulitzer win in his time with us, contains little but harrowing fragments of a life stolen – by him and his. The subject of this piece is described throughout as a ‘slave,’ but beyond this so-called function, the scope of her humanity comes through in these belated words. It is a gut-wrenching, confrontational read. It reeks of lack of damaged compasses, desperation, indoctrination.
The author marks himself as complicit in the act of modern slavery to a woman who was his and every other family member’s minder across four generations. While the author recognises the wrong caused to this person, it feels impossible to be sympathetic towards him. While they do offer glimpses into the practices of human trafficking, with a focus on communities, you will not find anything enlightening in these passages. Poetic language does not justify the act. In this instance, the hollowness of lyricism in the face of a rotten ensemble transpires. This read is an uncomfortable one, but as only a fragment of what this person endured, what’s some thousand words to somebody’s personal hell?
This is the time to know the woman who lived in the shadow of others and is now catapulted into the limelight, so selfishly and belatedly, and partially – her life stolen. It is a crying shame that this is how she is remembered, but this woman was an individual. I want to take a moment. To know she was here, and that she mattered, beyond the things she did and for all the things she never did get to do.
Do you know anybody treated the way she’s treated?,” Arthur said. “Who lives the way she lives?” He summed up Lola’s reality: Wasn’t paid. Toiled every day. Was tongue-lashed for sitting too long or falling asleep too early. Was struck for talking back. Wore hand-me-downs. Ate scraps and leftovers by herself in the kitchen. Rarely left the house. Had no friends or hobbies outside the family. Had no private quarters. (Her designated place to sleep in each house we lived in was always whatever was left—a couch or storage area or corner in my sisters’ bedroom. She often slept among piles of laundry.)