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Written and translated by: LUCÍA CAMARGO ROJAS

Illustrated by:

FELIPE CAMARGO ROJAS


Written and translated by: LUCÍA CAMARGO ROJAS Illustrated by: FELIPE CAMARGO ROJAS


To our parents


I

n that time my father had an ochrecolored Renault 4. My mother says that they bought the car before I was born. While my mother was in labor (having me), my father was driving the automobile to the Hospital yelling effusively, “I am going to be a father”, “I am going to be a father.” I am not sure exactly when, if before or after this episode, they decided to name the car “the yellow menace”.

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he yellow menace took my brother Felipe and me to the place we were born. In addition, it transported us to different cities of Colombia such as San Gil, Sogamoso, and Villa de Leyva. The automobile also took us to Bogotå’s poor neighborhoods where my father, an architect from Javeriana University, used to execute projects. In that time, he worked in the Center for Research and Popular Education (CINEP), trying to dissolve the social differences in my country.

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he ochre-colored car parked in the midst of the prefabricated houses, which sometimes had no light or a phone. Two blond children got off the menace to play with dark-skined infants who had fewer privileges. Of course, in that time my brother and I did not understand about the concept of social differences. We played with those kids, who were sometimes dirty, behind my mother’s back. My father did not communicate her that he had taken her babies to the popular neighborhoods of Bogotå.

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I

did not like the ochre-color of the car, but my father loved it. He has always loved yellow. In my living room, there are three ochre-colored pictures of hands whose frame has the same color. Even though I did not like the car’s appearance, I appreciated it because I felt secure in it. It was not only our transportation system but also our way to relate to our father. When my parents got divorced (I was five years old) some people say that my father lived in the automobile for many days. In addition, for many years my father picked us up every Saturday in the car. The menace took us to different places of Bogotá, returning us, around 10 ‘clock, to my mother’s embrace.

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O

ne of those Saturdays, my father took us to one of his “marvelous” programs: the carpentry. He has always been very creative with his plans. Most of them are related to his work. The carpenter was located on the North Highway. My father and brother got off the car while I (I still do not know why) stayed in the back chair of the automobile. The “yellow menace” was parked on a sidewalk in a slope.

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uddenly, the car started to roll. I was around six or seven years old and I did not know what to do. Ironically, my father, in one of our trips to Villa de Leyva, had tried to teach us how to drive. He sat us on his legs and my brother or I drove the car through the cobbled city of Boyacรก.

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owever, in that moment not even Villa de Leyva’s driving lessons were useful for me, because I just froze. I have never felt that sensation again in my life. I feel impotent when I remember it. I was so scared that I was not capable of yelling or opening the car windows.

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M

y brother Felipe remembers that he saw when the automobile started to roll. He was just three or four years old. He tugged my father’s pants and told him: “Dad”. My father, focused in the planks and cuts, answered: “One minute”. Immediately, my brother repeated the procedure: “Dad” and my father gave him the same answer: “One minute.” The scene took place again until my brother yelled: “My sister is going to die.”

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M

y father (finally!) turned 180 degrees and saw what was happening: the “yellow menace” rolling happily down the hill. My father ran and stopped the car (thank God it was a little automobile and not a big one) as if he were Superman stopping a plane. He opened the window, got inside the “yellow menace” and hit the brakes. I just observed all these actions because my body did not react. When I came around and realized that I was out of danger, I breathed a sigh and got off the car. For many years, I could not stay alone in an automobile.

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W forget it.

hen we remember the story my father only says, “Uff, what a fright.” As for me, I will never

We had to sell “the yellow menace” when my father started a Master’s degree in Urbanism in France and I was nine years old. My mother supported us with the money of the car and some of my father’ savings. Therefore, although it disappeared from our lives, the car was still useful!

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Written and translated by: LucĂ­a Camargo Rojas Illustrated and designed by: Felipe Camargo Rojas BogotĂĄ, Colombia December 2010



THE YELLOW MENACE