When I was a child, I was kissed by Muhammad Ali. In 1977 or 78 my mother was invited to a reception for the boxer at the Hilton Hotel in Bogotá, Colombia. He spotted me in the crowd, sat me on his lap, and kissed me as if I was his own daughter. My mother told me, “Kurmita, you’re going to be great because you’ve been kissed by one of the greatest.”
Living with my mother was like Christmas. There was always a surprise under the tree. I never called her “mother”, but I called her by her nickname, Mapy. And later on, just by her first name, Luz (which means light in Spanish). Just like that, she would lighten up every space by her presence, and her laugh filled everything like dew drops over red roses.
I wasn’t her daughter but her friend, so in this unconventional life of hers, her playful character, always seeking for new experiences, and love, I learned to follow my dreams and find joy in everything, following her name as well, Luz, which manifested in me in every way. So when I was 16, this “free spirit” left with a Spanish man to follow her dreams, and I stayed to live mine…
I studied hard, worked hard, and fought for the opportunity to come here. To find my life and destiny in the United States. I was chosen, packed my life in two bags, and was born again! I came through an exchange program, and during my last year I met a gorgeous, loving, compassionate, generous man, who became my husband after a few months of courtship. The most beautiful future was awaiting, but… two years later at 2 in the morning, I was driving and crying trying to hold myself up. My marriage had turned from love to… ABUSE. My husband had kicked me out of our home. I was trying to think what to do, where to go, where I was going to sleep! I was devastated; yet I had to focus on the next step… Where was the light? Luz!? As tears ran down my face, I started to pray, “Dios mío, please, don’t leave me.”
With less than $200 in my pocket and all my belongings in my car I started the hardest journey I ever imagined. My car became my home. I asked friends to stay in their couch a day here, another there, maybe a week here and another there. Still homeless, I was hired to teach math at a high school, and ESL (English as a Second Language) at a community college in the evenings.
God was good to me. He kept His promises of making me prosper and not harm me (Jeremiah 29:11). With my first salary I rented a room in a house; then moved to a single bedroom apartment where I still live, and write, and dance, and call light to my every piece of being.
The desire of writing reawakened, and I have been called to do several poetry readings. My poems have been published in the Latino newspapers (with two books released last year) and people have started recognizing me in the streets as “the poet.”
I’m in a peaceful place where light surrounds me as the words of my Luz pound in my heart, “Kurmita, you’re going to be great because you’ve been kissed by one of the greatest.”
-In memory of Luz Amalfi Castillo Gamboa (Colombia 1950 – Spain 2012) ♥