"The Sobbing Woman"

The most frequently repeated tale in the Southwest is without a doubt "La Llorona" or "The Sobbing Woman." Some say it has an historical background. It would be the sad story of Luisa, the mistress of don Munoz Montez Claro. She had given him three sons. When he left her to marry a woman of his rank, she killed the children.

Others are of the opinion that the story goes all the way back to the Aztecs. There was a goddess called "Civocati," who had been forced to sacrifice her children to the gods. She was seen often at night carrying an empty cradle.

There are hundreds of versions of the "llorona." This is the way I heard it in Laredo.

In the barrio called "The Devil's Corner," lived a very poor woman. She and her three children lived in a miserable shack that seemed to hang on a cliff by the riverside. Her husband spent his time and money across the river, in Nuevo Laredo.

She ironed and washed for other people, she even begged sometimes in order to provide her children with one meal a day. She herself ate practically nothing. It was a wretched life and every day brought new miseries. She did not ask anything for herself, but it broke her heart to see her little ones suffer.

There was always a ray of hope; her hus- band would come back and everything would be all right again. One day, he did come back to tell her he was leaving her and the children for a new woman.

That was too much for her to bear. No exit to her long agony. She looked at the peaceful river below. Her children couldn't possibly face a whole life of misery. Poor little angels, they would be so much better in Heaven. God would clothe them, feed them, surround them with love. They would be happy up there forever.

On an impulse, she pushed all three of them over the cliff. They tumbled down into the water. They floated for a while and finally dis- appeared. She smiled for the first time in many months, satisfied that she had fulfilled her maternal duty. She could see all three of them with a shiny halo already . . . up there eating a big plate of strawberry ice cream.

She went to bed happy and fell asleep. The next morning, she looked around for her little children. Where were their caresses, their smiles, their tears? She suddenly realized what she had done. Wanting to join them, she threw herself into the river and drowned.

Now it's a fact — and many people attest to it —that when the moon is full, one hears the moaning and the sobbing of a woman, along the river. Could it be the "llorona" who is still looking for her children?

The End


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