My Grandmother’s Fingerprints

Inez Santiago

My grandmother has no fingerprints. It was not something I knew until she needed her fingerprints taken for God knows what. It was a shock in our family and we had all tried to catch a glimpse at her black-stained fingers.

It actually made sense to me, in fact, it explained quite a bit. Why she scoffed when I couldn’t flip a tortilla on an open flame. Why she tutted when I wouldn’t touch the comalli to see if it was hot enough. How she was able to yank pan tostado from the oven with her bare hands. How she sewed without thimbles and bloodless fingertips.

Sometimes, when I think she isn’t looking and her hands are idle, I stare and try to find them. The wrinkles make it hard to see what is, or rather, isn’t, there. I think of the life she had in Mexico and how she got rid of them. Or did she lose them? Was it from washing clothes harshly? Was it from scraping her hands on stone, dirt, and animals?Was it while trying to hide from her primos who quietly ran with the cartels?

I don’t know. I don’t think she’ll ever tell us anyway. So there I sit, next to my grandmother with no fingerprints, and nearly drop the steaming hot plate that she passes. But she catches it and harps like she doesn’t even feel it.

Inez Santiago is Mexican writer and educator from Southern California. Professionally she enjoys social history, the humanities, and language. She holds degrees in two of those subjects. She also likes strange things and can often be found staring into space. You can also find her on Twitter @InezSantiagoFic.