Upon reading The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Córdova, I learned that the main character, Orquidea, and I are very alike and have similar background stories yet we’re from two completely different countries. We both grew up in a household where we weren’t accepted, our mothers did not protect us as we needed, and, ultimately, we both found a way to escape and build a place where we belong.
In chapter 9, The Girl and the Moon Lit Path, I learned that Orquidea’s mother has remarried, and it feels as if they will finally have the complete family that they seemed to have been longing for. The opening sentence, “After Isabela’s wedding to Wilhelm Buenasuerte, Orquidea’s life changed, just as her mother had promised”, gave me a sense of hope that the “Bastard Daughter of the Waves” might actually receive a better life, despite the bad luck that she was born into. Unfortunately, I learned very quickly that she instead endured a lot of pain within this new family. Never having met her father made her an outsider to her new brothers and sisters, who were fortunate to be able to grow up with both parents in their lives. The entire family, even her mother, began to mistreat her in ways that felt familiar yet simultaneously broke my heart.
My mother’s favorite thing to do was to talk highly and brag about my sister to her friends, while I silently stood next to her, wondering if she even remembered that I existed.Bailey Reber
Just like Orquidea’s mother, my mother remarried when I was very young. She was a single mother at the time, as was Isabela, therefore her new marriage meant that our lives would begin to change. My mother went on to have children with her new husband, creating the family that she appeared to have always wanted. Looking back on my childhood, I seemed to be a daily reminder of her mistake in choosing to marry her ex-husband, my biological father. Due to this, I received a lot of rejection and mistreatment, just as Orquidea did.
Isabela was very cruel to her daughter in many ways. One instance that I find utterly despicable is that Isabela “never corrected her guests when they assumed that Orquidea was another housemaid”. To me, this showed how little she thought of her daughter and reminded me of similar mistreatment I received from my own mother while growing up. My mother’s favorite thing to do was to talk highly and brag about my sister to her friends, while I silently stood next to her, wondering if she even remembered that I existed.
Additionally, Isabela seemed to emotionally abandon Orquidea on numerous occasions after she married Wilhelm. Reading the chapters where this type of mistreatment took place was a bit difficult for me, as it brought up emotions from past instances when I needed my mother, but she instead closed herself off from me. The worst of these instances being the time when I broke up with my boyfriend with whom I was living with, and he kicked me out of his house. I called my mother hoping to get some help, but her response was, “you got yourself into this; I don’t know what you want me to do about it”, then she proceeded to hang up on me.
Due to the harsh conditions that she faced within her household, I don’t blame Orquidea for running away to join The Londono Spectacular Spectacular. In my opinion, she had two options – either continue to endure the daily dose of pain that was dished to her by her family, or take a chance on finding happiness within the traveling circus crew. Furthermore, Orquidea went on to establish her home in Four Rivers; a place that she created for herself where she felt safe. I think that part of the reason why she had so many children when living there was because it was her way of creating a community in which she finally belonged. A family of her own that could love her like she needed to be loved.
I feel tremendously connected to Orquidea by this turning point in her life as it’s not easy to take a chance and start fresh all on your own. This moment of her life reminded me of when I chose to move out of my parents’ house just 4 months after graduating high school. I felt as if I had only two options – either continue to live under strict rules combined with the unfair treatment that I received from my parents, or take a risk and try to make it on my own. Just like Orquidea, I have established my own community here in Houston with my chosen family. It’s my own safe place where I can finally say that I am loved like I need to be loved and that I truly belong.
In conclusion, I find Orquidea to be a wildly strong woman, and I see a lot of myself in her. She went through heartache after heartache, but she continued to push forward. She never gave up and eventually she was able to stop living in survival mode and instead thrive in the place that she worked so hard to build for herself. Just like Orquidea, I’ve endured a lot of pain, yet I’ve never given up and have finally found my place to thrive.
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