By Grego Pineda*
It is said, with overflowing enthusiasm, that the homeland is where we usually spend the night. And this, in my opinion, is not entirely true. For immigrants in the United States of America, it is the adopted homeland and we owe it, at least, gratitude. But then there is the motherland, which is what defines and identifies us as Salvadoran, Peruvian, Mexican, Argentine or Bolivian. We live in two affective dimensions: experiential and existential.
To cope with day to day, it is enough to meet the basic needs of survival and carve out a space in the American conglomerate. But the existential is more complex and not everyone assumes the responsibility of “giving meaning to their existence”. A few make use of their literary vocation to, with an aesthetic proposal, harmonize both levels of affective consciousness and lead a life in peace, coherent and at the same time contribute to the collective imaginary, in this case, the Latin American immigrant in the USA.
The exercise of literature and publishing books of poetry, novels or chronicles requires practice, perseverance, motivation, discipline, knowledge of genres, styles and, of course!, inspiration; but, above all, a commitment to the use of the written word. In the midst of these reflections I think of Neris Amílcar Hernández, a Salvadoran-American who lives in the city of Los Angeles in the State of California.
Neris Amílcar Hernández was born in 1963, in an almost mythical place due to the little that is known about him: Chacurra, jurisdiction of Texistepeque, Department of Santa Ana, Republic of El Salvador. The first letters he learned in the middle of a bucolic environment, but later he migrated to the capital San Salvador and advanced studies at the technical level. It was a time of civil war and his social conscience involved him. He was soon persecuted.
To avoid jail or death, Amílcar Hernández emigrated to the United States of America, but fate forced him to reside in Mexico for more than 3 years. He then he came to Los Angeles. Determined to succeed and not disappoint the hopes of his parents placed on him, he continues studying and manages to graduate in Education with a specialty in Child Development.
Having achieved a space and job stability, Amílcar Hernández felt the urgency to resume his literary vocation that was resting and with zeal writes and publishes his novel: "Chacurra: stories of a forgotten valley". This book alleviates his existential search to the extent that it reaffirms his identity and therefore recreates the image of his people as he would like them to be. He embellishes it with idyllic descriptions and the social complaints that underlie his narrative are the living claim of an anguished conscience.
Hernandez's literary career is enriched with his second book "Without looking back." This book narrates the adventures of a character who is captured and imprisoned in a country plunged into a war but who manages to be released on the condition that he leave his country, which happens immediately and he flees. The book is an entertaining but respectful mosaic of the uncertain lives of its characters. The narrative dynamic leads the reader to get involved in the journey of the main character, who tries to reach the promised land, whatever it may be.
In addition to both novels, Amílcar Hernández has published poetry that has been part of anthologies and also cultivates the short story genre; he is, in short, a creator of healthy art. And his intellectual work and vocation have not gone unnoticed in the great Los Angeles metropolis, nor in his place of origin, there, in the corner of his soul, populated by trees and bird songs.
As part of the Salvadoran Diaspora in Los Angeles, he has been designated as a "distinguished Salvadoran" by the General Consulate of El Salvador in said city. He has also received state and local recognition from the State of California for his intellectual activity. And the contribution of identity that his first novel implies has been reflected in an allusive mural in the municipality of Texistepeque, a land that now has a writer who, although far away and with two homelands, two loves, only has one story. And he is writing it.