The harsh death of Ramón Valverde (leader of the campesinos murdered in San Ignacio this January) has taken its toll in many ways. Because he was kind, those whom he left behind have suffered more. But perhaps none has suffered more than his seven year-old son, Francisco Javier. Several days after the death of his father, the boy, although ill with a fever at the time, was literally dragged by his mother and another woman to where the bodies of the two men were being kept for wake. The terrified boy was made to look at the two bodies, a horrible sight, for the entire crown had been shot off of the one man.
The boy lost control, tried to run away, was confined. He thrashed and kicked, and remained out of control even when taken back to his house. He lost, completely, his sense of hearing, and saliva began to run out of his mouth “so much that it drenched his pants.” The boys grandfather tried to knock sense into him by beating him with a stick, and when the boy failed to respond, beat him harder, until the child was bruised. It was the first time in his life that Francisco had been beaten, for Ramón had not allowed it.
Days passed into weeks, and Francisco remained both mute and deaf, continuing to slobber and to strike out at anyone who approached. He was taken to Mazatlán, where the doctors said he was suffering from mental shock, and prescribed a medicine which proved to be of no help.
At last, in desperation, the mother took her son to La Apolonia in El Naranjo. The old lady diagnosed his case as “congestión cerebrál.” She applied humentos of alcohol with cinnamon to the back of his head and neck, and gave him a tonic of canela con ojitas de margarita y de zapote (cinnamon with leaves of zinnia and ‘toad tree’). In three days the boy was able to hear and speak again, to eat better, and although still subject to fits of violence, was so much improved that his mother took him home again with relief.