Katacha Díaz is a Peruvian American writer. Wanderlust and love of travel have taken her all over the world to gather material for her stories. She has written more than forty fiction and nonfiction titles for young readers. Her prose and poetry has been published internationally in literary journals, print and online magazines, and anthologies. She lives and writes in a quaint little historic town at the mouth of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest.
By Katacha Díaz
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
— Anaïs Nin
We were sipping Pisco sour cocktails at my river view apartment when I confessed to my friend that I was still smitten with a man I had met when I was a teenager growing up in the exotic land of the Incas.
“I’m all ears, when did you meet this man?”
“May 1959,” I answered, smiling. “Nat was in town. It was my freshman year in high school, so I skipped school and went to Limatambo, the old airport in Lima, to welcome Nat King Cole and his glamorous wife, Maria. They were in Peru for two days as part of his South America concert tour.”
My friend was caught off guard. “He was married and old enough to be your father!”
“Yes, falling for a married, older man was a bit inconvenient,” I said giggling, taking a sip of my cocktail. “I was shy, bookish, blind as a bat, and wore thick Coke-bottle glasses. But when I shook hands with Nat at the airport, he smiled, looked into my eyes, and said, “¡Muchas gracias, señorita!” I was enchanted by his charisma. He made me feel special.”
Later that evening my mother and I joined jazz aficionado friends at a sold-out concert at the best theatre in Lima — Cine Teatro Tacna. When he sang ‘Adelita’ and ‘Besame Mucho,’ the audience went wild!
“Nat King Cole passed away in the mid-1960s,” my friend pointed out.
“Yes,” I conceded. “Nat was a beautiful human being, inside and out, who overcame adversity as he climbed the musical ladder of success. He was the first person of color in 1956 to host his own television show on a national network. Nat also worked behind the scenes on social movements for African Americans’ rights in the country.”
While I dished out the spicy and savory ceviche, my friend nonchalantly reached across the table and poured some more of the delicious Pisco sour. “Let’s raise our glasses to Nat King Cole,” he said, “who with his music made the world a better place.”
Smiling wistfully, blinking back tears, I said, “And years later like his classic album, Unforgettable, Nat King Cole is unforgettable to me.”