How do you become a legend? A cultural icon? Guest Contributor David Larson had a front-row seat to the life of the late Daniel Peredo, a true Peruvian legend who happened to also be his brother-in-law. This is his tribute.
How do you become someone who, upon death after playing soccer on a playground soccer field in the afternoon sun, has your body taken around a city in a dark black car where more than 13,000 people show up to chant your name in the sweaty streets of a summer day in Lima?
Thousands upon thousands await in the soccer stadium; fathers with their sons, mothers with their children, crying and screaming your name in your honor. This was the stadium where you had given every ounce of your slight 160 lb. frame, the stadium where your staccato cadence, ringing out from the heavens, calling soccer gods’ names with the rhythm of your grandma’s metronome. It was in this stadium where your voice would rise like the lava about to explode out of a volcano, the emotion in your humble demeanor, the traits that were instilled into you by your parents, the ones who had always taught you to treat everyone with respect, from the waiter in the restaurant to the owner of the club. This was the point your body could no longer communicate with your brain and your heart and your soul could not contain itself any longer, and then, with your voice rising to unknown levels of climax:
On the day of your funeral, brother, the crowd watched as your big black car circled the stadium, cheering your name, their voices all rising in climax, including your two little precious daughters, that you gave everything you had, that would scream and giggle your name when you got home for lunch, which you did everyday despite a schedule that had you zigzagging across the streets of Lima. Your daughters were in that car on this day, with your cold and lifeless body, and so was your wife, dressed in black and telling anyone in that crowded and hot soccer stadium who would listen, “gracias.”
There was also the father-in-law.
The one who continued working at his fabric business long after his daughter had married you. Yes, he sure did love the soccer team, and his friends at the market were impressed. Despite his fame and connection to a real-life Peruvian legend, he would still arrive every day at 7am, seven days each week. He showed up like a badge of honor, never bragged. And after the long day, he would return to his house, and his son-in-law Daniel Kirino Peredo Menchola and his two beautiful daughters and Daniel’s wife, Milagros, and her mom, Rosa, would be waiting so that all three generations could have their dinner together.
Daniel was my brother-in-law.
I was able to experience first-hand walking into a restaurant in San Miguel, not some fancy steakhouse in Miraflores or cevichería in San Isidro, but walking into a San Miguel pollería—Hikari—and having the entire restaurant go silent. Heads would turn. Men would put down their forks and their Pilsen and would whisper something to their family. Daniel would give a knowing glance, shake anyone’s hand who needed it, pose for a picture if necessary, and then quickly retreat to a quiet table out of sight, because he just wanted to be alone with his family, and with those two little daughters whose smiles would light up a room.
There was Fátima, named after a saint. And Daniela.
I can remember Christmases.
There was one when Daniel had arranged for Santa Claus to make a midnight appearance on his way to the North Pole. I can remember this particular memory because I was the one who had brought two 50 lb. suitcases full of Hello Kitty paraphernalia from the United States, where I live with my wife. Those little girls were lucky.
There was another Christmas when my two 50 lb. bags were misplaced by the airline. I wasn’t sure how the family—and especially Daniel—would react, as normally about 10 shopping trips and 3 months planning went into the special holiday for his daughters. That’s how Daniel did everything for his daughters—special. Well, he ended up wrapping boxes full of nothing, just a note inside of each carefully wrapped package, detailing what the present was, explaining a slight delay in Santa’s delivery process. He sure treated them like princesses.
Daniel was a writer, had television and radio programs, a family man, and a tireless worker. He was also THE soccer announcer for Peru, more famous and more recognizable than the players. He maintained a wonderful reputation, because, well, that was exactly who he was. Despite achieving the resources to do what and when and how he pleased, he chose instead to live in his two-bedroom condo in Pueblo Libre—where he grew up. He continued living in his childhood home, where his 94-year-old mother still resides. He did this, and everything else, for a simple reason. Juggling jobs, hosting TV shows, writing for the newspaper, this was busy and tiresome work, and yet he still made room for precious family time. This home, this location, made all the sense in the world, as it allowed him 20 extra minutes every day to eat lunch at his house, with his wife and with his daughters.