I have taken a leave from nursing school. My grandmother, and the doctors say that she will likely not make it through the year. Lung cancer, they say. She is frail and weak, but she continues to try to move around the house, refusing help for most of her tasks even as I can see the pain in her eyes as she fails to remember how to unlock the door. My mother can barely cope with the stress, and she asked for my help in managing my brothers. But it’s something larger than simply that. My father is barely home anymore, and his attachment to the bottle has only grown. He frequently sits in the basement lounging around till the late hours playing cards with his pack of friends, scruff, chubby, men with sharp eyes and a taste for cigars. I hate the whole filthy scene. My mother sulks around and accepts their barking orders to deliver more beers, but it’s impossible not to notice the look of pure numbness and despondency in her eyes. When I try to ask her what’s wrong, she stares at me with those sad eyes and says, “They’re just grinding your father to the bone at work, and he’s a little on edge. We’ll get through it.” Her words trail off though, and that numb look, one that she can hardly snap out of even when I call her name repeatedly.
The Falkland War has started, and my father has been dispatched to the South to monitor the situation. He sulks around the house, a renewed sharpness to his voice. He can hardly look at my brother, the poor 12 year old, without barking orders at him, and when Juan sulks, my father responds with mixed feelings of shame and pity. Everyone seems so lost, but it’s hard for me to quite grapple with why.
It certainly has nothing to do with the Argentines. While the situation is in the papers, not too many people are talking about it in cafes and on the streets. My friends, for example, do not seem to focus much of their attention on it. To be honest, their general attitude towards discussing anything resembling politics or government is lukewarm, to say the least.