19 de abril 2005

Pamela is coming home this weekend. We had an argument this morning about her visit but she agreed to come home. She is very busy with her classes and I try to sympathize. I always made time to come home and see my mother when I was in school, and I faced more pressure than finding an airline ticket. She is 600 kilometros away but her visits home require so much less planning than mine. I was not concerned with connecting flights but, rather, if I was putting my mother in danger by coming home. In the midst of our arguing, I got distracted. Emilia noticed immediately.

“Mama? Are you still there?”

Eduardo had accidentally left the TV on when he fell asleep and the news was showing the Adolfo Scilingo trial in Spain. He had been found guilty and was sentenced to 640 years in prison.

I had forgotten about the trial. Scilingo had already been in the news back when Menem was president. He had confessed to throwing prisoners out of airplanes. The whole presentation of the confession was as startling as the confession itself. Scilingo had confessed by his own accord, claiming that he had been unable to wash away the guilt of his actions. Many of us were furious at first when the news stations put a positive spin on it. Here was a man who had seen so many killed and all we heard was “reconcile” and “repentance”. I thought the whole thing was intended to save his ass in court. Whether his martyrdom was an act or not, he felt the consequences of being a martyr. Before his confession, he was kidnapped by military sympathizers and tortured. They carved words into his face as a warning. I think his lawyer was threatened too. It became hard to hate him even if we couldn’t forgive him.

Now he’s been convicted. It’s both comforting and awful. He is a bastard; I still feel contempt for him even if he has found god. I don’t believe that being born again allows him to throw out his past life.

“Mama?” Pamela said. “Mama I can hear you breathing. Is everything okay?” I told her I was fine.

“You saw the news? About Scilingo? It’s crazy, right? I remember when I was little and Papa and I watched his interview on TV. Honestly, he terrified me. I’m glad they’re locking him away.”

I told her I was glad too.

“You really should come home this weekend.” I told her. “Your father and I miss you and, frankly, we already paid for your plane ticket.”

She caved and agreed to come for the weekend as long as we let her plan her own weekend. She wants to work on her thesis and see one of her friends from escuela secundaria. I felt no need to protest. She hasn’t been home in months, and this Scilingo business honestly just makes me want to hug her. I had completely forgotten about the interview. I think I forgot on purpose; she was hysterical that night. She barely said anything after Scilingo appeared on TV. We found out later that her one of her teacher had talked to the class about those flights. His brother had been disappeared and later discovered that he had been on a death flight. Pamela was tough after school and pretended to shake it off but couldn’t hold back her feelings after seeing what one of those killers looked like. No wonder she wanted to see him locked away.

Eduardo and I worked hard so that she could understand those years of terror. We told her about our fear and how we survived in those days. She even met and became good friends with my old friend Hector. They have become close and are probably the reason he and I still talk. We protected Pamela but did not hide her. Yet, I still fear for my daughter. I think of how my mother must have felt when I was at Universidad: wondering if she would receive a call from one of my friends saying I had disappeared. Students aren’t taken anymore, but I can’t help but worry about her safety. Remembering the fear on Pamela’s face after watching the interview only makes me happy to see Scilingo behind bars.

I don’t think any sense of reconciliation will change the fact that I could have been my mother, waiting for my daughter to come home from Universidad. Years later, I would see this man confess. This man who would have dropped my daughter to her death without a second thought.



1 thought on “Breaks

  1. ssvolk says:

    It sounds like you brought up Pamela very well. Our children need to know what happened.

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