January 13, 1980

January 13, 1980

Today has been–for lack of the adequate language to describe that which is frightening and saddening and unbelievable–really difficult.

For context, I have been working immensely hard trying to settle into my new life in Buenos Aires. I made the move two months ago, after deciding that my studies in Tucuman were unfulfilling and my relationship with my parents too strained and unrealistic to maintain. I’m living in a flat with two new friends (friends of friends, actually, but we get along nicely). One of them–Maria Valdez–who has been so kind to me, is an actress and got me a job at the small theater she works with. I’ve been helping with a host of tasks around the theater–working the box office, cleaning, doing publicity. I’m hoping that, when I get to know the company a bit better, they will trust me with more creative decisions pertaining to set or costume design. I’m trying to enjoy myself, but it still has been incredibly draining, as any transition is, as making new friends is, as coming to the realization that no place really feels like home is.

And, now, after seeing what I saw last night, living without anxiety and fear is seeming harder still. This is what happened, what has shaken me to my core: I was waiting for the bus after work on Monday–it was late, midnight almost–and, all of the sudden, I heard screaming from a building across the street. Squinting so as to match the auditory details with a visual, I made out two men in military garb dragging a boy, sixteen or seventeen years old, down the steps and into a black car. The screaming stopped when the car door shut.

I never let myself really think about the way it happens. The way they pull sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, Argentine citizens from their homes, steal their lives. I’m not in the dark. I know what happens, and I know who it happens to–people like my brother, who actively oppose the regime, but also people like Graciela, who simply want to help patients get through trauma with psychoanalysis, and teachers, and intellectuals, and writers, and artists, and anyone who has the mental capacity to form an opinion. I just don’t want to picture any of it. But that’s becoming less and less plausible. The fear and worry and sadness is coming back to a level it hasn’t reached since I knew in my bones that I would never hear from Fabricio again. With the fear comes the images. Now my mind can’t stop pulling up pictures of my fellow Argentines, of my brother, of people like myself, people like me but with less luck, being beaten, prodded, raped, killed…

I don’t know how to process this resurgence of panic. I certainly can’t talk to my family. I don’t feel comfortable enough to speak like that with anyone here. I have a few friends at home who are outspoken about the regime’s unjust methods, but I’m anxious to stay in touch with them, for fear of finding out that they have been tortured, or perhaps stripped of their lives. It terrifies me to think about fighting back against the regime. I educate myself as much as I’ve been able to, but I’m sort of an inactive activist–shut down by the truth, but believing in the injustice that is the Argentine government; thinking I should be doing something, but not knowing how.

All I know right now is that I won’t be able to wait at that bus station again.

1 thought on “January 13, 1980

  1. ssvolk says:

    Long time since I’ve heard from you, Malena. I was worried. I hadn’t know you’d moved to BA.

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