1.1.1980

Querido Papá,

Happy New Year! May this new year bring us all peace and prosperity. We certainly need it. Life has been tough recently down here. The economy has turned so bad, we are all worried about the fate of the hardware store. It feels like every day, we get less and less customers. Mamá tries to talk to all of her regulars whenever she gets in something that she thinks they might want, but they often tell her that they don’t have the money right now to buy things. Nobody is really sure if our savings will last if we have more inflation so we are all trying to save as much as we can at the moment. After dinner last night, the four of us sat down and talked about what we will do if we cannot keep the store running. Enrique is trying to figure out if there are more jobs available elsewhere. It might be a bit unorthodox for him to move out before he is married, but if we have to close the store, we might need the money. We don’t know yet if Mamá and Gabriel would move with him or stay here in Lanús. Gabriel has been working as a handyman and other sorts of construction jobs. Whenever Mamá starts to look sad, he jokes and says, “No matter how bad things get, people will always need a plumber to clean the garbage out of their pipes.”

As for me, things have been alright. Rosa moved away to live in Buenos Aires recently – she married man who works for the government. I don’t know how I feel about her getting married quite so young. Maybe a couple more years? It came very suddenly, and I don’t know him very well. But he seems decent enough, and Rosa seems to be happy. It’s disappointing that I can’t see her all of the time like we used to, and I worry that we are becoming less close. But I do go visit her often.

Sometimes, when I go to visit her I pass the Plaza del Mayo. There are women there who march in circles all day long, holding sad pictures. They call them “las locas” and a lot of people think that they are foolish because their sons and daughters deserved to be arrested. But maybe they are foolish for other reasons. They expect that the government will listen to them just because they stand out in public? I don’t know. I feel like there are better ways for them to go about it, ways that aren’t so disruptive. But sometimes it’s hard not to feel bad for them. They walk in small groups and each time I see them they look older. I know how it feels to only have a picture to remember somebody by.

It’s not that I don’t like Gabriel – he’s really nice, and he treats Mamá well. At night, they sit together on the couch and he tells her stories about imaginary places and you can tell he really loves her. But I’ve been thinking a lot recently about everything that I’ve missed out on. Like maybe things would have gone different if you were still here, and maybe we wouldn’t have to talk about things like giving up the store. It’s hard to be optimistic about the future when everything is so uncertain.

Te extraño mucho,

Malena

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