Hola mi amigo. It has been a long time since I last wrote, but sometimes it is easier for me to pretend this is not my reality when I detach words from my experience. There once was a time I was eager to put a metaphor to everything, liken mi querida to un flor en la primavera or the sound of my sons laughter like the rush of una cascada hecho solo para mi. Now, I am at a loss for words. There is nothing to which I can compare this misery and cowardice that I live through each day, this poet’s inspiración has run dry, vanished con los desaparecidos, too many to count: Raul, mis estudiantes Mario y Lucia y pablo, Leo, mis primos Bernardo y Felipe…I say their names so I don’t forget, I do not have my dignity but I do have my memory and my children will remember the names of those we have lost.
Still, I live alone in an a dingy apartment in La Plata. I had to downgrade and sell nuestra casa now that my teaching career is on hold. Una Lastima, I worked so hard on that house, built the boys’ room myself and for what? So a retired military goon could decorate the shelves with his liquor collection, replacing my son’s soccer trophies, que asco. I must be thankful though, so far Rosa and the kids are safe. I see them on weekends, drive out to Rosa’s mom’s house and have dinner with them los momentos mas dulce de mi vida. One because I get to kiss my wife and fight with my kids and two because it’s the one meal a week that’s not huevos fritos (I suppose the University should have taught me something about woman’s work no?). Rosa’s a nervous wreck, especially after the principle called her in the other day about our eldest’s latest essay on “los debilidades de la economía.” She called me in tears and begged me to talk to him, but how can a father whose heart swells with pride censor his own son? The boy’s only responding to his grumbling stomach as we’ve begun struggling to make ends meet with this ridiculous inflation and my semi-employment. Even for those working 42 hours a week it’s becoming impossible to make a decent wage what with the economic crisis and criminalization of labor unions. I’m trying to remain positive but with so many of my friends locked away and my family far away, it is hard not feel like an exile in my own home.
Speaking of which, with all of this free time from forced resignation, I’ve had to pick up a few architectural design jobs. With this government there is not too much room for creativity, the biggest project I’ve been commissioned for is to help build a bank. It’s too bad I can’t work on something like El Teatro Argentino, but beggars can’t be choosers. Plus, there is not way in Hell I’m building a stadium like my father suggested, or anything whose beauty and grandeur might be used to hide political prisoners-rumor has it that’s what they’ve done in Chile. This is going to be the goddamned smallest, ugliest bank anyone’s ever seen. El Proceso might think they can cover the invisible blood of their victims with flowers and clean streets but I’ll be damned if my building contributes to the regime’s perceived progress. It’ll be a functional heap of oppressive concrete.
I make a point of visiting my parents a few times a week if for nothing else than to try to extract information from papi’s furrowed brow. Last week when I visited I nearly scared mami to death. It’s that damn subscription to Para Tí. She came back from the salon with a hairstyle modeled after that poor broken, manipulated woman Thelma. La mujer, who used to be on our side before she was captured and presumably beaten to a pulp until she agreed to be a military puppet parading before the magazine in her Sunday best. Well when I saw mami, and she came at me with that magazine asking if I could spy the resemblance and didn’t she look muy elegante I nearly knocked her to the ground whipping that magazine out of her hands. Luckily, Papi wasn’t home and mami is always too afraid to tell him when I snap on account of the way his temper translates to his fists now a days. Nothing is too far for him anymore. Just like the military man who might buy a señorita un coca cola en el bar en público and violate her behind bars to see if the subversive barks, my father extends a hand to help my mother onto the bus and uses that same hand against her in our home. But mami doesn’t weep, she never does, just denies it when I touch her bruises and laughs when I ask her to move in with Rosa. He is not a man my father, just a scared hijo de puta all dolled up in uniform. I will be better for my children, no matter how dark this world gets I’ve got to be a guiding light, if not for my students at least for my own babies. Anyway, enough of that for now.
I ought to go Rosa’s birthday is coming up and I’ve been working on building a new chest of drawers for her to have a place for her things at her mom’s house. She pretends she’s alright with piles of clothes about her room, the sweetheart, but I know it’s driving her completamente loca. Hasta pronto!