Año del cambio

March 6, 1967

These days it always feels cold

And hot

At the same time,

Always feels like death

And life,


And fracaso.

And I can’t tell what side I’m on.

Can’t decide what side

I want

To be on,

If I could choose.

But this life is chosen for you.

When I was a boy, abuelo used to tell me that life is given, of the earth and the stars. Maybe he was just holding onto his boyhood amongst the Mapuche, holding onto the stories of their reign in a time very distant from now. But we all hold onto things that are no longer true, painfully but with a smile on our face. Looking at my boy practicing English in the kitchen, I understand this even more. My mother used to have me sit on the floor and write English words over and over (against the wishes of papi who wanted me to know mi lengua nativa). It was precognición because now this country does not belong to la Mapuche or los trabajadores. Argentina, mi bella, is a nation of groups: labor, military, argriculture… I am a construction worker, and my son will be one too. Pictures of General Juan Carlos Onganía and English are the only constants in my life right now. Democracy is over, the military is in control, and wages have been frozen. And yet Nahuel continues to smile. He turned 10 just a few months ago, and yet everyday, he seems more and more like a man. I watch him while he practices his English and hope he cherishes his boyhood like I did mine, and papi before me, and abuelo before him. In this life, all we have to live on is hope and memories, memories of lovers now lost, innocence now crushed. As much as things change, they stay the same. But this beast, the beast of Onganía, is one I do not know. I fear this will truly be a year of change. I just hope I live to see it and don’t leave my boy alone.

Nahuel Raiquen Yamai

1 thought on “Año del cambio

  1. ssvolk says:

    Hola, Nahuel. From what you’ve said, I think that little Nahuel is quite fortunate to have a father like he does, someone who can keep him rooted in his past while not forgetting about where he’s going. I’m here in Buenos Aires, and Onganía is always on the news, although we do our best to ignore him. What do you think little Nahuel will be when he grows up?

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