November 23, 1973
My mother’s shoulders are no longer proud, her back no longer straight. Her smiles look like frowns and her eyes are always on the verge of breaking apart. She does not tell stories of her father or grandfather anymore, and if she did, I don’t think she would end them by telling me that we have a good life and making me promise to say thank you to my dad when he comes home. This is because my dad will never come home again.
On day in early October, father didn’t come home from work. With all of the shortages and price increases, I had decided not to go to university, even though President Allende had made all university tuition free! When our world collapsed on the 11th, I was glad I had stayed at home. I knew I could look after my mother, and make sure she and father were okay. I did not expect the military to target my family, but apparently our membership in the Partido Socialista de Chile made us suspicious, marking us as possible dissidents.
We had no idea what had happened to my father. My mother and I were working a sixteen hour day in the store, and didn’t notice anything wrong until 10, when he is normally home and we have a small dinner. At first, mother told me not to worry, that everything would be fine and that the mines were probably just letting out later than usual. Then she started to cry, and she didn’t stop until the next morning when she finally fell asleep, exhausted. I worked the store alone for most of the day, and when my mother joined me, she was so upset that she stayed in the back room so she wouldn’t disturb the costumers. We closed the store the next day and began asking, but didn’t find any answers.
After 4 days, he finally came home, telling us that he had been detained with many others at the Estadio Nacional. He didn’t tell us much more than that, and from the bruises on his chin and the shuffle in his walk I knew that he was hurt, and broken. Then, on the 14th of November, we were working at the store, and a neighbor came in, telling my mother and I that she had just seen father get picked up in a military van on the way back from the doctor’s. Mother panicked, and I closed down the store while she began calling everyone she could, trying to find out more. My heart would not stop pounding in my chest, and every time I tried to think about what might be happening, my throat would close and I could barely breathe.
Then, a week later, two days ago, we found him. His body had been burned, beaten, and shot. I could barely recognize his face in the morgue. The last time I saw him whole and unbroken was almost two months ago, and I can barely remember a moment in the last week when my mother wasn’t crying. Since Sept. 11th, I knew life would change, but now I know I will never be the same. I wish I could change the past, but it is beyond my reach, and now all I can do is fear for the future.