I rediscovered my journal some days ago, and it fills me with longing to reclaim missed opportunities.
I thought I had lost it. But I suppose that’s what I’d told myself the last time I recorded an entry, and every time before that as well. It seems that when the world changes for the unfamiliar, I am able to recover this journal. It finds me, from within drawers, bookshelves, trunks and closets. From under beds, from atop cabinets, and one one occasion, behind a mounted picture, when I had to hide anything that might be incriminating.
Reading through the entries, I watch myself grow from a boy into a young man who eventually gains a purpose, and subsequently loses it. I recall what my siblings were doing as I chronicled our family’s exploits. I remember my mother’s kitchen, her embrace. I remember my father’s calm, reassuring voice; his effortless movements. I remember that all this time, I have stayed in Chile, steadfast; during the hopeful Allende years throughout the military’s reign of fear and intimidation.
I remember when words meant different things, before the junta. Words like security, which have been scrubbed of their old meanings and replaced with insidious new ones. Others, like collective and autonomous, which have been dashed against the rocks for promoting socialism and communism. “A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers,” as Chavez would say. We have abused both our language and those who speak it. Broken words create a broken society of people who can no longer understand each other.
My heart breaks when I read about the night that Oscar disappeared, and aches when I read of the horrors he witnessed. It yearns for justice when I recall the small role I played in ousting the dictatorship, and breaks again at the legal system’s failure to carry out the law, in both its letter and spirit.
I stopped practicing law in the aftermath of Pinochet’s death. But soon after retiring, I received notice that a certain Capitan Jorge Silva Colón had been named in the testimony of an enlisted man, for his alleged role in the interrogation and torture of political prisoners at the 7th armored infantry barracks. I will never know the true extent of Papi’s association because he won’t talk to me, and is still protected by the amnesty law’s veneer at age eighty four. The Supreme Court has, in certain cases, revoked the immunity provisions, obtaining 140 felony convictions from the time of the regime, but they cannot work quickly enough. 1,350 cases against more than 800 perpetrators remain under investigation or pending in the courts, as a generation of defendants take their deeds to the grave with them.
I have decided to keep the original copy of this journal, a record of all the events I participated in and witnessed, in a safety-deposit box so that it may preserved for my children and my grand children. Perhaps some day, there will be an effort to recover the memories of those who lived through the coup and the dictatorship. So I have preserved my writings electronically as well, that they may be added to the collective narrative and stand the test of time.
Signing off at last,