September 12, 1973

We threw away our books today.

There are bigger and worse things happening, I know. The government was overthrown. Allende is dead. We listened to his speech yesterday, huddled around the radio, straining to hear over the static. He sounded brave, hopeful as a man who knows he’s going to put a gun in his mouth could be. Mamá, scattered, tried to get me not to listen. I told her, soy mujer ahora. I am – I was going? – to the university. I should be worried about those things: a dead man, my future, the bombed-out ruin of the place my father took me when I asked him who I should appeal to in order to make my bedtime later.

I should be worried about the fight I heard my parents having, low and hissing behind their bedroom door when they thought I was asleep. When papá said maybe it was a good thing, we’d have more food, inflation would go down, and mamá told him that any government that starts in bombing and death can only create more of the same. And him saying she didn’t care enough about stability, and her saying he was a fool if he thought that Chile wouldn’t bleed from this. Maybe more, but I stopped listening. No matter how old you are, you never want to hear your parents fight, especially when the rest of the world is tearing itself apart.

I am worried about those things. But when I close my eyes, I don’t see anything from the news. I see little bundles – Lorca, Neruda, the Marx mamá bought because it made papá nervous – lying like dead leaves in the bottom of the basura outside. I hear the thump they made when they landed. If I stay in my room, the only reminder that anything is different are the empty spaces on my shelves.

1 thought on “September 12, 1973

  1. ssvolk says:

    I know what you’re feeling, Clara. I’ve got this dark feeling in the pit of my stomach and my parents are as pleased as they could be. Díos mío, I don’t know how long I can stand to hear them celebrating when I feel so glum. We can only hope that the milicos will decide to go back to their barracks soon.

    [Note of history: In general, while the military said that Allende had committed suicide, very few people believed that for years. Almost everyone thought that the military had killed him.]

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