Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dove of freedom

Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan

In elementary school they made fun of me because I wouldn’t say bad words, in sixth grade I was awarded the Beso de la Patria prize, and when we entered secondary school I fell like a kick in the chest. My discomfort wasn’t because I was a gusana, a so-called bad egg, from when I was little, it was because I thought the Beso de la Patria prize winner should be me, who had written and read so many communiqués, and also she was pretty with a Paladar restaurant and I was fat with a disgraced father.

But high school threw us together in a field of sweet potatoes, right next to each other, weeding infinite rows, playing with the gusanos and making our debut together as the Unreliable Brigade: we became friends. In three years we changed from girls to teenagers together and there wasn’t a moment between 12 and 14—through good times and bad—when she wasn’t at my side. In ninth grade, despite our good grades, we were already infamous: listening to Rock, reading “complicated” novels, and being as eccentric as possible cost us dearly, me at home and her at school.

At 14 they formed a Disciplinary Board in the classroom, some students got up and denounced her: smoking, listening to rock and roll, running away, saying improper things, meeting with antisocial elements, etc. Even though she had a 100 average, she couldn’t be first in the ranking, they relegated her to third place. That same year her family won el bombo, the immigration lottery, and they all left for the United States. It has been almost ten years since we met and even though we do not aspire to win the Beso de la Patria, nor to understand the origin of the universe, among other ambitions, we’re still friends.

She came recently and wanted to be put in touch a group from high school, those who once wanted to take her academic rights by force of an extremist ideology. My friend doesn’t care, she called for old times sake, for lost adolescence and nostalgia. However one of the girls who pointed her finger her most strongly hadn’t forgotten. For the former denouncer everything meant something else: getting off her chest the guilt of the repressor, the informer, the unjust. She apologized to the one she once vilified and I know that since that day, she breathes more easily. I am happy for both of them.

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