Hábito y mortaja

The Cowl and the Shroud

A veces el hábito pesa más que una mortaja. Aunque ya no lo uso por comodidad desde hace mucho, salvo los domingos para la misa, aún siento su peso, no en mis hombros sino en todo el cuerpo. De día trabajo en el ambulatorio del hospital como enfermero y de noche hasta antes de la hora de queda en una radio.

At times, the cowl weights more than a shroud. Even though I haven’t used it for comfort for a long time, I save Sundays for mass, even as I feel its weight, not on my shoulders but rather over my entire body. By day, I work in a hospital clinic as a nurse, and by night until, before … , in a radio.

Cada madrugada tengo que salir con los guiones escritos la noche anterior para llevarlos al censor, sólo si este los aprueba se podrán emitir en el programa de esa noche. La impotencia de salir cada día con la mitad de los guiones anulados y con la fría firma de aprobación del censor en los guiones más flojos y las palabras más gastadas son parte del peso que el hábito me cede. Los domingos doy la misa, también bajo la mirada impertinente del censor.

At dawn I have to leave with the screenplays written the previous night to take them to the censor, only if they approve them, can they be sent out for that night’s program. The powerlessness of leaving every day with half the scripts quashed, and with the cold signature of the censor’s approval in the weakest scripts and the most worn words are part of the weight that the cowl thrust upon me. Sundays, I conduct mass, also beneath the rude gaze of the censor.

Cuando el gobierno está a cargo de un hombre de miradas y maneras de militar uno quiere llegar lo más cansado posible a casa para no pensar, pero no siempre es posible. Siempre hay una energía oculta que espera la noche para estallarte dentro del pecho con toda la rabia y evitar, con el ruido de su explosión, que duermas hasta bien entrada la madrugada.

When the government is in charge of a man of visions and military manners, one wants to return home as tired as possible so as not to think, but it’s not always possible. There’s always a hidden energy that waits for the night to burst within one’s chest with all the anger and to quit, with an explosive noise, so that one sleeps until well to the beginning of dawn.

Vivo en la parte trasera de la iglesia, un miserable departamento para una persona, de una habitación más el baño. Mi cama en el suelo está en la esquina más oscura y un sillón de espaldas a la ventana es quizás el único lugar pacífico del planeta para poder leer algo, nunca demasiado tiempo, nunca lo suficiente. Además los libros que de verdad valen la pena son imposibles de encontrar.

I live at the back of the church, a wretched apartment for one person, with one bedroom and more a bathroom. My bed on the floor is in a very dark corner, and a couch with a back and a window is maybe the only peaceful place on the planet where one can read something, never enough time, it’s never enough. Besides the books that are truly worthwhile are impossible to find.

Cuando cada noche llego después de la radio. Ema me abre la puerta, me ha estado esperando desde muy temprano con los ojos puestos en el callejón que da a mi casa, esperando ver pasar militares en furgonetas color verde oliva, o el humo de las explosiones. Ema tiene catorce años y murió aplastada cuando una bomba dirigida a una casa donde supuestamente se refugiaban enemigos del régimen explotó en la puerta de su hogar.

When each night I return after the radio, Ema opens the door for me, she has been waiting for me since early on, with eyes affixed to the alley that runs into my house, waiting to see the soldiers pass in olive-green vans, or the smoke of explosions. Ema is fourteen, and was crushed to death when a bomb, supposedly directed to a house where the regime’s enemies were taking refuge, exploded at her door.

En la cocina doña Roxana prepara un mate y recoge las cosas que yo acabo de traer para la comida. Doña Roxana está ciega porque estuvo buscando a su hijo en todas las comisarías de la ciudad hasta que se le secaron los ojos de tristeza y un militar le disparó por la espalda cuando regresaba pasado el toque de queda.

In the kitchen, Roxana prepares a mate and gathers up the things I just brought for dinner. Roxana is blind, because she had been looking for her son in all the city police stations, until her eyes were dry of tears, and a soldier shot her in the back when she was returning past the curfew hour.

Camila duerme en el suelo, a un costado de mi cama con las manos en los oídos, y en la misma pose que cuando la dejé. Un día sus padres no volvieron a su casa, nunca supo porqué, y unos hombres desesperados en busca de comida entraron a su hogar y la encontraron. Ahora Camila sigue esperando a sus padres tapándose los oídos por si nuevamente entran a la casa a robar.

Camila sleeps on the ground, at the side of my bed with her hands over her ears, and in the same position in which she was left. One day, her parents didn’t return to her house, she never learned why, and some desperate men in search of food entered her house and found her. Now, Camila keeps waiting for her parents, covering her ears as if they were entering the house again to rob it.

En mi cama se acomodó don Isidoro, el fue quizás el primer muerto de la dictadura. Lo atropelló la multitud cuando la policía empezaba a dispersarlos del frente del palacio de gobierno con balas de verdad. Ahora cuando el sol se está por poner empieza a toser, con una tos ronca y sucia, y no para hasta que ya la noche está cerrada.

In my bed, also lies Isidoro. He was maybe the first death under the dictatorship. He was run over by a crowd when the police started to disperse them in front of the government palace, with real bullets. Now, when the sun is starting to rising, he starts to cough, with a dry and hoarse cough, and not until it’s night time does it stop.

Con la mirada busco a Jeremías, está sentado en mi sillón leyendo la Biblia. Se que no es religioso, ni siquiera es católico, pero siempre dice que prefiere leerla a leer cualquier porquería que ahora publica el régimen. Sus ojos son los más tristes que he visto nunca y, aunque nunca me lo dijo, se que murió mientras lo torturaban.

With the vision, I look for Jeremias, he’s seated in my chair reading the Bible. I know he’s not religious, nor even a Catholic, but he always says he prefers reading the Bible over any other crap that the regime now publishes. His eyes are the saddest I have seen ever, and, even though he didn’t say this to me, he died while being tortured.

Me hago campo entre la multitud que vive en mi casa, doña Roxana ya tiene la comida y ha empezado a llorar sin lágrimas, porque se le acabaron hace tiempo. Me topo con Julián y Mateo peleando en la alfombra. Bajo la cama Felipe juega ensimismado con un coche de juguete que se dejó en el hospital un niño herido por una bala.

I make room amongst the crowds that live in my house, Roxana already has food and has started to cry without tears, because she’s been done for a while. I run into Julian and Mateo fighting on the carpet. Beneath the bed Felipe plays dreamily with a toy car, which was left in the hospital by a child wounded by a bullet.

Anastasia se lava el cabello en el baño y en un costado de la cama Gutiérrez, un intelectual de izquierda, juega al ajedrez con Domingo, un soldado que no se atrevió a disparar contra la multitud y lo encerraron en una celda y se olvidaron de él. En el minúsculo patio trasero, Inés lava mi sotana de los domingos al tiempo que reza un rosario que comenzó hace demasiado tiempo.

Anastasia washes her head in the bathroom, and on the side of the bed, Gutierrez, a leftist intellectual, plays chess with Domingo, a soldier who didn’t dare to shoot the crowds and was locked in a cell, and was forgotten by them. On a tiny porch at the back, Ines washes my Sunday pans in time with reciting a rosary, which she started too long ago.

Tengo la casa tomada. Pareciera que todos los muertos de la dictadura viven en ella y no puedo sacármelos de encima. Tampoco deseo hacerlo hasta que la dictadura termine. Son un recuerdo palpable que me recibe cada noche y que me recuerda que a la mañana siguiente tengo que volver con la frente en alta para que el censor me quite la mitad de mis palabras, para que en el ambulatorio intente curar enfermedades y heridas que no llevan a ninguna parte y en la noche pueda ingeniármelas para sacar alguna palabra de esperanza, alguna crítica velada, a través esa capa de asfalto con que nos han pasado por encima.

I have a conquered house. It would seem that all the deaths of the dictatorship lived in this house, and I can’t remove them off of me. Nor do I want to do it, until the dictatorship ends. They are a palpable memory that comes to me every night, and that reminds me that the following morning, I have to return with my head held high so that the censor removes half my words, so that in the clinic, I could try to cure the sick and the wounded who can’t take any part, and in the night, I can figure out how to take some word of hope, some hidden criticism, through that asphalt cape that they have thrown over us.

Esta noche dormí peor que nunca, no pude consolar a Matilda que lloraba por una mascota perdida y a Rogelio que juraba que esta vez tiraría la bomba que le estalló en manos. A las cuatro de la madrugada logré cerrar los ojos a pesar del ruido de mil respiraciones, de mil ronquidos, en mi oído. Toda la noche tuve pesadillas. Pesadillas que me arrastraban, que me pisaban el cuerpo, que me destrozaban el vientre.

This night, I slept worse than ever before, I couldn’t console Matilda who was crying for a lost pet and Rogelio who swore that this time, he would shoot the bomb that had exploded in his hands. At four in the morning, I was able to close my eyes in spite of the noise of a thousand breaths, of a thousand snores, in my ear. All night, I had nightmares. Nightmares that they had dragged me, they had stepped on my body, that they had shattered my stomach.

Todavía había prisioneros y todavía había torturados, pero esas cosas no se pueden decir por radio. Cada vez que escribes eso el Censor te mira divertido y te dice “de dónde saca esas noticias, parece que viviera en otro país”, y un sello de censura cubre todos esos muertos que irán a vivir a mi casa.

There were still prisoners, and still there were those who were tortured, but those things couldn’t be said on the radio. Every time you write that, the Censor looks amusedly at you, and says to you, “Where did you get this news? Looks like you live in some other country!” And a Censor’s seal covers all the dead who will go to live in my house.

Esa mañana cuando desperté sentí el cuerpo adolorido, como si me hubieran golpeado largamente. Decidí no abrir los ojos todavía. Pero un silencio se me apoderó del alma, mi casa estaba vacía. Busqué a Ema, a doña Roxana, a Camila, a don Isidoro, a Jeremías, a Julián, a Mateo, a Felipe, a Anastasia, a Gutiérrez, a Domingo, a Inés, a Rogelio. Ni siquiera la pequeña Matilda que se durmió apoyada en mi brazo está allí. No hay nadie.

That morning, when I woke, my body felt sore, like I had been beaten for a long time. But still, I decided not to open my eyes. But a silence overpowered my soul – my house was empty. I look for Ema, Roxana, Camila, for Isidoro, and Jeremias, Julian, Mateo, Felipe, Anastasia, Gutiérrez, for Domingo, Ines and Rogelio. Not even the tiny Matilda who slept supported by my arms was there. No one was there.

Desconcertado enciendo la radio. Todas las sintonías dicen lo mismo. “El dictador a muerto, la dictadura ha terminado, viva la democracia “, discurso muchas veces repetido como rezando los milagros gozosos. “El dictador ha muerto, los militares han depuesto armas, el congreso se ha reunido, el pueblo es libre nuevamente”. Salgo a la calle y todo es vida, toda la gente se felicita los unos a los otros.

Upset, I started the radio. All the stations said the same: “The dictator is dead, the dictatorship is over, long live democracy,” the speech was repeated many times as if praying for joyful miracles. I walked out into the street, and everything was lively, all the people were congratulating each other.

Llego al Ambulatorio y en éste las mismas enfermedades se curan con los mismos remedios pero una ola de optimismo ha entrado a todas las salas. En ginecología a las niñas que nacen les ponen nombres como Libertad, Vida, Esperanza. Al único niño que nace ese día le ponen Víctor, como si la muerte del dictador, en su cama y rodeado de médicos, hubiera sido una victoria para todos.

I arrive at the clinic, and the same sick people are being cured by the same remedies, but a wave of optimism has entered all the rooms. In Gynecology, the babies being born are being given names like Liberty, Life and Hope. To the only child born that day, they named Victory, as if the death of the dictator, in his bed surrounded by doctor, had been a victory for everyone.

Esa noche hablo de la buena noticia en el programa de radio, por primera vez acuso que todavía hay desaparecidos de los que no tenemos noticias, cárceles repletas de prisioneros políticos, cuerpos que no han llegado a sus familias. Por primera vez salgo exultante de gozo por haber podido decir las verdades. En la puerta de la radio el jefe me felicita por la muerte del dictador como si fuera una fiesta nacional y me pide que el día siguiente tenga más cuidado con mis palabras, que al principal auspiciador de mi programa no le gustaron las declaraciones.

That night, I speak about the good news on the radio programme — by the first time I insinuate that there still are people lost of whom we have no news, jails full of political prisoners, body that have not been sent to their families. It’s the first time, that I leave full of joy, for having been able to tell the truth. At the entrance to the station, the boss congratulates me on the dictator’s death, as if there was a national party, and told me that the next day, we should be very careful with our words, that the main sponsor for my prgram didn’t like the announcements.

Todavía sin reponerme por la bofetada que me dio mi jefe llego a mi casa disfrutando con antelación la casa vacía, los muertos finalmente en paz. Cuando abro la puerta un joven de unos veinte años me mira desde el sillón. Ojea la Biblia aunque no cree en ella, me dice que los otros libros son demasiado caros para comprarlos. Frente a una taza de té me cuenta su historia: Murió mientras se manifestaban frente al palacio de gobierno, pedían mayores salarios para los profesores de la universidad. Una lata de gases lacrimógenos le golpeó la cabeza. Es el primer muerto de la democracia.

Still, without recovering from the slap that my boss gave me, I get home, enjoying the anticipation of an empty house, the dead finally at peace. When I open the door, a youth of some twenty years looks at me from the chair. He glanced at the Bible even though he didn’t believe in it, and said to me that the other books were too expensive to buy. Over a cup of tea, he tells me his story: He died while prtesting in front of the government’s palace, asking for better wages for the university’s professors. A can of tear gas hit him in the head. He’s democracy’s first death.

 

La mucama y él

El azar lo explica todo, hasta se atreve con el Universo. Una calle cerrada, un desvío y la pizarra escrita con tiza con la promoción del día, tres cajas de vino tinto Lampedusa Malbec al precio de dos. Irresistible. Sin embargo, no podía distraer esa cantidad de dinero, tampoco podía disimular dieciocho botellas de la mirada regente de mi esposa por hallarme ante una supuesta recuperación de lo que los virtuosos llaman adicción y que no es otra cosa que ser un buen bebedor.

Fate explains everything, until it dares to explain the Universe. A dead-end street, a detour and the board scrawled with chalk with the sale of the day, three boxes of red Lampedusa Malbec for the price of two. Irresistible. However, I couldn’t spare that much money, even if I could hide eighteen bottles from the keen sight of my wife for finding me before a supposed recovery of the virtues called addiction, and that is not something other than being a good drinker.

Continue reading “La mucama y él”

Annotated “Mr Stone’s Window”

Durante el último año, mi mundo había consistido en estar conectada a máquinas que envuelven los rayos o los tubos que infunden líquidos dentro de mi cuerpo. Como el resto de los pacientes en la sala, monitoreados y drogados, habíamos abandonado nuestro estatus e identidades personales, de manera que ya no éramos las mismas personas que cuando fuimos admitidas al llegar al Hospital.

During last year, my world had consisted of being connected to machines that involved wires and tubes which infused liquids into my body. Like the rest of the patients inthe room, monitored and drugged, we had abandones our status and personal identities, as if we were no longer the same people who were admitted on arriving at the Hospital.

Continue reading “Annotated “Mr Stone’s Window””

Javscript Regex Cheatsheet

I always forget how to do this:

r = /^[^0-9]+/


string = '1a'

me = 'b2'

/* this returns false */

string.match(r);

/* this returns true */

me.match(r);

then how about capture groups – you can’t iterate over them in one go, that’s the problem, you have to do it via exec() which you run multiple times on the same str variable, weirdly enough. The return value is an array with always just two elements: the entire match and the capture group match.

let str = '<h1>Hello, world!</h1> <h1>Hello1, world!</h1> <h1>Hello3, world!</h1>';
 
 let reg = /<h1>(.*?)<\/h1>/g;
 
 let match;
 
 while (match = reg.exec(str)) {
 console.log(match);
 }

voila – you get first the 2 elements, “<h1>Hello, world!</h1>” and “Hello, world!” and then the two elements, “<h1>Hello1, world!</h1>” and “Hello1, world!” and so on

Why I Am Getting Involved

More than anything else, being involved is about being part of my community. I guess it’s a bit about learning new things – I don’t know anything about organizing, being an organizer, or even about how my skills are most useful in a grassroots organizing situation.

Yesterday, I went to a meeting of some folks associated with Indivisible Berkeley. One thing I learned yesterday is that there are many such groups, and many of them are recent. Recently, many established organizations have found themselves flooded by grassroots support, and have started efforts to capitalize on that.

For example, Indivisible itself was started by a group of former congressional staffers, and has acquired many chapters around the country. Through them, I learned about People Power which was started by the ACLU.

This is fascinating that well-established political operatives and agencies are realizing how powerful of a groundswell there is, and are offering resources.

I go to these meetings partly to educate myself – partly, also, because I want to figure out what I can say to myself ten, twenty, fifty years from now, about what I did to build connections in the community that allowed me to become more politically involved.

 

Shifting To The Extreme

The Trump Administration is definitely practicing a well-known deal-making strategy – start by asking for much more than where you are willing to end up. This is obvious in their sustained, outrageous, acts that move the political discussion far to the right. Any reconciliation achieved ends up being more to the right of the spectrum, and gives GOP members of Congress some cover to say, “Look, we made him behave moderately.”

This post lists some of the ways in which this is happening. Continue reading “Shifting To The Extreme”

Where Obama Failed

A part of Trump’s success would be because Obama’s administration did not do enough – even without being critical of his administration, it’s possible to hypothesize that specific actions could have changed the narrative just that little bit.

He could have pursued a better foreign policy in Syria; he could have jailed more bankers; he could have made ARRA into a bigger stimulus package, or let it run a bit longer; etc.

At any rate, it’s worth it to me to keep track of specific reports of what did not go well in the Obama years. So here goes.

Continue reading “Where Obama Failed”