There is something I want to complement you, brother, before I start my own business. It is in connection with what you said in some of your previous stories. Not only is the weather, today, our biggest and most expensive asset. Perhaps, just as valuable, perhaps more so, are our experiences. As well as the infinite contributions that we have silently made to this beautiful country... and in the troubled time when we did it: the last quarter of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century.
Experiences, achievements and mistakes that must be shared so that the world knows them and that young people can get the fruits that they may have. There are so many stories of this group of old people, as you tell us, that it is worth listening to and telling them all. For example, among so many, those of the old Gordillo. Those are indeed interesting and deserving of praise so that they do not succumb to the oblivion of national history. Because he did take to heart the thing that: “... if necessary, die to defend her”.
Well, now yes, to which we came and thank you for listening to me, even more so, for writing the part of my life that I am going to tell you.
Those black birds that, wherever it smells of death, fly over and land with certainty on carrion, guided by a larger one, always seemed to me, besides being ugly and dirty, ominous. Although, as they say out there, his fresh blood is a miracle for curing cancer.
I confess to you, brother, that I have shared these feelings with no one. Today I do it with you because you ask me, so that you can write them down, if you want and make them known, that if they can help someone, they will be of use, so be it. I'm sure I'm not the only superstitious person in this country, we're all doomsayers around here. The thing is that, like many other things we don't recognize them, we hide them out of shame, because of what they will say, wanting to bring them out with a wounded cry.
In these subcontinental lands, many of us carry inside us the thing that when we get up the first foot we place on the floor is the right one. Or that scabbard of not going under a ladder and nothing to do with the number thirteen, much less if it is combined with a Friday. Needless to say about seeing a black cat, having a mirror broken or having the bride's candle go out during the wedding, among a hundred Macondian beliefs like that.
That's why I want to start by telling you about the disobedient apparition that I had as a child over there in La Vega, the town of my parents. An experience that I will be stitching together throughout my story. You know what, brother? , today, as I tie up the lines and sergeants, I find the precognitive meaning of the matter clear. In summary, I think that if at each particular moment in my life I had given greater importance to those signs... things, perhaps, would have turned out differently.
But for grace to be recorded as a miracle, someone had to first ask a saint or candidate to be one. If this is given without prayer or advance request, it is only left by chance, luck or predisposition.
So, as for my luck, what was, was. As my colleague “El Grillo” coined it in your shocking story that you wrote to him, related to your trip to Panama in August 1979.
The truth is that this doomsaur apparition, in the form of a giant guala, the size of an adult person, whose effects I have not yet been rid of, was in my mind before and after every vicissitude that occurred to me in life. I imagine and hope that it will be there in those that are yet to come.
In my head I have spent the night since that evening when, returning from the walk that my parents took with my parents to Laguna el Tabacal, along the Camino Real, I decided to run to be the first to reach the town. My mother shouted for me to come back, because there was still a long way to go. Although I heard it clearly, I disobeyed it. Faster I continued until a riot, less than three hundred meters from the entrance to the cemetery where, on the cup of a really cool one, a guala opened her huge wings.
That appearance was intimidating, it scared me and made me stop the race. I looked back to feel the family's protection. Impossible, because the curve in the road that separated us prevented us from seeing each other. I felt that my body was beginning to be subject to an inevitable tremor, however, instead of going backwards, I moved forward. I still don't know why I did it. Things in Chinese, I imagine!
In response to my decision to follow the apparition, it began to grow even more, at the same time it took the form of a woman, a witch! that in a single stride he reached the floor, close, very close, perhaps, from where I was paralyzed and senseless. When I got it back, the doctor at the health center was making me smell something, maybe it was alcohol.
My parents never told me if when they found me I was still the pretty one. Nor did I ask them or tell them anything when they insisted that I tell them what happened. I managed to invent that I slipped and fell, that's all. By then I was going to be seven years old and, as I repeated it to me, everyone would begin to have use of reason, so, the following February, I would enter elementary school.
Brother, I experienced that same feeling of vertigo again, many years later, in 1979, during the break from my studies on the occasion of Holy Week, one year after obtaining the degree of specialist in aerial installation safety. Momentary distress and unexpected memory I had there, in my house in the Muzú neighborhood.
That time, brother, I also ignored such a premonition.
It was 10:30 in the morning when a childhood friend arrived on a motorcycle and invited me to go for a ride around the area. I still had the feeling of fading perceived minutes before when I evoked, as every time something usually happens to me, the image of the guala in the guásimo of the La Vega cemetery. However, because of that unstoppable internal engine that unleashes us, I perched like a duck on the motorcycle and we set off.
During the tour we met one of that friend's brothers, as well as other acquaintances of his, all on motorcycles. Where she was going, outside of the one who was driving her, her brother settled in the middle.
Someone, I don't remember precisely who, spoke of going to a neighboring town to eat nothing more or nothing less than the irresistible stuffed black pudding. Invitation that improved when she said that we would accompany her with chicha. These traditional and famous foods from that municipality located in the southern drips of the capital.
Without thinking twice and with a salivated taste, the product of the monomania that fritanga arouses, encouraged by the adventurous spirit, contrary to restraint, care and premonition, we went to my house and took out, to show off, a leather boot. Minutes later, the motorized and noisy caravan was following the gastronomic destination along the South Highway.
Once our craving palates and appetites were satisfied, we bought the vernacular drink to honor our ancestors, the Chibchas, we said and laughed. Not satisfied with that artisanal and fermented drink, someone showed up with a bottle of brandy. Then, with the irreverence and the challenge to logic that seem to characterize and govern the spirits of young people, robbing them of the ability to think well, seeking, in addition, to cause harm and challenge anyone who urges them to show or prevent them from doing so, we mixed the two drinks in the boot.
The ferments of the chicha with which we lowered the fritanga, without realizing it, gave wings to our adventurous spirits. Soon, someone proposed to follow the walk to a village in the next municipality. In addition, he insisted that to make the trip more interesting we would go on the side of the Military Industry, cross-country, thus leaving the road paved.
Until then, only the cholesterol from the pizza engulfed in one of the awnings in the main square and the ferments of the chicha were active in our bodies. The ignitous mix of liqueurs, the ancient and the modern, followed its exotic forge in the boot. None had tried it yet.
As I left the urban area and took the road, I noticed that a flock of those black birds was on us. One of these, the biggest and oldest, even looked similar to the pretty one in that handsome one in La Vega.
Those doomsayers were insinuating themselves to us, like a subcontinental premonition, as they flew over us in a triad formation. They did that for quite a while. In addition, on three occasions, commanded by the guala mayor, they descended and landed, ever closer, never less than a hundred meters ahead, on the side of the battered road, as if they wanted to stop us.
I never asked the others if they also saw and felt what I did. I don't think so. The sign of life, perhaps, was just for me. Repeated indication that on that occasion I didn't comply either. If I had, perhaps, I will never know, it would have avoided that ordeal.
When we crossed in front of the guard of the military factory, none of the security members told us anything. They just looked at us and watched us go by, so we kept going. A long stretch later the step was impossible. So, we decided to return, but first we stopped at a flat place. From there I saw again the flock that insisted on flying above us and there, on a huge completely dry pine tree, on the highest branch, the guala mayor landed, with her huge wings open and her eyes on me.
Although at that moment I had something strange inside me, which made me savor, once again, the bitter taste of premonition and enliven a sense of anguish, I didn't pay any attention to the announcement, which was more than obvious. Much less was I going to share this circumstance with others. I thought that to tie my experience as a disobedient child in La Vega to this event, as an adult, trained man, was still more than a foolishness product of my imagination.
He was no longer the boy who was going to be seven years old. He had full use of reason... somewhat affected, of course, by the ferment of the chicha in combination with the euphoria and lack of control that animated the polluting passions of that group.
We got off the motorcycles and started handing out the boot pack. It tasted like burning purslane, while its smell had a slight resemblance to melted burnt panela, so I only took one sip. The taste and smell that I took from the drink, I don't know if it was because of the bitterness in my soul, caused by the vision of that flock of vultures that refused to leave us, flying in circles above us. Accibar in my mouth that almost made me stumble when I saw that the beautiful older one settled, defiantly, on top of the dry pine tree, without taking away, even for a moment, her penetrating premonitive gaze.
After a few minutes and once the others vacated the boot, we embarked on an unrestrained and deafening return to the capital city.
A few meters after passing fast in front of the military industrial complex, I felt the rattling of the rifles, as well as the magenta whistle of the warheads in my ears. Symphony of Death that made us panic. The friend who was riding the motorcycle I was riding accelerated his gear. So did the other four drivers.
Since the other motorcycles had only two people, they were able to accelerate to the maximum and were immediately lost in the distance. In ours there were three of us, so it was difficult for us to move with the same speed as those. We couldn't zigzag either. Fortunately, we reached a small truck loaded with milk canteens, we passed it and that was our trench.
Once safe, I noticed that the boy who was sitting in the middle, between the driver and me, was fainted. A situation that increased my desperation. Worse still, when, when I tried to move to revive him, I felt my left buttock wet. I felt it and knew that I was hurt.
I looked up at the sky and saw that those black birds, commanded by the biggest, stayed in the distance. Those pimps were flying in the opposite direction from ours, heading into the distance. The leader stopped looking at me. I felt its emptiness.
Since then, and on the repeated times that I have seen them again, even just by presenting them, I thoroughly review what I am doing or intend to do. Sometimes they have removed me from obvious particular situations. In others, perhaps, I haven't even noticed what they saved or prevented me. Of course, when I ignore them, things never work out quite right for me.
When I arrived in the first neighborhood of the capital, I felt dizzy, so I forced the person who was driving to stop. He did it, precisely, in front of a police station. That's where my ordeal began.
I was senselessly admitted to the ambulance. During the trip, the paramedics resurrected me and ended up taking me to a public hospital in the center of the capital. From the beginning of the tour, during my admission and stay at that hospital, I was escorted by members of the Intelligence Department of the National Police.
The security of the Military Industrial reported that we had spied on their facilities and violated their security. Therefore, they suspected that we were members of some subversive group. A hypothesis that emerged from information from military intelligence that they had about a possible incursion, to take place in those days, by urban militiamen, to harass the security of that canton.
I never knew, or wanted to go deeper, if any of the other members of the motorbike ride were members of any insurgent organization. Nor was the decision to take the road through that strategic and protected military zone by chance or intentional; moreover, the decision to have stopped in that place from where one could, in fact, clearly observe the interior of the ammunition, explosives and military weapons factory.
Except for my friend, the motorcycle driver, who passed by my house and invited me to go around. From him, because of the investigation to which I was subject for such a mishap, I learned that he was being held in the Military Intelligence Brigade. I think his innocence was later proven.
As I told you, brother, that was the beginning of my ordeal. From the moment we went back and forth in front of the military guard, the intelligence alarm was triggered in the garrison of the capital city about a possible physical attack or espionage attack by subversive militias. A situation that was confirmed, minutes later when, after the stop on the plain and the ingestion of the refajo, we crossed quickly back without hearing the supposed stop that the sentries would have given, so they were ordered to shoot at their discretion.
When my childhood friend and motorcycle driver finally agreed to stop, he did so because he heard that both his brother and I were injured and would fall if he didn't brake immediately. I think he stopped in front of the police station without realizing it. He did it because of the scream I hit him, seconds before I fainted and fell to the floor, along with the other injured one, which alerted the station's guard officers who reacted immediately to seeing two bleeding bodies lying on the floor.
The uniformed personnel were warned by the alarm of the military industrial canton, caused by the alleged gang of insurgent motorcyclists who said the information radiated: “After violating the security of our facilities, they omitted the loud voice, so we had to shoot, with a high probability of having injured at least one.”
The agents called the paramedics to take care of the two brutally wounded, in addition to detaining my friend for questioning. At his request, they allowed him to make a call. He did it to his house. Not only did he tell them and ask for help for him and his brother, but he told them to go to mine and update my family.
Upon arrival at my home, my older brother went to the hospital to have me transferred to the appropriate clinic. The agents who were guarding me were reluctant to make such a change. They reiterated that they would not let me move. They insisted that since I was a member of some revolutionary militia, who had also attacked the security of a military canton, I had to stay in that public hospital. After some clarifications and verifications that they carried out, I was referred, in the company of my brother, to the clinic. There, the two shots from a G-3 rifle that I received intervened.
The first was in the left buttock. That warhead was lodged between a tendon, millimeters from the bladder. The doctor told me that if I had even touched it, my life would have fizzled out in a matter of minutes. The second was in the back. This warhead was embedded between a rib and the column. If it had touched the spine it would be invalid. A pair of inseparable friends who are still faithful inside my body. They'll be with me until the day I say goodbye.
By luck or predisposition, the investigation to clarify the facts and coordinate with the respective authorities was advised by Sergeant Cruz, whom we all affectionately called Natacha, because of her good people skills. We knew each other because he was one of my instructors at the school where he was taking the Airport Facilities Safety course.
If it weren't for him, maybe I would have gotten more entangled than I was and my ordeal would have ended in crucifixion.
I don't know why human beings when they are young, even when they are old, think that by diverting things, by telling lies, by not facing the scabs as they are, it is better to avoid the consequences of doing them badly or doing them in secret. It is mistakenly believed that deceiving or confusing it more is the expeditious and effective way to get out of the problem. Well it's not like that!
Natacha made me understand this.
The downside was that at first I held on to telling lies about the facts. The ones that I don't even know why the hell I said them, besides being unlikely, brought by the hair. I stated, for example, that we were shot, for no reason, from a black car. That we were in our right minds... For God's sake!
Sergeant Cruz, of course, with all the data collected by the intelligence agents, as well as by the other authorities that were investigating the facts, in addition, having first-hand knowledge of my obvious innocence in the matter, in front of the string of lies that I began to tell in the first investigation, he called me aside and hit me the most vehement and timely rapapó that I had ever received, nor received again and that I hope I will never have to hear, least need. Although you never know.
He told me, among so many things that today I remember with infinite gratitude, more words, less words:
—Look, you Indian bastards, for your sake and that of your family tell the truth so they don't put you in jail.
A tough, timely, forceful and indelible life lesson.
Obviously, as the diligence continued, I said as it had all happened. The only thing I ignored was the pimps and the beautiful older one. I didn't think it appropriate to tell even Natacha. I thought at the time that if I referred to those apparitions they would suddenly make me have a good time in the psychiatric ward.
The other injured, my friend's brother, someone told me some time later that the impact involved his lung. However, apparently, after the surgery he recovered.
In August of that year, once Eliberto, Jorge, Eduardo and one hundred thirty-four other students left for Panama for their last phase of aviation training. Those of us who were studying safety issues stayed at school.
Until then, five months of investigation related to the incident have passed. A mess of which I was completely absolved. This allowed me, in March of 1980, to graduate and from that moment on to climb the arduous but beautiful profession of air installation security, until reaching, about twenty years later, one of the highest steps of my profession, before retiring.
From that investigation I was acquitted of everything... except two things. The first, which was temporary and which hardly anyone remembers today. Not even my colleague Luis Sánchez, who doesn't forgive one, neither did Iván and I think none of that nice airport security group. This is the shameful episode that at school my friends on motorcycles made me pass through to justify my behavior and innocence in that impasse, as a requirement for me to continue in the course, which I came to see in danger. I thought I wouldn't be able to finish it on that walk.
These friends, when they were summoned, arrived, not only on their loud and colorful motorcycles, but dressed in leather jackets and pants, adorned with outstanding shiny steel rivets. The academic authorities, after listening to them and verifying my version, in addition to corroborating my innocence in the situation, called me aside and suggested that I change my friends to avoid, in the future, that they would get me into trouble.
With managers and teachers, the matter stayed there, but not so with the study colleagues and then at work. Until about ten years ago, after retiring from the security business, they continued to lift me up because of the bizarre look of my motorized friends.
The second relates to my two friends, the warheads, the ones that I still have embedded in my body. Like former President Samper, whose life was saved by Jorge, the discreet hero, at the El Dorado airport, after the attack in which José Antequera died.
For these two inseparable friends, not only every time I have to go through a security arch that detects metals, I have to endure discomfort, embarrassment, delays and give explanations, almost unlikely, but I continue, and will continue to be the perfect target of all kinds of sharp mockery.
Especially those with whom I shared my youth training, experience and working life. Not only do they know the intimacies of the case, but they also know the exact location of the first one, the one that I have embedded in my left thigh.
Even so, I appreciate them and I will always be attentive and happy in any situation they may require.
Above all, at this stage of the walk when friendship and lifelong memories are medicinal. The best remedies to alleviate and alleviate the sorrows, aches and advances of the maluqueras who, inexorably, are conquering, day by day, the geography of our ancient humanities.
This subcontinental story, partly told by Mauricio Triviño, is a mix between reality and fiction.