To Tatiana.

We were about 9 years old when this happened to us.

You came from the Llano Orientales to live next to my house. I imagine that your family moved to Medellín looking for better opportunities for you and your siblings. They came to manage that restaurant, I don’t know if they knew that the sicarios[1] who operated in the area came to that place to “rest”, really, I do not know if they knew. I only know that I was so happy to have you as my neighbor, that my days at school seemed shorter. The return from the school was a party. After doing homework I invited you to play with me, in my backyard. With you I learned to use the jumping rope, I also learned to do the 8 crossing my hands while jumping, I never told you, but I spent hours practicing to learn, I was tired of you always winning me jumping the rope.

I also spent hours drawing that horse, Bolívar’s horse, Palomo, standing on its two hind legs. I wanted to make a drawing that was at least half as good as yours; I was tired that you also won me drawing. I think I impressed you with my horse, I remember that after you saw it, you never bragged me again with your drawings.

I was not at home the day they killed almost all your family. I was not there when they killed Don Pompilio, Doña Ruby and all those other people, like twelve in total, many of them sicarios, as they said. I was at the downtown with my mom doing I don’t know what.

When I arrived, they told me that a squad of the death of several hooded men arrived in front of our houses, dressed in black from head to toes. They parked their motorcycles, they took out their submachine guns, they entered the restaurant and killed everyone, no one was left. You were not in your house either, they told me.

I was eager to see you and play, but I found that the restaurant was completely destroyed, the back of the building, which was your house, was totally destroyed as well. There was only confusion. I never saw you again. I never jump the rope again, and for more than 25 years I did not draw anything again.

I knew you were alive because my dad told me that your brother told him a couple of days after the massacre. Your brother came back to your house to pick up some things and when he was exiting the house he saw that there were a couple of “those” men in front and he felt so afraid. He jumped over the wall to my backyard, the same where you and me used to play. He waited there until “they” left. I think that during that time he spoke with my dad, who knows what else he said, nobody knows, nobody will know, my dad also died a few years later. Now that I think about it, I think that in those days my father developed that cancer that took his life 22 years ago.

A week later, I saw in a bus, a Circular Sur, with one of the waiters who worked with your parents. He was selling chewing gum and Frunas. He had his gaze lost and only said that he was gathering money for the ticket to return to the Llanos.

I never cried for that. My 9-year-old body understood that it was useless to cry. The Medellin of the 90s was not survived by crying, but by enduring, I understood it, I lived it. Today, 26 years later, I cry. How much pain, how much humiliation, how much fear, how much death, how much blood spilled.

Tatiana, wherever you are I want you to know that I survived. That 9-year-old girl survived the Medellín of the 90s. Until very recently I understood what the song says, “I no longer want to be just a survivor, I want to choose the day for my death”

Tatiana, I’m alive, I want to live, I like to live and from the bottom of my heart, I wish you too.

[1] hitmen