“Yes , I guess, yes , but you cannot leave this office or go outside. You must just stay in that corner, so no one will see you , but I must put you back inside there at 5 am because the other jailer is coming to relieve me and I would not be back until this evening. Hopefully you will be O.K.”.. What did she meant by hopefully? Well I couldn’t think, I just sat on the floor and tried to rest between her desk and the corner wall, away from the rotten, broken door left open all the time. So I could hear the noises of the giant square cell outside and the women cursing and laughing and screaming at each other with words that I had never heard before (and I heard plenty of curse words since childhood!. They even expelled me from one school that my sister tried to put me in, because those was the first words I learned when we arrived in Venezuela). O my dear God, Help me!…. but the night went by amazingly fast.
5 am: “hey, let’s go, let’s go!” My jailer walked out only couple of meters from where we were, and I was following her very hesitantly. Then she opened that giant iron gate door, pushing the women away and telling them to back off. “Go in!” In there? “Go!” and she almost pushed me. I was carrying my poetry book of Khalil Gibran against my chest, clutching it for dear life, when they all surrounded me and I barely get to the first bed I saw and just sat there, with them all around me. One of them was walking towards us screaming “Let her breath mariconas!” They just backed off a little, and this one came up and grabbed my book. ” What is this?” I humbly but forcefully said, “That is dried flowers that I picked up hitchhiking from Mexico to here.” “What?” Ha ha ha ha!” All of them laughed, but she just stood there and said too the others, “let her be.” Looking at my book she said, “This is not Spanish,” and I said, “No it is Ingles.” “And your read Ingles?” she asked? “Yes, si”
The cockroaches were still flying everywhere, it was getting later, and the morning wanted to come in, even into this pocilga, pigsty. The smell was horrendous and the rats, well, they could not care less for these humans. I put my feet under me in yoga position and did not move. One of them brought a beat up steel cup (very dirty in my opinion) with water, and saying “Drink this and relax you are going to be okay.” “what?”, “The men are gone.” What did she meet by saying the men are gone? Oh my God!
After a while, I don’t know how long. some jailers brought in coffee that tasted like pee water, and I had a chance to say “Please may I speak to an officer?” Yes, one was just here. “Si, please can I call again the American Consulate?” No need, the officer said, “they called last night and someone from the Consulado will be here this morning.” “What time can I ask?” “Who knows? later…”
So I went back to my bunk, and they all still were there sitting on my bunk, all talking at the same time, and many if not all of them were scratching their heads. My head was spinning, because I was powerless over the situation for the first time in my life. All I could think was, a drink would be very welcome now, to soothe this pain!”
There were some ugly faces and there were some sweet faces, and faces with cuts through their cheeks, some women with one eye, some limping, some had their arm in a cast– but they all had lice in their hair! Oh God! No! I have long hair, it was in a ponytail, I thought, I must roll my hair around my head, to not get these lice or hair mites!
The hours went by miserably, slowly, and very disgusting, but I will not go into that at this point, everything I seen in their, I will leave it for my book…
About noon the American Consul arrived, but he did not even speak to me. They just went straight to some office, with several people, and I could barely see them through the iron gate. In about 15 minutes or so, no more, they left without me. Why? I was about to cry or scream or do something crazy, when the head jailer came in with two others and opened the gate and said “Follow me, Ludmila Millman.” That was my last name from my marriage to Jack. Oh God, what now? I could not believe hearing my own name. So now I am out? (wishful thinking!). There was a police car and a black van, and the Jefe said “Get in!”
My dear God, what’s now?