Advent Reading


How silently, How Silently

This story comes out of Uruguay some forty years ago.  It’s a favorite of mine.

The political prisoners may not talk without permission, or whistle, smile, sing, walk, or greet other prisoners; nor may they make or receive drawings of pregnant women, couples, butterflies, stars or birds.

One Sunday, Didasko Perez, school teacher, tortured and jailed “for having ideological ideas,” is visited by his daughter Milay, aged five.  She brings him a drawing of birds, which is destroyed by the guards at the jail entrance.

The next Sunday, Milay brings him a drawing of trees, which are not forbidden.  Didasko praises her work and asks about the colored-circles scattered among the treetops, many small circles half-hidden among the branches: “Are they oranges?  What fruit is it?”

The child puts her finger to her mouth: “Sssshhh.” And she whispers in his ear: “Silly.  Don’t you see they’re eyes?  They’re the eyes of the birds that I’ve smuggled in for you.”


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