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  • Trompé
  • Edwin Murillo (bio)

One early morning in November, like a certain Ashkenazi Jew before him, Jairo Gaviria woke up from uneasy dreams to discover that while he slept his country had distorted into a monstrous atrocity. Eyes closed, he reached out, groping air, in search of the remote control, finally touching it underneath the couch. From memory he located the power button and shattered the semidarkness of the living room. A single number, 264, in bright red colors caused a simultaneous vertigo nauseating effect as Jairo slowly moved gracefully to his knees. As he fell to a prostrated position, the air in his lungs, as if attempting to escape the nightmarish moment, franticly pushed out, leaving only enough behind to utter one final word:


Destitute, numerous images began flashing in his mind, an endless series of jump cuts that only Godard could have conjured. He saw Vidal and Buckley; the venomous contorting of his crypto-Nazi lips vividly loops. Then from nowhere Chomsky and Stern heatedly discussing an inaudible subject. His eyes still open, Jairo forgets to blink; he is frozen, overcome with inertia like many nebulous spaces he knows are like him now quietly sobbing and fearful. The images continue to spin, almost out of control, and Jairo thinks about his old friend Moshe in Pennsylvania, he can hear again the story of the lost five-year-old sister, who did not survive the journey to Birobidzhan.

He struggles to materialize the name of Barnet's interviewee, the struggle fills the void of images and voices for several moments, then Jairo is reminded of the beautiful cruelty of Sab. Jairo understands, better than most, the core hatred in his country, that projected impotence of whites towards all of us. Jairo remembers the virulent looks, his dark features, the beard, a full display of Jewish blackness that courses thru his body, an affront to the pale contempt that percolates just below the surface. Jairo can also see the intermittent writhing of starved legs hanging, eyes still lit, there in the black gallows of Monovitz. No mercy for him, the stubborn resilience of his neck will not allow a swift death. History's pages are saturated by the red ink of hatred; he thought for a moment that Wiesel would have agreed with him in that moment.

Jairo labors against the weight of his body, as sorrow roots his hands to the floor. Finally closing his eyes, he attempts to invoke a name, but in rebellion against a litany of wounds and grief, the words do not coalesce. Nothing … only the aura glowing from the screen, inches from his face, the sensation pulsating that Jairo can distinguish through his eyelids. Nothing… only those waves of colors on his face that heighten the needles blossoming into a cascade of glacial pulsations down his prostrated back. Still the words cannot be uttered and Jairo shaken by God's indifference surrenders to the tears. Nothing … left … to …

Time slowly moves forward, the quiet of the house belies the storm surge of contrasting emotions that dawn will unleash on everyone. Joy will crash against despondency, speeches will be made to quiet the disbelieving multitude at the edge of yesterday, those holding on to the unusual sunshine of the fall days before. After an indeterminate while, Jairo escapes the grip of gravity, and begins the solemn effort to get to his feet. Eyes still closed, he placed his left hand on his knee and exhaling cold pushes through the weight baring down on his shoulders. Standing in the middle of the living room, Jairo remained pensive still, then time returned him to the conflicted realization that he was alive. As alive as his daughters, and his unsuspecting wife, who would play out this indescribable reversal as her own private hell. Alive as the day would be boisterous, Jairo resigned himself to the couch, to await the inevitability of the morning. Jairo could only imagine that the indeterminate urgency he felt in the pit of his stomach would be the eruption of hate, contained for many years. He played out the following days in his head and Jairo saw the swastikas in South Philly...


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pp. 121-122
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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