A Conversation With Hector Aristizábal About Torture And Transformation
For a long time, during the dirty war in Colombia, when my friends were being shot dead all around me, my goal was just to survive. But after I was tortured, my goal changed. It was not just to survive, but to live a meaningful life. Sometimes, in the ordeal, we find the seeds of our identity.
My mother-in-law is writing a memoir about my husband’s life. Robb died in 1997, of a heart attack, at the age of thirty-seven. Many deaths are unexpected, but his felt especially so, as no particular reason emerged for why this healthy man would wake up one morning and have a heart attack.
In the small Nebraska town where I live, I am known as “the cook.” People I don’t know will often stare at me fuzzily for a moment before a flash of recognition lights their face: “Hey, I know you. You’re the cook.” Which is reasonable enough, I suppose, since I am the cook at the Olde Main Street Inn, the chief dinner house in town. It isn’t exactly what I’ve dreamed of being all my life, however. To be honest, being the cook is an unwanted byproduct of my efforts to be “the writer.”
I turned slow circles in the night, raked with chills, unsure which door would open. I thought of bolting off. Then I began to savor the moment, this tiny half-beat interlude before Maggie and I came face to face. It was like being perched at a swing’s highest backward point, waiting to rush the air.