The time passes heavily this June afternoon. The clock is about to strike seven. I look through the window of the house in which I have been hidden for almost three months, since the day of my escape from the Mansion Seré. I try to spot some stragglers rushing to get to their house before the start of the game. Today, June 21, 1978, the Argentine national team plays against Peru for a place in the final of the world championship. To achieve it, winning is not enough. You also need to hammer Peru.
Quarter to seven. The match starts. I listen to the radio. Argentina starts nervous, the minutes pass and the national team can´t score. But, suddenly, in minute twenty, they manage to open a crack in the Peruvian defense. The first goal paves the way and dissipates anxiety. The team scores six goals and gets to the finals. Game over. Argentina will play World Cup final the for the first time since 1930.
I return to the window, my usual lookout in recent weeks. In Mansión Seré I also watched life go by from the window of my room. I dreamed of being in the street again. Now nobody prevents me from leaving. But I'm still a prisoner.
Suddenly, the owners of the house frantically burst into the room.
—¡We reached the finals!— the eldest son shouted.
–Yes, the selection was a goal machine– I confirm with a little less enthusiasm.
–We are going to be champions!– predicts the father of the family in a tone that tried to be prophetic.
–People will gather at the Obelisco to celebrate the triumph.
–Get ready! We leave in half an hour- says the boy addressing me.
–I won´t move from here!– I answer trying to joke.
The silence that follows my response confirms that the proposal is serious. This wasn´t the first time my hosts tried to make me regain confidence by proposing at least a walk around the neighborhood. But I always refused. I was afraid to run into one of my captors. The probability of such a meeting in a megacity like Buenos Aires is negligible. But fear does not understand reasons.
This is, however, a different situation. It's not just my fear. I also wonder if it is right to go out on the streets to celebrate a sporting triumph under a dictatorial regime that keeps thousands of citizens kidnapped. Many will do so out of ignorance. I don´t have that dubious privilege. I know from my own experience of the clandestine and secret world that exists behind the football show. I doubt, then, besides my own fear.
–Come on, are you ready?– The boy asks me, sticking his head inside my room.
I get out of bed heavily, as if my body isn´t in tune with my desire. The father picks up his coat and goes with us outside, where a group of neighbors have also joined. I let myself be pushed towards the path, in a manifest act of surrender to the determined will of my companions. I don´t know what to do. I let them decide then.
We walked a hundred meters to the bus stop. There are different sensations inside me. I am now circulating again through the streets, after more than half a year.
The bus is full of passengers, all with the same destination. I see streets and places I relate to facts I lived before my abduction. It makes me happy. The enclosure offered by the vehicle gives me security.
After forty minutes, we arrived at Plaza Congreso. We make the rest of the way on foot. The streets leading to the Obelisco are blocked by the security forces. As we advance, we join groups with flags and drums that chant "dale, campeón!”.
Finally we arrive at the Plaza del Obelisco and submerge ourselves among the people. The songs continue. The collective ecstasy explodes. The crowd jumps in the middle of a sea of waves of light-blue and white. I look continuously, obsessively, around me. I feel exposed to everyone's gaze. How far will my captors be by now? Surely not so far away.
Suddenly, in the middle of the football celebration, a metallic voice is heard that sends a slogan: "DOWN WITH THE DICTATORSHIP!".
As if the rest of the crowd had been waiting for that signal, a chorus of voices is heard shouting with anger and determination: "Down! Argentina! Argentina!".
And so, letting myself be carried away by the massive celebration, I began to shout along with all those voices against the dictatorship, and also the "Go, champion!". And for the disappeared.
I felt then, surprisingly, that not only fear had disappeared.
Also the doubts had.
That night in late June 1978 I felt that I was again a full citizen of my country and of the world. I also celebrated, convinced, the victory of the national team.
And I felt that all of us, together, had now started the path towards the end.