Tania Valentina Parada

 

There emerged out of the rain drains of Zacamil and San Antonio the muchachos, the guerrilla fighters fighting against a right wing military dictatorship, in a last thrust attempting to secure a victory for the people. Tania emerged with them, a communications radio on her back and a rifle in her arms.

Unlikely soldier, she lived with love and laughter in her heart, peaceful and gentle. Yet her gentle, loving soul was infused with an indomitable sense of justice, of heroic ferocity that compelled her to “do something” and to “be active” in the cause of historical change. She died shortly after like many other. A bullet in her head and one in her leg, along with scrapes and abrasions on her legs, suggested a capture, the dragging across the asphalt, and the execution on her knees. It is useless to wonder what her last thoughts were, how she died, and what she did in the last hours of her life; but everyone who knew her believes that she died as she lived, valiantly and heroically. The only thing

I know is what happened three months before she died, the last time I saw her.

It was the first time I could come back to El Salvador after my exile. For the first time since 1985 I was able to travel, no longer constrained by my asylum. A big empty gulf in my heart was being filled up with the green, the heat, the songs of birds, and the hugs of my loving friends and family. But when I went looking for Tania she wasn’t there. She was gone, underground. A university activist, her partner had been captured and disappeared. He didn’t show up to his rendezvous with Tania. She knew her days were counted, that she was now marked. One of those synchronicities that the hand of God writes when developing our destinies put Rodney, Tania’s brother and another of my close friends, back from Germany on his first visit back to El Salvador. He brought me to Tania, to the security house where she hid before going for training in the jungle. We talked a talk worth decades in three hours. We both seemed to know this was our last visit, that she would not survive. There was a moment, silent and pregnant with dreaded knowing, when we looked into the truth of that meeting. I proposed that we promised to meet again in a year, grasping for hope that a promise would turn the tide. This is when this picture was taken, just at that moment, and the Angel of Death to her left blessed her impending passage.

Three months later I got the news. Her memory flooded my waking moments. I remember the first time I saw her, we were both 13. We had both just arrived at Ciudad Satelite, a new urban development for middle class families. She was the eldest of her family, always guiding and defending those weaker than her. Competitive, she challenged me to a race and we arrived together. I ran as fast as I could, and so did she. We remained friends since then. We then sat down to talk about everything and nothing, and she told me then of a fantasy where she is in an accident, unable to move her legs, and with this challenge she would apply the force of her will power and attempt to walk; mind over matter, she felt the force of her Will and imagined a way to move, to go, to do against the heavy forces of dead matter. I couldn’t help to think of this daydream of hers, to conquer matter, to overcome the weight of nature, and to awaken her will. Now, she is dead, and one year later—nine months after she was killed—I saw her in my dream. We walked and we talked. She told me she was still trying to come through, to be, to do, to fulfill. I told her what had happened, and guided her into the clear light of the Sun Absolute, her true nature.

Since then, her name has inspired many. Aside from everyone she touched with her compassion, courage and truth, Tania’s life has inspired non-profit organisms, legislative and advocacy efforts for women, and even the minister of education of El Salvador declared her debt of gratitude to her.

Tania, I see your will and force, eternal friend, trying from the center of your will to move and do even through the minor inconvenience of death. I can say that you are lodged not only in my memory, but also in the very foundation of what I love and value, of that which is the essence of my actions. Your valor impregnated my blood as much as your laughter has marked all my joys.

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