Now the drums and charangos begin playing and someone shouts ¡adentro! just before the flutes come in with the melody. I am dreaming of summer on the altiplano and beginning to sing the huayno, “Mujer andina, te vengo a contar / mis penas y mis dolores.” I wrote some time ago:
“In this novel the characters suffer and express pain. Then the music rises and the mountains come into view. They characters feel exalted, and the world seems pure and beautiful. The deep rivers to which the title alludes represent and lead toward the non-Western, non-alienated world underlying the modern, colonized layer of reality. That is one explanation of the characters’ alternating states of dejection and joy. It is also the case that the narrator-hero is in a bad situation and yet keeps a purer self which comes alive and take wing in the moments it can. These moments are fleeting. They correspond to a deeper and truer reality but it is not the reality in which the character’s social being is allowed to live.”
After entering the thicket of Reeducation I became depressed and Reeducation said, of course, it was my true nature that I had only been hiding all these years. Reeducation said, furthermore, that my depression was “cyclical” – I would pull myself out of it and it would then flatten me again. I considered this.
Later my student explained that Arguedas’ novel was not about transculturation nearly as much as it was about emotional reactions to abuse. Just as the Ernesto character looks up to the sacred mountain peaks and inspires himself and feels purified, so did she lie in the sweet meadows of the Oregon Cascades thinking, ¡nadie es mi enemigo! ¡nadie!
And I realized that my “natural, cyclical” depression had disappeared when I escaped Reeducation. And saw it reappear when I began working at my current institution, which has a ‘reeducative’ style. And disappear when I began calling abuse, and abuses, by their name.
Before I learned to do that I was here like the Ernesto character in Deep Rivers – oppressed, dejected, and confused and/or embarrassed about it; making plans to improve matters or having an experience which momentarily elevated one; feeling elated at these moments (¡nadie es mi enemigo! ¡nadie!) and then finding myself pushed again beneath the waves.
It was very easy to believe I was permanently impaired. It was very difficult to see why the days were so difficult. Now without having changed a thing, without having won any victories, things are not this way any more because I no longer excuse people for their “frailties” when these are much more than just that.