Dispatched from Freedom
JULY 22, 2008
It’s been almost six months now that I have been free, and it still feels like it’s all a dream. Early each morning, I awake to the sound of birds chirping all around me. I live in Bogotá’s savanna, where the air is crisp and I can take in the mountain scenery from my window. There isn’t a morning that goes by that I don’t thank God I’m still alive. It’s the first thing I do upon opening my eyes. Yes, to thank the blessing that’s reunited me with my mother, with my son, Emmanuel, with my family and friends, and with all those who I love most. I am grateful to finally be able to leave it all behind. The kidnapping, the captivity—that’s all in the past. Now that my life is back to normal, with the affection and company of my loved ones, it’s strange to recall that not so long ago, when I was rotting away in the jungle, I could have felt so alone. So utterly forgotten.
Many have asked if I’ve changed since the kidnapping; if I’m still the same Clara that I always was. I tell them yes, that for the most part, I’m still the same person—but with a scar on my stomach now, and a profound mark made on the way I think and feel about things, which I can only hope will fade with time. Sometimes I’m assaulted by feelings of sadness, but, luckily, I have Emmanuel at my side for comfort. As is expected, I would have preferred that the Colombian guerrilla organization known as the FARC hadn’t robbed me of six years of my life. But I’m alive and here to tell the tale. Each person will recount what the war was like from his or her perspective. I’m just another soldier. And this is my story.
These words come from the depths of my heart, and I write this for many reasons. First, I’ve always dreamed of writing a book. I’ve written various academic and professional works, but this is a chance to bare my soul in the world of letters, a field that I’ve always adored. I’m also inspired to write a memoir so that it remains for my son and those of his generation. Because I long to be part of a country that prioritizes reconciliation, forgiveness, tolerance, growth, and peace. Lastly, I want to share my experience with readers and have them understand the difficulties I suffered and overcame, so that perhaps while reading this book, a seed of hope and longing will be planted in their hearts.
© 2009 PLON