Smuggling in Hope

Hope in darkness
Hope in darkness

A Story on Beauty

Joan Chittister, osb

There was a special prison In Uruguay for political prisoners. Here they were not allowed to talk without permission or whistle, smile, sing, walk fast, or greet other prisoners; nor could they make or receive drawings of pregnant women, couples, butterflies, stars or birds. One Sunday afternoon, Didako Perez, a school teacher who was tortured and jailed ‘for having ideological ideas,’ is visited by his five-year-old daughter Milay. She brings him a drawing of birds. The guards destroy it at the entrance of the jail.

On the following Sunday, Milay brings him a drawing of trees. Trees are not forbidden, and the drawing gets through. Her father praises her work and asks about the colored circles scattered in the treetops, many small circles half-hidden among the branches: ‘Are they oranges? What fruit is it?’ The child puts her finger to her mouth, ‘Shh.’ And she whispers in her father’s ear, ‘Don’t you see they are eyes? They’re the eyes of the birds that I’ve smuggled in for you.’

– Eduardo Galeano