One night in 1993 after a furious almost violent altercation with my father, one in which I dug my heels in and damned him for bringing me to Chile, he exclaimed ‘what have I done with you? I have created a monster’.
He was of course referring to the pouring of his radical values into me as a young child when I was encouraged to examine, question and suspect authority. This cool upbringing, functional in exile, was now emerging like a menacing mist to bite him in the arse now that I’d become a stubborn, unyielding thorn in his side as he struggled without success, to shoe horn me into our new Chilean life.
My father’s transition from Exile had been fairly smooth, now reacquainted with his mother and siblings, he’d found a partner and began to form a new family, quite content in the sleepy little town I detested. While He was ‘returning’, I was now in Exile and determined express my seething resentment at any opportunity. I could not understand why he would have chosen to trade in our previous London life for one in this rural conservative backwater where the intrusive gaze of the townsfolk seemed to follow me, waiting for me to speak so they could laugh at my accent or cluck at my akward attempts to permeate a culture that was designed to reject and suspect the outsider.
There was no manual for social cues. I did not know that girls mustn’t swear and fight. I had no idea it was unheard of, for a lone female teenager pace the streets beyond the witching hour. I did not know that I should run when the carabineros were in the vicinity. Now looking back, none of this would have made a difference. Chile’s societal and economic structures were packed too tight to allow any flexibility for the influx of unwanted terrorist offspring arriving on its shores.
Blindly I stumbled through the weeks and months, longing for it all to end. This new Chile was not the one on the postcards that slipped through the London letterbox. This new Chile would never be home to me. And just like Frankenstein: misunderstood, feared and sometimes ridiculed, I blamed my isolation on my creator.