jueves, abril 09, 2009

Out on a limb

Out on a limb

Series: City Scenes
City: Medellín, Colombia.

It was the night of August 29th when my nightmare began.
Just four months ago I used to think I was unbreakable.
I liked to picture myself as that strong, confident man evil couldn’t reach, but it did.
I left the university at 6:30 in the evening and got on the metro, as every Friday evening.
I used to think the metro was our safest transportation system and most of its passengers seemed clean, decent people to me.
As soon as I walked out of the metro station, a couple of those clean, decent people stopped me to ask for directions.
They had a sound Bogotan accent. Come to think of it, they had the accent of that city I dislike the most in my country.
They said they wanted to go to a nearby park where all the nicest bars and clubs are. I just told them how to get there.
They invited me to join them. I refused to do so and became suspicious of them. Too late. The woman took out a mirror and pretended to be putting on make-up and blew some powder in my face.
It turned out to be “burundanga” or “escopolamina”, a powerful drug that blocks your will and leaves you powerless and defenseless for robbers.
It entered my body through my mouth and nose, as I was talking to them. I felt dizzy and weak. I started to tumble but they grabbed me and dragged me out of the metro station. I panicked. But there was nothing I could do or say. I couldn´t even control my tongue.
We all boarded a taxi and went to the park where they forced me to drink a lot of beer and continued drugging me with another substance.
Long hours went by as they questioned me about my income, credit cards and everything that represented money for them. I could barely answer yes or no and a couple of sentences.
When they were sure I was totally defenseless, they ordered me to take them to my apartment. I couldn’t refuse. They invaded my place, my home and searched all over the place for valuable things they could steal.
They found my credit cards and I supposed I gave them the PIN for every one of them as in the early morning of that Saturday they emptied my savings account and got cash withdrawals and purchases from casinos with my credit cards.
I woke up late in the morning because of a strong noise at my neighbor’s apartment. I had a terrible headache and started to throw up. I could hardly go back to bed and felt unconscious again.
A phone call woke me up again in the evening. It was a friend who called to invite me to go see a movie. She noticed something in my voice and asked if something was wrong. I told her what had happened so she immediately came to my aid. She took me to the hospital and I had to stay there till midnight. They saved my life.
The following morning, I got up feeling dizzy and depressed. I was helpless and broke. I only wanted to die.
It took me a couple of weeks to get back on my feet and move away from that depression I delved into.
Going to my little cousin’s one-year birthday party helped me a lot and my cousins were so supportive I couldn’t have made it without them.
Then I had to work as an interpreter and simultaneous translator and that way I got convinced the drug hadn’t affected my brain severely.
The other nightmare came the following weeks when I started claiming the banks for the money I had been stolen. They made me feel like a criminal, like I was the attacker and not the victim.
Three months later one of them finally accepted my claim. The other, the one from which the biggest amount of money was stolen, still treats me like shit.
I’ve told them a million times what happened; have sent copies of the medical report, the police statement and nothing seems to work for them. The name of the bank? Banco de Bogotá. Funny, huh?
Now when I look back upon my deeds, I can’t find a single fact that made me deserve such a tragedy. Perhaps it was a hard lesson I had to learn. Perhaps I was too naïve to trust people.
I still wonder if what comes around goes around. Will justice exist? If it does, will it find its way? Will I ever trust strangers again? Chances are. In the mean time, I’m out on a limb, waiting for common sense to enter that fucking bank.

© 2009, Malcolm Peñaranda.

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