My heart sank, and tears began to form in my eyes. I could not believe a letter I sent almost 41 years ago not only never made it to my parents, but was being sold to a stranger online. It felt like an invasion of privacy.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — I fought in the 1982 Malvinas War as a conscript soldier in the 63rd class of the 181st Communications Army Battalion. During those times, all I wanted was to return to my loved ones. Writing letters to them became the next best thing. After the war, I discovered many of my letters never reached their destination. I felt anxious to know of their fate.
This year, I received a peculiar message on social media. A man named Agustín Vázquez asked me if I had been in the war and included a picture. I recognized it right away from one of my letters.
I work as an education assistant at a secondary school in the mornings, and in the family business with my son in the evenings. My days feel hectic, but they distract me from thinking about my time as a soldier. I try not to reminisce too much. War remains something you rarely want to think about. I do, however, often think of the letters I wrote to family and friends. Writing them felt like the only sense of normalcy amidst the chaos. I never knew where my letters ended up and assumed they were lost forever.
One day, I awoke for breakfast and received a message from a man who claimed to have one of my letters. After reading his message, I flashed back to April 19, 1982. I sent an aerogram to my father Ceferino, from Puerto Rico. I assured him I was okay despite the war and described some moments to him.
Seeing the this message, my heart began to beat rapidly, as though I saw a ghost. I called my family immediately to tell them. Excitement coursed through my body. I got to the end of the message, and it said, “Your letter was auctioned on eBay.” My heart sank, and tears formed in my eyes. I could not believe a letter I sent almost 41 years ago never made it to my parents. Rather, a stranger bought it online. It felt like an invasion of privacy. We tried to contact the seller, but only managed to obtain a photo of the letter.
My parents finally read my words after two decades. They could not contain their emotions. It brought back so many memories, worry, and gratitude. We sat in silence, unable to say a word. When I read it myself, I noticed a few details. I wrote it in a hurry, without punctuation, in the barracks. At that moment, feelings I felt back then came flooding back. When I wrote this letter, I remember wanting so desperately to hear their voices that I asked for their neighbor’s phone number because we had no phone at the time. The letter was short, and my urgency seemed noticeable.
“Dad, I’m fine. This is the third letter that I write to you. I do not need anything. Do not send me any parcels because I do not know if it will reach me. I received all your letters, and as I wrote you earlier in other letters, I eat well, I have gained so much weight, nothing happens here. Besides, we don’t have to be here because we are class 63, and it is full of reincorporated class 62. So I don’t know how long I’m going to be here. I hope you are all well. I have no more words. Send greetings and thanks to Uncle Gordo, Aunt Chiche, and the cousins. And to our family, especially Grandma, and Pirucha. Everyone in the neighborhood, bye…”
I signed it Oscar Pistón or ‘Pato’, my nickname as a kid.
Vázquez, the man who found me, stumbled upon my letter randomly while searching for war memorabilia. We tried to make an offer, but someone already bought it for 50 euros online. We tried to contact the person who bought it, a collector, but to no avail. Nobody responded to us. It feels heartbreaking to know someone else has it. I still maintain hope that it will return to me someday.
Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.
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