Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie

Morning rain

7 March 2023

It had been raining since before the doors closed, the rivers of water running down the inner walls of the tower did not stop all night, the leaks in the roof flooded a large part of the court, and I don't know if it was because of the rain or because of the desire to see my mother and my friends that I could not sleep. I thought about why it had to rain that very day when they were coming for the first time, about how I hoped it would stop when they arrived, about the letters I couldn't forget to deliver, and that at least the line would be very short so they wouldn't have to get wet.
It was 5:30 in the morning and they opened the cell door, I went out to the bathroom and quickly got ready with the best clothes I had, I looked for the blue phone that was more in demand than usual, I wanted to know where they were coming from, if they had a jacket or something to protect them from the rain. On the other side, there was laughter and many jokes, saying that my mom had not slept a wink and that she had brought coffee and even bread to endure the wait.

They called the inmate count, we all looked very anxious, and I was thinking about what to say, how to hold back the tears and how to get the roast chicken for lunch. The guard did not arrive, it seemed like the preamble of an operation or that something important was happening, there was desperation in everyone's faces, I was thinking that I still had to pack the rice arepas I had made the day before and get water to drink. Finally, the guard came in with great disdain, slowly passing row by row, counting us like someone counting money, to confirm that we were still the same 64 companions in this misfortune.

Once again glued to the blue phone: “We are already in line drinking coffee, they told us that they were going to let us go in at 8:30am, we are keeping each other warm!” I heard my mother's laughter and my friend's voice telling someone to come under the umbrella with them. The rain had not stopped, and they had been standing outside the jail since 4:30 am, and from the window you could only see that there was nowhere to take shelter.

There was a shout that said, "Those with visitors, Méndez, García and Restrepo!" and one by one they called out to those of us who were waiting for a paper with our names on it so that we could leave the yard. It was 9:30 in the morning and I heard Gil Reyes, I quickly grabbed the bag with the arepas, water and some candy I had bought at the store. They opened the door, and I felt the urge to run and get there very fast, I didn't remember that there were so many steps, 110 for each level! Not knowing which way to go, I started to follow the people ahead of me and when I reached a "last" door a guard handed me the paper with my name on it. After inspection of the bag and making sure I wasn't carrying any "cans" or anything that could become a weapon, he allowed me to walk down a hallway until I reached another barred door, I could see the metal tables on the other side, and I tried to recognize a voice amongst the din of talk.

My friend was hugging my mom, who was standing next to a table waiting for me. It had been 6 hours since she had arrived at the line, which started far away from the prison gates, and after traveling more than two hours by bus. The contained and dosed crying was dissipating with smiles and hugs, while the voices of my mother and my friend brought calmness back. My son, everything is going to be ok!

by Julian Andres Gil Reyes Colombian ex-political prisoner 2018-2021