The Uruguayan political prisoners may not talk without permission, or whistle, smile, sing, walk fast, or greet other prisoners; nor may they make or receive drawings of pregnant women, couples, butteflies, stars, or birds.

One Sunday, Didasko Perez, school teacher, tortured and jailed for having ideological ideas, is visited by his daughter Milay, age five. She brings him a drawing of birds. The guards destroy it at the entrance to the jail.

On the following Sunday, Milay brings him a drawing of trees. Trees are not forbidden, and the drawing gets through. Didasko 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 a finger on his mouth. “Ssssshhh.”
And she whispers in his ear: “Silly. Don’t you see they’re eyes? They’re the eyes of the birds that I’ve smuggled in for you.”

“Forbidden Birds,” from Eduardo Galeano, Memory of Fire: Century of the Wind, p. 231

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