Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Guest Post - Maria Nieto - Author of Breaking Silence

Today I am trying something new. I invited Maria Nieto to write a guest post to appear on the blog. 

Breaking the Silence is her story.

My name is Maria Nieto, I am a counseling psychologist who at the age of 85, and retired from work for almost ten years decided to write a book. My first and probably last boo (maybe not, I started another one, but need to live long enough to finish it!)

What made me write a book with no writing experience, a book that took precious time away from my horseback rides along the Rio Grande? I wrote it because I needed to keep a promise I made to my childhood friends who died or were killed in Spain during a terrible war between brothers and sisters. The Spanish Civil War. A war seldom mentioned in Spain, or any other country.

I was born in the United States in what is now Spanish Harlem in New York City, and was taken to Spain when I was two years old. I did not return to the United States until my late teen years. I was six years old when the Civil War started in Spain and lived through the war watching everyone around me be torn to pieces by bombs, mortar shells or be drilled with holes by machine gun fire.

My book is a fictional novel, but as we know, fiction is often tinted with truth. It is the story of a little girl’s experiences during a war she could not understand as she watched her friends be killed. It is the story of a loving and exceptional relationship between the little girl and her grandfather. The story travels past the war years when a murderous cruel fascist dictator wins the war and takes over the Iberic Peninsula. Spain began a period of terror during which time thousands and thousands of people were tortured and killed, or placed in prison for life. The lucky ones got to live doing road side slave labor under chains.

The new regime practiced Nazi and fascist methods of brain washing children into conforming to the new regime and denouncing anyone who was against it.
The little girl in the story commits an unforgivable act, and must face the terrible consequences of her actions.

 Spain passed a law in 1975 not to talk or share the wartime and dictatorship days with anyone. Not among families, not with strangers or tourists. Every time I returned to Spain my family, the friends that were still alive, and the people I used to know always responded with “Ah, that was a long time ago” when I tried to talk and find some relief from the heavy weight in my chest every time I visited Spain.

The heavy weight never left me.

After I retired and had empty time to think, I began to see and hears my childhood friends who were killed during the Spanish Civil War. Sleep became difficult and I started to get tears in my eyes at any mention of wars or conflicts among nations. Finally, it became clear that I had to do something to honor and remember the dead friends I left behind buried in mass and unmarked graves in Spain.

So, I wrote a book at the age of 85 years old called Breaking the Silence. I am sure you know why I chose that tittle.

Now I can again sleep and sometimes (I think) can hear whisperings that sound like “gracias mi amiga”. That means thank you my friend in Spanish.

The weight in my chest is gone since the book was published.

I hope that you will read it. It is filled with humor as well as sadness. That is how  Spaniards are.
In reality it is me that should be thanking the children of Spain with whom I grew up for making me a complete pacifist who honors the lives of those with whom I agree, as well as those with whom I do not agree. Let us talk. No more wars, please.

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